March 8th marks daylight savings for 2015 and with that comes regulating not only ourselves, but our pets to the time change. Many pet owners ask themselves, “Does daylight savings affect my dog?” It might seem silly to think that skipping an hour forward could really throw your dog out of sync that much, but does it? Should you prepare by changing pet food, bedtime, or walking schedule? Should you worry at all? If so, why? Part of dog safety as a pet parent is knowing the answer to these questions. The first thing to know is:
Daylight Savings Does Affect Your Dog
Dogs have circadian rhythms. That is–their body’s biological way of keeping time. This is how they regulate their daily activities and how their brains trigger when they need something like food, sleep, or exercise. Wild animals regulate their sense of time through natural daylight. In home settings, animals regulate their daily needs to the sound of your alarm, the lights you turn on in the morning, and when you start
moving around. In a way, they base their timekeeping systems off of you. It’s up to you to keep track of their rhythm-match with you for better dog safety.
Pets Adjust to Time Change Just Like Us
Regardless of if we’re springing forward or falling back, getting used to that time change is weird. We often think about what time ‘it would normally be’ when a time change has recently occurred. Surprisingly enough, pets actually experience that same sense of weirdness. We can’t even communicate with them what’s going on, so how do we insure dog safety during this big change? Should we change their pet food habits ahead of time in anticipation for the big change?
Animals Are Creatures of Routine
You may notice every morning that your dogs or cats are eagerly at your feet come 7am, 5pm, or whatever times you normally feed them. The pet food schedule is a routine so ingrained in them that it can be hard to break whether you’re facing a time change or a new job with hours that force habits to change. You’ll notice your pets know when you normally go to bed and that they go to bed roughly around the same time you do. This is all part of dog safety and the way their minds work. When daylight savings happens, they think, “What is happening?! Why Am I being fed so late in the day?” We may even appear to be senile to them.
While you might feel bad with those big eyes staring at you when you fall back, you do not need to make changes to when you feed them or walk them for dog safety reasons. They might have trouble adjusting with an earlier bedtime when you spring forward or later dinner when falling back, but they will adjust to a new routine in no time. However some dogs may suffer from anxiety and require a bit of extra help. If you feel like your dog has a harder time dealing with change, feel free to slowly move their feeding schedule starting a week prior to the change.