The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Our Pets Can Feel the Daylight Savings Shift More Strongly Than We Do

Monday, November 14, 2016

Our Pets Can Feel the Daylight Savings Shift More Strongly Than We Do

While pushing the clocks back only one hour might seem like business as usual for us, our pets’ are sometimes not as amenable and might act up!  Just by switching the clocks to Daylight Savings Times, our dogs and cat’s schedules can be completely off-kilter!  Our fur children are so in tune with when they are going to be fed, what time to go to sleep and eat, that we need to be prepared!

Dogs and cats have internal clocks that affect their rhythm

Just like humans, animals have internal clocks that tell them when to eat, sleep and wake up. This biological timekeeper, also known as circadian rhythm, is set in motion by natural sunlight. However, for pets this effect is minimized by the artificial environment they live in, where light comes on not with the rising sun but with the flip of a switch.  Household pets might get grumpy when they show up to an empty food dish at their perceived dinner time.

Our dogs and cats are used to their routine so we need to ease them into the new time

A dog or cat’s daily routine is something they would prefer to be written in stone. Unfortunately, things happen that can alter schedules and a simple time change can be perplexing for some pets. When we gain an hour and can sleep in, our pets are still on daylight savings time and don’t understand why we’re still in bed when they are up and ready to go. Their internal clock is saying morning has arrived and it’s time to get moving (and get fed!).

Our dogs and cats are more affected by daylight savings than we are

Our pets, however, might feel the daylight savings shift more strongly than us. Pay attention to them this week; they might be cranky themselves. Sleepy dogs might not want to end their naps to go out on a walk earlier than expected. Or some cats might turn their noses up at food if that comes an hour before the normal time.  In the wild, animals pattern their lives around the phases of the sun, but domesticated pets follow their own versions of our schedules. Daylight savings can really mess with our pets internal rhythms for a few days, or even a week, until they readjust.

Try to change their schedule in increments and they will adjust quickly

The good news is most pets will adjust to the time change fairly quickly.  A few things you can do to make the transition easier is to keep them on their normal schedule and slowly begin to change their daily routine by 5-10 minutes each day.  Keep doing this until you make up for the hour change adjustment. Moving their feeding times, play time and walks back a little each day can make it easier for dogs and cats to adjust.

Most cats won’t be as affected as dogs will while some pets won’t even notice.  
But, don’t be surprised if your dog or cat wakes you up earlier to be fed and might be a bit cranky this upcoming week!

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