Summer time drives pets crazy. here’s why
Spring Ahead, that overnight wonder where the clocks magically change and the evening light lingers longer, is a sign that spring is here and summer is coming.
And while generally welcomed, it can put us off.
That hour of sleep lost when you set off? For some it is hard.
And you know who else can be defeated by dashing forward? Our four-legged friends.
“For animals that are really determined, it can be very difficult,” said Dr. Liz Stelow, chief of service for the clinical behavior service at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
While not as psychologically (and physically?) challenging as the time change in the fall when we gain an hour, spring can still be disorienting.
What about the bad mood we get when our schedules, sleep, and sunlight are manipulated? Our pets not only feel their own discomfort, they also take on our discomfort.
“You’re going to be grumpier, and your pets are going to feel it,” Stelow said.
And it may be more than a case of sleep deprivation this time.
This spring comes as many people, and their pets, are still getting used to the changes in routine at home and at work brought about by the pandemic.
For those who have succeeded, working from home over the past two years has allowed us to spend more time with our pets. It’s one of the few silver linings of a pandemic that has been devastating in so many ways.
But as we return to more “normal” routines, many of us are spending less time at home.
Our pets may read this not as “back to work”, but rather as “where are my people going?” or, more painfully, “Why are they leaving me?”
Stelow said she saw animals that really suffered from the changes.
“We’ve seen so much separation anxiety,” she said.
So add another change to that – moving the clocks forward one hour – and some animals are going to feel it deeply.
“Pets who already have separation anxiety are probably thinking, ‘Why are you getting up and leaving so early?'” Stelow said.
Dogs and cats can’t read clocks, they just sense the routines of their own bodies and their humans.
“They think, ‘Are you leaving me longer?'” Stelow said. “No, just earlier.”
And like the good friends they are, they also take on our worries.
That’s a lot of discomfort in a little furry body.
So what to do?
“For really determined animals, it can be difficult,” she said.
First and foremost, take it slow and make changes in increments.
“The world doesn’t usually change that much, but our schedule does,” she said.
And that, to some extent, you can control.
“Gradually adjust your pet’s schedule,” she said.
It is not uncommon for pets, especially dogs, to have accidents during summer time. He may not feel ready for a trip outside an hour earlier, but needs some relief once you’ve already left for work.
Or they can be uncomfortable, even crazy, and this can trigger “accidents”.
But there is a little ray of sunshine at this time of year. And it’s literally, a little ray of sunshine.
The days are longer, the evenings are lighter and warmer, which means longer walks, more playtime outdoors, and likely a renewed level of energy – for you and your friend.
Relieve their anxiety with all the exercise they crave. It’s good for you too.
But if this next week sounds tough to you, you’re not mistaken, Stelow said.
And you are not alone.
This period of anxiety is real, both for you and for your four-legged friend.
“It’s so difficult,” Stelow said. “I would like some quick advice.”
For more acute cases in which animals walk, howl or cause damage during the day, a trip to the vet is likely in order, she said.
But if pooch is just moody and sad, maybe leave him a new chew toy.
“Do little things for dogs that are alone,” she said.
And better than a stuffed toy, Stelow said, if you’re able to pull it off?
“Come home for lunch if you get the chance.”
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or [email protected] On Twitter @benefield.