The winter doldrums aren’t unique to humans — dogs get them too! The cold days and long nights of winter mean less time in the sunlight, which can result in a depression-like syndrome called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for both humans and their canine companions.
Symptoms for SAD include fatigue, lethargy, social withdrawal, and cravings for comfort food (for your dog, that means treats). It’s caused by increased levels of the hormone melatonin, and a deficiency of a second hormone, called serotonin. Mammalian brains use these two hormones to regulate sleep cycles, mood, and appetite, and each are directly affected by the amount of sunlight — that is, Vitamin D — the body receives.
But don’t worry, there’s hope for beating the winter blues. With these simple tips, you can keep your dog (and yes, even you) happy and healthy all winter long!
1. Take walks in the sunlight
Bundle your dog up in her or his favorite sweater (if it’s really cold), make sure she or he is nice and snuggly, then hit the sidewalks for a nice sunny stroll!
When the days get short, it’s important to soak up as much sunlight as possible. Taking a brisk walk during the day will not only allow you to get some much-needed sunlight, but the exercise will also relieve stress and anxiety for you and your pup — which can help combat related SAD symptoms.
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