Do Dogs and Cats get Seasonal Affective Disorder Too?
The winter blues are here for us Vermonters. But we’ve always wondered: Do our cats and dogs experience winter blues, too?
In short, yes.
SAD is a type of depression that occurs most often in winter, when we spend less time outside and have fewer hours of sunlight to soak in.
In 2009, a UK veterinary charity decided to explore whether or not dogs and cats might experience the same type of depression. Of course, the study was truly a poll of owners interpreting their pets’ behavior, but the results of that poll were quite striking:
68% of pets are ‘grumpier’ in winter months compared to summer
51% of owners say their pets eat more food in the winter
43% of pets have less energy
59% of pets sleep for longer periods than usual
47% of pets demand more affection
48% of owners have a harder time getting their animal to exercise
In humans, SAD is caused by overproduction of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. It is also a result of lower serotonin levels. As light-sensitive hormones, these two are incredibly relevant to our moods and how we function. The same is true for cats and dogs.
In fact, in the PDSA survey, we see that the eat more, sleep more, exercise less parts of SAD are similar in humans and cats and dogs. That probably means these behaviors are hormone related.
If you notice any of these behaviors in your dog or cat during the blues season, there’s nothing wrong with trying to find a remedy. A good bet: more exercise and more time in the sun.
But it’s really cold, so we know that suggestion isn’t the most realistic. Fortunately, there are lightboxes specifically made for dogs and cats. Pawsitive Lighting allows cats and dogs to get the important light that they might miss during the winter months.
Has your dog or cat experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder? If you’re looking for a way to support their energy levels year round, check out our multivitamin products.