The dog days of summer are officially behind us, making it easy to trade up an outside adventure for extra hours in bed, burrowed under a cosy duvet. Despite temptations to go into hibernation during the autumn and winter, it’s important—for us and our four-legged companions—to make the most of winter daylight and embrace these chillier days, for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Why Daylight Is Important?
☀️ Brain Health
Watching the days get dark earlier can put a real damper on our mood—something our dogs are quick to pick up on, bumming them out too. Sunlight is critical for boosting serotonin levels in humans and dogs, so when night falls at 4pm in the winter, it’s easy for us to miss out on this feel-good hormone and get a case of the winter blues.
For some humans, these darker months are especially difficult, particularly for those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—a depression that takes place during a season (winter, for most) in which a person feels low, sluggish and is disinterested in activities they would otherwise enjoy. While there is no scientific evidence that dogs can suffer from SAD, it’s safe to say that many dogs appear more depressed in the winter and when exposed to less daylight—whether they’re picking it up from their human or because they aren’t being walked as much as in the warmer months.
Getting out during the day is also the best and easiest way for humans to obtain vitamin D—whether it’s sunny out or a typically winter, overcast day. About 15 minutes a day of exposing one’s skin to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is important for maintaining healthy levels of this vitamin*, which is vital for maintaining normal calcium and phosphate levels in the body (which supports healthy bones), strengthening one’s immune system and helping regulate mood and reduce depression. Since ruffly 1 in 6 adults in the UK are vitamin D deficient, it’s wise to complement moderate amounts of unprotected sun exposure with vitamin D supplements, especially during the winter months.
Unfortunately for our hair- and fur-covered four-legged friends, it’s not so easy to convert sunlight into vitamin D since they don’t have much exposed skin. Hounds munching on THE PACK meals, do not despair—your wet meals contain 250IU of Vitamin D3, while a serving of our new dry kibble provides you with 1500IU.
☀️ Getting A Better Night’s Rest
Do you ever do your best dog stretch in the morning and realise you haven’t gotten a good night’s rest? That may be because you didn’t get a good dose of daylight the day before! Light is important for setting our circadian rhythm (one’s sleep-wake pattern over the course of a 24-hour day). When you’ve exposed yourself to daylight, your brain is being signalled to turn down the level of melatonin being released—a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Once it’s dark out, your eyes signal your brain to make more of the hormone, which makes you sleepy. If you don’t expose yourself to daylight, your circadian rhythm gets messed up, making it difficult to fall asleep at night and/or hard to wake up in the morning. Not getting a good night’s sleep will make for daytime sleepiness, reduced concentration and mood fluctuations throughout the day (watch out, for these humans will snap at you!)
Think it’s only us humans that have a circadian rhythm? You must be barking! Just like us, our pooches also have a 24-hour clock, with adequate sunlight exposure helping regulate their melatonin production and making for a good, slept-like-a-dog night’s rest.
💡 Our Tips
☀️ Wake Up Early
You may be a night owl by nature, but slowly adjusting your sleeping schedule so that you become an early riser can do wonders for you and your pooch’s brain health and sleep cycle. Try waking up 15 minutes earlier each morning until you’re waking up at or around sunrise. This way, the winter days won’t seem so short, dark and grim, but rather filled with opportunities to get some healthy light exposure—for you and your dog!
☀️ Wrap Up And Get Moving!
If you’re following the tip above, there’s no excuse to not bundle you and your pup up in warm clothes and get moving bright and early in the morning. On the weekend, treat yourselves to one of these wag-nificent walks around the UK that are extra special this time of year. During the workweek in the winter, most pawrents arrive home by the time it’s dark out, making a morning walk extremely important for getting you and your dog on a healthy circadian rhythm, a decent dose of vitamin D and a serotonin boost than will help keep the winter blues at bay for the two of you!
We hope you can make the most of and enjoy these dog days of winter!
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