I’m S.A.D. – and your pet might be too!

You may have noticed that I have not been myself lately. I’ve known it for a while and only recently figured out why – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). And I’m not the only one with SAD.

Years ago (more years than I want to acknowledge) I participated in a study at University of Chicago. They determined that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It wasn’t widely known back then. Frankly, my family thought I was nuts. I was grateful to find out there was an actual reason I was feeling so out of sorts. They put me on light therapy and gave me a prescription that I have to get to the sun around this time every year. I know you’ve heard me talk about my love of Spain and now you know why.

I used those lights until I bought a condo with wonderful natural light. For the 15+ years I lived there, the lights stayed packed away – although I did still take advantage of the prescription to get someplace warm!

Fast forward to about a year ago when I sold my condo to get the money needed to buy a building for Rex’s Place. I found a great apartment, which I love, but it is missing the natural light. I just figured I’d live with it.

Then the other day, I found myself with some dark thoughts and wondering what was wrong with me. I wasn’t motivated to do anything; I wasn’t sleeping and found myself wanting to eat all of the time. All of a sudden it clicked and I remembered the light therapy! A couple of clicks plus a day of waiting and I now have light therapy lights again. I now spend every morning and evening sitting by the lights and feel SO much better.

You know who else suffers from SAD? Our pets. Symptoms include your dog:
• Moping around the house.
• Napping more than usual.
• Not interested in walks or playing.
• Not interested in food or treats.
• Aggressive behavior.
• Soiling inappropriately.
• Clawing at furniture.
• Demanding attention.
• Frequent barking.

A recent survey by a British veterinary organization found that 1 in 3 dog owners notice their pets becoming less playful and appearing down in the winter months. When I purchased my light boxes I saw more than one review include how people’s pets were getting in on the light therapy action with them.

There are light boxes specifically for dogs and there are other things you can do to help your pet through these gloomy months.
• Keep them mentally stimulated.
• Make sure their regular exercise routine is maintained – consider adding an extra walk or two.
• Get your dog out and about. Studies show that SAD affects dogs that are left at home alone during the day more than those who socialize (we swear we did NOT write this study).
• Make sure they get a lot of attention from you.
• If you are still concerned, please talk with your veterinarian about options to make your dog feel better. Nobody – human or dog – needs to suffer during these winter months.