Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Dogs

Jan 02, 2024
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Dogs

Seasonal Affective Disorder in Dogs


(SAD) is a form of depression that can occur at specific times of year, usually during the autumn and winter months when we get less natural sunlight. 


It’s sometimes referred to as winter depression or winter blues.


The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it’s believed to be related to changes in light exposure, which can affect the body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) and neurotransmitter levels, particularly serotonin and melatonin.



Symptoms of SAD can include


Persistent low mood

Loss of interest or pleasure in activities

Fatigue or low energy

Changes in sleep patterns (either insomnia or oversleeping)

Changes in appetite or weight

Difficulty concentrating

Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness



S.A.D. in Dogs


I was asked the other day if Dogs can be affected by this so thought it'd make a good topic.


There isn’t any conclusive evidence to suggest that dogs can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder in the same way humans do.


Dogs though, just like us can be affected by changes in daylight and weather conditions.


Some dogs may exhibit changes in behaviour, mood, or activity levels in response to seasonal changes, but this isn’t considered a formal diagnosis of SAD.


It’s more likely affected by OUR response to the changing seasons, too wet or too cold can result in less walks and less mental stimulation which could bring on boredom in our dogs.



Remember that dogs, just like humans, can be affected by other factors that influence their well-being, such as changes in routine, diet, exercise, and overall environmental conditions. I’ve met more than a few dogs who just don’t like the wet and cold (for various reasons).


If your dog’s mood seems to have changed significantly it’s always a good idea to contact your vet to rule out any underlying health issues and discuss the best way to help your pet.


Although dogs may not experience Seasonal Affective Disorder in the same way humans do, they DO benefit from a consistent routine, regular exercise, exposure to natural light, and a healthy diet throughout the year to support their health and mental well being.


So I guess the answer is yes AND no, they can be affected by it, but arguably not in the same way as we are.



Human help.


If you are, or know someone who may be suffering from SAD please find below some useful links that may offer some help.


NHS (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

The Spark (SAD) Scotland

Mind.Org (SAD)