Lethargic pets and possible causes

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Lethargic pets and possible causes

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

In response to a letter from Emma about her lethargic dog, Dorie, what about depression? Can’t dogs get depressed? My border collie was treated with a short trial of antidepressants and it was quite helpful. He is a rescue and very atypical of his breed; not energetic and intense, like they usually are.

– Sonia, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Sonia,

Both dogs and cats can suffer from depression, which is usually the result of situational circumstances, like a death in the family, or changes to their living situations, like a move to a new home or kids leaving for college. Certainly, as a rescue dog, Dorie may be mourning her past life, but it’s been eight months and most dogs would have warmed up to the new owner by now.

Some of the clinical signs of canine and feline depression include loss of appetite, lethargy and sleep disturbances, which also can be signs of other illnesses. Susan in Great River, New York, suggested Dorie might have heartworm since it is prevalent in South Carolina. Hopefully, Emma’s family will find out what’s wrong with Dorie soon. Lethargy is not normal in a cat or dog.  

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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