Can dogs get Seasonal Affective Disorder?
As the dark nights creep in and hours of sunlight diminish by the day, we know that winter is approaching. But for all the fun festivities that the season brings, some find their sense of well-being suffers. This is known as, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We know how less daylight can impact our lives, but what about our four-legged friends? Can dogs get Seasonal Affective Disorder too?
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder, also fittingly known as SAD or winter depression, affects between 0.5 and 3% of the population annually* during fall and winter.
Research continues to be done as to why this happens, but from what scientists do understand, the condition is linked to shorter days and therefore, less sunlight. A lack of sunlight can then affect the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This can lead to decreased production of the hormones melatonin, which regulates sleep, and serotonin, responsible for a large part in controlling our mood and appetite. It is also likely that our bodies’ internal clocks are disturbed by the lower light levels, causing further symptoms of SAD, such as oversleeping, weight gain and social withdrawal.
Do dogs get SAD?
There is no official diagnosis of SAD in dogs, but recent studies** have suggested that seasons can negatively affect animals as well. Surveys also show that many dog owners notice that their dogs seem down and less enthusiastic during the winter months. Due to this, awareness of SAD in dogs is growing.
SAD in dogs – what are the signs?
Symptoms of SAD in dogs include a persistent low mood, loss of interest in otherwise fun activities, increased appetite, and the need for more sleep than normal – very similar to how humans experience SAD. You should also watch out for out-of-character canine potty accidents and hair loss, as these can be symptoms too.
Beating canine SAD
When it comes to SAD, there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. And, by following the below, your furry friend can be on their way to enjoying everything the new season brings and beating the blues.
Keep Fido fit
Keeping your dog fit and active is one way to lift their mood. While it can be tempting to avoid the outdoors when it’s muddy and rainy, it’s important to keep up with their normal active routine throughout the colder months. Continue to meet up on pup playdates and make an effort to ensure dog walks remain exciting by practicing some new tricks, changing the pace, or trying out a new location. Even better, if your work schedule allows it, walk your dog while the sun is still up, so you’re both soaking up some natural light.
Light up their life
Humans with SAD can sometimes benefit from artificial sunlight lamps, specially designed to mimic sunlight. There is currently no evidence a SAD light will help boost your dog’s serotonin, but contact your veterinarian to find out if this could be an option. Plus, if it helps to make you feel better, your dog will pick up on your uplifted mood and in turn, they’re less likely to suffer, being so in touch with their owner’s emotions.
Natural sunlight is more likely to help your dog though, so when Fido is at home, keep the blinds and curtains open during the daytime to let in as much light as possible.
A little reshuffle
Where you place your dog’s bed and crate is an important decision. After all, our four-legged friends average anywhere between 12 and 14 hours of sleep every day. A dog bed and dog crate should be placed in a cozy spot, free from drafts and disturbances but, when fall comes around, a little reshuffling can go a long way. If their bed is hidden away in a dark corner and far away from a window, you should consider moving it somewhere closer to a spot where natural light comes in.
Any sudden change in your dog’s behavior can be a cause for concern. While SAD isn’t uncommon in pets, you should first question whether there have been any other major changes in your or your dog’s lives. Perhaps you’ve moved home recently, or maybe you’ve got a new job so haven’t been able to spend as much time with them. Once these are ruled out, a trip to the veterinarian will also be able to rule out any physical illness or injury.
Should your veterinarian diagnose your pup with SAD, they’ll likely suggest new ways to keep your dog stimulated or offer a supplement to give them.
Omlet and your dog
Omlet dog products have been designed for all seasons. From cozy dog beds and luxury dog blankets to dog cooling mats and dog toys, Omlet products are engineered to make sure you and your dog are happy together, whatever the weather.
This entry was posted in Dogs