You’re not the only one who feels a little gloomy once the weather gets frightful. During frigid months pets may lack energy or sleep too much, symptoms typically related to a form of depression called the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Boost your furry friend’s mood with our funk-fighting ideas.
Shed Some Light
Reduced sunlight in the winter may lead to SAD symptoms. Simply placing your pet’s bed by a window can be beneficial. Also consider switching to fluorescent bulbs labeled “full spectrum,” because they imitate and artificially extend daylight hours indoors. “These bulbs help the exposure time that a dog’s retina has to daylight, decreasing the production of melatonin and amount of shut-eye,” says Danielle Bernal, DVM, a veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food.
Pamper Your Pet
Give dogs or cats extra attention by booking a bath and a fur trim. “A professional grooming service may help them both look and feel good,” says Whitney Miller, DVM, director of veterinary medicine at Petco. If you’d rather shampoo them yourself, go to familycircle.com/grooming for at-home care tips.
Keep Them Motivated
In the winter, outdoor playtime usually takes a nosedive. Try toys like a treat ball to increase your dog’s mental stimulation. Keep cats bustling by moving their dinner bowl to different areas of the house or by setting up tunnels for them to play in.
Pets tend to overeat during this season, so make sure you’re feeding them healthier options. “Too much of the wrong foods leads to extra pounds and even mobility issues, which can exacerbate SAD,” says Bernal. Swap their regular food or treats for a grain-free alternative that contains higher levels of protein to help maintain their weight and increase energy.
Emotions may be contagious, so show a joyful attitude around your pet. “If you’re in a cheerful mood, that naturally boosts your pet’s emotional well-being,” says Bernal. Increase your and your pet’s feel-good endorphins by going on a brisk walk together.
Fun fact: 75% of dog owners think their pup can read and respond to the emotions of others. (Source: Purina Pro Plan survey)