Updated April 3rd, 2024 at 19:43 IST

Does Your Pet Need Therapy? Navigating Your Fur Babies' Mental Health

Having an emotional support pet is not unheard of. However, in today's day and age one must not shy away from partaking in conversation about pet mental health.

Pets | Image:Unsplash
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Having a pet to care for (and cuddle!) has been proven to significantly elevate one's mental health lifestyle choices. Those riddled with conditions like anxiety and depression, have shown great improvement in the presence of emotional support pets. However, what happens when the tables turn? While pet therapy may be laughed off by many as an unnecessary path to tread down, concerns about pet mental health are on the rise and make for a conversation that must be had and considered seriously.

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Behavioral support


At its core, pet mental health is not all that different from our own mental health. While the symptoms and outward behaviour might appear largely similar, the underlying causes and thought patterns are significantly different. The same goes for pets. Just as there is an abundance of specifically skilled mental health practitioners, the same goes for pets.

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Board-certified veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Kat Pankratz, in a conversation with The Wildest, shared, "Veterinary behaviorists have the skills to assess the pet as a whole - physically and mentally. We can diagnose behavior conditions and formulate a comprehensive treatment plan".

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Navigating nuisance behaviour


Pets more often than not, tend to be 'naughty' - which is where training them comes into play and is of utmost importance. While digging holes in the backyard, clawing your couch cushions, and jumping up on house guests all form part and parcel of the average pet-owing experience, it is important to be extremely mindful about potential changes in the tone of your pet's day to day behaviour.

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Dr. Pankratz elaborates, "Any behavior that reaches a point where it impacts a pet’s ability to eat, drink, rest, or engage in enjoyable activities could be a sign of something more pathologic". While the specifics of a diagnosis is the responsibility of the medical practitioner, staying in dynamic touch with your pet's day to day tone and tenor of living is the first step in spotting the tell-tale signs. 

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Published April 3rd, 2024 at 19:43 IST