Accessibility View Close toolbar

Can My Pet Get Depressed?

Image of a sad pug.

Unlike humans, most pets seem to be in perpetually good moods. They're ecstatic when you arrive home from work, are always ready to play and enjoy keeping you company whether you're cooking dinner or cleaning the garage. When your pet seems sad and is no longer interested in the little things that used to make him or her happy, it's only natural to wonder if depression is the cause.

Depression and Pets

Pet behavioral experts believe that animals probably do suffer from depression when they face upsetting situations. Symptoms of depression often occur after a life-changing event, such as a move to a new home, a family member moving out or the death of a pet or family member. Often, it takes a little detective work to determine what may have caused your pet's condition.

Common Symptoms of Depression

Your pet may be depressed if you observe one or more of these symptoms:

  • Decrease in Activity Level. You may notice that your pet seems a little lethargic and uninterested in doing much more than sleeping or resting.
  • Loss of Appetite. Depressed pets often aren't interested in eating and may begin to lose weight.
  • Lack of Interest in Playing. Fetch, chase-the-laser-light and other games may fail to interest a pet who's depressed.
  • Reduced Interaction with People. Depressed pets just want to be alone. They may stop greeting you at the door or find a hiding place under a bed or table.
  • Feather Plucking. Birds may pluck their feathers and look disheveled if they're depressed.

Help Your Pet Overcome Depression

It's a good idea to schedule a visit with the veterinarian if your pet's symptoms continue for longer than two weeks. Because many of the symptoms of depression can also occur if your pet is ill, it's important to rule out illnesses and conditions that can affect behavior. For example, diabetes or kidney failure may cause your pet to feel tired and lose interest in his or her usual activities. Older pets that seem depressed may actually be suffering from arthritis. When standing, walking or running is painful, going for long walks or even staying by your side while you cook dinner may no longer be enjoyable.

If your veterinarian doesn't find any health problems, you can help your pet by:

  • Spending More Time with Him or Her. Depressed pets may not seek you out, but they'll still benefit from increased time with you and other family members. If your pet seems depressed after your child leaves for college or you change your work schedule, paying a little more attention to your furry friend may help him or her adjust.
  • Brushing or Grooming Your Pet. Depressed pets may not have the energy to groom themselves. Brushing will help improve your pet's appearance and offer additional opportunities for the two of you to spend more time together.
  • Paying Attention to Socialization Needs. Some pets do better as only pets, while others, like guinea pigs, will become depressed if they don't have companions.
  • Encouraging Your Pet to Play. Pets, particularly younger animals, may exhibit signs of depression if they're bored. New toys that make noise, light up or contain catnip make playtime more enjoyable for pets tired of the same old squeaky toy. Dogs can easily become bored if they're sent to the backyard for hours on end with no human interaction. Playing games with your dog in the yard or taking him or her for walks or trips to the dog park can improve your pet's mood and help you get a little exercise.
  • Keeping the Same Routines. A move to a new home or a new job may require that you make a few changes to your routine. Despite the changes to your schedule, it's important to keep your pet's routine as predictable as possible.
  • Offering Treats. If your pet has lost interest in his or her usual food, offer treats and foods that may not be a regular part of your pet's diet, such as baked chicken, lamb or salmon.
  • Considering Medication. Medication isn't usually recommended unless your pet is severely depressed, but may be helpful in some cases.

Are you concerned about changes in your pet's mood or behavior? Call us to schedule an appointment. We'll perform a thorough examination, treat any underlying health conditions and offer suggestions that will help your pet feel better.

Sources:

PetMD: Can Dogs Get Depressed

http://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/can-dogs-get-depressed

VetStreet: Warnings Signs Your Pet May Be Depressed, 8/5/15

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/warning-signs-your-pet-may-be-depressed

Healthy Pets: What Never to Do for Your Melancholic Dog, 3/29/17

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/03/29/dog-depression.aspx

Monday:

8:30 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:30 am-1:00 pm

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:45 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
    ~T.C.
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
    ~L.B.
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
    ~G.B.
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
    ~W.C
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
    ~P.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
    ~C.W.
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
    ~R.M.
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
    ~A.M.
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
    ~O.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.