Watch dogs: How the clocks changing for daylight saving time, can affect your dog

Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

Here in the UK as in many other countries, we use daylight saving time to enable us to make the best possible use of the hours of daylight, which change throughout the year along with the seasons.

This means that each spring and autumn, the clocks go forwards or back an hour, and most of us take some time to adjust to this and begin to readjust our natural body clocks to accommodate for the change. Not everyone is a fan of daylight saving time, and there has been some debate in recent years as to whether or not it is still beneficial to keep to it - but it is fair to say that nothing is likely to change in the near future!

Given that we as humans often find the transition from GMT to BST and back each year makes us feel slightly out of kilter for a few days each time, it is only natural to wonder if changing the clocks has an effect on our dogs too - and the answer to this is largely yes, for a variety of reasons.

In this article, we will examine how the clocks changing back and fore between BST and GMT each year can affect your dog, and why. Read on to learn more.

Changing routines

When the clocks change over from GMT to BST and vice versa, that little change of only an hour can have quite an impact on our own routines. We’ll be getting up and going to bed an hour earlier or later than normal, going out to work and coming back at a different time, adjusting our meal times, and generally doing everything that we normally do at the same sort of time each day or in a fairly regular pattern an hour out of sync.

It can take some time to adjust to this, even though we know why it has happened and can anticipate the change - many of us think in terms of “new time” and “old time” for a couple of weeks after a change, as we get used to the new balance.

However, our dogs don’t know that a change is coming, or how or why it is - but they do very much know about and notice anything that changes their usual routine!

Assuming that your dog gets up at around the same time each day and expects their walks and meals at certain times, adjusting to a whole hour’s difference in the jump from one day to the next when the clocks change can have quite an impact on your dog.

If the clocks have gone back, your dog will probably be up and moving around on “old time” for a while - and there are some ways in which you will have to accommodate for this, such as by bearing in mind that if your dog toilets on a set schedule, this won’t automatically move an hour to reflect the change!

As the change in when your dog gets up, gets fed and walked becomes the new routine, they will settle into it fairly quickly, but expect a little confusion for the first week or so.

Circadian rhythms

Dogs don’t keep time by the clock like we do - their routine, physical needs and natural circadian rhythms all serve to tell your dog what time of day it is by means of what they need or what normally happens at those times.

Changing what you do and when you do it, such as your sleeping patterns (and those of your dog) can lead to a little disorientation for your dog - the cycles of day and night and how light it is when it is time to sleep and be awake will change by an hour, which again, can cause low-level disorientation and confusion for a while, much as is the case in people suffering from jet lag.

Forwards or back?

Interestingly, the transition when the clocks go forwards can be more challenging for dogs than when the clocks go back - as many people find to be the case too. When the clocks go back, we have an extra hour to catch up, rather than an hour lost, which makes the transition in spring more likely to confuse your dog than the transition in autumn.

Medications and special considerations

One particular thing to bear in mind when the clocks change is how to accommodate for this if your dog needs to take medications at a set time each day, or otherwise needs to follow a very rigid schedule in order to support their health.

For instance, if you have an insulin-dependent diabetic dog, keeping them in good health and controlling their condition relies on a firm routine of feeding times and insulin administration, and a sudden change of an hour can throw your dog’s body out of whack.

In order to counteract this, plan for the change and begin to adjust your dog’s timings by a few minutes each day, so that when the clocks do change, the transition will be much more subtle and easy to manage, for both you and your dog.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

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