Mental Health Matters

Mental health in pets is one of the most common problems overlooked by owners and veterinary staff. It’s important to spot the signs of a mental health condition at home, either its depression or anxiety, to treat appropriately.

Common causes of a mental health problem:

  • The loss or introduction of someone in the home.
  • The owner being away.
  • An event (fireworks, car drives, new people around, being left alone).
  • Change in pet food and/or type of litter.
  • And so much more.

Signs of depression:


  • A loss in appetite or overeating.
  • Over or under-grooming.
  • Hiding from people and/or avoiding affection.
  • Excessive vocalization.
  • Inappropriate litter box behaviour.


  • Stop eating or eating excessively.
  • Avoid people and hide in secluded places.
  • Paw licking or chewing.
  • Disobedient or lose interest in playtime.
  • Sleep more than usual.
  • Little to no excitement at something they use to love (your arrival, new toys etc.).

How to make your dog or cat happy and healthy:

  • Spend daily quality time with your pet. It can be playtime with your dog or simply sitting beside your cat for some time.
  • Routine, although a daily variety, exercise, and feeding; Avoid showering dogs with treats and attention. We don’t want to reward them for acting out or secluding themselves.
  • Reverse your normal walk and/or new dog park every so often.
  • Teach new tricks.
  • Interactive feeding bowls. Engages their brains, prevent fast eating and taps into their primal instincts as hunters.
  • “Toys-that-treat” and/or toys that offer different sounds and smells.
  • In some case, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help your pet.

Pets don’t get old; at least they don’t know it. As pets get older, their brain cells do wear down when not used, just like people, and can result in increased forgetfulness and impaired ability to perform a high-level mental task. We need to keep those brain cells active from puppy to senior! Consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet. Prevention is key!

Written by Monica Blanchard, RVT