For years, sectors of the medical community have talked about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD,) but it turns out our pets can get the same winter blues.
It’s the type of depression that strikes in the winter when days grow short and the weather turns cold.
Canadians — along with their dogs and cats — are more likely to suffer than those living in southern tropical climates.
A recent survey by a British veterinary charity found that one-in-three dogs seemed down during the winter months.
This research was based on pet owners’ perceptions, rather than rigorous research — but it suggests pets can easily pick up on their owners emotions and respond in kind.
About 6% of Canadians will sufferer extreme SAD symptoms that can include major depression or even suicidal thoughts.
Around 15% will experience milder forms of SAD, including low energy and apathy.
For people, preventive steps can include light therapy.
For pets, there are also ways to keep their spirits up.
“The same fixes that help people beat winter depression might help their animal companions maintain a brighter mood,” the Mother Nature Network says.
Open blinds and drapes during the day to let in natural light for your pet.
“Also consider light therapy that mimics sunlight. Buy a full spectrum light box that covers the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near-ultraviolet and plant yourself and you pet in front of it for 30 minutes a day,” the network says.
If you think you might have seasonal affective disorder, talk to your doctor.
“Your doctor can help rule out any other causes for your symptoms, like thyroid problems or other types of depression,” says the Canadian Mental Health Association.