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Can pets get SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is reported to affect around two million people in the UK. But is it an exclusively human condition, or can our pets suffer too? And what can we do to help?

Just like us, our pets can also be affected by seasonal mood changes. Even though they can’t express their feelings the same way, the cold weather, decreased physical activity, or even a lack of interaction with other animals can considerably affect your pets’ wellbeing. 

For dogs, the longer hours of darkness, rain, and mud make it harder for them to continue their summer routines. Many will find they walk less and enjoy fewer opportunities to do the ‘dog things’ they need for their well-being. These include using their noses, running, chasing, playing with other dogs, and simply having something to do to use their brain and their energy.

Cats too can find themselves doing a lot less during the winter months, sleeping their way through the wet days and cold nights. Pets that are used to company that are now finding themselves alone again for long periods of time can feel very bored and lonely, which may bring on a persistent lower mood. 

How can I cheer my pet up? 

Like us, having little going on and fewer outlets for fun can get our pets down.

If your pet is left alone, organising a pet sitter or dog walker to break up their day can significantly improve their well-being and happiness. It can also help your own anxiety, knowing your pet has company and something to do.

All pets appreciate your time, so if they aren’t getting out of the house as much as they would like, make more time together indoors – play with them, groom them, and make mealtimes more fun with interactive feeders. Watch our video for some great ideas from behaviourist Carolyn Menteith about indoor fun for your dog and read our article about ways to make your cat happy and watch our video on how to enrich your cat's life.

Brave the rain and think about how you could adjust your schedule to give your dog the exercise they love. If you and your dog both have waterproof coats and are clearly visible in low light, walking is still great for you both! Encourage your cat outdoors by spending time with them in the garden; if it’s not raining, try scattering their food so they have to ‘hunt’ for it.

And soon it will be the spring...

Remember that pets' low moods can sometimes signify that they are in pain or there is something else wrong. If you are concerned about your pet, do not hesitate to contact your vet for advice.

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