Thursday, March 11, 2010

Do Dogs Get The Blues?

Many of us get the winter blues while waiting for warmer temperatures and sunny skies to return. Some of us mope around the house, whining, and making nuisance of ourselves with our restlessness.

Others get seriously depressed to the point where daily activities are difficult to perform. If these feelings are deep enough, the condition is called "seasonal affective disorder" or "SAD."
SAD is a disorder different from "the blahs," those moments when we feel generally down. Although not fully understood, SAD is though to be caused by a lack of bright light affecting hormonal balances.

Affected people may have bouts of unexplained crying, desire for sweets, excessive fatigue, lethargy, depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

Do our dogs suffer from the same malaise? Probably not. While they do get depressed, dogs aren't known to suffer from SAD. More likely, your dog is mirroring your own feelings, explains Dr. Nick Dodman, professor and the Director of the Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dogs do have a hormonal response to the change in seasons. For instance, they shed their coats in spring and fall. But Dodman says it's a stretch to say that dogs experience the winter blues themselves.

Dogs do seem to be prone to cabin fever, like people. And even worse for them, they are not as entertained as us by watching old reruns or rented movies. But they do like exercise, which is the best tonic for winter blues for people and pets.

But if your dog just seems a little down or sad, consider how you've been feeling. Because dogs are so attuned to our emotions and body language, it's likely they pick up on our feelings and act accordingly, notes Dodman. Not knowing what's amiss, dogs may become anxious and clingy, especially if they are closely bonded with their owners.

So if you see your dog acting a little out of sorts, maybe you've both been cooped up inside a little too long. If weather permits, go outside for a healthy run or some play. Aerobic exercise is the best thing you can do to boost you both out of winter's doldrums.

No comments:

Post a Comment