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Do our pets get the winter blues?

Blog Home Nov 19, 2020

We all know as the months progress, the leaves start to fall and the temperature suddenly drops, that it can only mean one thing… winter is coming!

As humans, we all know what this can do to our overall disposition. Lots of us can also suffer from disruptions to our sleep-wake cycle, moods, loss of appetite and general sadness until our days eventually start to lengthen and brighten up again.

These specific symptoms in humans are all linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

As pet owners, we have such a deep connection and chemistry to our pets, so does this mean our feelings can also rub off on our pets?

Can our pets also experience the  ‘ultimutt’ winter blues? 

Pet behavioural changes during the winter

 Although it is common for humans to experience a range of mood changes during the winter months, some pet parents may find it hard to believe that our beloved furry companions can also go through the same emotions throughout the colder months!

 Here are 6 behavioral changes you should keep an eye out for:

  • Less willing to play
  • Change of appetite
  • More irritable
  • Weight loss
  • More time spent sleeping
  • Barking more frequently

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – or seasonal depression – is fairly  common in humans,with research showing that one in three people in the UK suffer from (SAD).

But did you know that our pets may also experience some of the symptoms of (SAD) too?

OK, there hasn’t been an official diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder in our pets just yet.

However, experts believe that our pets feeling a bit melancholy in the winter could be related to a decrease in sun-regulated chemicals like melatonin and serotonin.

Just like in humans, serotonin and melatonin combine to improve our pets’ overall moods and social function. When there is less natural exposure to these chemicals due to the time of year, our pets’ good moods can naturally falter. 

 

Are there other reasons why my pet might feel a bit down?

With that being said, there are many other reasons why our pets may come across as being a little down in the dumps!

It’s not them, it’s us

One of the main causes of pet stress can be that our pets pick up on our behavioural changes.

As our pets rely so much on our love and affection, subtle changes in our behaviour (such as not having as much energy as normal) can mean our pets pick up on these feelings within the home and start adapting that into their own little personalities.

Feeling bored

Boredom can also have a huge impact on your pet’s state of mind.

Our pets blossom from playing and not to mention all of the magnificent scents they pick up from the outside on their daily walks!

Therefore, with the weather becoming greyer and gloomier, and the shorter days making us not necessarily want to walk or play with our pet’s outdoors, this can have a major impact on their day to day life.

Sometimes our pets exhibiting signs of boredom can be easy to confuse with signs of serious depression, and vice versa. If you’re worried, it’s always best to speak to your vet. 

How to help your pets get through those ‘ruff’ winter blues (and feline themselves again?)

Do you want to help your pet get out of those winter blues? Here are some easy things you can do to get those endorphins pumping:

 

  • Regular exercise – We know the days and nights are colder, making your daily route with your pet less enjoyable, but getting your pet out in the fresh air will do them the world of good! With the sunlight on their faces and the wind in their fur, getting some time to run and play outside will cheer them up no end.

 

  • Lots of cuddles! – Sounds like a perfect day, right? To help get your pet through their symptoms of (SAD) a little more affection could be all they need to help them get out of those ‘ruff’ winter blues! So, take some time out of your busy schedule just to give your pet that extra bit of TLC to get them through their day.

 

  • Regular playtime – Your pet’s toys are so important to help keep them occupied throughout the day. Introduce regular play-dates with your pooch to keep their minds activate and stimulated. Not only is this good for the mental health of your pet, but it is also good for your mental health too!

It’s clear to some pet parents that our fur-babies can struggle with the winter blues. Give the tips above a try, to help keep your pets feeling happy and satisfied during the cold winter months.

It might even help you shake the blues, too, so it’s a win-win!

 

Don’t forget to keep the fleas out in the cold!

Finally, something that not all pet owners are aware of is the fact that fleas are still exposed to your pets in the winter from the different environments they may find themselves in, both indoor and outdoor.

Therefore, to make sure you’re not adding the stress of fleas to yours and your pet’s life, use Itch Flea monthly treatment to cut off any flea infestations before they’ve had time to hatch, whatever the weather.

Sign up today at itchpet.com to get your first month free.

Sources: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/seasonal-affective-disorder-1-3-people-suffer-sad-9814164.html