Understand the Winter and Dogs

I don’t know about you, but there is something I don’t like about winter. Maybe it’s the day’s getting longer (or seeming so). Perhaps it’s the cold. Maybe it’s the dark. Yes, it’s definitely the lack of sunlight which put’s me into a funk.

As a child, I could eat a pint of ice cream and STILL be hungry. I knew that come winter, my personality changed so I sought answers. And answers I found. I suffer from seasonal dysfunction, otherwise known as SAD.  The symptoms are easy to recognize. I get lethargic, unhappy and don’t really want to do anything but sleep.

Since I was diagnosed, I do a few things to help me through the dark. I take melatonin and when I worked downtown, I had special lights installed in my office.  Now I have a special light box at home.   And I always take vacations to someplace sunny if I can.

Why am I telling you this? It turns out pet’s can suffer from SAD too. It’s most common in those areas of the country with dark winters such as the Midwest, the Plains states, parts of New England and Canada. When seen in other parts of the country, or at other time of year, it usually affects dogs that are house bound during the daylight hours for a prolonged period of time. Owners leave home before dawn to go to work and get home after sunset. What’s a dog to do?  (For anyone now smiling and saying Rex’s Place, we thank you).

Breeds commonly affected include Boxers, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Airedate, Doberman Pincher, Scottish Terrier, Shar Pei, Labrador Retriever, Giant Schnauzer, and Akita.

So, while it is unlikely you will see your dog eating a pint of ice cream you probably want to see if his/her behavior changes during the upcoming months. Symptoms in pets typically manifest in behavioral changes like aggression, inappropriate soiling, lethargy, neediness and more. And some dogs, in the worst cases, start losing their hair.

What can you do? Melatonin is safe for dogs so you start there. And they just made a light box for dogs that need light therapy as I used to do when I worked downtown. And then you wait  – wait for the sun to appear. For me and others like me, it can’t come soon enough.