Pets become our best friends in times of need and distress, helping us cope with stress and act as pillars of support on our worst days. However, even with the massive benefits on our mental health that our pets have on us, they have issues of their own that need to be addressed.
The dog brain, in particular, is remarkably similar to humans as far as emotions are concerned. Pets suffer from similar human ailments like depression, a spectrum of anxiety disorders like OCD or generalized anxiety disorder, and can even indulge in self-harm in severe cases. Thus, it is essential to understand pet mental health better. The reasons are as follows.
1. Various factors lead to bad mental health in pets:
Factors ranging from lifestyle alterations to physical conditions harm your pet mentally. Factors such as shifting homes, bringing a baby home, genetic ailments all seem to add to stresses that can lead to depression. Physical ailments like degenerative issues due to age, diseases, toxicity in meals can all lead to bad mental health.
Confining or kennelling a pet for long especially as punishment can lead to tremendous stress and is best avoided. This is especially true for a dog that needs to run about and go for walks to stay fit and happy. An owner’s condition can also often spill over to pets, which is why chronically depressed people often have quiet and anxious pets who have adjusted to the owner’s mood and forgotten what happiness feels like.
2. External symptoms are often clues to diagnosis:
Another reason you should keep a good eye on your pet is because they often show signs of bad mental health, which is when you know something is wrong. While a single symptom does not imply bad mental health, it is still recommended to visit a vet just to be sure. After all, no one wants their beloved pets to be sad.
For example, pets with anxiety often hide when strangers visit, show tremors, compulsively lick the owner or anyone they trust, or can even have food disorders like diarrhea or vomiting. Pets with depression refuse to eat and become inactive. They refuse to go out and engage in sport. This is accompanied by a noticeable weight loss. They also shy away from social interactions, sleep more and play less.
3. Long term complications:
Ignoring symptoms and signs of bad mental health lead to worsening of the condition of your pet. Not only can it aggravate the ailments your pet already suffers from, but it can also lead to new and more harmful outcomes. When self harm, and anxiety increase it leads your pet to take drastic steps to keep its mental health within control. Similarly, extreme depression can lead to worsening of eating and sleeping habits making your pet physically weak and sick.
Studies show a good correlation between shyness and mortality, showing a proportional relationship between avoiding strangers and a shorter lifespan. That apart, owners ignoring their pet’s conditions can itself boil over to conditions like fearfulness. Further owners not giving sufficient time to their pets can add to separation anxiety, especially in young pups. All these lead to worsening of your poor pet’s conditions.
4. Helping pets with their issues:
The biggest benefit of keeping a tab on your pet’s mental health is so that you can always help them when they need it. It is never a bad thing to be extra cautious, and this holds especially true for the pets we love. Moreover, checking up on your pet lets you know when it is time to visit the vet. Veterinary check ups often cost a lot and it is natural to ask how does pet insurance work, but with the right care you can delay visiting the vet.
Exercising your pet regularly, taking it out for short walks, playing with them, giving them time and attention, going to the park, all help the pet out with relieving stress. However, it is also important to realise that your pet may need space sometimes. This is important if you think you yourself carry a lot of stress and transmit a lot of that to your pet, in which case it is beneficial to leave it alone at certain times.
Pets can suffer from a lot of mental health issues. These include anxieties like separation anxiety, social and noise anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders as well as depression. These can arise from various stresses. It is essential to keep a tab on your pet, so that if you notice the symptoms of mental ailments in your pet, you can help it with stress relief or visit the vet if necessary.