Mental wellness is emotional contentment and satisfaction or a state of persistent happiness. Mental distress in dogs and cats is caused by fear, anxiety and frustration, emotions that invariably lead to behavioural challenges. Here’s how to ensure mental wellness.
Physically, stress affects dogs and cats just as it does to us, causing a marked increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and nervous output. If the stress is chronic, the immune system can become depressed, leaving the body susceptible to a wide variety of diseases.
Promoting mental wellness in our pets means reducing stress in their lives as much as possible which in turn promote our life as well. It is done by ensuring that the emotional and physical needs of our pets are being met. Physical needs include ready access to food, water, and shelter, and the ability to eliminate when the need arises. Some important aspects for promoting wellness are:
- Provide fresh food and water to your pet on a daily basis.
- Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. Make a schedule for your pet and stick to it.
- Daily walks, exercise sessions, play periods, and/or grooming sessions will all contribute to overall mental wellness and contentment of your pet while promoting physical vibrancy at the same time.
- Catering to your pet ’s instinctive cravings will help prevent boredom and the stress that it causes. Provide enough variety, novelty, and interaction.
- Be sure to properly establish a dominance hierarchy between you and your pet through proper training.
- A houseful of visitors can be stressful to both dogs and cats, who of ten view the human visitors as territorial intruders. When you have guests at home, keep your pet in a quiet place.
- Have your pets neutered. This is especially true for male dogs and cats, who can become quite stressed and frustrated if not allowed to roam, fight, and satisfy their territorial and sexual urges.
- If your pet becomes highly stressed when travelling, consider hiring a pet sitter to take care of your pet at your home while you are away.
- Pain, injury, and illness can cause havoc on a pet’s mental health. So prioritise your pet’s preventive health care programme and consult your
(Dr MK Sharma is veterinary officer at Government Veterinary Hospital, Pratapgarh, Rajasthan).