Do Cats and Dogs Get Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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SAD dog on couch - black and white image

Do Cats and Dogs Get Seasonal Affective Disorder?

If your pet is acting a bit withdrawn this winter, it might be SAD.

Not much research has been done on whether the dreary, grey whether of the winter months has an effect on our pets, they do share some of the same brain chemistry as humans.  Studies have been done on their behavior and moods – but you don’t have to tell a dog or cat parent that.  So, it takes no stretch of the imagination to see that the lack of sunshine and colder temperatures might have your cat or dog down in the dumps.

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder in Humans then?

During the winter, levels of the “feel good” hormones like Serotonin drop and our dreary mood matches the weather.   Some of those who accept that the winter months affect our pets believe that the cause could be simply that it’s our moods that are bringing them down.

How to Spot SAD or Depression in Your Pet

No one knows your cat or dog better than you do.  Monitor your pet for changes in appetite, or a drop in energy.  Take note if they do not play with you or others as much.  There can be other indications as well.  In some species of cats and dogs, hair caused by to alopecia due to a drop of sun exposure.

 

Remedies for SAD in our pets

Take Care of Yourself

If the cause is really their mirroring of our mood, the most obvious solution is to improve your own mood.  The following steps might be outlined for your pet, but they also work to greatly improve your own mood.

Mental and Physical Stimulation

By exercising both their minds and their bodies, you can have a great impact on their mood.  Stimulation can come from simple items you have around the house to puzzle toys.  With the right toys, you can combine both mental and physical stimulation!

Sunlight

Whether indoors or out of doors, sunlight does wonders for combating SAD.  If you have a window through which the natural sun shines through, making a space for your pet to lounge or play here for a time each day.

Simulating Sunlight with a Lamp

Sun lamps or full spectrum bulbs are an alternative to natural sunlight, if the latter is in short supply.  Devote some time each day to playing with your fur baby in the rays for a boost in their mood.

Diet

Another source of Vitamin D when sunshine is in short supply, is through diet or supplements.  Speak with your vet about the appropriate amount for your cat or dog, as well as the available sources suitable for them.