Dabl at Home
How Does The Weather Impact Your Pet’s Mental Health?
The weather can affect your pet’s mood, and subsequently, their behavior.
Have you ever noticed that rainy days can make you feel sad or sleepy? Alternatively, warm, sunny days might make you feel happier, while extremely hot days could make you feel sluggish and lazy. If you’ve noticed your mood is impacted by the weather, you’re not alone. The weather also impacts your pet’s mood, too!
It’s no secret that animals have always seemed to have a sixth sense when it comes to predicting the weather. Researchers have uncovered plenty of anecdotal evidence which suggests that animals can quickly sense environmental signals like changes in air and water pressure before their human counterparts. For example, animals may know a hurricane is coming because they notice the large decreases in air and water pressure that are typical of these severe storms. In response, animals may behave strangely or try to search for a safe place to wait out the looming weather event.
Not only does the weather activate your pet’s survival instincts, but it can also impact their mood and mental health. As the seasons change, you’ll likely notice that your dog or cat’s behavior does, too. This is a direct effect triggered by how your pet is feeling. For example, your pup may be more cuddly when it’s cold and snappy or irritable when you try to snuggle on hot days. This is because your dog is trying to warm up by sharing body heat on cold days, and is likely feeling too warm on hot days. Your pet may also be more active in winter and lazy or sluggish when it’s hot outside. They might even lose their appetite on the hottest days of the year! Alternatively, dogs and cats who are afraid of extreme weather like thunder and lightning may become agitated as soon as they sense a storm coming and won’t relax until after it passes. That said, your pet’s responses to these weather conditions shouldn’t be too surprising. In fact, they likely mirror your own!
Also like people, pets can be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of seasonal depression that is often described as the “Winter Blues.” SAD symptoms include listlessness, depression, lack of interest in social activities, and fatigue. It frequently requires therapy to treat. And according to research completed by The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), an estimated 40% of dogs suffer from SAD each winter. Dogs who were suspected of having SAD tended to sleep for longer and lost interest in activities they normally enjoyed.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all way to describe how the weather will affect the mood of every pet. Although the above descriptions are generally accurate, every pet is a unique individual with his or her own likes and dislikes. While some pets loathe the changing of the seasons, others couldn’t be happier.
As a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of how weather conditions could impact your fur baby’s mood and be there to help them adjust to the changing seasons if they need extra support. Your pet’s mental health is important for keeping them happy and healthy, and achieving a heightened awareness of how your dog or cat is feeling can help you take appropriate action to boost their mood if they are not feeling their best. And if the weather has you both feeling down, you may even be able to cheer each other up!