Research reveals dogs can be SAD too
Dog experts have revealed new research that suggests that like us, dogs can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with over half (61%) of UK dog owners noticing a difference in their dogs behaviour during the winter months.
The study commissioned by natural dog food producer Forthglade, suggested that owners noticed symptoms such as: increased appetite, a reluctance to go outside, low mood, and lethargy. With 70 per cent admitting that they are worried about their dogs low mood, and 40 per cent saying that they have have actively sought advice from a dog expert about this.
Experts believe that the cause of SAD in dogs is due to the fact that they spend less time out in the sunshine. The same reason that humans suffer with the seasonal condition, with unpredictable weather and darker nights resulting in owners walking their dogs 50 per cent less compared to during the summer.
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.
"Other behavioural changes owners have noticed include their dogs begging for food more, wanting to play less, taking themselves off to a quiet corner in the house, and generally seem less active than normal."
However Nick Jones reassures owners by suggesting that their are simple steps that can be taken in order to help reduce SAD symptoms in their dog. These include placing your dogs bed under a skylight or close to a window to give him as much access to light as possible, keeping your dog's mind active in the home by playing games such as 'find it', 'take it and leave it' or indoor agility, and ensure that you let your dog out as much as possible, no matter the shape or size of the garden.
Diet and nutrition also plays a big part, as poor diet is heavily linked to lethargy and depression, so it is important to feed your dog a healthy, natural diet. Poor quality dog food and scraps can contribute to behavioural problems and isn't good for your dog's overall health.
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!”