Mental Disorders That Affect Our Pets Too

In this day and age, pets are cared for in a similar manner to children and although the reasons why vary, pet parents fuss over their animals to ensure that they both make the most of the time that they have together.  According to experts, this is because rather than having children, many young adults, in addition to empty nesters, are adopting pets for companionship. Much like children, animals too suffer from mental disorders, and it wasn’t recently that many of them were discovered. Here’s a list of conditions that animals also experience. 

1. Pica

While most people think it’s funny or cute when animals chew up pillows, cords, or homework, it loses its humor when the pet parent realizes the cost of that kind of behavior. When animals or people eat items that aren’t food, it is often said that they suffer from a condition called pica (in humans) eating your homework (dos) or wool-sucking behavior (cats). Whatever it is called, what may seem like an inconvenience can turn into a life-threatening illness that can cause digestive issues for their pet. Additionally, it could result in dental problems, deficiencies, and cause the need for surgery. 

2. Trichotillomania

Hairballs are commonly seen in cats as their grooming habits often result in swallowing a lot of fur. While hairballs are normal, they can become a problem when cats groom themselves so much that it results in patchy fur and irritated skin. Trichotillomania is a condition whereby a person or animal has the strong urge to pull out their own hair. This is known as over-grooming and is thought to be due to stress and can affect any mammal. 

3. Autism

Conditions on the Autism spectrum are no longer listed as illnesses, and while these common human conditions are not fully understood and even less so in animals. Repetitive behaviors like chasing its own tail are thought to be on the autism spectrum and are thought to be linked to genetic lines in certain breeds. The Bull Terriers often exhibit their traits, and some subsets are less social than many others. It was also found that chemicals found in some autistic people have been found in some dogs. 

4. Depression

It has long been known that animals other than humans have been shown to suffer from depression. Researchers have found that several zoo animals show signs which include anything from lethargy and strange eating habits to compulsive behaviors and self-harm. Much like humans, these animals are prescribed antidepressants but there is no clear evidence that they are actually depressed. The best way to know if one’s pet has been feeling a bit off, is to observe them and seek help if the behavior persists. 

5. Alzheimer’s Disease

Some mental illnesses are associated with aging, and none is more commonly associated with getting older than Alzheimer’s Disease. Older pets often get a pass when they begin to slow down and although their sight and hearing are commonly affected, their cognitive skills should remain intact. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia cause the decline of a person or animal’s memory, thinking and behavior. It becomes so bad that it affects their daily tasks and some animals have been shown to become aggressive towards people who were once familiar. If that is the case, there is medication available.


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