When the days get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, many of us can suffer with the “winter blues”, officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. This condition affects countless people but it can also affect your pet. Long, dark, and gloomy days can have a negative impact on your dog’s mood and may lead to the development of depressive symptoms
We share much of the same brain chemistry with dogs, including the hormones melatonin and serotonin. When daylight decreases, the brain produces more melatonin and less serotonin. Both of these changes can have an adverse effect on mood.
Symptoms and Treatment Options
Seasonal affective disorder affects dogs in different ways. One of the most common symptoms dogs is lethargy or changes in behaviour. If your dog normally greets you at the bedroom door in the morning then follows you eagerly into the kitchen for breakfast but he suddenly stops doing this, it could be a symptom of SAD. Other symptoms can include loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, reduction in energy levels, changes in behaviour, changes in eating habits and general depressed mood.
It may be possible that your pet is simply bored. Some dogs sleep more and spend less time outside with people during the winter months and as a result may not get adequate exercise or mental stimulation.
If you think your dog might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, here are some simple things to help make them feel better.
- Try placing your pet’s bed under a window or skylight where they can get the most natural light possible. This is especially important for animals, such as indoor cats, who are unable to go outside.
- Open the curtains to allow as much natural sunlight in your home as you can.
- Even when the weather is gloomy, be sure not to skip out on your dog’s walks. Venturing outside gives your pet the opportunity to exercise and improve their circulation. A side benefit is that your dog will also get exposure to natural sunlight. Motivating our dogs to go out into the cold may be less of an issue than it is for us. Even the most depressed dog would be eager to play in the snow.
- Pay plenty of attention to him throughout the day to keep him in good spirits. If you need to be away from home for extended periods, letting them have access to a window can be beneficial.
Hope our tips can help you and your pet enjoy the winter months!
Mark + Chappell