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  • What You Should Do When Your Pet is Depressed

    Though you may not know it, our pets can show signs of depression very similarly to how humans do, and usually for many of the same reasons (basically) that humans experience depression. It’s important to keep an eye out for any concerning changes in your pet’s behavior; as these may be warning signs of an underlying health condition, or might be better explained by pet depression. In this article we’ll go over the basics of pet depression and what you can do to help bring your pet’s spirits back up.

    The signs of pet depression

    As we said before, the signs of depression in pets are rather similar to those of humans. When humans are especially down or depressed, it is common to become fatigued, lethargic, have diminished interest in pleasurable activities, and experience changes in sleep or appetite. Each of these symptoms are also present in our pets when they’re down:

    • Lowered activity or energy levels
    • Diminished interest in play
    • Increase or decrease in sleeping
    • Eating more or less than usual
    • Lethargy or fatigue

    It is important to note that any of the aforementioned symptoms could be due to an underlying health condition, so it’s important to bring your pet in for a check up as soon as possible if they start acting strange.

    What makes pets depressed?

    Once again, many of the same things that can bring up symptoms of depression in humans also can cause depression in pets. Life can be stressful, and our pets are not immune to the same life changes and transitions we experience—as well as some of the stress that goes along with it. Furthermore, pets are highly intuitive, and can pick up on grief, loss, or sadness in humans. Some of the following scenarios can bring up depression in pets if we do not act preventively:

    • Life transitions
    • Less physical activity
    • Increased stress in household
    • Inadequate diet
    • Confinement

    Similar to children, pets are very dependent upon adults to care for them—especially during particularly stressful periods, life events, or transitions such as moving households, losing loved ones, or adding new members to the household (like new pets or introducing new infants into the home). Furthermore, when pets aren’t getting enough exercise, are eating too much, or are confined for long periods of time, it’s understandable that they may become down or “depressed.”

    How to treat pet depression

    There are a few things you can do for your pet to help keep their spirits up. It’s important to remain aware of how your pet is behaving on any given day, as it can give you clues as to what your pet needs from you. Assuming your pet has been checked out by a trusted veterinarian, here are a few other things you can do to increase their mood:

    • Increase levels of activity
    • Feed routinely on a schedule
    • Change up their food every so often
    • Get some toys to play with together
    • Reinforce and encourage playful, “happy” behaviors
    • Ease them into life transitions with you

    It’s important to set time aside each day to play with your pet to keep them engaged, entertained, well-exercised. You might even benefit from it too! As pets have shown to have healing properties for human depression as well.

    What you can do to prevent pet depression

    Acting preventively is the best way to avoid depression in your own pet. Establishing a routine that works best for you and your pet often begins with enlisting the help of a trustworthy, reputable veterinarian in your area. Here are a few other things you can do daily to keep your pet in good spirits:

  • Keep them exercised on a daily basis
  • Keep their life as exciting as possible
  • Include your pet in new experiences with you when you can
  • Devote time to engaging with your pet every day
  • Feed them a healthy diet
  • Consult with a veterinarian on how you can keep your pet in good spirits

The pet experts here at Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency attend to a diverse range of clients in the areas of Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, and other cities nearby Ventura County, CA. Pet depression is rather common, especially in households going through big life transitions; however, it’s most important to make sure their behavior isn’t attributable to an underlying health condition. To schedule a check-up appointment with one of our helpful technicians, please contact us today.

posted on August 22, 2018 at 10:53 am by Doctor Ron