Pet Depression: A Mental Health Checklist

It's true, dogs and cats get depressed, just like humans. As we get more and more busy in our own lives, it seems our animal companions feel the stress as well, and, in turn, become depressed. Beyond basic safety and sustenance, your pet needs mental stimulation and proactive care to avoid developing depression. The issue of pet depression is so common, in fact, that vets have even turned to prescribing antidepressants for dogs and cats. Here is a simple checklist for maintaining good mental stimulation for your pet, and keeping them from becoming depressed.

Check for signs of depression in your pet.

Dog and Depression

Basic mental stimulation can keep your dog alert and happy throughout the day. Try incorporating these tips to your dog's daily routine:

  • Daily walks
  • Chews or chew toys (if they are young)
  • Playtime with you and/or other dogs
  • Access to a view if possible in their yard or in the house (as long as it is not a source of agitation)

CHECKING FOR CAUSES OF DEPRESSION IN DOGS

Beyond basic mental stimulation, other factors may be involved in causing depression in your dog. Check for injuries, or health issues, such as, ticks, or insect bites. Chronic pain, allergies, or illness can deteriorate your dog's psyche as well. Lyme's disease can wear away at your dog's energy level and drag down his mental state as well. Keeping a consistent feeding schedule is also helpful in maintaining mental wellness in dogs. Avoid free feeding throughout the day, this will help you be mindful of his food intake—whether he is eating too much or not eating enough. Being a fussy eater could indicate a sign of a health or mental problem in your dog. Conversely, if he is eating too much, dog obesityposes both physical and mental health problems.

Cats and Depression

While we may think of cats as being the most independent of the domestic pets, they too get depressed and even lonely. If your cat is spending most of his time alone or hiding away, it could be a sign he is depressed. When this happens, your cat may act out in aggression when approached and be less meticulous about his grooming, or nearly stop grooming himself altogether. Along with being sure of physical health, like we described for dogs above, here's a few tips to incorporate into your cat's daily activities.

  • Toys
  • Scratching posts
  • Window perches (cats like to look at things too)
  • Attention and love from their owners
  • Crossword Puzzles; just kidding, we were seeing if you were paying attention

Simple indeed, but effective measures you can take to keep your pet stimulated and not bent on destroying your home or sulking around in depression.

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