The Role of Mental Health in Holistic Pet Care

By Marty Grosjean
The Role of Mental Health in Holistic Pet Care

The holistic approach to pet care takes both the physical health and mental well-being of the pet into consideration when diagnosing an illness or implementing preventive care to keep your four–legged friend healthy and happy.

But while the physical aspects of your pet’s wellness can be maintained with proper diet, plenty of exercise, and routine visits to the veterinarian, holistic pet care also places an emphasis on your pet’s mental wellness to diagnose and treat a wide range of ailments and conditions.

The Importance of Pet Mental Health

Our pets are just like us in many ways, their health and wellness can be impacted by stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental or psychological conditions that can be major contributors to your pet’s well-being.

We may not know what our pets are thinking or the emotions they may be feeling, but there are often tell-tale indicators in the way they act and behave towards you, other pets, or even themselves.

They may start vocalizing more often than usual, exhibiting destructive or anti-social behaviors, demonstrate changes in appetite or lose interest in activities and routines they normally enjoy or pursue on any given day. Some pets may start to exhibit the symptoms of stress or anxiety in obvious ways, such as hair loss, nervous scratching, or aggressive and angry reactions to otherwise normal interactions with those around them.

How Your Pet’s Mental Health Impacts Their Physical Health

Think about it, when you are under pressure or dealing with stressful situations, you may feel the physical consequences that come about as a result. Headaches, back pain, emotional changes that might leave you feeling agitated or sad, even exhaustion and the short or long-term impacts that come with it - all of these can weaken your immunity and manifest themselves as physical illness or ailments that range from some minor blemishes on the skin to coming down with a cold or flu that has you bed-ridden.

It’s the same thing with our pets. Stress and anxiety can lead to physical symptoms that put your pet’s health and well-being at risk. Whether it’s tummy problems or skin irritation, what might be simple and straightforward as normal symptoms of a physical condition, the true source of that condition may actually be due to compromised mental health stemming from stressful situations or traumatic experiences that your pet has never quite successfully overcome.

In situations such as these, the physical symptoms that your pet is presenting need to be addressed through an effective treatment regiment. But merely eliminating the symptoms without treating the cause of them will only keep your pet uncomfortable and unhealthy. When the cause of the pain, discomfort, or erratic and destructive behaviors is related to the pet’s mental health, it is vital that you and your veterinarian target the root cause and treat the mental and the physical at the same time.

Only a holistic approach to observing your pet’s behaviors and diagnosing the problems that are affecting their health can improve your pet’s quality of life over the long-term.

If your pet is showing some changes in their behavior or appetite, it is imperative that you call your vet for a professional examination to get an accurate diagnosis. If behavioral changes or loss of appetite are apparent in your pet’s routine or attitude, scheduling an appointment with your vet to determine what has triggered these changes is essential for maintaining positive health outcomes.

Improving Your Pet’s Mental Health

Some pets may be stressed out, others anxious, some pets may be bored and uninspired, looking for stimulation and excitement. When your pet is dealing with some mental health challenges, they may start to act up and practice destructive routines as a way to let you know they aren’t happy.

A visit to the vet can be helpful, but sometimes, your pet just needs more mental stimulation or if stress is a major concern, find what is making your pet so worried or anxious and help them overcome it….or at the very least, avoid it. Even removing your pet from a stressful environment can do wonders for their mental health and the physical symptoms that are being presented may soon be a thing of the past.