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We often forget just how similar our pet’s emotions can be to our own. Sure you’ve seen them happy, hungry, seeking attention, and you can probably appreciate your pet actually feels these in a genuine, measurable way. But have you ever thought that your pet may be depressed? Here are some signs to look for and some things you can do to help your beloved companion.
Depression is a well-known phenomenon when it comes to people. You’ve probably known or heard of at least one person in your social circles or family who has suffered from this potentially crippling psychological illness. It can have a profound and devastating effect on one’s life, from something as simple as struggling to get out of bed in the morning to shutting yourself off completely from everyone around you.

What you may not know however, is that your dog, cat or even rabbit can suffer from depression as well. Although not quite as common as in humans, it is still something you should keep an eye out for and help your pet through. Some signs your pet may display when they are depressed:

  • Sudden prolonged loss of appetite. If you notice your pet suddenly go off their food and refuse to eat, it may be a sign of depression.
  • Lethargy or listlessness. If your pet is suddenly lethargic or listless when they were previously very active and excited, it could be another sign of possible depression.
  • Your pet is not enjoying the things they used to.
  • Changes in general behaviour. Your pet seems to mope or look sad, or your pet is usually calm and relaxed but suddenly is agitated all the time.

It should be noted here that depression is not the only explanation for these symptoms your pet may exhibit. There could very well be a physical medical condition that’s causing your pet to behave strangely. It is probably prudent to take your animal to a vet to eliminate physical causes first before you start considering ways to deal with depression.

As a pet owner, there are definitely things you can do to help. Stress is definitely a possible factor, so you can try to reduce your pet’s stress levels at least in the house. Maybe you sometimes get frustrated and shout or raise your voice when your pet has made a mess or destroyed something. Providing more exercise and playtime can also help lift your pet’s mood, as can mingling with other members of their species.