If you’ve felt that something is “off” about your cat or dog lately, a full physical examination can help you rule out health problems. But what if we don’t find anything, and your pet still isn’t his usual self? You might be surprised to learn that pets can suffer from depression, just like humans.
Symptoms of pet depression. The symptoms of depression in pets mirror those found in humans. You might notice signs like…
- Your pet isn’t eating as much as usual, or is suddenly eating much more than usual
- Your pet sleeps a lot more than he normally does
- Your pet doesn’t seem interested in activities she used to enjoy
- Your pet spends a lot of time hiding from the family
- Your pet licks his paws excessively, or displays other signs of anxiety
What causes pet depression? Again, you might not be surprised to learn that the same types of stress factors that cause depression in humans can also impact cats and dogs. Yes, pets can experience grief, even if their thought patterns aren’t quite the same as ours. If they’ve recently lost a human or animal companion, they will miss that person or pet.
Other causes of depression in pets can range from a sudden change in environment (moving to a new house), addition of something stressful to the home, and even just things like boredom, lack of exercise, and obesity.
How to support your pet. Identifying the cause of your pet’s depression is key, because sometimes you can alleviate stress factors. If you suspect boredom or obesity as the cause, helping your pet get more exercise can shake them out of their funk. If grief or loneliness seem to be the trigger, it might be time to consider another pet as a companion. And if something about your home environment is stressing your pet, making the appropriate adjustments can help your pet cope.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from depression, we should first examine him or her to rule out medical causes. Then we can discuss your home, routine, and any recent changes to help you pinpoint the cause and identify potential solutions.
Luckily, depression in pets often passes once the animal adjusts to whatever is bothering him. With your support, your cat or dog can be back to their old self soon.