We spend much of our time connected. Whether that connection is through an iPad, cell, or our busy life in front of computers, there’s no denying, we spend lots of time “plugged in”. But what happens to the rest of our lives, including our time with pets, when we are disengaged from them? 

The emotional lives of animals isn’t a new field of study. Our animals experience a wide range of emotions from joy to fear, grief to even depression.

Since we know from human studies that excessive smartphone use can cause depression, the question is can your cell depress your pet? The team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is here to take a closer look.

Depression in Dogs

Just like us, dogs can suffer from depression. Since they cannot express this to us verbally, their signs are subtle. There are many factors that contribute to the doggo blues, which include a residential move or other environmental changes, isolation, medical conditions that cause pain, loss of a loved one, and lack of exercise. 

If you suspect your cell phone fixation has caused the bond between you and your pet to lessen, it can lead to clinical depression. Signs of depression are:

  • Withdrawal
  • Inactive, no interest in exercise
  • Changes in sleep (too much, restless sleep)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lethargy

These signs can be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian who can help you get to the source of your pet’s mood.

Does Time on Your Cell Depress Your Pet?

Not always. If you are not on your smartphone or other device excessively, they may not even notice. Your pet does need your attention and care, and when you aren’t spending time devoted solely to them, problems with behavior or mood are more likely.

According to a UK based study, increased use on a cellular device can cause anxiety and depression in dogs. Veterinary surgeon and founder of VetUK, Iain Booth explained. “We’re a nation obsessed with our mobile phones. But this gadget dependence is jeopardizing the important relationships we have with our pets, particularly dogs and to a lesser extent, house cats.”

Preventing Depression 

Since the amount of time you spend glued to your device correlates to your pet’s mood, there is a solution. Spending more time with your best friend can encourage a better bond between you and can help them stay healthier and happier in the long run. 

Some simple suggestions for preventing anxiety and depression caused by lack of attention include:

  • Make the time to walk or play with your pet without the cellphone. 20-30 minutes is a good target.
  • Whenever you get home at the end of the day, spend some time snuggling and greeting your pet.
  • Change up where you walk, give your pet some fun toys, or do something new with your pet that will engage both of you in playtime and bonding.

Do you have any questions about depression in pets? Please call us!