May is Mental Health Month,
an important reminder to take care of yourself, but also to pay attention to those around you for any changes in behavior. This includes your pet. To some, it may sound silly to think that an animal could suffer from depression. To others, it may make perfect sense. But, the truth is, animals can go through bouts of sadness just like humans, though long-term dog depression is a lot more uncommon.
Recognize the signs of dog depression
Much like humans, symptoms of depression in pets include social withdrawal, lack of appetite change in sleeping habits, and simply not enjoying or participating in the things they once did. The difficult part is that most of these symptoms can also point to pain, so anytime your pet exhibits these behaviors you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Causes of depression
Most of the time a major life change is to blame for the onset of depression in animals. Things like moving to a new home, having a new baby or partner come into your lives. Depression can be brought on even by adding another pet. In most professionals’ experience, long-term depression was brought on by one of two things: the death of an owner or the loss of a fellow pet. In the event of serious depression, prescriptions do exist to alleviate anxiety or balance mood but it’s important to be diligent in monitoring your pet’s behavior to be sure it’s depression before utilizing this option.
What you can do
If your pet seems a little blue, you can certainly try to cheer them up! Take them on car rides, walks or trips to the dog park. Add something special in their food. Give them a little extra TLC in your downtime. Just remember, it’s important not to overtreat while they’re moping, as they may interpret it as a reward and continue the behavior. You know your pet – if you think their sadness seems to excessive, don’t hesitate to call your vet.
Has your pet ever been treated for depression? Was there a time you knew they were sad but you were able to cheer them up? Tell us your story this month on Facebook.