Dogs can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D), new research reveals.
According to findings over half (61 percent) of UK dog owners say that they notice a considerable difference in their pets’ behaviour over winter months.
Symptoms include increased appetite, a reluctance to go outside, low mood and lethargy.
The study, commissioned by natural dog food producer Forthglade, also shows that nearly half of dog owners (44 percent) say they have either considered consulting or have consulted an expert about their dogs’ seasonal depression.
In addition, over a third (34 percent) of those surveyed reported that their dogs eating habits change when they are displaying symptoms of depression, whilst nearly a quarter (23 percent) admit to using food and treats to try and improve their dogs mood.
Experts believe that the less time spent outside in the sunshine during winter months can cause dogs to suffer the same symptoms as humans who have the seasonal condition – and with British dog owners admitting to walking their dogs up to 50 percent* less in the winter months, this is a very real problem for the nation’s pooches.
Canine behaviourist, Nick Jones, said: “The long dark days of winter don’t just take a toll on the two-legged population. Our four-legged friends also feel the strain with many exhibiting symptoms that replicate the human condition Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“Lethargy, an increased appetite, irritability and a reluctance to go outside and exercise are typical behaviours exhibited by dogs in the colder months when natural sunlight is at a minimum.
“There are simple steps dog owners can take to help their pets. Taking walks in daylight hours is a must, and good nutrition also plays a very big part. Poor diet can be directly linked to lethargy and depression within canines.
“It’s more important than ever during winter months to feed your dog a healthy natural diet – comfort eating in winter is as bad for pets as it is for humans.”
Gerard Lovell, MD at Forthglade said: “All pet owners want their dogs to be happy, but it seems the winter months can really have a negative impact on our four legged friends.
“Those of us who suffer from winter blues know how important it is to resist junk food and keep our diets healthy, and the same goes for our pets.
“Staying active and eating well – the secrets to winterproofing your dog!”