Do Dogs Get The Winter Blues? Here’s How To Spot Doggy Depression…
In humans, the winter blues are very common. Lots of us can feel our mood take a nosedive when the days are cold and dark, and the warmth of summer feels like a lifetime away.
But have you ever noticed your dog’s mood change during the winter? Is it possible that dogs can get the winter blues too?
According to research, the answer is yes!
According to a survey by the PDSA, approximately 8 million pets exhibited classic SAD (seasonal affective disorder) symptoms in winter, with around 40% of dog owners saying they saw a significant downturn in the mood of their four-legged friends.
The findings also showed that, in the winter months, 43 per cent of pets have less energy, 59 per cent sleep for longer periods and 47 per cent demand more affection from their owners.**
What’s the reason behind it?
It’s all to do with the effect that light has on hormones. One of these hormones is melatonin. Science tells us more of it is produced when light conditions are poor – and an increase of melatonin results in increased feelings of lethargy.
The other hormone affected by light is serotonin. Just as in humans, serotonin is thought to have a tangible effect on the mood of dogs, affecting appetite and sleep, too.
What can you do about it?
As a lack of light is thought to be one of the major contributing factors to low mood in dogs, increasing your dog’s exposure to light is the best way to tackle it.
The best way to do this is to maximise the amount of time they spend in daylight. Try going for walks during the brightest part of the day and grab extra chances to get outside in the garden for a game of tug with your dog’s favourite Tug-E-Nuff toy. Playing tug has lots of other benefits too – and you can find out more about that here.
But if it’s too cold to get out and about, playing at home can be a great way to cheer your dog up. Check out these ideas for making indoor play super fun.
We all feel better after spending time with friends, so why not invite some friends and their four-legged friends over for a doggy play date?
You can also try moving your dog’s bed to the brightest spot in your home and you can even buy light boxes that mimic daylight and are designed to combat SAD symptoms in humans, that are thought to help pets too.
How do you help your dog make the most of the daylight hours in winter? Share your tips in the comments!