Animal Friends Blog
Daylight Saving Time comes to an end on Sunday the 25th of October at 2:00 am. For most people, the extra hour gained when Daylight Saving Time ends will be a great way to catch up on sleep. But for our pets, the effects can be very different.
Animals have their own circadian rhythm – a biological clock that helps them know when to eat, sleep, toilet (and pester you for treats!) in their day.
What does Daylight Saving Time mean for our pets?
When we change the clock for the end of Daylight Saving Time, our pets may be a little confused and possibly stressed by the change – after all, they’re getting attention, food, or exercise an hour later than anticipated.
We should expect this to be most marked for pets, like dogs, that are most dependent upon us and live in our homes. On the other hand, animals like cats, horses or livestock that are out doing their own thing most of the time will be less severely impacted (and may not even notice!)
Some pets will be more directly (and potentially harmfully) affected like those on medications where the time of each dose is critical. Good examples would be diabetic pets on insulin (where even an hour out could potentially destabilise them), or epileptic pets on anti-seizure drugs.
How will our pets struggle with Daylight Saving Time?
Here are a few things that might confuse your pet during this time.
Their morning toilet break
Many pets need to go outside for a toilet break first thing in the morning. When you sleep in for an extra hour, your pet might be confused and sit next to your bed waiting for you to get up and grab their leash or open the cat flap. If you ignore their pleas, they might not be able to hold it in and will have to find a rug to do their morning business.
If your pet is used to eating at a certain time, they might be a bit upset when breakfast or dinner is an hour late. When food doesn’t come on time, your pet might protest by begging and chewing things they shouldn’t.
When you go to work, your pet will miss you. They’ll be happy to get an extra hour with you in the morning, but they expect you to come home when the sun is at a certain point in the sky. When you return an hour late, especially when the sun goes down, they may suffer added anxiety.
This stress can lead to all sorts of unwanted behaviours, including having accidents or destroying your belongings.
How can I prevent unwanted behaviours or prepare for Daylight Saving Time?
You can help your pet prepare for the end of Daylight Saving Time in a way that will reduce stress or unwanted behaviour:
- In the weeks leading up to the end of Daylight Saving Time, adjust your schedule by a few minutes at a time. Hold off on morning walks and letting them out to toilet for a couple of minutes.
- Feed your pet meals a bit later in the weeks leading up to the time change so they can acclimate gradually.
- Run a short, few-minutes errand or two before you get home from work so your pets can adjust to you arriving when the sun is down.
Most of all, pay extra attention to your pet’s needs during this transition. It is important to offer them extra comfort if they show signs of anxiety.
This way you can make the Daylight Saving Time switch a positive experience, rather than a stressful one.
And don’t forget to set your clocks back!
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