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  • Effect of changing the clocks

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    I’ve never been a big fan of changing the clocks twice a year. Not because I come from Saskatchewan but because the reason for introducing “Daylight savings time” in the previous century (saving energy costs) has long ceased to be relevant. Although we adapt to the changing of the clocks in Spring and Fall each year through necessity, how does the change affect our dogs?

    “Vetsnow” magazine states: “According to animal behaviourists, dogs are no different to humans in that they have their own internal clocks. This circadian rhythm, as it’s known, tells them when to eat, sleep and wake up. But it’s pet owners who set their dog’s daily routine. Some are so in tune with their owners’ schedules that the one-hour change in the time can cause confusion.” Be aware of your dog’s behaviour, particularly in the first couple of days after changing the clocks, and make allowance for any confusion your dog may have.

    “Any change in your own routine is almost certain to disrupt your dog and could be a trigger for anxiety and mild stress. Most dogs have very precise daily routines — eating their meals, going for walks, sleeping at roughly the same time — and they are likely to find significant changes to this a challenge. When the clocks change, try to adjust your own schedule gradually and if your dog is particularly sensitive to changes in your routine, speak to your vet about how to handle it.”

    As pet owners, be aware of the clocks changing, particularly the Spring change. Several studies have reported significant increases in road traffic accidents in the days immediately following the clocks changing. As if Mondays aren’t bad enough anyway, with the loss of an hour’s sleep in the Spring, motorists aren’t always as mentally aware as they should be. Be ever more vigilant, for yourself and your pet, in those first few days following the time change.

    Fortunately, there is no evidence that dogs suffer a higher incidence of heart attacks due to the time change. The same cannot be said of humans where sleep deprivation, a change in circadian rhythm or a small shock to the immune system have been known to cause increased cases of heart attacks.

    As with so much day-to-day living with a dog, it’s all about awareness of your dog’s reaction to changes in their routine and noticing things that are not normal for your dog. Often the best way to deal with these situations is to reassure your dog that things are fine and give them some space to adapt. Dogs are experts at adapting to a new situation: just give them time.

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