Seasonal Affective Disorder is something humans have to deal with often. As days become shorter, grayer, and colder and people are less exposed to sunlight, they might be prone to SAD.
SAD leads to general feelings of depression, tiredness, and sadness. Inexplicable crying episodes and difficulty getting things done are also common symptoms. But have you ever wondered if this type of condition can also affect your furry friends?
Recently, this question has also crossed scientists’ minds. They haven’t gotten around to studying this concept on dogs specifically, but studies on hamsters and grass rats have been conducted. The results have shown that, when exposed to less sun, there was an alteration in the chemistry of the subjects’ brains. The hippocampus shrunk, which is thought to be a reason for depression.
Although dogs weren’t tested directly, the study suggests that it’s fair to assume they are being affected by SAD. Vets seem to believe that, even if SAD wasn’t affecting them directly, they are still affected via their parents’ behaviors. Dogs are highly intuitive and empathic, and they mirror the feelings that people around them deal with.
If you notice your dog suffers from SAD symptoms (lethargy, refusal to move, fluctuations in weight, hair loss) contact a vet. They will be able to properly diagnose the dog and decide on the proper treatment. The best treatment is increasing exposure to sunlight. But only do that at the recommendation of a doctor. Some conditions, like skin cancer, can be aggravated by exposure to the sun, so don’t risk giving your dog the wrong treatment.