Is Your Dog S.A.D. in the Winter?

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snowynite2There ain’t no cure for the Winter Time Blues (with apologies to Eddie Cochran). Or is there?


As a former East Coaster, I know all about the winter blues, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  When the day’s got shorter and colder, my mood and the mood of my friends and colleagues definitely took a dip as we longed for sunshine, warmer temps, and more outside activities.  As it turns out, dogs can also experience the mood changing effects of SAD.


The impact of lack of sunlight and cold weather is discussed in an article published on The Ruff Report: Dogs and Health Some of the highlights from this article include:


– Many pets deal with psychological effects of wintertime by sleeping too much, overeating and avoiding exercise, a routine that can lead to obesity and other illnesses, according to Dr. Elaine Pendlebury of PDSA, a leading veterinary charity in Britain.

– According to a PDSA survey of pet owners, 40 percent of dogs and 33 percent of cats suffer symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition that causes depression from lack of sunlight.

– According to the PDSA survey, one-third of pets that suffer from wintertime depression put on weight from consuming more calories than they burn.

– Dr Pendlebury goes on to say: “Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your pet’s diet and exercise plan should fall by the wayside. Even if your pet isn’t in the mood to exercise, you should try to encourage them as much as you can. And when it comes to food, the old adage ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ is just as true for pets as it is for people.”

Those statistics are pretty amazing.  Forty percent of dogs suffer from some form of SAD.  and 1/3 of these are likely to put on weight during the winter.  Sounds like what happens to us humans.  In fact, it may be worse.  According to American Academy of Family Physicians, about 4 to 6 percent of people may have winter depression. Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD.


Rogaine Required?

I did a little further research and found that some dogs might even suffer from hair loss due to SAD.  In an article published in 2003, Alice M. Jeromin, RPh, DVM, Dipl. ACVD discusses how SAD can lead to spot hair loss in some breeds of dogs, including the Boxer, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Airedale, Doberman Pinscher, Bouvier de Flanders, Scottish Terrier, Shar Pei, Labrador Retriever, Giant Schnauzer and Akita.  You can read the full article here:

Beating the Blues

So how does one combat or prevent SAD?  Exercise!  Surprise, surprise, but getting outside and exercising will help both you and your dog beat the wintertime blues.  Being outside exposes you to sunlight (unless you live in Seattle 😉 ) which helps by itself.  Exercise also helps because you are activating you and your dog’s Endocannabinoid systems which make you feel better.  So get off your butt, get out with your mutt.  Cure the wintertime blues, stay in shape and be ready for the spring and summer which is just around the corner.



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