It’s officially that time of the year: winter is dragging, and everyone is in need of a little sunshine and warmth. Everyone, we should add, includes our pets! While there is no research-based evidence to back the claims that our indoor-only pets are at risk of developing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), veterinarians and animal behaviorists suspect that our furry friends are also affected, in some ways, by the drearier months.
According to animal behavior consultant Steve Dale, dogs experience the hormones melatonin and serotonin in similar ways to humans. During the shorter days of winter, the brain produces more melatonin and less serotonin, resulting in cranky moods and less energy. While we can’t be certain, we can deduce that dogs also experience this decrease in the hormone that contributes to our wellness and overall happiness.
Other people theorize that pets that exhibit symptoms of SAD during gloomy days, especially in the low energy department, may actually be mirroring our moods. This is something that sounds feasible to us — especially given how attuned both felines and canine are to our daily emotional states. In fact, given how quickly canines can detect and pick up on mood shifts (it’s been proven that dogs can smell human fear and in turn become afraid), we wouldn’t be surprised if they respond similarly to humans feeling sad, low energy, or withdrawn.
While it has yet to be scientifically proven that dogs and cats suffer from SAD, it’s unarguable that both felines and canines are affected by light. While the days are gradually getting longer (finally!), there are a few easy ways to make sure your four-legged family member is getting enough exposure to natural light on a daily basis, like situating their bed close to a sun-facing window, and leaving the blinds open during the day hours.
Of course, if your furry friend is lethargic, low energy, or has a loss of appetite, we recommend taking them to the vet before anything else.
What do you think? Do you notice your pet being down in the dumps during the winter? Feel free to share in the comments!
Curious to read more? We liked this article: https://www.petmd.com/behavior/does-seasonal-affective-disorder-affect-pets