No need to be SAD during winter

We all know that people can get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ – at this time of year and it might seem like our pets feel down too, but how much do the seasons really affect our pets?

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, explains: “Pets don’t suffer with SAD in the same way humans do, but that’s not to say they don’t feel different at this time of year.

Seasonal changes in pets:

Eating more.
You might notice your pet appears hungrier over cooler months. There are lots of reasons why this could be happening. One theory is that even though our cats and dogs have been domesticated for years, the instinct to build up fat stores so they have the energy to stay warm over the winter still remains. It could also be that if we’re spending more time with them in winter.

Sleeping more.
You might notice your pet prefers to nap a little longer, especially as evenings and mornings get darker. Again, there’s a good chance this could be similar to how shorter days affect us humans – less daylight hours in winter can affect hormones that control how much sleep we need, meaning your pet could be more likely to sleep more.

Stiff joints.
As the temperature drops, pets who suffer from arthritis or stiff joints might find moving a little harder and start to slow a bit more.

More shedding. You might find your pet sheds more during the autumn months due to the process of moulting as their thicker winter coat comes through, so you might find more hair around the home.

Looking after your pet during seasonal changes

  • Make sure to keep your home a comfortable temperature for your pet.
  • Provide a cosy space to curl up in, lifted off the floor to stop them from lying in drafts and cats prefer a bed that’s high up.
  • Pay more attention to older pets and make sure you call the vet if they’re struggling with the drop in temperature.
  • Provide extra litter trays that are well spaced out among your home for cats reluctant to go outside.
  • Think about getting a coat for recovering, unwell or older dogs or those with thinner fur.
  • Don’t stop exercising your pet! They’ll still need to get just as much exercise as they normally would to keep them healthy and stop them from getting bored.
  • Try to take dogs out for their daily walks and allow cats to have exercise. In extreme weather conditions though, they may need to stay in, so try a game with a fun toy to keep your cat, dog or rabbits entertained indoors instead.

Nina said: “It’s important that you use every chance you get to go for walks in the daylight, as this will help you and your pet to stay feeling positive and get through the winter months.

Most dogs will still be excited to go out for their normal walks come rain or shine, but even if they don’t seem as keen in the colder months.”

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