As we roll into late Autumn, many humans experience a mood shift of sorts due to plunging temperatures and pushing back the clocks. It’s the time of year with shorter days, colder temperatures and sometimes bouts of the winter blues! Sluggishness, or just a desire to do nothing and hunker down indoors, is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). No one knows for sure, but the same moodiness may affect your pet since we share much of the same chemistry in our brains.
When darkness increases, the brain produces less serotonin (the happy chemical) and more melatonin (the sleep maker), so it is possible that our dogs and cats get lazy too. However, often times our pets mirror our own moods, so if we’re lethargic, so are they! Dogs in particular might become bored as they aren’t spending as much time outdoors, so maybe we need to engage them and become active to prevent four-legged couch potatoes!
1. Hide toys or treats around the house or in the darnest of places to engage their hunting instincts! Take part in the game and be in the moment like they are.
2. Especially for our feline friends who don’t go outdoors, make sure their bed is located near a sunny window. Open those shades when the sun comes up and get that natural sunlight into the house for everyone’s sake. The more light we let enter our pupils, the more brain chemistry is positively affected, and of course…as it gets cooler the sun provides warmth, but we’ll be discussing Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips in just a few weeks right here on this blog!
3. Actually go outdoors. Take dogs for walks but make sure they are properly adorned. Walkee Paws™http://www.walkeepaws.com dog leggings are designed to protect paws from rain, snow, ice, salt & chemicals. They’ll keep your dog’s fur clean and dry and prevent icicles between the toes. They are easy to slip on and off, machine washable and from the first try…Haiku had no difficulty walking in them. Felt almost like his own paw touching the ground!
While you’re outdoors, make sure you both stay safe by having your best friend wear a Headlight Harness!
The bright 90° LED beam not only lights the path to prevent either of you from stepping on something dark or dangerous, but along with the reflective trim, allows you to be seen by oncoming headlights.
The padded chest & belly panels make it a comfortable fit and you can attach your dog’s leash either to the chest of back attachment loop. There’s also a sturdy handle on the back of the harness, just in case you need to grab him and steer your dog out of harm’s way.
To make this a perfect combo, I use Haiku’s Dig It® Leash, made of biothane, that does not absorb odor or wetness. Together, these three items stay dry, as does my little buddy, and we walk safely whether then sun hasn’t yet come up or…if it’s already gone down.
4. When it gets cold outside, some appetites wane while others increase. Studies have shown cats eat more in January, February, October, November and December–the coldest months of the year. As daylight hours decrease and temperatures lower, animals need more energy to keep themselves warm, but…According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53% of adult dogs and 55% of cats in the United States are overweight. Interestingly, 22% of dog owners and 15% of cat owners said their pet’s weight was normal when it was actually overweight or obese. Just like in humans, obesity leads diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, skin disease, thyroid problems, heart, respiratory, and kidney disease, some cancers and decreased life expectancy. Don’t let those sad puppy dog eyes convince you to overfeed your pet in winter. Remember, he’s probably (and should be) spending most of his time in the warm indoors right by your side so is not needing the extra calories to stay warm like his wolf cousins. Your heating system however, may be drying out his skin and since cold weather can exacerbate the aches and pains of stiff joints, add coconut oil to his diet or massage it right into the skin! Omega 3s (aka fish oils like hoki) also are beneficial for so many ailments including the cognitive dysfunction (or seemingly) of older years or darker days.
As the seasons change, we may all want to sleep in all warm and cozy and also hit the sack early each night, but by making a few adjustments, we can keep our best friends healthy, safe and happy. Don’t forget however, the most important thing of all is spending quality time together.