Understanding & Treating Pet Depression

Optimum M5 - Depression Cat - mathias reding unsplash_900x600


Just like humans, our beloved cats and dogs can suffer from mental health issues, including bouts of depression. Depression can be tricky to identify and diagnose in pets, but there are a few key signs that can indicate they may be suffering. By watching out for behavioural changes and seeking professional help when needed, depression can be prevented and treated.

Can pets get depressed?

Depression can affect both cats and dogs of any breed and age, albeit they may experience it differently. The most common types of depression in dogs and cats are clinical and situational depression. Clinical depression occurs due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, whereas situational depression is caused by a specific event or situation, such as:

  • Changes in a pet’s environment
  • Loss of a companion
  • Illness or a medical condition
  • Hormonal imbalances

Depression in pets doesn't always manifest in the same way it does in humans, so it's essential to be aware of the signs.

How to tell if your pet is depressed

Since pets can't talk, it's often difficult to determine if they're depressed. The signs are subtle but can include:

  • Changes in or loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Avoiding interaction
  • Vocalising less often.

For dogs specifically, a key sign could be refusing to go for walks, whereas cats may avoid using their litter box. If you notice that your pet is isolating themselves, losing weight rapidly, or acting aggressively, they might be in severe distress. It’s essential to monitor their behaviour closely so that you are better equipped to give them the love and care they need.

What to do if your pet is depressed

If you suspect your pet is depressed, there are several things you can do to help them. The first step is to determine if their depression is being caused by a medical issue. If they’re experiencing physical pain or discomfort, it could be the root cause of their low mood. If this is the case, it’s important to take your pet to the vet for a full check-up. Once any medical issues are ruled out, you can start looking into other possible causes. Make sure your pet has a comfortable sleeping environment and toys to play with. If you've recently introduced changes to their routine or environment, consider reversing them and observe any changes in your pet's mood. Although some big changes are permanent, such as moving home or introducing a new pet to the household, there are things you can do to help your pet adjust, such as {introducing your cat and dog} gradually and making their new environment feel as familiar as possible. Most importantly, provide your pet with plenty of love, attention, and affection. Spend time playing with them and keeping them engaged in activities they enjoy, while also making sure they’re getting a well-balanced diet and enough exercise.

When to seek professional help

If your pet's mood doesn't improve with these methods, it might be time to seek professional help. A vet or a pet behaviourist can assist you in understanding the underlying issues behind your pet's depression and provide the necessary support, they may recommend medications or specific treatments to help your pet feel better. Understanding and recognising the signs of depression in your pet is crucial to their overall well-being. If you notice a change in their behaviour, take swift action to identify the potential problem and provide the necessary support. Remember, depression in pets is a treatable condition, and with love, care, and professional help, your pet can feel better in no time. For more tips and advice on caring for your cat or dog, check out our pet care blog.

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