Winter Blues

combat the blues with your four-legged friend

At this time of year it's easy to feel a little fed up - dark mornings, dark evenings, cold (and often wet!) weather. For many Brits, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition which makes the winter months truly tough, but research has shown that our four-legged friends can also exhibit the symptoms of SAD.

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is the result of two opposing hormones – Melatonin and Serotonin - and how the balance of these hormones are affected as a result of reduced light exposure during the winter. This lack of sunlight causes an increase in Melatonin, which makes mammals sleepier. It also leads to low levels of Serotonin (commonly known as the ‘Happy Hormone’), which can lead to depression and a craving for comfort food.

Symptoms to look out for

  • Sleeping more
  • Reluctant to go outside
  • Less active than usual
  • Less energy/are lethargic
  • Eating more
  • Generally hungrier
  • Desire to be alone and in a quiet place
  • Eating more comfort food/begging for human food more often
  • Sadder than usual
  • Less playful

Top tips for reducing SAD in dogs

  • Taking walks in daylight hours is a must and when on walks get dogs really moving; jumping logs and chasing balls
  • During the week when time may be limited, try placing your pet's bed under a skylight or close to a window to help take advantage of what little light there is
  • Nutrition plays a big part in mood, and poor diet can be directly linked to lethargy and depression within canines
  • Play games inside the home to stimulate the dog, such as ‘find it’ games, indoor agility or ‘take it and leave it’ games
  • No matter the size or shape of your pet, the garden offers a great outdoor space for your dog to get some natural sunlight
  • Feed your dog a healthy, natural diet and avoid nasties and fillers. Eating poor quality dog food, or even human leftover food, can increase behavioural problems and isn’t good for the overall health of dogs