Winter is here! As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, it’s surprisingly common for humans to experience the winter blues.
It’s no longer warm and sunny, and there are fewer opportunities to spend time outdoors, impacting our moods, perspective, and motivation to do more than the bare minimum during the day.
This begs the question — do dogs experience winter blues or seasonal depression the same way we do? In this post, we’re diving deep into seasonal blues and how this condition can affect your dog (and you) in the winter.
Dog Depression or Winter Blues?
While prioritizing your dog’s mental health is just as important as your own, it’s vital to understand that mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are different for dogs.
Dogs usually become depressed after a specific incident, like a move, lifestyle change, or the loss of a loved one. Because of this, there’s no concrete evidence to prove that dogs experience actual depression from the seasonal blues.
That being said, dogs can definitely feel the impact of seasonal changes, particularly when temperatures drop, and their favorite activities are no longer an option.
Remember that your pup often reflects your mood and behavior, so if you’re less inclined to go outside for a walk when it’s frigid, or you aren’t motivated to exercise, they will likely match your energy.
The typical signs of seasonal blues in dogs include the following:
- Decreased energy levels
- Sleeping more than usual
- Unsettled or restless
- Loss of interest in food
- Increase in destructive behavior
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can find motivation to get outside with your dog and combat everyone’s seasonal blues. These include:
- Bundle up and head outside for shorter, more frequent walks
- Play a quick game of fetch or frisbee in your yard
- Schedule playdates with dog friends
- Book them for a few days at doggy daycare for socialization
- Take them sledding with your family
- Create food puzzles and challenges to fuel stimulation
Whether indoors or outdoors, engaging with your dog is critical to their mental health and happiness in the winter. Think about it — have you ever regretted getting out and going for a walk to clear your head?
Even 15 minutes of exercise provides mental clarity and a mood boost; it’s no different for dogs! Physical and mental stimulation can also combat anxiety in dogs and boost their overall health and well-being.
Together, you and your canine companion can fight the winter blues and find exercise alternatives that fit your lifestyle and make you feel motivated and fulfilled. With your best friend at your side, the winter will fly by!
Common Signs of Depression in Dogs
Are you wondering, “Is my dog depressed?” Depression in dogs can be difficult to spot, but there are a few signs and indicators you can watch out for, including:
- Loss of or change in appetite
- Lack of interest in activities they enjoy
- Frequent accidents
- Change in sleep patterns
- Erratic or irritable behavior
- Clingy, needy behavior
Without a sudden lifestyle change, it’s safe to assume your dog may be ill rather than depressed. If your dog exhibits these changes in behavior, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.
Take Care of Your Dog’s Well-Being with Get Joy
Winter can be a challenging time for dog owners — fewer outdoor activities to enjoy, fewer playdates, and shorter days make it hard to prioritize exercise and play the way you can in the spring and summer.
Get Joy is here to support you in any way we can. From healthy, fresh meal plans to on-demand vet health services, we’re committed to providing dog owners with everything they need to thrive. Get started today!