Mental Health is a topic that definitely should be talked about and the fact that it's finally out in the open more often, is in our opinion, long overdue! Almost all of us will struggle with mental health issues at one point or another throughout our lives, but often we don't even consider that our pets may be struggling too...
Much like various factors affect our mental health, dogs can be affected by mental health problems too, and it's important that we look out for the signs.
Many animal experts have suggested that dogs suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. In layman terms, the weather can affect our dogs in the same way that it affects us...
Problems occur as a result of inconsistent levels of light, which affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. In humans, deprivation of natural light interferes with the body's production melatonin and serotonin, which can wreak havoc with our bodies.
It promotes low mood, lethargy, poor sleep, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. It also disrupts the body clock. According to the NHS, problems are most prominent throughout January and February.
While there is no substantive evidence to support this same process happening in dogs, anecdotal findings suggest that dogs are affected by the weather too.
Pets are great for our mental health, and are constantly being used in new innovative ways to help a wide range of people. It's therefore important that we monitor our own dogs health in all its forms to ensure that they are happy and behaving consistently.
Here are some ways to promote wellbeing in your dog, and ensure that they are in optimum mental health:
Get Out And About
One of the best ways to bring your dog out of a negative space is to get them up and out of the house. It's the advice that we're told all the time to help ourselves, and the same is true for our furry friends.
If you suspect that your dog is feeling down, or has been lethargic for a long period of time, it's likely that they'll bounce back into action as soon as you utter that magic word (you know the one!).
If possible, find an open space where they can run freely. Remember, the home isn't the natural environment for dogs, and after long periods of bad weather kept indoors, they'll be raring to get going.
Chances are, if you've been stuck inside with them too, it'll do you both the world of good!
Open The Curtains
It might sound obvious, but this could be a simple trick that you're inadvertently missing.
For those of us who juggle our pets with a full time job, early morning alarm calls are a dreaded daily occurrence, and we usually throw on the nearest clean clothes, down a coffee, and go! But, if you don't open the curtains and your dog's home alone all day, they're going to be left in the dark.
So, before you leave in the morning, let as much light in as possible - they'll thank you for it!
If we eat bad food, we feel bad. We've all made that connection.
Feeding your dog the right food is important all year round to keep them healthy, and it can also help to boost their mood. While store bought foods are convenient, they're not always the highest in nutrients, with fresh food often a better option.
Chicken and turkey are both high in Vitamin B, while white fish contains essential fatty acids which help boost brain function. Try pairing one of these with brown rice and carrots for a healthy meal that could benefit your dog in more ways than one.
Encouragement Is Key
Finally, it's vital that you encourage their dog to get them going. We all need a good talking to sometimes, don't we?!
Dogs get bored easily, and it's important that you take the time to give them the attention that they need. A quick game of fetch, or a 10 minute cuddle will perk them up and make them feel good again.
Remember, it doesn't have to be anything major - just a quick sign that you care!
If you're concerned about leaving your dog alone and think that they could benefit from some extra attention while you're out of the house, perhaps Tailster can help? We have a range of vetted dog walkers and sitters across the UK, who are available to care for your dog as and when you require. For more information, click here.