Does the change in seasons affect pets?

PDSA vets offer advice on keeping our pets happy and healthy this winter.

We all know that people can get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ – at this time of year and it might seem like our pets are under the weather too, but how much do the seasons really affect pets?

PDSA Vet, Anna Ewes Clark, said: “Pets don’t suffer with SAD in the same way as we do, but that’s not to say they don’t feel different at this time of year. If they seem a little off over the gloomier months, this could just be because we’re feeling down and it’s easy to project our feelings onto our pets. Because the weather gets worse around this time of year, you might not be as keen to get out for walks, and this might mean your pet won’t get to go out as much either, which can really impact on their loves.

“It’s important that you use every chance you get to go out for walks in the daylight, as this will help you and your pet get through the winter months. Many pets will be happy to go out whatever the weather as long as they’re well prepared. Most dogs will still be excited to go for their normal walks come rain or shine, but even if they don’t seem as keen in the colder months it’s still important to encourage them to get some exercise.

“Even though our pets don’t get SAD, they are still affected by the changing seasons of autumn and winter, especially as days get shorter and the weather turns cooler, which can alter their usual routine. Some pets feel the changes more than others, wanting to eat more, sleep more, suffer with stiff joints and experience greater shedding.”

There are lots of things you can do to take care of your pet in cooler months. PDSA’s top tips include:

  • Make sure to keep your home a good temperature for your pet and give them a comfy, cosy space to curl up in, slightly lifted off the floor to avoid drafts.
  • Pay more attention to older pets and make sure you call the vet if they’re struggling with the drop in temperature or are not as keen to get up and about.
  • Provide extra litter trays for cats reluctant to go outside.
  • Think about getting a coat for older dogs or those with thinner fur.
  • Don’t stop exercising your pet! They’ll still need to get just as much exercise as they normally would to keep them healthy and stop them getting bored. If it’s too cold or wet for playtime outdoors, why not try a game or fun toy to keep your cat, dog or rabbits entertained indoors instead?

Read more about how to look after pets in winter weather here.