Natural Remedies for Pet Depression
Though depression is a widely accepted condition in people more and more, research is validating depression in pets as well. Anyone who has a pet probably has noticed emotional ups and downs, pleasant emotions like joy and excitement as well as shame and jealousy.
As a beloved part of our family and often a great source of joy and laughter in our homes, there are few things less painful than seeing a pet suffering - physically OR emotionally. Is your pet depressed? Here you'll learn the signs of pet depression and tips for naturally supporting their return to emotional well-being.
Signs of Depression in Pets
Grief, jealousy, and environmental changes can turn a pet's life upside down. Change in a pet's environment can also cause deep-seeded anxiety and depression. Depression is usually seen when a pet begins to mope around, sleep more or stop joining in on activities it used to enjoy. Any and all of these symptoms are indications that your pet is suffering from some type of depression. The symptoms often follow the loss or removal of a family member, whether because of death, divorce, college or some other reason, or it may follow the introduction of a new pet into their home. All pets appear to exhibit some type of emotional behavior when their life is turned topsy-turvy.
When distressed by the loss of a loved one, cats often go into a type of hibernation or wait near the door. Cats can also become very depressed when a new cat, especially a kitten is introduced to the home, as kittens tend to get more attention than full-grown cats. Such cats tend to isolate themselves, but eventually boredom and/or solitude can lead to even more depression.
Some pets can recover from depression on their own, but without intervention, recovery can be lengthy and painful for all concerned parties. Allowing a pet to be chronically depressed can lead to a weakened immune system as well as other physical ailments and diseases. Is your pet depressed?
Here are the most common signs of pet depression:
- Loss of interest, even in favorite toys and foods
- Loss of appetite; not drinking
- Problems defecating
- Grooming habits decline
How to Deal with Pet Depression
The first thing an owner should do when their pet is exhibiting signs of depression is acknowledge the pet by offering more attention. Set aside time in the morning and evening in a favorite spot in front of the fireplace, or in the backyard, and spend quality time together. If this does not cheer up your pet, try herbs. Always check with your veterinarian before starting any herbal supplements. Some herbal products that are harmful to pets include comfrey, garlic in large or frequent doses, ma huang (can cause irregular heartbeat), tea tree oil, white willow bark and wormwood.
Herbs said to have a calming effect on dogs include essential oils such as:
Peppermint is also said to help with digestive problems, which may be making your dog ill and therefore depressed, but all pets are different and some herbs can cause serious complications, even death. Never give your pet anything without first asking your veterinarian if it's safe. Once you get the okay from your veterinarian to use a certain herb or oil, place one drop of the essential oil on a tissue and then put the tissue into your pants pocket while sitting with the pet on your lap. Even if you can't smell the oil in your pocket, your pet can. Do not mix the oils. By using one oil at a time, you will soon discover the oil(s) that your pet responds to best. If unsure, always check with your veterinarian.
Other Means of Reducing Depression in Pets
For the most part, animals are silent creatures. But aside from bonding with their owners, pets are very much aware of who is coming and going and what is happening in their household. The arrival of a new baby may mean the household is quieter or noisier than usual.
If music has been played often in the home, and no longer is, try playing soft soothing music while away and also while spending time with your pet. For a more soothing measure, alternate petting with tracing circles on your pet's skin with one finger while you sing softly. Make small massaging circles, while humming softly to relax your pet. And remember that sunshine is a natural pick-me-up for all creatures. An extra dose of sunshine can act as a natural antidepressant, even for your pet.