Do dogs get Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The days are drawing in and getting shorter, the sun has stopped greeting us in the early morning and the warmth of the summer is slowly starting to fade. For many, the winter blues will soon hit - many people get S.A.D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that causes a myriad of unpleasant symptoms, including low energy, loss of appetite, and feelings of sadness that usually start in the late autumn or early winter and go away “during the sunnier days of spring and summer.”
If you, or those around you are affected by the changing seasons, could your dog get affected? You may naturally be concerned about your pets, especially if you’ve noticed behavioral changes in them.
Little research has been done on SAD or mood disorders in pets. However, one survery in the UK showed that owners do think that their pets get depressed during darker months.
Half of the owners reported that their pets slept for longer and 20% of them said that their pets were less active during the autumn and winter.
There is no denying that during the winter most walks get shorter, and less frequent. There is less play time in the garden and a lot more of staying in the house.
Whether your pet has SAD, is mirroring your mood, or is bored, there are some things you can try to improve overall well-being.
Place your pup's bed close to a window or under a skylight; this will allow your pet to have more exposure to natural light.
Serotonin is the "feel good" chemical produced in the brain, and its levels tend to rise as one gets more exercise and is exposed to more sunlight.
Another option is a full spectrum lamp that makes it look like the sun is shining. In contrast to most of the bulbs in your house, these specialized light treatment items simulate natural light.
Going outside is good not only for you but also for your buddy. It allows the animals to roam about, improves their circulation, and helps them feel more grounded. Your dog will enjoy natural sunshine and socialize with other pets and people.
Mental activities like trick training and toy play can lift a dog's attitude. Along with food-based toys, there are also a variety of puzzle games available for canine companions.
On the other hand, the most enjoyable games involve a human participant and encourage the dog's participation.
It might be as simple as giving them a new command or as exciting as playing a vigorous game of tug.
Engaging in fun activities with your canine companion is an excellent approach to maintaining your own and each other's sense of well-being throughout the colder, darker months of the year.
Your dog will be grateful to you if you spend some time outside, keep active, and take advantage of the winter sunlight.
What About Diet, Supplements, and Vitamin D?
Extra Vitamin D supplementation is ususally not reqiured, most pet food has enough. However, supplementation with natural ingredients that contribute to improved mood, behavior, and overall well-being could be recommended.