Is Your Dog SAD?
November is here, the season of shorter days, falling temperatures, and for many of us, bouts of the winter blues.
Is Your Dog SAD?
November is here, the season of shorter days, falling temperatures, and for many of us, bouts of the winter blues. For some it becomes more than just the blues; it is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which is a type of depression that commonly occurs in humans, especially in the winter months. Why? We spend less time outdoors, have little access to warmer, bright, sunny days, and have fewer hours of daylight each day.
While the disorder commonly causes depression-like symptoms in humans, dogs too, can be affected. The dark, gloomy days and longer, colder nights of winter can cause dogs to develop SAD like symptoms, just like humans. And if you are affected by seasonal change, you may naturally be concerned about your pets, especially if you’ve noticed behavioral changes in them. In dogs, symptoms include lethargy, neediness, behavioral change, such as aggression, accidents, and a general feeling of “blah.” In extreme or extended cases, even hair loss can occur.
Humans share much of the same brain chemistry as dogs, including the hormones melatonin and serotonin. When daylight decreases, the brain produces more melatonin and less serotonin. Both of these changes can have a negative effect on our mood. So what can you do to ease your dog’s (and your) SAD? The same thing that will lift your dog’s spirits can also give you a boost this winter. Here are a few of the things that can help ease Seasonal Affective Disorder:
- Get outside and let the sunshine in! Have you ever noticed how dogs will find the smallest beam of sunshine through the window to lie down and take a nap? Since melatonin production decreases when you’re exposed to less light; more light can help. Take your pup out and play in the yard, in the leaves or the snow, or try and get outside for a 30 minute walk each day. Use protectant wax or booties to protect your dog’s tender pads from snow and ice, and more importantly salt and chemicals on roads and sidewalks. We know it’s cold outside this time of year which can make it difficult to get outside, but you will absolutely feel better—and so will your dog!
- Reduce your stress! In the winter, it can be harder to manage stress. As a result, your dog will feel the tension and it can negatively affect them as well. Our pets’ moods can mirror our mood. If we’re moody around the house all day, our furry companions can pick up on this. Try and spend quality time with your dog instead of rushing around from work to tasks to social obligations, which can make anyone grumpy, strained and worn out.
- Keep them engaged indoors. Making time to interact with your companion on a daily basis inside the home is essential to their wellbeing. Provide toys to ward off boredom. If you need to be away from home for extended periods, letting them have access to a window can be beneficial, allowing them to watch nature, people or even cars/ trucks driving by.
- Make changes to your pup’s diet. One thing to consider is a quality pet probiotic supplement. Probiotics can improve gut health in pets, similar to what it does for the human microbiome, which in turn may contribute to improved mood, behavior, and overall well-being. Also a diet consisting of adequate levels of essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, can help with your pet’s cognitive function.
Winter makes a lot of us want to hold up, snuggle with our furry friends, stay warm, and binge watch our favorite TV shows and movies. However, be aware and keep an eye out for changes in your pet’s behavior. It’s worth it during these winter months to put in the extra effort to keep your beloved companion happy, active and healthy.
Sara Forsberg has been part of the BARF team since 2019. She has been passionate about animals since a small child growing up with a Siberian Husky and 3 cats, and as an adult having a Labrador Retriever that suffered from a lot of allergy problems. She now has an indoor/ outdoor farm cat rescue named Callie, and a new addition in another Lab named Jax. She has 7 children that keep her busy in most of her spare time; but enjoys anything on or near the water, spending time with friends and family, music, reading and cooking.
"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!