Posts Tagged ‘help’

Signs your animal is depressed (and how to help)

A new job, a new baby, a new pet, the loss of a pet, a new house—sometimes we forget that the major life events that stress us out can stress out our animals as well. Suddenly the routines your animals have been used to their entire lives have been turned upside down. You may be working longer hours or having to give all of your attention to a new member of the family. Your animal is going to notice. Whatever the case, these changes may be seriously impacting the emotional life of your cat or dog. And because some cats and dogs are less resilient to life changes than others, it’s important to consider not just how this change is affecting your animal, but also how you can ward off (and begin to heal) a serious condition like depression.

What does depression in animals look like, and how can we help them? Every creature is different, but here are some common warning signs—along with a few tips on how you can help:

Signs of Depression in Animals

1. Losing interest in food—or eating way too much.

2. Lack of enthusiasm. Did your dog used to love going for walks, but now he doesn’t even react when you pick up the leash? Did your cat used to greet you when you got home from work, but now you can’t find her anywhere?

3. Sleeping more than usual or acting lethargic.

4. Obsessive behaviors. Does your dog lick or bite his feet excessively? Does your cat groom herself so much she’s getting a bald spot? On the flip side, if your cat stops grooming altogether, that’s another sign she may be depressed.

5. Biting or other aggressive behaviors. Aggression is a clear sign your animal is not in balance with his or her emotions. If your animal used to be calm and peaceful but has now taken to nipping you or others, he or she may be depressed.

How to Help

1. Visit the vet. First things first: You need to rule out any physical problems that may be causing any of the above behavior changes. If depression is suspected following a full medical workup, your vet can offer some helpful treatment options.

2. Offer extra attention and cuddles. Like us, animals crave human contact and need to feel that they’re loved. Though your schedule may be packed already, you’ll need to fit at least 30 minutes of one-on-one time with your animal every day doing something special. Take your dog for a walk, throw the ball in the park and reward him with treats—whatever he loves best. Hold your cat and give her extra cuddles and pets. Cats also love playing hunting games that challenge their minds and bodies, so make sure to set aside some “play time” with them every day. Most cats and dogs also love being groomed, so brush their fur every day if you can. This kind of closeness can help to support your animal when they are hurting.

3. Share Reiki. Reiki is a wonderful addition to any treatment program because it helps your animal become calm and relaxed (and your animal will love spending this time with you!). If you suspect your animal is depressed, try my Peace Affirmation (from my book Reiki for Dogs), which can help you support your animal on his or her healing journey:

Peace Affirmation
Close your eyes and sit comfortably with the word “peace” inside your heart and body for several minutes. Feel the meaning and truth of that word/emotion permeate your whole being. Imagine what it would look like if your animal were perfectly peaceful and calm. Hold that vision, as if it is already achieved, within your heart and mind for several minutes. When you are ready, offer the possibility of peace as a gentle, loving bridge of light, from your heart to the heart of your animal. Include within the light all the emotions that go with the word. Continue holding that affirmation and bridge of light for an additional several minutes.

4. Curb their loneliness. It could be as simple as leaving the radio on when you’re gone all day, or installing a perch so they can watch the wildlife out the window when you’re at work. Doggie day camps and pet-sitters can also offer attention when you’re not there. If your animal is sad because his best friend recently passed, bringing a new playmate into the house could be just the thing to cheer them up. Of course, you need to pick the right dog or cat—with just the right temperament to balance your animal. How do you ensure that? Make sure to include your animal in the selection process and follow these tips for new cats and dogs.

5. Consider an anti-depressant. If weeks or months have passed and you’ve tried everything, and your animal just isn’t snapping out of it, talk with your vet about whether or not a medication might be in order. Just like us humans, sometimes dogs and cats need and respond really well to anti-depressant treatments, especially when nothing else seems to be working.

Has your animal ever been depressed? What did you do to help them?

A special meditation for the animals of Nepal

I want to take a few moments today to offer my thoughts and blessings to the people and animals affected by the recent earthquake in Nepal. Being so far away from the disaster, it’s easy to feel helpless during tragic times like these. But there are things we can do, however small.

Making a donation to a charity is one way to help. This article in The Dodo lists a number of animal organizations as those working hard to bring food, veterinary care and shelter to the animals hurt by this disaster, including: Humane Society International, Animal Nepal, World Animal Protection and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Another way that I’ve chosen to help is to offer this special meditation of peace and healing for the animals (and their people) affected by this disaster. Meditation is always something I can grab onto, no matter how down I feel. I hope it helps you, too.

Healing Meditation for the Animals of Nepal (and Their People)

Find a comfortable place to sit, with your beloved animal at your side if you wish.  Place your hands, palms together, in front of your heart, and dedicate this practice to all the animals of Nepal and their people. Then rest your hands on your lap or on your animal. If your animal is close to you, he/she may want to support you in this meditation.

Close your eyes as you breathe. As you inhale, imagine the breath as a beautiful healing light flowing up from the earth and through your body to your heart. On the exhale, imagine your heart as a bright light that expands to fill your whole being and then out into the universe. Inhale strength from the earth into your heart; exhale the bright light of your heart into the universe.

Continue this breath at your own pace for 10 repetitions. Then allow your breath to return to normal and breathe gently.

Turn your mind toward the animals of Nepal and their people. Feel the light at your heart shining so brightly. Repeat in your mind, “May you be free of suffering. May your heart feel peaceful. May you be healed. Know that you are loved.” Continue to repeat these words in your mind for several minutes as you feel them radiating out.

Imagine the light of your heart shines so brightly that it can reach all animals and people in need. Your light is so bright that any darkness or suffering disappears. If you feel distracting thoughts, imagine they are clouds just floating by. Don’t chase them; let them come, and let them go.

When you are ready, set your intention to finish, take a nice, deep breath and slowly open your eyes.

Do you have any additional thoughts on how we can help the victims of the Nepal quake?