New research out this week claims that 6 in 10 dog owners suspect their dogs of suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Often more associated with humans than man’s best friend, SAD, also known as the winter blues is a type of depression that recurs on a seasonal basis.
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 could lead to problems in itself.
The research, which was commissioned by Forthglade, has revealed that of the 61% of dog owners who are concerned about their pets’ behaviour over the winter months, an increased appetite, a reluctance to go outside, low mood and lethargy are the most common signs picked up on by the pet owners.
Almost half (44%) also told the dog food firm that they had consulted a behaviourist about concerns.
Speaking about the findings dog 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.”
Nick offers these top tips if you are concerned about your dog suffering from Seasonal Affected Disorder:
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- 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