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Do pets get affected by the winter blues the way many humans do?

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You may have often heard that many humans get “cabin fever” when feeling trapped indoors for so many months throughout the winter months. The cabin fever is actually known as the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) condition or “winter blues.” Although humans are influenced by the changing seasons and being “trapped” indoors during frigid weather, are the animals also affected? It may be a good idea to contact your local Rockford-area veterinarian as listed below or one closest to your home to discuss SAD in pets.

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Seasonal affective disorder is described as a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance. Human with this condition may show signs of crying, binge eating, excessive fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, depression and lethargy. So how does seasonal affective disorder affect your pets? Your dog and cat may not actually suffer from “SAD” although your pets are probably mirroring your symptoms. Felines seem to adapt a lot easier since most cats are indoor pets, so the changing seasons may not affect them as much. Dogs however to go out in order to do their business, and it can be a problem for some of them that can get lost in the snow. There is not as much a problem with the snow as it is with the frigid temperatures. Despite the size of your dog, they should be limited to the amount of time they are outside, as they can be prone to frostbite, especially on their feet.

Being the pet parent of small dogs, I can tell you firsthand that it was quite a challenge to get them outside this morning after it snowed all day yesterday. On top of that, the temperatures have dropped. I had to go out to shovel a path for them and coax them to do their duty. As a pet parent you do what you need to do in order to protect your pets. When we bring them back inside, we have concerns with their pads of the feet, as you can imagine how cold it would be if you were to stand outside barefoot.

Smaller dogs usually aren’t real fond of the cold and snow, but there are many dogs that love to roll, romp and play in the fluffy white stuff. That is certainly not a problem as long as you limit the amount of time outdoors. Your dog may experience cabin fever for the lack of exercise that is not so easily accessible when the weather is not cooperative.

Because most cats are indoor pets, they may not experience cabin fever although may not have access to a sunny window or screened in porch that they have at other times of the year. Physical dynamics are altered during the change of seasons and dogs and cats can get depressed or anxious due to lack of certain activities that may be limited during the winter. Some of the signs and symptoms that your pets may be depressed are –

  • Not wanting to play
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of interest in the family
  • Lack of social interaction

Before bringing your dog or cat into the vet to get the depression diagnosed, consider how you have been feeling. Since your pets are so close to you and in tune to your feelings, the dog or cat can actually be reflecting off of how you are feeling. After all, your pets look up to you for guidance, and if you are feeling the effects of cabin fever, your pet will mirror those feelings.

If your dog or cat has shown any of the above signs of depression without any effects from you, call your vet to rule out any possible physical or medical issues. If you are the type of person that is not affected by cabin fever, but your dog or cat is showing signs of depression or anxiety, it is best to check with your vet for advice on how to care for your pet through the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder or “SAD.”

Depending on where you live, the length of the winter season can vary. If you and your dog feel a bit cooped up, get outside for normal activities as soon as the weather permits, even just for short periods of time. As for kitty, provide a safe sunny window when available, or try and get in a little playtime. In due time, activities will be back to normal and so will the pets in your life.

If you are looking for wholesome, natural and homemade treats for your favorite canine best friend, Led foot’s Pet Bakery near the Rockford area is happy to meet your needs. Check out the website at Ledfoot Bakery. Contact Susan Weitzel at 815 784-6358, Ledfoot Bakery Contact.

If you are seeking Veterinary assistance in the Rockford area, you can check out one of these at - Rockford Vet Clinics, Bellwood Vet, Rockford Veterinarians, Perryville Veterinarian , Cat Veterinarians Specialists

For all your pets needs and accessories in the Rockford area, go to your local PETCO - 6305 East State Street, Rockford, IL 61108, (815) 229-0184 - Petco or your local PETSMART - 6320 East State Street, Rockford, IL 61108, (815) 397-7880 - Petsmart -Petland, (815) 332-4200 - Petland

For many of your pet essentials, visit your local Rockford-area CVS pharmacies. There are four convenient locations - 3134 11th Street, Rockford, IL 61109, (815)398-0048 - 110 S Alpine Rd, Rockford, IL 61108 - 3718 Main Street, Rockford, IL 61103, (815)877-9620 - 2454 S. Alpine Rd., Rockford, IL 61108, (815)399-5421 - CVS Pharmacy

For the grooming needs of your Chihuahua in or near the Rockford area, you can contact Sue at for further information.

Sign up for my pet blog and let me know if you have questions or concerns regarding your pets. You can also find some of my recent petitions to help abused, neglected, mistreated and abandoned animals so please visit, sign the petitions and share with everyone you can as a way to help these defenseless creatures! Let me know what you think of my articles and if you have any queries. I have created a question and answer page for that reason. Let me know if I can be of help to you with your beloved pets – no question too large or small. Hope to see you at Animal Care Blog. Be the most educated pet parent!



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