Although veterinarians don’t yet have a definitive answer, at least based on clinical research studies, as to whether or not pets can become depressed, some do believe that depression can, indeed, occur in animals. But despite the lack of scientific evidence, pet owners know full well that their animals have unique personalities and that they do get bored, depressed, lonely, and even grief-stricken when death occurs.
Dogs and cats can show signs of depression at any point in their lives. Are you taking the right steps to make sure your pet isn’t only physically happy but emotionally happy as well?
Cats and Stress-Related Depression
Many people tend to think that cats are aloof, but they do experience stress when their owners don’t spend enough time with them or when changes in their environment occur. According to the Huffington Post, felines have been known for changing their behavior, even right down to avoiding use of the litter box, after stressful situations, such as a move or the addition of a new pet. In fact, when veterinarians examine cats whose behavior isn’t normal, they’ll ask whether or not major changes have occurred that would’ve stressed out the cat to the point of being adversely affected on the emotional level.
Cats can also show signs of depression by sleeping more than usual, being less active, hiding, exhibiting a lack of appetite, failing to groom, exhibiting signs of aggression, and roaming around the house being more vocal than usual. Knowing how your cat normally behaves on a daily basis will help you pinpoint instances of even the most minor changes that can alert you to depression so you can take steps to counteract it.
Also, felines really do crave companionship, attention, and affection from their human guardians just like dogs do. If you don’t play with your cat every day, brush him, and spend time snuggling and petting him, he’ll become bored, and this can lead to aggression as well as depression.
Recognizing Signs of Depression in Dogs
Like cats, it’s important to understand what your dog’s personality and usual behavior is so you can pick up on changes right away. A dog who mopes around and doesn’t greet you at the door anymore could be suffering with depression, and if that’s the case, it’s time to write down things that have changed recently in your pet’s environment or routine that could’ve triggered the emotional imbalance.
A dog can also pick up on her owner’s mood, so if you’ve been depressed lately, it may be reflected in your pooch’s behavior because canines are so empathetic. But it’s also important to note that, like cats, dogs may be depressed because of a physiological problem, so if you can’t figure out why your dog is down, you should definitely bring her to the vet for an examination to rule out any physical ailments.
Maintain a Stress-Free Environment and Spend Time with Your Pet
No matter what, try your best to give your pet a stress-free environment. If your children tend to be rambunctious, make sure your pet has a quiet place to retreat to. And always devote time to providing your pet with a routine that includes a regular feeding schedule and plenty of playtime.