Research Deep Dive: Can Dogs Experience Seasonal Mood Swings Like Humans?

We want to know: Can Dog’s Experience Seasonal Depression? First, let me paint you a picture…

It’s mid-January — five o’clock pm. The sun has gone down, even though you just got off work. Outside the air is frigid and sharp, while inside is dull and repetitive. You’re tired. Hungry. Irritable, and let’s face it, depressed. 

Now let me paint you another picture: it’s July – five o’clock. You’re leaving work and there’s still several hours of sunlight left to enjoy. Its bright rays energize and inspire you, allowing you to be more social, productive, and overall happier.

These are just two common examples of how the weather, season, and environment affect us humans. It’s very normal for our temperament and mood to shift with the weather. Some folks even experience what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Typically, these people feel sad, tired, and depressed during the fall and winter months of the year. This is sometimes also referred to as Seasonal Depression, and around 2%-3% of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime.

This got us thinking: if the season has such a great effect on human mental health, how does it affect our dogs? Let’s take a deep dive to find out!

Can Dogs Have Seasonal Depression?

As of 2024, there is no scientific research to suggest that dogs experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. There have been no official scientific studies performed to confirm or deny that dogs experience depression or a general lack of happiness in colder months. But, some evidence and explanations could answer this question for us.

Evidence Supporting Dogs Can Have SAD

When humans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, their bodies will typically have a reduction in serotonin levels and a rise in melatonin levels. This overall contributes to the feeling of lethargy and gloom of winter. One reason owners may feel as though their pet is also having low energy is because pets tend to mirror their owner’s emotions. If you are spending all day in bed, it’s likely your pet will do that too. 

If your pet has been acting lazier than usual or seems to be lacking their usual energy, consider if your recent behaviour has been similar. It might be time to jump up for a walk to give everyone’s mood and body a good reset!

How Dogs Experience Sadness

Something to note is that dogs don’t feel sadness the same way humans do. 

Humans on any given day can feel a wide range of emotions. Sometimes we feel these emotions for a specific reason, but other times, we don’t know why we feel that way. We can feel a prolonged vague sadness that would be considered a depression in ways that dogs typically don’t. 

For most animals, including dogs, depression is usually brought on by a specific event, reason, or change. This could be a recent move, the loss of a loved one, or a change in lifestyle or routine. Over time though, dogs adapt and adjust.

Different Dogs Enjoy Different Weather

Don’t forget! Depending on the breed of your dog, they will naturally have different reactions and moods towards different weather and temperatures.

For example, Huskies, Samoyeds, German Shepards, Saint Bernards and other large dog breeds thrive in colder months, and tend to be more energetic in cold climates. Give them three feet of snow and a free afternoon and they’re happier than a pig in mud! Likewise, this also means that in hotter months, they can at times lose some of that energy while feeling hot.

The same logic goes for small or hairless breeds, like Greyhounds, Chihuahuas, or toy breeds. These dogs will feel the cold more intensely and are less likely to be excited by a big snowstorm.

It’s also worth noting that dogs – just like humans – can have or develop arthritis in old age. Arthritis flares can be triggered by cold weather events like rain or snow, which can affect a dog’s mood and energy level.


Officially, no, dogs can’t experience SAD like humans. But, the way we humans allow the seasons to influence our moods, behaviours, reactions, and activities, can have a greater effect on our dogs. Our dogs are naturally going to feel more depressed if we in our own depression do not walk them, treat them, or give them the full attention they are used to.

It is also good to consider the age and breed of your dog, and if they are happiest in certain environments and climates.

If you notice your dog seems depressed or unwell for an extended period though, it may be a good idea to consult your vet, as this could be a sign of illness.

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