Do Pets Suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter. With this winter hitting record breaking cold temperatures across much of the United States, many people are experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Those affected by SAD will generally begin to feel the symptoms of depression, including; a loss of energy, an increased appetite and an enhanced feeling of lethargy and tiredness.

But, what about our 4-leggeds? Are they also affected by SAD? Research by People’s Dispensory for Sick Animals (PDSA) in the UK, reported that animals can suffer from depression just like people. ďAccording to the PDSA poll, some pets display similar symptoms of the human disorder, SAD, which include fatigue, depressed mood and lack of energy,Ē said Elaine Pendlebury, Senior Veterinary Surgeon with PDSA.

The PDSA survey also found that in the winter: 

  • 43% of pets have less energy
  • 59% of pets sleep for longer periods
  • 47% of pets demand more affection from their owners
Dr. Jeff Werber, a renowned veterinarian and pet parenting specialist who has dedicated his life to the care and protection of animals, has treated many cats and dogs with seasonal affective disorder. He says, “Our pets are used to a routine. The most exciting time of day for a dog is usually going out for a walk with their person. When they canít get out for their favorite activity, they get depressed. Then they put on weight, because of the change of exercise and energy expenditure. Most of us donít allow for that change, and we donít feed them less. Itís a vicious cycle that starts with seasonal depression. Keeping up physical exercise along with mental stimulation is very important for our pets’ well-being.” 

Dr. Jeff’s advice on how to help dogs who suffer from SAD:

  • At least once a day, get them out for a brisk walk. Dogs that are moving slowly are going to feel the brunt of the cold.
  • It’s best to get them out in the middle of the day, when itís the warmest and there is the most daylight. If you are gone during the day, get a dog walker that can expedite activity mid day.
  • Create some special time every day to bond with your dog. Play tug of war with a toy, run around your house together, run them up and down the stairs, throw the ball down the stairs and ask them to bring it back up to you at the top of the stairs. This will not only help their circulation, but also keep them mentally stimulated.
  • Don’t shoo them away when they want to play. Playtime is very important to their emotional health.
  • If your dog is not as active in the winter, reduce his food by 10%.

Does your pet suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Share your experiences in a comment below.

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137 comments

Christine Jones
Christine J1 years ago

Just goes to show that all species benefit from sunshine and exercise.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobetz2 years ago

Thanks

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Susan T.
Susan T2 years ago

My cats do as well. They cannot get outside for our daily walks or laze on the deck ..... :) waiting for springtime!

Paula Pearce
Paula Pearce2 years ago

I am sure they do.We had one who was so quiet as the days darkened and would spend a lot of time sleeping under his duvet.When I asked a vet if he could have SAD he just laughed.I am convinced he suffered with this.Thanks for sharing

Paula Z.
Paula Z2 years ago

Hubby and I are convinced that our rabbit gets a little sad during the colder weather. He is a rescue and was found abandoned outside in the winter. I can imagine that animals have body memories just like people. He definitely appears to need more attention in the fall and winter. And of course, we are happy to oblige our cute little guy.

Paula Z.
Paula Z2 years ago

Hubby and I are convinced that our rabbit gets a little sad during the colder weather. He is a rescue and was found abandoned outside in the winter. I can imagine that animals have body memories just like people. He definitely appears to need more attention in the fall and winter. And of course, we are happy to oblige our cute little guy.

Christine W.
Christine W2 years ago

Thanks for sharing :)

Christine W.
Christine W2 years ago

Thanks for sharing :)