More than half of British pet owners (55%) believe their animals suffer from the January blues, reveals new research by Vetsterthe telehealth platform which connects licensed veterinarians with pet owners concerned about their pets’ health.
Ahead of Blue Monday on 16the th January, over half (50%) of owners surveyed revealed they walk their dogs less during winter months and as a result a quarter (25%) said their pets are sleeping and eating more.
It turns out that what is driving the observed change in behavior is the pet owners’ own winter blues. According to the study, 65% of British pet owners revealed that they themselves suffer from the winter blues which they feel has an impact on their pet’s wellbeing.
The colder, shorter, and darker days were among the top reasons cited by owners for negatively affecting their own moods which in turn changed daily routines and subsequently their pet’s own behavior. Forty-five per cent of those surveyed by Vetster noted that during the dark winter months, their pets seemed stressed or withdrawn, 22% said pets were reluctant to play games and 15% of pet owners noted that without outdoor adventures pets were more likely to become destructive through boredom, chewing household objects like furniture.
Dr Jo Myers, a veterinarian practicing on the Vetster telehealth platform, says, “We don’t realize that our own human behavior affects our animals’ lives and routines. People often “hibernate” during winter months resulting in lower energy levels, fatigue, or social withdrawal. This inevitably affects our pets routines which can then lead to behavior changes in our best friends too.”
To help boost your pet’s wellbeing in the winter months, Vetster shares these 5 tips:
- Walk your dog – It is good to stick to your walking routine with your dog, however if it is really cold, keep your walks short and brisk. If it’s particularly cold or icy, be careful about the amount of time you spend outside, particularly if your best friend has short hair. Consider adding clothing to short haired or slim pet breeds and keep your cat inside during really cold snaps.
- Increase your pets’ light exposure – For dogs, heading to the local park during daylight hours will get the circulation going, give them a chance to sniff (engage their brain), chase and engage in natural breed enrichment. Don’t forget the socializing for your pet and for you, making you both feel better. If you can’t get your pet outside and exposed to natural sunlight, up playtime and consider putting your pets’ bed closer to the window to help them receive more daylight.
- Connect with a vet – If you are concerned about your pet’s symptoms, always consult a licensed vet and do not be tempted to treat the animal as a human. For example, never give your pet a supplement without talking to a professional first. Vetster offers virtual appointments that start from £40 where you can discuss your pets’ winter wellness routine or discuss any concerns you have from the comfort of your own home.
- A cuddle a day – You might be busy, however a cuddle a day or snuggling your furry pet can help stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, the transmitters responsible for keeping depression at bay. However, be careful not to overstimulate your pet and make sure you read the signs if they just want to be left alone.
- Get playful indoors – If your pet is sleeping more, it is good to try to keep them up and awake with a few indoor games. This might be playing tug of war, or a treasure hunt with small food treats hidden around the home. Squeaky and chewing toys also help with stimulation. Consider interactive toys for your pets to keep them entertained from chasing to chewing.
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