During the winter months, your dog might not want to spend as much time outside. They might even try to avoid going outside for their bathroom activities or for exercise. But, even more, the winter weather can actually change your dog’s mood. There are lots of things that can create anxiety, fear and stress in dogs, and weather is definitely one of them! Here is some more information on how the winter season can impact your dog’s mood, plus ways you can help to mitigate it.
Barometric Pressure Can Give Your Dog a Headache Too
Barometric pressure can have a huge impact on your dog’s mood. In the summer, when thunderstorms are more frequent, barometric pressure and electricity in the air can cause your dog to feel tight around their head, just like humans. With winter storms, which can pack just as much of a punch pressure-wise as summer thunderstorms, this can make your dog feel very uncomfortable in their own skin. Walks suddenly become unbearable, and they’ll probably want to turn around and run back inside. Make sure you invest in a quality dog collar and leash set so you can keep hold of them and they don’t run away. Otherwise, they might get loose and try to find a place they can hunker down.
Anxiety Can and Will Increase for Dogs in the Winter
Much like in the summer, cooler temps and snow storms can cause your dog to feel more anxiety. You’ll probably notice more pacing, whining or even lethargy from your dog collars during the winter. It’s important you keep your home comfortably warm, even when you’re gone for work. Older dogs especially need extra warmth to help with the loss of muscle mass they incur as a result of old age. With winter being a time they want to sleep more and move less, it’s important you keep your home at a comfortable temperature so they don’t spend hours inactive, making their muscular atrophy worse. You should also beef up the amount of toys you have in your home for them to play with when they aren’t going outside. This will encourage them to stay active and give them something to do, distracting them from the weather making them anxious.
Dogs and Bears Aren’t That Much Different
Just like many other animals during the winter, dogs also become less active. Even though they don’t go into hibernation, dogs can still appear much more lethargic and unmotivated in the winter. This is normal, so try to increase time outside if it’s safe. Otherwise, feel free to snuggle up with your pup under the blankets to help stay warm. They’ll love getting to cuddle with you more, and you’ll have some extra body heat to pull from when the cold starts to creep in.
Seasonal Depression? Yep, Dogs Know It Too
Have you ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder? It’s common in humans, and there’s some research showing that dogs might be in the same boat as about 10 million Americans each year. When the time changes, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Combined with the colder temperatures, many dogs appear more lethargic and sad and even disrupt their bathroom and walk schedules because they’re affected by the change in season.
If you’ve noticed any of these things in your dog, consider shifting the schedule a bit so they’re going outside while it’s still sunny. If you don’t get home from work until after the sun sets, then reach out to a neighbor or friend or even hire a dog walker to take your pup out during the sunshine. Make sure you update their custom pet tag so it has current contact information!
If your dog accidentally runs away during their walk, it’ll be easier for people and even rescues or shelters to contact you. When your dog experiences seasonal depression, they might run away to follow something interesting to them they see on their walk, so doing your part to keep them safe will go a long way.
Some Dogs Might Play More
There are some dog breeds out there that are better suited to colder weather. Larger and heavier coated breeds, such as Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs and even German Shepherds all enjoy being out in the cold. Seen any of those pictures or videos of a Husky running or rolling around in the snow? That’s because they were bred to be dogs that can work and survive in frigid cold temperatures and high amounts of snow, so they love being out even when it’s freezing! While it might not feel enjoyable for you, they love it.
To help your winter pup adjust, make sure you have lots of water on hand for them to drink when they do come back inside. Have towels available to dry them off, but don’t try to warm them up too fast. The most important thing is that you don’t get upset at them for spending time outside. They’re bred to enjoy cold temperatures, so seeing them run around in the snow shouldn’t make you worried or upset. Instead, think of it as a great thing because they’re spending time outside!
Make Sure to Keep their Paws Clean
During the winter time, you’ll want to increase the amount of times you give your dog a bath. In fact, you should probably wipe down their paws after every outing. This will help to remove the snow, ice and salt from their paws so they don’t accidentally ingest it and harm themselves. They do make pet-safe salt mixtures and de-icers, but there are still plenty of places that don’t use them. Of course, make sure you use one on your sidewalk, driveway and around your home to ensure your pup stays healthy.
Winter weather can change your dog’s mood, their desire to run and their overall health. Some dogs might even enjoy the cold. No matter what, pay attention to your dogs’ behavior and habits so you can take care of them in the best way possible.