Cats and dogs may become reluctant to play as they get older, or due to pain at any age. A change in behaviour of any kind should always be reported to the vet. If the vet has ruled out medical causes, lack of play may be caused by anxiety and the animal not being able to relax enough to enjoy social interaction.
Why doesn’t my pet enjoy social interactions anymore?
Avoidance of people or other pets in the home may be due to a change in the composition of the household or a change in a relationship with an owner. The arrival of babies or children can be difficult for many pets, and this can cause them to withdraw from everyone in the home, especially when the children are around.
They may enjoy social interaction with the adults, but children are always there too! Equally if an owner (or indeed another pet in the household) has done something to cause the dog or cat to become worried about them, this may lead to avoidance behaviour.
Why does my pet not play like they used to?
Many people think it’s only kittens and puppies who are playful and they naturally become less interested in play as they get older. However, this isn’t true! Both dogs and cats are natural predators, and play behaviour allows them an outlet to fulfil these natural instincts.
We can’t stop them from displaying hunting behaviour, but we can definitely channel it! So firstly, make sure you’re offering your pet regular interactive play sessions and that each pet in the home gets one-to-one time to do this so there is no competition between pets.
Sadly, anxiety can cause an animal to become disinterested in play. It will be far down the list in terms of an animal’s priority when they feel like something negative could happen at any time. If they seem hyper-vigilant (constantly scanning the environment) instead of being able to focus on a game, or retreat if there’s an offer of a game, you may need professional support to help them feel more secure.
If you think there could be a situation where your pet could feel like their world is being turned upside down, Zylkene calming capsules could be the answer to help them feel more calm.