daylight savings time and your pets

An extra hour of sleep for your pets?

Falling Back, Daylight Savings Time and Your Pets Internal Clock

I kind of like the fact that we “fall back” from Daylight Savings Time. I feel like I get back that hour that was stolen in March when we “spring forward”.

At 2 a.m Nov 6, most Americans experienced the gain of one hour’s sleep when their clocks “fall back” from Daylight Saving Time. Many of us will adjust by sleeping in, drinking that cup of strong coffee, and changing the time on our clocks and watches.

Although our dogs and cats don’t understand the time change, they will need to fall back with their humans and accommodate a new routine. How does dealing with Daylight Savings Time and your pets work? And how can we make it easier for our pets to adjust?

Concept of Time

We know our dogs and cats are focused on the here and now, but do they also understand the concept of time? Most researchers who study dogs and cats do not believe they grasp the concept, but that they do perceive the passage of time and will definitely let you know when it’s time for them to eat.
Canines and felines, like many other animals, are attuned to a circadian rhythm that acts as an internal clock.

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains that circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. They affect most living beings, including our dogs, cats, plants, and even microbes.

“Pets respond to daylight, and they wake when the sun rises and sleep when it’s dark,” says Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer. “Do they count down the hours to make sure they get eight hours of sleep? Of course not. But their physical and behavioral processes are in sync with the sun.”

When you suddenly change the clock and decide to put them on a new schedule, you can’t expect an immediate adjustment with Daylight Savings Time and your pets.

cat at dinner timeCreatures of Habit

Pups and kitties are creatures of habit. My dog is never happier than when following the same routine – for getting up, walks, meals, and bedtime – day after day. Routine and consistency mean stability and confidence for our pals. Setting up a reliable schedule for your pup as soon as you bring him home helps him understand what’s expected of him as part of your family.

Suddenly setting back or moving forward our clocks in the fall and spring can unsettle and confuse our dogs because from one day to the next we’ve made a change in their routines. You might want your dog to get up one hour earlier, and walk and eat on a new schedule. Some dogs may become anxious, have nervous stomachs, or have potty accidents in the house. Daylight Savings Time and your pets is a definite change.

Ease Into the Change

You can make the time change easier for your pets by easing into the adjusted schedule. During the week prior to the time change, gradually shift your dog’s schedule for eating, walking, and bedtime. This will make going off DST less stressful for you both.

Don’t worry. Pets are mostly flexible with adjustments to their schedules.  Ease yourself and your pets into the change. And remember: You get to do it all again in March, but in reverse. ☺️

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