Did you know that there are some human mental disorders that can affect pets as well? If you have ever suspected that your beloved furry friend is stressed, anxious, or depressed, you should know that you are right. According to animal experts, animals can suffer from different mental illnesses, and if you notice something strange in their behavior, then you should definitely schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
It has been shown that, in general, animals develop certain mental illnesses when they are not treated appropriately. Unfortunately, we can hurt them without realizing it, and in this case, we have to do a little research to find out how to take care of our beloved pets properly. In fact, some behaviors that we consider normal can affect their well-being.
However, to help you better understand your pet’s behavior, here are some things you need to know about mental disorders in animals. Read on to find out more info!
“My dog or cat ate my homework” is an excuse invented by children who haven’t done their homework and want to get away with it. Of course, their teachers don’t believe them, and they eventually receive bad grades. But, it seems that this action is actually true in some cases, and animals can do this for real. The phenomenon is called “pica” and can be found even in humans.
That being said, pica is a mental disorder characterized by compulsively eating items that have no nutritional value and may be toxic sometimes, such as paint, metal, deodorant, paper, soap, sand, glue, and so on. This disorder can be found in children, pregnant women, and animals.
Thus, if you notice that your pet eats non-food items, you should talk to your veterinarian, as there are a lot of factors that could cause this illness. Pica may cause intoxication in animals and can even lead to death if left untreated.
So, all you have to do is talk to your vet, tell them about the non-food items your dog has eaten, and follow their treatment.
Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to notice that your furry friend suffers from binge eating, especially because they love to eat all the time. However, you should know that there’s a big difference between binge eating and an increased appetite. Binge eating is a life-threatening eating disorder that refers to recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food.
According to animal experts, small pets, such as birds, reptiles, rodents, rabbits, hedgehogs, cats, dogs, and amphibians, whether domestic or wild, tend to suffer from this mental disorder. It has been proven, though, that domestic animals are more likely to suffer from overeating. The explanation is that you, as a pet owner, are doing something wrong, such as not giving them nutritious and healthy food, keeping them stressed, or not helping them stick to certain eating intervals. For instance, keeping a bowl full of food can lead to binge eating.
Luckily, there are some treatments that can help you combat this mental disorder, and the most common ones involve more exercise, more entertainment (to help you keep them focused on something else), and setting certain eating intervals.
One of the most important things that you have to take into consideration when it comes to helping your dog overcome this condition is to provide them with less food and play with them to chase away their boredom. In fact, pets can eat when they are bored, just like humans.
If you have a cat as a pet, you know that they will leave hairballs everywhere in the house, right? This phenomenon is perfectly normal for them because grooming is an indispensable ritual. However, according to veterinarians, if your cat doesn’t produce hairballs, it means that something is wrong with them. But, if you notice that your cat is grooming obsessively and their skin is starting to get irritated, it can be a sign that they are suffering from trichotillomania.
Trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder characterized by hair pulling and is also known as over-grooming. Stressed cats are more likely to develop this symptom. Trichotillomania can also occur in almost all mammals. Animals that suffer from this mental disorder develop this hair-plucking habit in order to feel calm again. Being a symptom of stress, veterinarians provide treatment to cure anxiety and stress in these animals.
Animal experts believe that dogs can develop autism as well. For example, even though it may be adorable when your dog whips around in circles to chase their tails, it may also be a sign that they suffer from autism. Researchers believe that repetitive behavior and motions, such as spinning around, are signs of autism.
Of course, almost all dog breeds can chase their tails, as well as ghost-walking” or “moon-walking,” but if they do this obsessively, it means that they have some autism-like traits. In this case, you should talk to your vet for further medical investigations. Animal researchers say that Bull Terriers are more likely to suffer from autism because it is a genetic feature.
According to Dr. Valli Parthasarathy, Ph.D., DVM, ACVB Resident and co-founder of Synergy Behavior Solutions in Portland, Oregon, “as we are learning more about the complexities of canine neurology, behavior, and neurodiversity, the more information there is to help dogs. As we learn more, we may be able to start more finely defining different behavioral disorders. We may find that autism is as common in dogs as it is in people. Recently, Tufts Veterinary Behaviorist Nick Dodman presented a study in which he assessed the behavior of 132 English Bull Terriers and found patterns of repetitive behavior (tail chasing), trancelike behavior, and episodic aggression similar to what can be seen in autistic children.”
Did you know that animals can develop depression just like humans? As medical experts say, depression is the most common disease of this century. The most common symptoms of depression in animals are lethargy, anxiety, compulsive and aggressive behaviors, lack of appetite or binge eating, self-harm, excessive grooming, and excessive sleeping.
If you notice these signs of depression in your pet, you should talk to your vet as soon as possible. They will prescribe antidepressants for them and advise you to change some habits as well, as you can do something wrong without realizing it, such as not playing enough with them or leaving them alone for too long.
As in the case of humans, treatment varies from creature to creature, and your vet may prescribe antidepressants based on the duration and severity of the depression. It’s your responsibility to mention everything about the environment around your pet, as it can also be a factor that causes depression.
Anxiety is another mental illness that can affect your pets. It occurs when your pet feels something dangerous that can threaten their life or when you make some major changes in their environment, such as moving into a new house, bringing home a new pet, changing their food or litter box, and so on. It has been proven that anxiety can be the cause of a lot of other mental disorders, so it’s important to ask your vet to treat it when you see that your pet acts strangely.
The main symptoms of anxiety in dogs are agitation, aggressive behavior, excessive licking, and barking. In cats, you will see trembling, hiding, aggressive behavior, and loud vocalizations, and in birds, you will notice self harm and plucked feathers. It’s important to tell your vet all these symptoms if you want a proper diagnosis. Vets will usually try to find out more info about your pet’s environment to determine what is causing them stress and anxiety.
Many people don’t know this, but sleep disorders are common in animals, some of them causing too much sleep, and others leading to sleep deprivation. For example, narcolepsy is a mental disorder characterized by irregular sleep-wake cycles. Another common sleep disorder is insomnia. There are many cat owners who say that their furry friends suffer from this disorder. According to animal experts, insomnia can occur in dogs as well, but there are rare cases.
Just like any other disorder, symptoms differ from animal to animal, and treatment will be prescribed based on the severity of the problem. However, veterinarians recommend that you play more with them during the day, and give them medications, acupuncture, and other antioxidants.
It is perfectly normal for certain body functions to deteriorate with age, such as losing their sight and hearing, but your pets can also develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome, also known as CDS, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Unfortunately, pets that suffer from this disease can usually forget their routines, where they are, and even their owners, who can also become aggressive and stressed. When they forget their normal routines and see their owners as strangers, they think that something has changed or that they are threatened, which could lead to anxiety.
Animal experts believe that domestic animals are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s-related symptoms than wild ones because they live longer due to the healthy foods and environment that we provide them with. Treatment for this disorder involves more exercise and a diet filled with more antioxidants, and fatty acids.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Pets with OCD are usually unable to control their behaviors for more than a short period of time, and in some cases, it can lead to pica disorder or trichotillomania.
The most common symptoms of OCD include excessive grooming, loud vocalizations, destroying furniture, and peeing or pooping anywhere in the house. However, according to animal experts, some dog breeds, particularly Dobermans, are more likely to develop OCD because it can be an inherited gene.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can be found in humans as well as animals that have experienced traumatic events. In general, abandoned pets and those that have been injured by humans or other animals suffer from this disorder.
Pets with PTSD tend to become aggressive when they see something that reminds them of that traumatic event. For instance, an abandoned dog that has been beaten by an individual will react aggressively when you want to pet them.
If you want to adopt a shelter animal, it’s important to talk to your vet about what you need to do to help them overcome this disorder. With some therapy and training, they can get over this mental disorder.
If you want to help your pet, these anxiety-reducing mats are perfect!
You should also read: How Can You Tell if Your Dog Truly Loves You? (10 Signs)