When the seasons shift, or there is some type of change to lifestyle routine, many could experience fluctuations in their mood including depression. Pets are not exempt from these same situations and could also struggle with mood dysregulation. Pet owners that are in-tune with their pet’s normal habits and behaviors may notice symptoms emerge over the course of time, while some may manifest virtually overnight.
What does it mean when pets are depressed? Is there a cure or treatment? Similarly to people, there is a course for change and restoring the pet to a more healthy mindset. There are also some proactive measures that caring owners can initiate that will enhance pet mood and restore balance to the pet’s emotional state of mind. Typically, pets suffering from mood changes will exhibit obvious signs through different sleep or eating patterns. Some may be less playful or engaging than previously. Other signs may be a bit less telling, and could include the following signs, particularly among dogs:
– Excessive licking
– Anxious or pacing behaviors
– Submissive behaviors
– Destructive behaviors
– Increased vocalization
Since every pet is different, there is no sure-fire way to diagnose a pet without a professional putting their eyes on the animal for an assessment. There are, however, some simple treatments that owners can begin at home that could make a difference in the dog’s behavior without the need for professional interventions or any canine anti-depressants. Some ways to address your pet’s low mood may include:
– Increasing physical activity and exercise
– Changing the pet’s diet with a different brand of food
– Increasing stimulation to the pet, including more physical contact, new toys, sounds, etc.
– Engage in pet massage regularly
– Socialize the pet more through pet parks, classes, or visits from other owners
– Light boxes and improved lighting in the home
When there are drastic changes in your dog’s behavior, it is always prudent to take them for a physical exam from your regular veterinary provider to determine if there is an underlying medical issue. Often times a bored pet can be a depressed pet; be sure to engage with your pet and provide ample physical outlets for them to get plenty of exercise and sensory stimulation daily.