Just like humans, pets can get depressed. They may no longer enjoy doing activities with you that they once loved. They may seem exceptionally hungry or not want to eat at all. You may also notice them being restless or seeming to sleep all the time. Especially in dog depression, they may start licking their paws excessively. In cats, it is much more likely that they start tearing out their fur.
What Causes Animal Depression?
Just like human depression, pets can become depressed because of many factors. Changes in hormones can cause pets to become depressed. Anything that upsets your pet’s typical routine can also cause them to become depressed. For example, if they are used to seeing someone daily and that person is no longer around. The addition of a new pet or person can cause pet depression. Pets can also sense when you are depressed, and they will also become depressed. Depression can also be a sign of an underlying health condition.
How to Help a Depressed Pet?
The first thing you should do is to take your pet to get a physical and bloodwork done. Be sure the veterinarian knows that you think your pet is depressed so they can run appropriate tests.
After determining that no underlying health concerns need addressing, you may need to give your pet some exercise. You may need to encourage your dog to go on a walk with you or spend some extra playtime with your cat. Just like humans, exercise releases hormones in the pet’s body that will help them feel happier.
They may also need you to show them they are still loved, especially if the depression started about the same time a family member, such as a new baby or new spouse, was added to the household. They may just need you to cuddle and talk with them for a little while. Praising happy behavior may also help pets feel less depressed.
If none of this works, then your pet may need depression medication. Drugs, including Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, may be prescribed by a vet to help depressed animals.