Have you ever noticed that your dog’s mood shifts with the weather? Just like humans, seasonal changes including thunderstorms, heatwaves, dark skies, wind and heavy rain can all affect your dog’s behaviour.
According to previous research conducted by the PDSA, a youhird of dog owners noticed their pet feeling sad during the colder months of the year. Dogs occasionally suffer from bouts of depression, but the winter weather can often make it worse due to disrupted daily routines and less physical exercise. During the warmer months, you may notice your dog slowing down or trailing behind on their walks instead of forging ahead.
“Our canine companions can all have their own unique quirks when it comes to weather, some may be terrified of thunder, heavy rainfall and strong winds, while others can seem depressed and have a low mood during the winter period, while others get excited and enthusiastic — and some don’t react at all,” Carolyn Menteith, behaviorist at tails.com, says.
What signs should you look out for?
Whether we’re experiencing a summer thunderstorm or high levels of heat, you may notice a shift in how your dog is behaving. Research carried out by Penn State University found that some dogs experience a rapid increase of cortisol (the stress hormone), while some pups can sense the changes in barometric pressure that predict a new weather front.
Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Reduced energy (especially during warmer weather)
- Slowing down on walks
- loss of appetite
- Lack of exercise and stimulation
- Hiding in ‘safe’ places, often during a loud storm
What can you do to help your dog?
Similar to the effect weather can have on humans’ mood and energy, our pups may also find themselves feeling sad, anxious, restless or happy depending on what the weather says. Spring might be here, but a summer storm could leave your pups needing additional support.
Carolyn says: “You can help to minimize the stress your pet experiences during harsh weather conditions, by making sure your dog has plenty of exercises, lot of enrichment opportunities and by ensuring they are warm, feel safe and comfortable in the home.”
If your dog displays signs of distress, try and distract them with play, enrichment toys that you can stuff with food (as chewing and gnawing is a great stress-reliever) or even practice some training exercises to give them something else to think about. If they still can’t settle and seem anxious or worried, sit beside them and let them wait out the storm in their comfortable den.”
During spring and summer months, ensure your dog has somewhere cool to relax. If you’re heading out on a walk with your dog during a heatwave, make sure to check if it’s safe first. While it’s important dogs stretch their legs, the hot weather can make it unsafe for our pups to head out.
If you are concerned about your dog, always head to your local vet for expert advice.
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