Seasonal Affective Disorder in Dogs
Does Your Dog Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Until recently, the animal had not been formally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, as there was no model for it. But recent research on hamsters and grass rats can show that animals may also be adversely affected by seasonal changes.
The hamsters and grass rats seemed unhappy when exposed to less sunshine. The study showed that there was a change in the chemistry of the brains of the rodents. The hippocampus, which is known to be a cause for depression, shrank.
The research was not carried out specifically on dogs, but it demonstrates that it is not inconceivable to have the risk of SAD affecting them. Dogs are, after all, much more emotionally complex than hamsters and rats, making it seem more likely during shorter days that they undergo changes in brain chemistry and mood.
Some veterinarians suggest that SAD may also indirectly impact dogs by their human beings. Have you ever noticed how your dog seems to correspond to your mood? Dogs, particularly with the people they spend the most time with, are highly intuitive creatures.
If on a particularly dark morning you are unable to pry yourself out of bed, your dog might be mirroring the despondency.
How Can You Help Your Dog Stop Feeling SAD?
So how do you tackle your dog’s potential Seasonal Affective Disorder? Next, you should become familiar with the symptoms in humans of the condition: extreme lethargy, inability to move or exercise, severe weight loss or gain, bathroom accidents, and even hair loss in severe cases. You can first call your veterinarian if you find your dog having a lot of these signs, so they can rule out possible factors and discuss care with you.
You should try to combat symptoms in the same way you would for a human if you plan to treat your dog for potential seasonal affective disorder: maximize the exposure to sunlight.
As tests for SAD in dogs have not been performed entirely, let alone tests for treatments, these approaches are not known to work. Some pet owners, however, might discover that they work for their pets.
Again, before you try them, consult your veterinarian because certain conditions can worsen with sunlight exposure, such as skin cancer or eye conditions.
Boosting the Sunlight Exposure of Your Dog
With the approval of your doctor, by putting your pup’s bed near a window or under a skylight, you can increase your dog’s sunlight exposure. Try to get up a little sooner and go for a brisk walk at sunrise.
Not only can these items help to bring Fido out of the funk, but the routine can also help raise serotonin levels. Serotonin is the brain’s “feel-good” chemical that also rises with sunlight and exercise exposure.
Another potential solution is a lamp with artificial sunlight. These unique light therapy items imitate sunshine, unlike other lamps in your home. At most general merchandise stores or online, you can purchase them.