A great deal is known about the positive impact pets have on our emotional, mental, and physical health. They make us feel happy and loved simply by being near, and we try to reciprocate in equal measure. Unfortunately, depression is a common issue for companion animals. If you’ve ever wondered what to do for a depressed pet, we have some strategies to help.
What’s Going On?
Symptoms of depression can develop gradually, but they can also occur after a sudden event, like an owner’s abrupt, unexplained departure, new house guest, or other household change. Please watch for these classic signs of depression in pets:
- Social withdrawal or hiding
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Lack of appetite
- Sleeping more than ever before
- A sad or joyless expression
- Reluctance to be held or touched
- Growling, hissing, or other signs of uncharacteristic aggression
- Repetitive licking, biting, or scratching at spots on their body
These signs can also be linked to serious medical concerns. For example, pain can explain a pet’s sudden trouble sleeping, eating, or adhering to the daily routine.
Obvious to Subtle
Pet depression can be triggered by any major event. Whether a beloved fellow pet dies, gets sick or hurt, or goes missing, or a household family member leaves for college, there’s bound to be a little emotional fall-out. Likewise, if there is something significant happening at home, like a houseguest, moving, or construction, depression can result.
As creatures of habit, pets do not like any disruptions to their daily routine. If you anticipate something major happening in or around your home, try to prepare your pet as much as possible for any potential changes to their day-to-day schedule. If you can, try to keep all of their meal times, bathroom breaks, and exercise opportunities going at the same times every day.
Speaking of Exercise
A fantastic way to combat symptoms of pet depression is play and exercise. Sure, they might look like they aren’t interested in a walk or a round of laser tag, but they’ll hopefully get on board and enjoy it!
Games that test their mental strength and acuity are also boredom busters! A tired pet is typically a happier one, so the more you keep their mind and body busy, the better.
A New Friend?
If they are highly social, get out there with them. Join a new class or group, frequent a new park, and bring them shopping with you. An increase of chance encounters with people and pets happy to see them will go a long way.
If you think your pet would benefit from having another pet to play and snuggle with, let us know. We can help you find the right animal to complement your resident pet and can provide tips for a successful introduction.
Bridge the Gap
Many behavioral concerns can be treated with alternative therapies. We offer acupuncture and chiropractic care for animals in need of a little extra help.