Your Pet's Mental Health

Your Pet's Mental Health
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Animals are sensitive to several emotional disorders which can cause changes in character and behavior. Looking after your pet’s mental health is important for a happy and healthy life style.

Your Pet’s Mental Health: The 5 Most Common Emotional Conditions

1. Depression

Depression in animals tends to be caused by abuse or sudden changes in their routine.

A dog with depression

The most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Inactivity.
  • Isolation.
  • Lack of interest or energy.
  • Changes in behavior.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue and lethargy.

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Pets that have OCD exhibit repetitive behavior or uncontrolled actions. They momentarily lose the ability to control their emotions and express it through obsessive behavior.

Many pets tend to lick their tails frantically or running endlessly around in circles. Normally, this condition develops as a result of physical or emotional abuse, excessive anxiety, or isolation (for example, living tied up).

3. Separation Anxiety Syndrome

Domestic animals which have too much emotional dependence on their owners can develop hyperactive behavior when they’re left alone. It’s quite common for them to try to escape, hurt themselves, cry, break things, bite objects, and bark excessively.

4. Phobias

Phobias are very intense fears which provoke exaggerated reactions. Most pets show some panic when hearing noises like the vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, fireworks, etc. The most common response to this emotional imbalance is to go into a defensive or attacking stance, shake, try to run away, hide, or avoid people.

5. Post-Traumatic Stress

This behavior is due to negative experiences such as violence, abuse, or abandonment. Some pets can have extreme difficulties socializing with humans and other animals, or exhibit aggressive or violent behavior. In such cases, you need to go to a specialist and be patient.

Advice for Your Pet’s Mental Health

Maintaining your pet’s mental health and emotional balance is a question of habits. A healthy and positive routine can increase their longevity and quality of life. Below, is a list of the six fundamental aspects for taking care of your pet’s mind and body:

1. Balanced Diet

An unbalanced diet can trigger many physical and emotional diseases: malnutrition, obesity, digestive problems, fatigue, lethargy, depression, etc.

Your dog’s age and size are key facts in a balanced diet. There are also specific choices for improving certain medical conditions like allergies, obesity, urinary problems, kidney problems, or liver problems.

It’s important to make sure you give your pet right amounts of food. An excessive amount of food or human food has nothing to do with good nutrition. In fact, some human foods are very poisonous to animals.

2. Exercising on a Regular Basis

Physical activity goes hand in hand with a balanced diet. Exercise helps control weight, strengthen the immune system and balance the metabolism. Exercise makes it possible to avoid several diseases and maintain your pet’s mental health.

Not only that, but it also helps control your pet’s behavior by prevent excess energy from building up. It reduces the risk of aggressive behavior and offers moments of recreation and relaxation.

3. Socialization

Socializing is all about developing social skills to get along with others and strengthen emotions. It improves your pet’s mental health and also lowers the risk of aggressive behavior.

Ideally, socialization should begin in the first few weeks of the animal’s life. Preferably it should start between the fourth and twentieth week when they’re starting to become aware of their living circumstances.

A dog being petted

4. Preventative Medicine

Many illnesses can bring on emotional imbalances and changes in behavior. Therefore, preventative medicine is really important for your pet’s mental health.

It’s important to keep your animal current with their vaccinations, de-worming, dental hygiene, as well as washing their eyes, ears, and fur. You shouldn’t forget about going to the vet on a regular basis in order to keep an eye on its overall health.

5. Petting and Aesthetics

Each animal has their own threshold for affection and petting, but they all need and deserve their owner’s attention. So, you should choose a pet which is best suited to the amount of free time you have.

It’s important to mention that aesthetic care and petting are excellent opportunities to improve your animal’s mood. It’ll also strengthens the bond between pet and owner and you’ll be happier living together.

6. Relaxation Therapies

Relaxation therapies for pets are becoming more common, but it’s even better if you get involved in this together. Techniques like aromatherapy, music therapy, Feng Shui, and meditation create a more positive environment. This is really important not only for your pet’s mental health but the whole family’s as well!

Source of Main Image: Nathanael Coyne


The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.