Depression in Animals
Depression is a natural emotion, and it is undeniable that animals have emotional ups and downs. A study by University of Portsmouth has found that emotions like pride, embarrassment, shame and jealousy have been observed in dogs and other domesticated animals (e.g. cats, horses, rabbits, hamsters). As depression is another natural emotion, we can quite safely assume that animals can suffer from depression as well.
Luckily, most animals can get out of depression after a while. However, if an animal cannot recover from depression, it can lead to physical ailments due to a weakened immune system, so if your animal seems depressed, monitor his behavior closely.
How do you know if your animal is depressed or not? Let’s take a closer look at some signs and symptoms…
Symptoms of A Depressed Animal
When animals are depressed, they usually look sad and mopey, they are withdrawn and sleep most of the time. They tend to lose interest in even their favorite toys, games, and – believe it or not – their treats!
They will probably show some of these signs as well:
Stop drinking enough water
Note, however, the fact that your animal is showing some of these signs does not automatically mean that he is depressed, since some health problems can also cause your animal to feel and look that way.
Natural Remedies for Depressed Animals
While depression in animals can be treated using anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft, there are also a host of natural remedies, such as herbs, flower essences, and homeopathy that are extremely effective in lifting the spirits of depressive animals. They are safe and mild; therefore they do not have the side-effects of conventional anti-depressants. They calm, soothe, and help the animal feel better without making the animal “crash” or groggy.
If your animal has become depressed due to grief (e.g. loss of a family member), try giving him the remedy Ignacia, which is very effective in helping animals shake their grief. Animals needing this remedy sleep a lot and may not eat. You can give one or two drops of this remedy (30C) to your animal for 2 to 3 days. If he does not feel any better, consult a holistic vet before going up to the next higher dose.
The herb St.-John’s wort has been used for a long time with good results on people suffering from depression. It can also be used safely whenever your animal feels depressed, anxious or tense.
Sandalwood has long been used to treat depression. The essential oil of sandalwood has a relaxing influence and is safe and gentle for animals. Additionally, this oil has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial functions! 100% pure sandalwood oil is expensive – a safe and cheaper alternative is to use the hydrosol of sandalwood. Spritz the coat of your depressed animal and the air with the hydrosol to lift his spirit!
Flower essences are also effective in lifting the spirits of depressive animals. There are several choices of remedies to use, depending on the cause and symptoms of the animal.
Use Gentian if your animal has given up hope and shows no interest in food, especially after the loss of a companion.
Use Gorse when the symptoms are more extreme than those for which Gentian are appropriate.
Use Honeysuckle if your animal has become depressed after moving to a new home and is having difficulty in adjusting to new circumstances.
Use Star of Bethlehem for shock (mental, emotional, and physical), e.g. shock following accidents, traumatic events, and grief.
Finally, if your animal has become depressed for no apparent reason, try Mustard. It is good for animals that are lethargic, with downcast eyes and ears. It is important to get your animal to the vet if the symptoms persist.
Other Ways to Deal with An Animal With Depression
Spend More Quality Time with the Animal
Perhaps the most important thing that we should do to help a depressed animal is to show him love and care. Spending more time playing with the animal, taking long walks together, and bonding with the animal can greatly help lift his spirit.
Get the Animal a New Playmate
If your animal is grieving the death of another animal in your family, consider replacing it with a new animal. If that is not possible, try to let your animal socialize with other animals (at a park, or animal day care, etc.).