It should be no surprise that humans aren’t the only ones affected by low spirits in the wintertime. The colder temperatures, foul weather and shorter days make it very difficult to get outside. Though dogs do not battle depression the same way humans do, they do experience a hormonal response to seasonal changes. Some of the symptoms of canine depression, will be fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, lethargy, sleeping longer hours during the day, coupled with restlessness, fidgeting or pacing at night. A dog might seem less interested in playing, less enthusiastic or have trouble focusing. This could occur because of a lack of light, lack of exercise, or even as a reflection of their master’s attitude. If this is the case, it is time to shake up the routine and get the pep and energy back. The good news is, there are many ways to help your pup be back to his normal, chipper self.
Go outside! Even if the wind is howling, or the rain is raging, throw on a good coat and brave the storm. By going for a brisk wintery walk, you will help boost your puppy’s energy, your own endorphins will increase and your overall health will improve. Sickness is an emotional drag that can contribute to the lethargy your dog adopts while you ail in bed. One of the best ways to combat winter blues, is to get outside and exercise!
Turn the lights on brighter. If the sun is only out a few hours a day, pull back the curtains and soak in the rays. Brighten up the lamps, light a fire, and make sure no bulbs have burnt out. Light helps everyone feel cheerful; your dog will pick up on the brightened mood, and will respond in kind.
Limit food portions. If your dog is exercising less but still consuming the same size portion of food, then he will become sluggish and drowsy. Help him stay upbeat by lessening the amount of food he is given. This will also help him guard against gaining unnecessary weight in the winter.
Engage your dog indoors. It’s time to kick play time up a notch. Find ways to play games or introduce new challenges to your dog’s repertoire. Hide somewhere while your dog isn’t looking, and call his name. Let him track you down, and reward him with cuddles and treats when he finds you! Or get a new toy, like a scented hunting dummy, or remote toy he can chase. Try teaching him a new skill, and practice it a little each day. Introducing new scents or activities will keep his mind stimulated even in “down time” at home.
Get company! Invite another puppy parent over so your dog can have someone to play with, while you and your friend catch up. Maybe even adopt another pet so he can have a buddy or playmate to stay entertained during dreary days.
If none of the above suggestions seems to shift your dog’s demeanor and energy level, consider taking him to a veterinarian who will be able to determine if there is another reason your dog may be out of sorts. However, usually a bit of innovation, exercise and fun can bring your peppy puppy back!