SAD -Does Your Pet Have the Winter Blues?

The dead of winter generally refers to the middle of January. It is characterized by long, cold nights and very short days. When the weather gets colder and the days shorter, you tend to spend more time indoors. You might even notice that you are feeling lethargic, fatigued, hungry, and maybe even a little depressed. Some call this the “Winter Blues” while others call it “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. Whatever the name, the condition seems to be tied to the lack of sunshine and overall low daytime light levels.  You may have noticed these same symptoms in your pets.

So, do dogs and cats suffer from SAD? A survey conducted by PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) found that approximately 40% of dog owners saw a considerable downturn in their pet’s moods during winter months.  In addition half of the dog owners felt that their dogs slept longer, with around two in five reporting their pets to be less active overall. According to the survey, the symptoms are not specific to dogs, since one in three cat owners also claim that their pet seemed “sadder” and less playful during the wintertime. For both dog and cat owners one in four of those surveyed reported that their pet’s appetites increased in the winter.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps to help you and your pets feel happier during the long, cold months of winter.

Brighten the lights.

Dogs and cats are peppier when the light is brighter so open the drapes and turn up the indoor lights to create a more day like environment. Check out light bulbs and choose ones that simulate daytime .

Encourage play time.

Cats love to play so make toys, drag enticing objects around, get your cat chasing clumped paper — anything to keep him busy and burning energy. Install a window perch because cats love to sit by the window and watch the birds. It’s free entertainment and can keep them busy for a while. For dogs, games like tug-of-war and wrestling can mean a great workout while building their appetite. For more information about homemade games, click here.

Recalculate food quantities.

If your dog or cat is not outdoors very much, he or she doesn’t need to eat as much. Less food means less weight gain and more energy. If your dog is outdoors with an appropriate dog house, he may need extra calories to stay warm.

Enhance scents around the house.

Scented goodies keep dogs busy as they try to find the source of the smell.  Cats like toys with catnip or may rather fill their time with a scratching post.  Do not use sprays or candles — scented or otherwise — if you have birds, since sprays and candles emit carbons and volatile toxins that can be harmful, or even fatal, to birds if inhaled.

Dogs run in the snow

Go outside.

Even if your cat roams freely, you might not want him to do this in the winter. So to get a cat outdoors and under control, spend a few weeks training him to walk on a leash. It takes patience, but it’s possible. Dogs would welcome romping in the snow and can do this using a long retractable leash.

To find the right indoor toys that will occupy your pet on a cold afternoon as well as pet bedding, houses and accessories, visit the specialists at Braxton’s Animal Works.

If you and your pet have a great way to beat the blues, share your solution by emailing us at [email protected]


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