Disorders and Treatment
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Just like humans, our furry, feathery, scaly best friends can also suffer from depression. Pet depression is a serious condition and is not as uncommon as you may think.
Pets can be very loyal, and therefore become attached to their owners. A pet animal can feel saddened and depressed if left alone for hours. A change in routine, such as cutting back on your daily time with your dog, can be a source of depression.
As children and even adults do, pets may feel unworthy or unwanted if they are physically or verbally abused. Other times, a chemical imbalance can cause depression for reasons outside of our control. The loss of a human or pet family member is hard on humans, but pets can feel the absence as well.
As with humans, pets can also have different reactions to depression or handle it differently than another pet. When depressed, your pet can start to show unordinary behaviors, such as when a usually calm pet gets anxious, or an energetic pet becomes listless all of a sudden.
Other symptoms include aggression, anxiety, destructive behavior, lack of or excessive grooming, excessive sleepiness, loss of appetite and pacing. If you are suspicious that your pet is suffering from depression, it is important to consult your veterinarian – pet depression should be diagnosed by a veterinarian and not assumed. This allows you to take the necessary steps to treat their depression properly.
If your pet is suffering from grief or sadness, extra attention, play time and an increase in physical activities can be helpful. Exercise and mental stimulation can help your pet on the road to recovery.
When suffering from loneliness, such as when a friend or family member passes away, play dates with other pets can help. Adopting another pet can also relieve your pet from their loneliness. Regular walks, trips to pet parks, and interaction with other pets are also a good way to ensure that your pets feel the companionship they need. Dogs are good companions on hikes, runs and walks, and the mental stimulation and physical exercise helps them to stay energetic and alert.
If your pet has a chemical imbalance, proper medication prescribed by your veterinarian can help your pet on the road to recovery.
Understanding your pet's reactions to certain situations and what can cause negative feelings in your pet are key to preventing their depression. Some animals have a hard time adapting to changes in their daily routines. If this is the case, be patient with them and help them adapt to these changes.
Make sure to give your pet an appropriate amount of attention. Animals enjoy affection, but remember not to overdo it: Giving them too much attention, especially when it's after they behave badly or only when they are showing potential depression symptoms, can reinforce their behavior.
They say a dog is a man's best friend, just as all pet animals can be. Be more involved with your four-legged friends and make them feel like they are included in the family. Don't forget to keep up with regular veterinary check ups: Your pet's physical well-being leads to its mental well-being.
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