Can Dogs Be Depressed After Heat?

Post-estrus depression in dogs, also known as postheat depression, refers to symptoms of lethargy, appetite changes, and general melancholy that can occur in the days and weeks after a female dog goes out of heat. This happens due to a sudden drop in progesterone levels once the heat has ended. The hormonal fluctuations that occur before, during, and after estrus can significantly impact a dog’s mood and energy levels.

Many female dogs exhibit symptoms of depression in the weeks following heat. This is a natural phenomenon that generally resolves on its own within a few weeks as hormone levels stabilize. However, post-estrus depression can sometimes be quite severe and concerning for dog owners. Understanding the causes, symptoms, duration, risk factors, prevention, and treatments for post-heat depression in dogs will help owners determine when veterinary intervention may be needed.

Signs of Depression

Some of the most common signs of depression in female dogs after heat include:

  • Loss of appetite – Your dog may seem disinterested in food and treats after her heat cycle ends. This loss of appetite is often one of the first noticeable signs of depression.
  • Lethargy – A lethargic, low energy level is a classic sign of depression in dogs. Your once active dog may seem listless and withdrawn.
  • Hiding – Depressed dogs tend to hide away under beds, in closets, or in other secluded places. Your dog may not want to interact and try to isolate herself.
  • Clinginess – While some depressed dogs hide, others can become velcro dogs who stick close by your side and demand constant affection.

These behavioral changes are driven by the hormonal crashes and fluctuations that happen after estrus. The end of the heat cycle leaves your dog feeling out of sorts emotionally and physically.


There are several potential causes of depression in female dogs after heat, including:

Hormone changes – According to, the hormone progesterone rises sharply during the heat cycle. Once the heat ends, progesterone levels crash, which can cause depression. The sudden drop in hormones leaves some dogs feeling lethargic, disinterested, and melancholic.

Missing puppies – If the dog was hoping to get pregnant during the heat but did not, she may become depressed due to missing puppies, according to After investing time and energy into attracting a mate, some dogs feel sad if they do not end up having a litter.

Change in routine – The dog’s daily routine likely changed during heat, as she needed extra attention and care. According to, returning to normal after heat ends can be difficult for some dogs, especially if they enjoyed the extra pampering and attention.


Post-estrus depression typically lasts around 1-2 weeks in dogs, though it can persist for up to 1 month (Source). The symptoms tend to be most severe in the first 1-2 weeks after the heat cycle ends. Some dogs may only exhibit mild depression for a few days, while others can experience more severe symptoms for a longer period. According to veterinary sources, most dogs start to improve within 2 weeks after estrus ends as their hormone levels stabilize. However, every dog is different. Close monitoring and patience are recommended, along with proactively treating any concerning symptoms. If depression persists longer than 1 month, veterinary advice is recommended.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase a female dog’s risk of developing post-estrus depression and related conditions like pyometra. According to research published in the journal Theriogenology, the risk increases with age, with dogs over 7 years being at higher risk.

Some breeds are also more prone to post-estrus complications. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Rough Collie, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Rottweiler and Bernese Mountain Dog have a higher incidence of pyometra (Sontas et al., 2009). The number of heats a dog experiences also increases susceptibility. With each heat cycle, the risk of pyometra in particular goes up due to the influence of progesterone on the uterus.

Overall, middle-aged to older dogs that have had multiple heats tend to be most susceptible to post-estrus depression and related reproductive issues like pyometra (Hagman, 2011). Careful monitoring and early intervention is recommended for higher risk dogs after each heat cycle.


There are some steps you can take to help prevent depression in your dog after her heat cycle. According to Pumpkin, maintaining your normal routine and schedule can provide comfort and stability. Try to keep up with your dog’s regular exercise and playtime, as this can help improve mood through the release of endorphins. Providing interactive toys and puzzles can also stimulate your dog mentally. Additionally, Dog Blog Musings recommends continuing training sessions, even simple obedience commands, to engage your dog’s mind during this time.


The most important treatment for a dog experiencing depression after heat is patience and extra love and attention from their owner. Be gentle, provide affection, keep routines consistent, and allow time for the dog’s hormone levels to stabilize again. Engaging in activities the dog enjoys, like walks, playing fetch, or cuddling can also help lift their mood.

If the dog’s symptoms persist more than a few weeks or seem severe, taking them to the vet is recommended. The vet can check for potential medical causes and provide supportive care. They may prescribe medications in some cases to help manage depression or anxiety. With proper treatment and TLC, most dogs fully recover from post-heat depression in one to two months.



The outlook for depression after a dog’s heat cycle is generally good. The condition is usually temporary and self-resolving once hormone levels return to normal after the heat cycle ends. With proper care and attention from owners, most dogs will recover on their own within a few weeks (Dog Blog Musings, 2022). Ensuring the dog gets adequate exercise, stimulation, and affection can help them cope until the depressive symptoms pass. In more severe or prolonged cases, veterinary treatment with medication may be needed. But the long-term prognosis is excellent for recovering from this temporary depressive state after estrus in most dogs.

When to See a Vet

It’s important to take your dog to the vet if symptoms of depression after her heat cycle are severe or persist longer than 1 month. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, pyometra usually occurs 2-8 weeks after a female dog’s heat cycle. So if your dog is showing concerning signs like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, or abnormal vaginal discharge for more than a month after her heat, it’s time to get her checked out.

Severe symptoms that warrant an emergency vet visit include fever, severe vomiting/diarrhea, collapse, seizures, or abnormal vaginal bleeding. Even if it hasn’t been a full month since your dog’s heat, don’t wait if she seems very ill. Pyometra can progress quickly and become fatal if left untreated. Your vet can run tests to check for pyometra or other potential causes of post-heat depression. The sooner it’s caught, the better the treatment outlook. Don’t hesitate to get veterinary help if your dog seems off after her cycle.


In summary, post-estrus depression in dogs is characterized by signs like lethargy, appetite changes, and anxiety. It’s caused by hormone fluctuations after a heat cycle ends. The condition usually resolves on its own within a month, but certain dogs like Golden Retrievers may be predisposed. Prevention focuses on maintaining a consistent routine and providing enrichment. Treatment with medication or supplements may help in severe cases. Most dogs fully recover, but it’s important to monitor their behavior and contact your vet if depression persists or interferes with daily activities. With proper care and attention, dogs can bounce back after experiencing the blues following heat.

Scroll to Top