Seasonal Depression & Pets


Discussing Seasonal Depression In Pets, What Signs To Look For, How To Manage It, And How To Prevent It

Most people have heard the term seasonal depression. However, most people don’t consider how seasonal depression affects their pets. Pets have emotions & feelings just like people and are susceptible to experiencing things like sadness and depression. This article will go over what seasonal depression is, how it affects pets, what signs to look for, and how to avoid it. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

According to Mayo Clinic, the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Typically speaking, most people with SAD begin to show symptoms in the Fall. These symptoms continue through the winter months and resolve during the spring and summer. 

What many people don’t consider about SAD is that it can apply to pets too. Pets, especially cats and dogs, are sensitive creatures. They can experience a wide range of emotions just like people. This includes SAD. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to our pets behavior and look for warning signs of SAD during the cold winter months.

A sad cat

A sad cat

Why Pets Become Depressed

Most dogs love to be outside playing and running around. Most cats love to bask in the sun and even take naps in places with direct sunlight. However, these pleasures are usually not available to dogs and cats during the winter. 

With the exception of potty breaks, most dogs don’t get much outdoor time during the winter. The same is true for outdoor cats. Even indoor cats don’t get to enjoy as much sunshine as they would during spring or summer. 

This deprivation of their favorite activities, accompanied by cold and sunless weather, greatly contributes to overall mood. It’s hard for any person or pet to be happy when the world around them is so dark and cold. 

How Seasonal Depression Affects Pets

Similar to people, SAD directly affects your pets mood, behavior, and personality. A dog that is usually full of energy in the summer may be less interested in playing during winter. Additionally, a cat that is usually playful in the summer, may become lethargic during the winter. Essentially, pets act significantly differently during winter than they do during other seasons. 

A sad dog

A sad dog

Warning Signs Of Depression In Pets

Some warning signs of SAD in your pets include lethargy, lack of appetite, restlessness, lack of enthusiasm, and not sleeping well. Additionally, in more severe cases, pets may also show significant behavioral changes when experiencing SAD. These changes include reactivity, chewing, attempts to escape, aggression, and loss of potty training. 

If your pets display these kinds of behavioral changes during the winter season, they may be suffering from SAD. Consult with your veterinarian first for a full diagnosis to determine if SAD is responsible. 

How To Treat Seasonal Depression

The best way to treat SAD in pets is to alleviate their emotions and meet their needs. If your dog is accustomed to playing outside, then make it a point to play with them inside during winter. You can set up a play area big enough for them to run around a bit. Be sure to provide lots of toys and space to play. You can even set up a small obstacle course for them!

To help cats experiencing SAD, try engaging with them on a daily basis. Playtime is one of the best ways to do this. Try using a variety of toys, including interactive toys. Additionally, you can also spend some extra snuggle time with your cat to alleviate SAD. Most pet cats respond well to being pet and getting snuggles from their owner. It’s the companionship that helps the most. 

Engaging a cat with toys

Engaging a cat with toys

How To Avoid Seasonal Depression

The best way to avoid your pets from experiencing SAD is to spend some extra time with them during the cold winter months. Whether it’s extra playtime, snuggle time, or longer dog walks, your pets will appreciate it. We recommend dedicating at least 30 minutes a day to spending quality time with your pets. This will help avoid SAD in your pets and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. 

Hire A Pet Sitter Today!

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We offer a wide variety of pet sitting services such as in-home pet sitting, routine dog walking, overnight stays, and more! Click here to see all of our services! Click here to become a client today or give us a call at 570-814-1037. We look forward to hearing from you soon!