Category Archives: cabin fever

Can Pets Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD KricketBy Linda Cole

SAD is the perfect acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The winter blues or cabin fever can sap your energy, increase your appetite, and bring on a desire to cuddle under a blanket with your pet  and sleep the winter away. In the Midwest where I live, winters can be cold, cloudy, windy, dreary and snowy. Being cooped up inside can cause some people to develop symptoms of SAD, and the farther you live from the equator the more prone you are to experiencing this disorder. Pets can also be affected by a lack of sunshine and shorter daylight hours, and can suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

In Alaska, winter months are cold and dark with very little sunlight throughout the day. The Plains states, the Midwest, areas in New England and Canada also have lower levels of light during the winter months. Studies have shown that people who live in these regions have higher incidents of developing SAD compared to just 2% of people living in Florida. Changes in two hormones, melatonin and serotonin, can cause people with seasonal affective disorder to crave comfort food, overeat, feel tired or lethargic, and experience mood changes, anxiety and weight gain. These are the same symptoms seen in dogs, cats and other animals with SAD.

One of the top veterinary charities in the United Kingdom conducted a survey of pet owners and found that 43% noticed a lack of energy in their pets; 59% said their dog or cat slept longer than usual; and 47% said their pets wanted more attention. Owners also reported that their pet seemed more fatigued and depressed. Boxers, Airedale Terriers, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs, as well as a few other breeds, may also experience seasonal alopecia that causes hair loss and darkening skin in the flank area which, like SAD, is due to a lack of sunlight.

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Do Dogs and Cats Get Cabin Fever?

By Julia Williams

Around this time every year, the side effects of winter start to take their toll on my household. My three cats and I all become irritable, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, and just plain ticked off at the world. The bitter cold and knee-deep snow make the outdoors inhospitable, so we hole up indoors. On good days we are able to stay out of mischief; on the darkest days of winter we go stir crazy, which generally results in some sort of bad behavior. What that behavior is varies with the day (and the species), but yes – just like humans, pets can and do get Cabin Fever.

While not an actual disease as the name suggests, Cabin Fever is a state of mind. It’s a claustrophobic reaction brought on by an extended stay in a confined space or a remote, isolated area. Although Cabin Fever is more prevalent in winter, it can occur any time of the year.

Normally well-behaved dogs and cats suffering from Cabin Fever may begin to pick fights with other family pets. They might stare vacantly out the window all day, chew on things they’re not supposed to, or race around the house like something possessed. So what’s a responsible pet owner to do when the weather outside is frightful? Find ways to make being indoors more enjoyable!


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