Pet Depression: What You Need to Know

Depression can happen in pets just like it can happen in humans. But animals are not able to express pain as easily, causing them to suffer without relief.

By Reader's Digest Editors

Odd as it may sound, pets can get depressed just like humans. But animals, of course, are not able to express their pain as easily, causing them to suffer longer without relief. Pet depression often occurs after a change has happened in the pet’s daily routine, ranging from a change in food to the death of a family member. It’s important to pay attention to your pets and notice if they are acting differently than usual. Trust your instincts and speak with your pet’s veterinarian for added support.

Watch for behavioral changes

If your normally lazy cat has started to act anxious and scared, or if your energetic dog is now lethargic, make a trip to or call your vet.  Any difference in behavior may mean that something is wrong and it’s important to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Keep your routine

Pets are creatures of habit, so make it easy on them by keeping a routine of feeding and playtimes. Changes in routine can cause behavioral changes, which may lead to depression. If you have to be away, make sure that the kennel or pet sitter sticks to the routine to keep your pet happy.

Increase playtime

Take an extra few minutes throughout the day to play with your pet. Simply playing fetch with your dog or teasing your cat with a piece of string will give him the comfort and reassurance he needs to stay happy and healthy. If your playful pet no longer wants to play, there may be an underlying issue.

Get a full check-up

Keep pets healthy by scheduling regular check-ups with their veterinarian. Doing so will help reveal medical or emotional issues early so that they may be properly treated. Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines at home for a happy, fit pet.

Consider playdates with other animals

Take your dog to the dog park or schedule playdates with dogs similar in size and demeanor. Make sure that your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines to keep him and other animals safe during playtime.

Plus: 10 Most Expensive Pet Health Problems

Sources: OrganizedWisdom.com, North Shore Animal League America

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