Colder weather, strange visitors, more darkness and new items in the house are all possible sources of stress, boredom and/or depression in your pets. They may act out or change typical behavior to demonstrate their unhappiness.
Animals are especially routine-driven and love to spend time with their hoomans. When new people and things are introduced, there can be a time of transition and adaptation. Some animals are better than others. If your pet is showing any of the following signs/symptoms, they may be experiencing a case of the blues.
The following tips and ways to help are based upon advice from local vets and are not limited to cats and dogs. Horses, bunnies, and lizards and other pets may experience these too. Consult your vet immediately if your pet stops eating, is lethargic, is having frequent accidents in the house, or you have a gut feeling something is wrong.
Signs of The Blues
- Sleeping more than usual
- New or more serious attention behaviors – chewing, scratching, vocalizations. Sometimes these may be repetitive behaviors to get your attention – a sign of a bored, stressed or nervous pet
- Changes in eating, use of litter box or a random accident in house
- Personality changes – doesn’t greet you at door, looks bored or sad
How To Help
- Identify what is different. Is it your schedule? New people? New items?
- Exercise your pet’s brain and body. Try using a new food/treat dispensers. Play with them. Give them a pet and say hello to them when entering a room.
- Make them a priority too. They are a part of your family and deserve your time and attention. Take them on a walk, settle down next to them to read, give them a special toy or treat when decorating or others are over to reward good behavior and help them feel a part of the fun.
Our pets are part of our holiday festivities. On Thanksgiving, they get a special turkey meal. On Christmas, they have a stocking with a gift to open (usually a toy). And don’t forget the many pets that are not lucky enough to have a home. Donating a bag of food or toys to your local no-kill shelter helps them have a better winter too.
To your health and to keeping our pets spirits bright,
Starr Cortner, M.S, MCHES, ACE, AFAA is a wellness specialist with over 16 years of experience in cardiovascular health and emergency medicine.