Cats and dogs experience many of the same emotions as humans. For example, they feel joy, excitement, love and sadness. They can also experience mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Here are some things you can do if you think your cat or dog is depressed.
Recognize the signs of depression
Although your pet can’t communicate with words, they can show you how they’re feeling. Therefore, keep an eye out for changes in your pet’s behaviour. Here are a few signs that your cat or dog might be depressed.
They’re less affectionate. If your loving and friendly companion suddenly becomes distant and detached, they may be suffering from depression. Alternatively, your pet may become uncharacteristically clingy or vocal if they’re feeling down.
They sleep all the time. Much like humans, depressed animals often sleep a lot.
They eat more (or less) than usual. Depressed animals often experience changes in their appetite.
They don’t groom themselves. Under or over-grooming can be a sign of depression.
Understand the cause of depression Depression can be chronic. However, it can also be a temporary reaction to a stressful situation in your pet’s life. Here are a few things that can cause them to become depressed.
Change. Even small changes can be upsetting for animals. Some examples of stressful changes include home renovations, moving, divorce, the loss of a family member or the addition of a family member like a new baby or pet.
Grief. Pets can experience grief. If they’ve recently lost a loved one like their owner, a family member or another pet, they may be mourning.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD, also known as the winter blues, can be responsible for your pet’s low mood.
Your mental health. Animals can sense if you’re stressed or depressed. Therefore, if you’re struggling with mental health issues, it could be affecting your pet.
How to treat depression in pets?
Depression is serious. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to help lift your pet’s mood.
Give them more attention. Interact as much as possible with your pet. Display positive social behaviours like smiling at them, talking in a pleasant voice and petting them. Stroking them can lower their blood pressure and reduce feelings of stress.
Keep them active. Physical activity can improve your pet’s mental health. Frequently play your pet and take them outside to get fresh air.
Visit your veterinarian. Your vet can help rule out underlying health issues that could be causing your pet’s depression. If necessary, they can prescribe supplements or medications to treat their low mood.