Is your dog SAD? (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

16th October 2017


As we come into winter, many across the UK will be bracing themselves for the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). For some it is mild condition sometimes called the ‘winter blues’ for others it can be quite debilitating and need professional treatment. A little known fact is that dogs can also suffer from this seasonal disorder.

SAD in Humans

As Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, who first described seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the mid-1980s, writes in the Seasonal Affection Disorder Association’s Autumn 2017 Newsletter,

‘When we first described seasonal affective disorder (SAD) it was obvious that we were not dealing with an all-or-nothing phenomenon, but with a spectrum of emotional and behavioural problems linked to the seasons. At one extreme are people with SAD, who struggle during the short dark days of winter, sometimes to a disabling degree. At the other are those who wake up cheerfully, rain or shine. In between are those with the winter blues.’

Go for a Walk

Professor Rosenthal goes on to give his tips for dealing with the disorder and, number two on his list of things people can do to help themselves is, ‘Get More Light’ by ‘going for a walk on a bright winter day (morning is often best).’

SAD in Dogs

But surely our dogs don’t suffer from such a ‘human’ condition do they? According to a 2017 survey by pet food manufacturer Forthglade, yes, they do. Their survey of 2,000 dog owners found that an incredible 44% of owners surveyed had considered consulting, or had actually consulted a vet or animal behaviourist to help with their dog’s seasonal depression.

Walking in the dark

Apparently the reason our dogs get depressed is because we walk them far less frequently and for less time in the winter, because of the lack of daylight. Understandably people don’t feel safe doing their usual ‘before’ and ‘after’ work dog walks, across the fields in the pitch black. We don’t blame them! Neither would we!

The survey revealed that: whilst 56% of owners walk their dogs for over 30 minutes per session during the summer, only 28% do so in the winter months. 71% of those surveyed also stated that their pets sleep substantially more than usual during the winter months. (Forthglade Survey Jan 2017).

Don’t let sleeping dogs lie

This lack of walking and light leads to our dogs having a more sedentary lifestyle which isn’t what they are used to or indeed, what is good for them. Affected dogs can eat more, sleep more, be more irritable and generally ‘out of sorts’. It’s not that they’re pawing at the door to get out for a walk, far from it, they’ll be lying in their baskets, sleeping…a lot.

Poor doggies, they need to be out there getting their paws dirty, leaping in puddles and sniffing in piles of leaves, it’s what dogs do and as loving owners it is up to us to make that happen.

Help a SAD dog, work for Petpals!

With all these bored doggies at home needing extra walks, we could really do with a hand keeping up with demand. Could you:

Become a dog walker for us? Get out into the fresh air every day, meet some amazing dogs and earn money at the same time! Simply get in contact with your local Petpals to ask about current vacancies.

Become a dog boarder for us? If you are at home for the majority of the day, don’t really want the responsibility of owning a dog full time, but feel you would like the company on walks and the emotional support having a dog in the house can bring, could you be a dog boarder for us? You look after dogs in your own home, while their owners are away, you walk them and cuddle them exactly as if they were yours, but then you give them back at the end of the day or week and receive payment in return.

Hire Petpals

If you have a dog who you think is a bit miserable in the winter and would benefit from a walk during the day, saving you from the scary ‘dark winter walk’ in a pitch black park or field, then talk to us about our regular dog walking service. We can walk your dog for you daily or a couple of times a week, to keep him smiling through the winter months (and we promise we’ll clean off the mud before he comes home after his big puddle jumping session!)If you would like to talk to someone about any becoming a dog walker or a home boarder or about using our dog walking service, please visit our website

So if you want to work for us or hire us to do the walking for you, talk to us and let’s try to cheer up some SAD dogs today!



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