Seasonal Depression in Dogs

Seasonal Depression in Dogs

We are experiencing something called a “false Fall” here in North Carolina at the moment. Oh, you don’t know about false Falls? Let me explain. False Fall is a “microseason” that occurs in NC sometime randomly between the last week of August and the beginning of September. During this time, the merciless heat of August gives way to cooler temperatures, and lulls the gentle people of our state into thinking Fall has begun. Some people hate this part of the year, decrying the cold as they lament the end of Summer, forgetting about the last syrupy glut of heat and humidity that we will inevitably suffer through… If you can’t tell, I’m not a huge fan of the Summer in general.

This blog post isn’t about me though, it’s about your dog, who else? More specifically, this post is about how your dog might react to the change in seasons as the months grow colder and they find themselves spending more time indoors. Just as you may find yourself reacting in negative ways to the dwindling amount of daylight and chilly temperatures, so too might your dog find themselves similarly depressed. Seasonally depressed, even. I love Fall, but your dog might hate it.

That’s right, you read what I wrote correctly. Your dog can experience seasonal depression, just as you can. If you find yourself surprised, you’ll like this next part. Something tells me the idea of dogs battling depression might seem… silly, at the very least, to some people reading this now. Silly as it may seem, seasonal depression is no less real of an issue with dogs. So here’s how you spot it. Pay attention.

A depressed dog may become withdrawn. The dog may not have any enthusiasm for play or things they typically enjoy doing. This could manifest in a lethargic dog who may be sleeping more than usual and could even be obvious from a loss of appetite. Severely depressed dogs may even lose interest in food altogether.

While the above behaviors are some of the most obvious indicators of a depressed dog, your dog may appear also seem restless and may be trying to let you know this by chewing, or generally doing things that are outside of the norm for your dog’s general behavior.

Okay, now you know what to look for. Next, here’s what you can do.

First things first, Fall means less light. Less light translates to higher production of melatonin in you and your dog’s bodies. As a result of the increase in melatonin you will feel tired, hence the lethargy in your dog. Luckily the solution to this problem is simple. Provide more light! Open the blinds during the day, and turn on your lamps. Basically anything you can do to get more light into your dog’s space is a good start.

Next, go outside. I know, I know, it’s cold. Depending on where you live it might even be *gasp* freezing. Too bad, just bundle up and take your dog outside. You’ll both be very happy you did this. Since the Fall and Winter months have shorter days and longer colder nights, you are spending less time outside with your dog overall. Make the most of the sunlight you do have while you have it, and take your dog for a walk.

There are plenty of helpful aids that you can purchase to help make your dog feel better. If you have a small dog or a dog that is prone to getting cold easily, then the Fall and Winter is probably a rough time for them. You can mitigate that with a warming vest from Kumfy Tailz, or a Thera Pawz Warming Pad from Green Pet Shop. Check out the great warming products that KeepDoggieSafe has to offer you, and before you leave don’t forget to check out the anti-anxiety section as well. A treat mat like the Boredom Buster from Hyper Pet is the perfect way to help alleviate some of that restless energy pent up in your poor dog. Take a look for yourselves!

Finally, if you can, try to spend as much time with your dog as you can. If your dog is like my dog (who happens to be laying on my feet as I write this) you are probably thinking “how could I possibly spend any more time with my dog?” Make the earnest attempt and try to spend some quality time with your dog. Just being together is great, but actively engaging your dog in some indoor playtime is even better! If you are going on a vacation, plan to take your dog with you if at all possible. Being left alone during the dark months of fall and winter can make a dog feel even more isolated than they already might when you leave them with a sitter, or a boarding facility.

Now, I think you are ready. I have armed you with the knowledge to recognize seasonal depression in your dog, and tools with which to combat the affliction.

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