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8 Signs Your Pet Might Be Depressed

By December 30, 2020January 5th, 2021Pet Behavior, Pet Health

Are you noticing that your pet seems a bit “down” lately? If so, you might be asking yourself if pets can get depression. Well, just like humans, animals experience a wide range of emotions, including depression. However, unlike a human, your pet can’t tell you in words if something is wrong. So keep an eye out for the following eight telltale signs that your pet might be depressed. 

  1. Not Eating or Drinking

Just like people, pets lose their appetites when feeling stressed or anxious. Moreover, they often won’t drink despite being thirsty. Your cat or dog may lose weight and, because you know that most dogs will eat anything, it’s a serious health concern when Ollie won’t eat his favorite kibble.

  1. Agitated Behavior 

What might be going on when your usually affectionate cat or dog nips at you when you go to pet them? Just as a depressed family member might snap at you, the chances are that your furry friend is informing you that they aren’t feeling like themselves. Unhappy dogs may begin snapping or growling at other animals or people. 

  • One study concluded that, compared to non-aggressive canines, aggressive dogs had lower levels of serotonin, a hormone linked to depression and anxiety.
  1. Sleeping More (or Less)

Depression manifests in pets just like it does in humans, and sleep patterns may change. Pets can become increasingly lethargic and uninterested in physical activities that once excited them.

  1. Hiding

No, Sparky isn’t trying to get you to play a game of hide-and-seek. Just as a depressed person might “hide” in their bedroom, if your pet is nowhere to be found, they might be hiding because they’re depressed. 

  1. Going to the Bathroom in the Wrong Place

Sometimes when pets are stressed over a change in their lives or feel separation anxiety, they will make a naughty move to get attention. This bad behavior could be your pet’s way of telling you that they need help.

  1. Not Wanting to Go Outside 

Dogs (and outdoor cats) love to get their paws on every patch of green outdoors, so an adventurous pet who won’t go outside is a bad sign. If you’re wiggling your dog’s leash enticingly or opening the door only for your cat to run the other way, your pet might be depressed. 

  • If suddenly your good boy is refusing to sit, stay, or go out for a walk, then it’s possible that depression is manifesting itself as disobedience. 
  1. Vocalizing More

Every cat or dog will meow or bark occasionally (especially when a taunting squirrel is right outside the window), but unusual amounts of vocalization are concerning. Excessive whining and a sudden bout of clinginess could mean your pet might be depressed.

  • Depressed dogs may whine, pant, pace, and drool almost incessantly. 
  1. Excessive Grooming

While dogs need haircuts and baths, cats (unless they are long-haired) can be relied on to groom themselves regularly. However, if Bella is suddenly grooming herself constantly (and maybe developing bald spots), this might be because of depression.  

Your Pet Might Be Depressed: What Should You Do?

Pets may get depressed for a variety of reasons. Lifestyle changes such as moving or losing a loved one can cause depression in humans and pets alike. Moreover, your pet might be depressed because they’re sick, so take them to your vet to be checked out, so they don’t have to suffer in silence.

  • CVETS does not offer routine vet care for your depressed pet. However, if you have a pet emergency and live in our area, please don’t hesitate to bring your pet to us.