What to Do When Your Pet is Depressed
Updated: Oct 2
Animals can experience a range of emotions that aren’t always easily seen, and they are not immune to depressive feelings after experiencing a traumatic situation. For many of us, our pets are not just animals; they are members of the family who bring joy, comfort, and a sense of purpose to our lives. However, when a pet experiences trauma like the death of an owner or abandonment, it can leave a lasting impact not only on the human family but also on the pets themselves.
Grief and depression in animals can manifest in various ways. Changes in their behavior, such as decreased appetite, listlessness or withdrawal can be indicators that a pet may be depressed. Just as humans may withdraw from social interactions during periods of grief, pets may also seek solitude in quiet corners. If they become less interested in play or their usual activities, have trouble falling asleep or wake frequently during the night, it could be beneficial to consult a vet or professional animal behaviorist to rule out a more serious affliction.
One of the best ways to help a melancholy
pet is to keep their daily routine as consistent as possible. Regular mealtimes, walks, and playtime can provide a sense of stability and comfort in what can be a tumultuous and confusing time. Offering them plenty of love, attention, and physical affection can help alleviate their loneliness and provide distraction.
The death of a beloved owner is not the only scenario that could make a pet experience these symptoms of depression. Every year, approximately 6.5 million animals enter shelters in the United States each year, with 30% being surrendered by their owners, leaving animal shelters overwhelmed. For those animals that the shelters are able to provide for, they are now faced with an uncertain future.
Losing the only home they’ve ever known, especially if it was an abusive situation, can leave both physical and emotional scars. These pets may not attract the attention of many adopters due to their temperament, but they need love all the same. Sometimes it just takes patience, compassion and the right person to see the lovable animal behind the trauma.
For those who find themselves in the position of adopting an animal with depression-like symptoms or who may have experienced a troubled past, it’s important to understand the responsibility involved to care for an animal that may never act like a “normal” pet. In some cases, a close relative might be the most familiar person and therefore help maintain a sense of normalcy for the pet by taking over their care. But when it comes to losing a beloved family member, it is understandable if it is too painful for that individual to care for the animal even if they want to. In order to provide the best care for another human or animal, it is important to ensure that one’s own health and needs are taken care.
Life is not always simple. Sometimes we are asked to step up and take responsibility even if we do not feel prepared. That is why it is so important to surround ourselves with a strong support system of people who can provide assistance, comfort or even just a steadying presence to let us know we are not alone.
Community is one of the most important aspects of the Offleash’d mission, and we are always working to find new ways for users to facilitate connections so they can create their own networks of support both online and in-person. With the upcoming launch of the Offleash’d Groups feature, users will be able to form groups based on specific interests and needs, connect with verified professionals and share information. Our goal is to provide pet owners with various avenues for creating the community they need.
Recognizing the signs of pet depression is crucial for providing the right support in a timely manner to ensure the best quality of life for both human and pet. It is no easy task, but it can be incredibly rewarding for those who feel called to care for these animals in need. In doing so, we honor the special bond we share with our animals and ensure their emotional well-being as they continue to be an integral part of our lives.
This post was written with the assistance of ChatGPT