We may not have noticed it, but many people find themselves feeling out of sorts until their circadian rhythms catch up with that lost hour. Just as our bodies are impact by time changes – whether Daylight Saving Time or traveling to a different time zone – our pets may be impacted as well.
As humans, we know the time change is coming and we prepare for it. Our dogs and cats, who are creatures of habit don’t have the capacity for pre-planning for time changes. They are accustomed to eating their dinner and going for walks at specific times and going to bed and getting up on a routine schedule.
As a pet parent it’s important to take into consideration your dogs and cats are still on the same time schedule they were before the time change.
Until your pets are on the new schedule, here are a few ways you can help them adjust:
- If possible, ease them in increments toward a dinner time that is on the “new” time. If you can take about a week to fully adjust it may be helpful to your pets. Try moving their dinner times by ten minutes a day. Often pets are more flexible with their morning meal as morning schedules often vary.
- Be prepared for your pet to begin nudging you an hour earlier than the clock for her dinner or for a walk. He can’t tell time. Be patient. If he’s nudging you for a walk and it’s an hour early, you are better off going along with his body’s request. This is the instances where, if possible, you can try to make pets wait ten minutes from the time they begin nudging for dinner until they have gotten on the schedule of the “new” time.
- Pay attention to whether your pets seem stressed or anxious. Yes, some pets may be so impacted by the time change they exhibit “bad” behaviors. These include: scratching, pacing, refusing to eat or craving more attention. Practice patience while his body clock catches up. Your pet may also pick up on your emotions relating to the time change and act out because of her empathy to your moods.
The time change may not be anything you’re particularly impacted by, but your pet may be. The time change will upset your dog or cat’s internal clock and can take a psychological toll. Give them a few days to get their body clock in sync to the new time.
You may need to adjust your dog or cat’s medication schedule – if she is on medication – to compensate for the time change. You don’t want to overdose, or underdose, or skip any doses because the time changed.
Your dog or cat may not even notice the change in the time- in which case you may not see any change in behavior. Enjoy the longer days and take your dog for longer walks!