According to the PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity, 30% of dog owners questioned in a recent survey said that their dogs became less playful and seemed ‘sadder’ during the winter.
In the same survey 40% of owners also thought that their dogs slept more frequently and for longer periods of time, and quite often lost all interest in walks.
SAD is a disorder many people suffer from in the winter months; it’s believed that the lack of sunlight to the eye’s retina increases the amount of melanin produced by the body. It’s thought that a release of melanin into our bloodstream depresses our mood and makes us feel drowsy.
Looking at our dogs in the same context, then it’s not surprising they appear to show the symptoms of SAD during the winter months. Added to this, dogs pick up on our moods, so if we are affected by SAD our dogs are more likely to show the symptoms too.
If you find your dog is quieter during winter, keep an eye on the amount of food you are giving him – it’s all too easy for inactive dogs to pile on the weight, so you may need to cut back on the rations.
You could also try making exercise time more exciting to lift your dogs spirits – short, energetic games are more fun than long walks on cold, dark evenings.
Try a playing fetch with a favorite toy, or a game of frisby. I find games like that lift both your moods, and keep you warm!
Zoe and I used to play ‘fast training’ in the park when it was cold. Basically we practised all her obedience training at a fast walk or run. So we’d start with her running beside me; then slow to a walk; then I’d get her to stay whilst I walked on ahead and I’d call her to heel whilst starting to jog; then we’d sprint; then … well it went on for 10 minutes or so as we alternated between exercises. You could see her really paying attention to my commands and she always had that eager look on her face as she waited for the next command – so different to how dogs often look when you practice obedience training!
[tags]SAD, seasonal affected disorder, winter dog care[/tags]