Ask the Expert: Do Dogs Get Depressed in Winter?
Sometimes cold weather can make dogs listless or droopy. (Goodness knows, it sometimes has the same effect on humans!). We asked Dr. Jill if dogs suffer from seasonal affective disorder or depression during the winter. Here’s what Dr. Jill said:
“A dog’s behavior does change with the season, but I would not call it seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or depression. Dogs typically are more active in the spring. Although some female dogs go into heat about every four mouths, many female dogs only cycle once a year, typically in spring. This means spring mating and summer puppy raising are busy times of the year for dogs. But as the temperature gets cooler, dogs tend to be less active, conserving energy for thermo regulation.
Also, there’s a tendency to reduce outdoor activities with our dogs in the winter. Although it’s important to protect your dog from winter weather, there are safe ways to stay fit and active during the winter months:
- Take your dog out frequently for walks and exercise, but keep inside the rest of the time.
- During walks, short-haired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater.
- Check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding.
- When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice, it could be deadly.
About Dr. Jill
Dr. Jill Villarreal lives and breathes all things pet. A doctor of biology, behavior and neuroscience (with a certificate in animal behavior), Jill is Senior Manager of Pet Sensory and Perception Insights over at Big Heart Pet Brands.
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