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.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that dogs are pack animals, but do domestic dogs really need canine friends? I’ll admit it – I was the type who believed the answer was a resounding yes. My firm stance on this was partly influenced by the “dogs are pack animals” theory and partly by the fact that all of my pups have thrived when there was a second dog in the house. The dogs I’ve shared my life with have all been family-oriented, and I felt like we were a big, happy pack.
My commitment to this belief was challenged by a friend who rescued a dog named Mia. The relationship between Lisa and Mia made me wonder if my long-held beliefs about having a second dog might be a combined result of 1) blindly accepting the pack animal theory and 2) attempting to assuage my guilt.
The Pack Animal Theory
Because dogs derived from wolves, and wolves live and hunt in packs, most people believe that dogs are hard wired to want canine companionship. I always thought the social structure of wolves included allegiance and reliance on one another within a pack, so it stood to reason that domestic canines would yearn for the same type of species-to-species bonding.
Researchers at Washington State University at Pullman shed more light on the subject, however. Traci Cipponeri and Paul Verrell studied the intricate relationships within wolf packs and likened their interactions to that of people who work within the same corporation. They noted that wolves not related to one another form what could be called an “uneasy alliance” because they have both shared and conflicting goals. They work cooperatively to obtain food and shelter, but they compete with one another for dominance.
During the season of giving, we often think about what we can do for others. When you are preparing your holiday gift list, why not include something for the homeless pets at your local animal shelter? Here are a few ideas on what to donate.
Money is the number one need for a shelter. The costs for upkeep, care and supplies are great and never ending. The advantage to giving cash is that the shelter can buy precisely what they need when they need it, or use it to pay the bills that come with running a shelter.
Food and Treats
Shelters need plenty of food to keep all their animal residents fed. A high quality pet food such as CANIDAE is ideal, because it provides all the nutrients these stressed pets need to heal and maintain their good health.
Don’t forget that all those dogs and cats will enjoy the CANIDAE treats that you love to give your pet as well. Their behavior may need modification, and treats make a nice reward during training.
Veterinarians have their own coded language that pet owners may have to try to decipher. “Vetspeak” can be confusing, but if we don’t comprehend everything a vet tells us, it’s up to us to ask questions so we can understand what’s wrong with our pet and follow the directions for medication and care. Some of the more common terminology you might hear at the vet or read on a prescription label is listed below.
ADR – This is an acronym that means “ain’t doing right.” When seen on a report or heard, it’s an indication that a pet isn’t doing as well as they could be or not as well as a vet expected. The phrase describes a pet with symptoms that have yet to be diagnosed. You might take your dog or cat in for a checkup if you’ve noticed he isn’t eating like he usually does or isn’t acting like himself. Everything may be alright, but it’s always a good idea to have a pet checked out anytime he isn’t acting like normal. It could be a serious problem that’s just beginning.
BDLD – You may see this abbreviation if your dog had a run in with another dog. It means “big dog/little dog” and indicates the severity and type of injuries a smaller dog may have from an encounter with a bigger dog.
BID – This is actually three Latin words – “bis in die” – that mean if your pet requires medication it’s to be given twice daily. TID means three times a day, and QID means four times daily.
That moment when you realize your beloved pet is missing is horrific. It can happen to even the most diligent, responsible pet owner, and it’s beyond scary. It can be hard not to go into full-on panic mode once you realize your pet is not where they should be, but that’s Rule Number One. Staying calm and having a plan will help you find your lost pet as quickly as possible. To that end, I’ve put together a few tips on what to do if your pet goes missing.
Make sure your pet always wears his collar and tags, and that the information is current. Microchipping can be an additional and worthwhile form of identification. I’ve read countless stories of microchipped pets being reunited with their family – some after many months or even years – so it really can help.
Keep some clear, close-up photographs of your pet in an easily accessible place. It’s also a good idea to write down your pet’s unique markings and things that could help identify them – such as “small, white patch of fur underneath left front leg.” It might seem silly to do this now, but you may not be able to think clearly while distressed.
I also recommend creating a “lost pet poster” template on your computer, which will save you valuable time. All of the basic information will already be there, so updating it will be quick and easy.
Skidboot was an extraordinary dog that entertained people everywhere he went as the World’s Smartest Dog. A crowd pleasing trick involved Skidboot listening to his owner, David Hartwig, count to three before retrieving a ball, but Hartwig mixed up the counting in an attempt to stump his dog. In the end, Skidboot eagerly focused on the ball and pounced on it when Hartwig said three. People were convinced the dog could count. Jim the Wonder Dog was also famous for his ability to recognize numbers, but can canines really understand simple math?
Quantitative thinking is something most people don’t believe dogs are capable of. It’s the concept of analyzing mathematical data in relation to quantity or number and having the ability to figure out if one thing is larger than another. One early experiment that researchers conducted was to see if dogs understood quantity. They used a large and small ball of hamburger, each on a separate plate, and tested dogs to see which one they would choose. When the plates were set at different distances, the dogs took the one closest to them regardless of its size, but when both plates were of equal distance they always chose the larger ball of meat.
Researchers concluded dogs didn’t understand quantitative thinking and couldn’t determine the difference in size. However, what they failed to account for is the opportunistic nature of canines and seemed to discount the fact that dogs picked the large ball of meat when the two plates were side by side.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.