Category Archives: winter

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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5 Fun Snow Games to Play with Your Dog

By Tamara McRill

Do you have a dog that just loves burrowing through the snow? Don’t you just love those big doggy grins when they get to frolicking in the powder? I have three snow-loving pooches and, aside from making a dog snowman, playing in the snow is our favorite winter activity.

Of course, we certainly take safety precautions, and winter paw care is a must, but these snow games are easy to safely set up. Here are my dogs’ paws-down favorite five snow games:

1. Hide and Seek

Since dogs like to dig in the snow, give them something to find. Bury toys, sticks or even dog treats in the snow and ask your dog to find them. For dogs that aren’t good at seeking, you might have to tip them off on where to look. I like to up the excitement and competition by letting the dogs think I’m looking for their toy too.

You might want to avoid playing while snow is falling and accumulating though. That makes it harder to see where you buried stuff and you don’t want to have to wait until spring to uncover their favorite bone.

2. Snowball Catch

This is an excellent game for dogs who like to play catch and “kill” things. Pack a snowball, making sure there aren’t any ice chunks or rocks in the mix, and lightly toss it for your dog to catch. When they do, they will get the fun and satisfaction of chomping down and destroying the snowball.

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How to Make a Dog Snow Sculpture

By Tamara McRill

What snowman would be complete without his own snowdog? It seems only fair to provide them with a little frosty canine companionship. At least that’s what I always thought in college, when I would leave little snow families, including pet snow sculptures, all over the campus.

I graduated to making bigger dog snow sculptures when I had a yard to call my own again. It can be really cute introducing your pet to their frozen doppelganger!  I’ve had dogs get excited, bark at, lick and rub up against these snowdogs.

Thinking my fellow dog lovers and CANIDAE RPO readers would also like to have a go at a dog snow sculpture, I thought I’d share how to build one:

Lying Down Snowdog

Although there is a little more sculpting involved in making a sculpture of a dog lounging in the snow, it’s actually a little bit easier than building a standing dog. This is because the base of your sculpture rests entirely on the ground. Here are the steps for the body, hind legs and tail:

1. Make a mound of snow, slightly curved in the back, as long and wide as you want your snowdog to be.

2. The mound should be shaped and packed down to be narrower at the front, which would be the neck, and wider where it curves in a bit at the back, which would be the dog’s hind end. Make sure the center bulges out just a teensy bit, to represent the belly.

3.  For the hind legs, start with a thin packed roll of snow about half the length of the body.

4. Place this roll alongside the back end of your snowdog, sticking out an inch or two from the back.

5. Above the back leg, pack on a half circle of extra snow to form the upper thigh. You’ll want this to look connected to the back of the leg, but defined with a groove from the rest of the leg and top of the dog body.

6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 on the other side of your snow sculpture to make the other back leg.

7. The tail should start wider at the base of the hind end. You can either make a roll of snow or just shape it by packing snow on the ground. It should curve around the front and end in a point.

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How to Help Your Pet Deal with the Winter Blues

By Linda Cole

Some dogs enjoy outside winter activities, but not all pets or people want to be outdoors when those frigid winds are howling. Cabin fever can be a problem for our pets, but indoor activities can help to ward off those winter blues and help you both stay in shape.

Remote Control Cars

OK, so my first suggestion gives cats and dogs more exercise than it will you, unless you need to lose some weight in your fingers. However, playing with a small remote control car inside is a blast for most pets and helps get them up and moving. The noise of the car rolling along the floor gets their attention and holds it while they contemplate how to attack this strange new creature that dared to disturb their sleep. Look for a pet friendly car that doesn’t have small parts which can fall off or be pulled off by your pet. You will also want to find one that is strong enough to hold up to a dog or cat who finds the courage to attack it. I have to admit, this is a favorite activity at my house.

Indoor Obstacle Course

An interesting obstacle course can be made with whatever you have in your home. Set up a course where your dog has to jump, crawl and find his way around the course, utilizing furniture along with other fun obstacles like empty drawers, clothes baskets, paper sacks made into tunnels, boxes, broom handles and piles of pillows. Think outside the box to make a challenging and fun course. Cats can also learn to navigate an obstacle course. Use their favorite wiggly toy or a laser light for them to follow. Don’t be afraid to get down on all fours and have your pet follow you. The idea, after all, is for both of you to get up and move!

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