NEW RESEARCH REVEALS DOGS CAN SUFFER FROM SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (S.A.D)
- Over half (61%) of UK dog owners notice a difference in their dogs behaviour during winter months
- Nearly half (44%) have considered consulting or have already consulted an expert about their dogs depression
- 70% of Brits are worried about the low mood of their dogs
- UK dog owners admit to walking their dogs up to 50% less in winter months compared to summer
- Over a third (34%) think their dogs eating habits change when they are down
Winter blues are a problem for many, and experts have revealed that our DOGS could also be sharing our pain – with some even suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D).
New research reveals that over half (61%) of UK dog owners say that they notice a considerable difference in their pets’ behaviour over winter months. Symptoms include increased appetite, a reluctance to go outside, low mood and lethargy.
The study, commissioned by natural dog food producer Forthglade, also shows that nearly half of dog owners (44%) say they have either considered consulting or have consulted an expert about their dogs’ seasonal depression.
In addition, over a third (34%) of those surveyed reported that their dogs eating habits change when they are displaying symptoms of depression, whilst nearly a quarter (23%) admit to using food and treats to try and improve their dogs mood.
Experts believe that the less time spent outside in the sunshine during winter months can cause dogs to suffer the same symptoms as humans who have the seasonal condition – and with British dog owners admitting to walking their dogs up to 50%* less in the winter months, this is a very real problem for the nation’s pooches.
Canine behaviourist, Nick Jones, said: “The long dark days of winter don’t just take a toll on the two-legged population. Our four-legged friends also feel the strain with many exhibiting symptoms that replicate the human condition Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“Lethargy, an increased appetite, irritability and a reluctance to go outside and exercise are typical behaviours exhibited by dogs in the colder months when natural sunlight is at a minimum.
“There are simple steps dog owners can take to help their pets. Taking walks in daylight hours is a must, and good nutrition also plays a very big part. Poor diet can be directly linked to lethargy and depression within canines. It’s more important than ever during winter months to feed your dog a healthy natural diet – comfort eating in winter is as bad for pets as it is for humans.”
Despite wanting the best for their dogs, UK owners admit to walking their dogs less in the winter. Fewer daylight hours also mean that walks are shorter, with the study revealing that while *56% of owners walk their dogs for over 30 minutes a session in summer, only 28% do in winter months.
The study also found that over half (61%) of dog owners notice a change in their dogs’ behaviour in the winter months, with nearly three quarters (71%) saying they sleep more than usual.
Other behavioural changes include begging for more food, taking themselves off to a quiet spot in the house alone, and wanting to play less than usual. And more than a third of dog owners believe their pet craves comfort or human food more than usual in the winter months, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying they feed their pet more than they do during the summer.
Gerard Lovell, MD at Forthglade said: “All pet owners want their dogs to be happy, but it seems the winter months can really have a negative impact on our four legged friends. Those of us who suffer from winter blues know how important it is to resist junk food and keep our diets healthy, and the same goes for our pets. Staying active and eating well – the secrets to winterproofing your dog!”
Nick Jones’ top tips for reducing S.A.D. in dogs:
- During the week, when your time is 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 also plays a big part, 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 up the stairs and in rooms, indoor agility or ‘take it and leave it’ games
- No matter the size or shape, the garden also offers a great outdoor space for your dog to get some natural sunlight
- Feed your dog a healthy, natural diet with no artificial additives – eating poor quality dog food, or even our leftover food can increase behavioural problems and isn’t good for your dog’s overall health
Top 10 differences in dog’s behaviour in the winter compared to the summer months
- They sleep more
- They are reluctant to go outside
- They are less active than usual
- They have less energy/ are lethargic
- They eat more food generally
- They seem hungrier
- They take themselves off to a quiet place in the house
- They eat more comfort food/beg for human food more often
- They seem sadder than usual
- They want to play less than usual