Is Pet Depression a Real Thing? (And What To Do About It)
Almost all of us have felt down in the dumps at some time or another. While we humans do tend to anthropomorphize our pets just a little, it doesn’t seem to be too far of a stretch to wonder if animals can have the blues as well. Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care knows that pet depression can be a real thing and is something pet owners should strive to recognize and address.
Signs Your Pet is Depressed
Pet depression varies a little from the human experience in that they don’t have the same ability to instill reason into their thoughts. While pet depression may not be the same, it doesn’t mean that they can’t experience sadness or worry.
Pets most often experience depression when they are sick or injured, are fearful, have experienced loss, or have had significant changes in their environment. Our animals may also pick up on the feelings of their caregivers.
Pet depression can manifest in different and often nondescript ways. Some signs that your pet may be feeling depressed include:
- Withdrawn behavior
- Hiding more than normal
- Decrease in appetite
- Being less playful
- Sleeping more than normal
- Decrease in social behaviors
Of course, other things can also cause similar symptoms. Any sudden changes in your pet warrant contacting us so that we can evaluate the situation.
Navigating Pet Depression
If you think that your pet might be suffering from depression, what are you to do? Maintaining good mental health is a part of proactive pet wellness, and no one wants to have a sad loved one.
If something seems off about your pet, please bring them to see one of our veterinarians so that we can be sure systemic illness, pain, or other issues are not contributing.
Once physical causes of depression have been ruled out, you can start making some changes that may help to boost your pet’s mood.
- Introducing gentle but regular exercise into your pet’s day
- Engaging your pet’s brain by playing games and teaching tricks
- Finding a rewarding way to bond with your pet, such as snuggle sessions or special outings
- Allowing your pet to socialize with other pets if safe to do so
- Sticking to a regular schedule
- Introducing a new playmate into the family
- Giving your pet a spa day
It is also important to avoid rewarding a depressed pet for their behavior. Extra treats and cuddles may seem appropriate, but they may inadvertently encourage your pet to continue to mope.
Some pets may also need the help of medication if other medical issues have been ruled out and the depression is drawn out or harmful to the animal. In extreme cases, the use of a veterinary behaviorist may be in order.
Seeing your pet be sad is never any fun. We are here to help you and your four-legged family members no matter what. When we work together, pet depression is often very manageable and very rewarding to address. We are happy to help turn that sweet frown upside down.