Do Dogs Get SAD?

Nope, it isn’t always gloomy in Ithaca. We average 154 sunny days a year (all between May and September).

Seattle, with a reputation for clouds and rain, averages 151 sunny days a year.

My dog Honey has dozed a lot lately. Is the unrelenting cloudiness bringing her down? Or am I just seeing her through my own oh-my-dog-if-I-don’t-see-the-sun-I’m-gonna-die eyes?

In other words, do dogs get SAD?

Honey the golden retriever poses in the sun.

We got ten minutes of sun the other day and you better believe we took advantage of it. Now you can see my beautiful golden coat.

Weather Affects Dogs

I’ve never seen studies about how dogs feel about weather. After all, they can’t answer questionnaires. And you can’t put a rainstorm inside an MRI machine.

But I walk Honey in all kinds of weather. And I’ve noticed a few things.

Honey the golden retriever walks on a leash.

It’s not raining. Why are you wearing that hat? Are you afraid the puparazzi will recognize us?

Rain

Honey loves to splash in puddles. But she’s not crazy about walking in the rain.

She’ll go without complaining. But we always cut the walk short and make it up with indoor games.

Snow

Sure, it’s just as cloudy on a snowy day as when it’s raining. And snow is nothing more than rain at a colder temperature. But snow brings out Honey’s sense of fun.

She loves to break new trails and roll around making snow pup angels.

Honey is especially lively when the snow is still falling. I suspect that the snow’s motion in the air triggers something in animals who evolved to respond to motion.

Honey the golden retriever plays ball.

Again with the hat. I just hope you can see well enough to throw the ball for me.

Wind

Wind alone doesn’t seem to have a huge effect on Honey. But a light breeze on a sunny, crisp, fall day brings out the nonsense in Honey.

Squirrels that Honey ignores all summer long become irresistible on the rare brisk, sunny days we have in October and November.

And the scents that drift past her nose capture Honey’s attention.

Sun

Honey wears a  year-round fur coat. So she doesn’t worship a hot, sunny day like I do. But pair bright sun with a cool day and you’ve got a (rare) combination that brings out the best in Honey.

Of course, I don’t know how much of Honey’s joy is because of the weather and how much is her responding to my desperation to enjoy every second of the sun before it disappears behind the clouds for six months.

Honey the golden retriever fetches a ball.

Wow, it must be really sunny. The woman’s picture is only mostly blurry instead of all blurry.

People Affect Dogs

I’ve heard that some of you have sweet dogs who respond gently when you feel bad.

I can’t relate. When I feel sick, Honey is a brat.

But that doesn’t mean my moods don’t rub off on her.

With winter solstice past, I’m looking for daylight. But I can’t tell the difference yet. And I’m struggling to seek out light in a place wreathed in gloom where it looks like the sun is setting at 3 p.m.

That is, if we could even see the sun.

So is Honey affected by the gloomy weather with day after day of dark skies? Or is Honey affected by me being affected by the gloomy weather?

I’ve asked her. But she’s not telling.

Honey the golden retriever with Pamela.

Smile, you’re petting a golden retriever.

Your Turn: Does your dog seem to be affected by the weather? Or do you think they’re affected by how you’re affected by the weather?

 

 

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Comments

  1. We do have weather extremes here, so it’s hard to tell. Rain is an issue and they won’t go out on their own in the rain – I have to beg them. Wind used to freak Tino out, but I think that was due to his blindness and the noise it created really impacted him. It was the only thing that really bothered him and sometimes during the Santa Anas he would come hide under my desk. Either that, or he’d lay out in the middle of the yard – I guess the open space made him feel safe too. He was a nut.

  2. All mammalian brains have the same basic wiring, so I think the lack of sunlight has a similar affect on dogs and other animals as it does on humans. Animals that even semi hibernate are reacting to a lack of sunlight…squirrels burrow deep into the ground, birds fly south to follow the sun, and those that don’t are quieter. The busy season is over- it’s time to sleep. Humans react more visibly…we can’t just sleep half the day…and we are more psychologically vulnerable because we operate at full tilt, light or no light. I think my dogs avoid sun deprivation depression somewhat by sleeping more in Winter. I hustle them out when the sun shines and it’s not freezing, but they really want to burrow deep into their expensive high end catalog blankets on their $150.00 foam mattress and be force fed treats all day. Lol.

  3. Btw, that last picture of you is really nice!

  4. Roxy likes the warm sunshine because her old bones feel better in it. Torrey likes it cool. So I don’t know. LOL

  5. Hard to say…I love rain. Sampson and Delilah not so much.

    I love walking in the rain, typically Sampson and Delilah don’t mind the weather if we’re walking in it, BUT the other day it was raining and cold and I thought my dogs were running a marathon. The faster they trotted, the faster I walked, the faster they trotted. Sampson kept looking at me as if he was urging me on. Finally we hit our next door neighbor’s driveway and I unleashed him and he tore off for home. Delilah did the same when I unleashed her at our driveway. That’s the very first time they’ve ever done that.

    I have noticed them sleeping more this winter, but I suppose that could be attributed to their age. :-(

    Have you considered a sun lamp? That might help.

  6. I think we are more effected by Mom’s mood towards the weather. But we do really love cold, crispy, snowy mornings. We all get a bit of wildness going on. Katie does get sad, she has been moody her entire life Mom says and has no problem sulking around when she isn’t happy. Bailie and I tend to be happy all the time which Mom loves.

  7. Ziva seems perfectly happy to snuggle up on the couch and not move during our particularly nasty wet days…we get a lot of those here in the valley….
    Dante on the other hand I would say yes, he does get SAD.

    Neither our pups like to go out when its blowing sideways rain, and flooding the roads. Can’t say I blame them! We sometimes have to drag them into the grass to go potty.
    When the weather gets really icky, Dante wants to go outside until you give him the option or put him outside and then he wants back in…usually he just ends up standing at the window sulking about and moaning.
    We’re constantly trying to come up with things to keep both pups busy, in fact the hubby just took up trail running! Come rain or shine they go and hit the trails!

  8. I’m sure I was a bear in all of my past lives and I have projected my bearness on all around me. We do not like the cold or dark. We wait for first light to venture forth for morning business and we have 260 days of sunshine here but it isn’t enough. So it’s safe to say that the weather has a profound effect on us.

  9. Harley’s walks are different based on weather extremes. He races if it’s exceptionally cold and when it was hell like heat last summer she was resistant to even try until dusk. I laughed during a really strong rain storm this fall. I tried to use an umbrella thinking it would assist with protecting us from the wind and the rain. Harley’s never seen an umbrella so he refused to walk when I held it over his head. It made for quite a fun game, however, we were both drenched when we returned! Happy New Year!

  10. My Keeshond loved snow and cold weather! Sophie seems to hate the rain. All the dogs I have known seem to be happiest in early (golden) fall (except the Keeshond). I think the fall breezes bring a lot of interesting scents.

  11. Maybe not SAD to a tee, but I think general environmental factors definitely affect a dog’s morale the same as they would anyone, whether it be a gloomy season or a depressing environment.

  12. Mity refuses to go out in the rain. You litterally have to chase him down to take him outside!!