The days are getting longer and the sun is getting brighter. Wait, what’s that? Your dog is standing over you at 5 am with their food bowl screaming for breakfast? We looked at how daylight savings impacts your dog and how to help them adjust!
Does my dog know it is Daylight Savings time?
Not really. While dogs tend to sleep at night and wake up when the sun rises (as opposed to being nocturnal) they are not especially in tune with daylight savings.
What your pup is really responding to is your change in schedule. You will probably start getting up earlier, but if you don’t the sun will be brighter in the morning and might wake your pup. Your pup is also used to eating at specific times, so when we spring forward, that 8 am breakfast is now an hour earlier!
If your pup was already an early riser, you might be in for a rude awakening Sunday morning.
Why does my dog get up so early now? Do dogs have an internal clock?
There are two reasons your pup might be waking up earlier. The first is a habit. Even if you stay up late on Saturday night, your pup might wake up at their usual time on Daylight Savings time. The second reason is the sunlight - if you don’t want the sun to get you up early, consider using blackout curtains - then neither of you will know when the sun comes up.
If you opt to do this, you may also wish to set your alarm clock to ensure you wake up when you want to.
Four tips to prepare your pup to ‘spring forward’
1. Set a schedule and stick to it
“Even though you may not be tired because the clock says 9 p.m. and your body feels like it’s 8 pm, it’s important to go to bed at your normal time. Let your dog outside and put him to sleep at the regular time. He may stare at you quizzically and tell you that he's not ready. Don’t listen to him. The sooner you lock into the new schedule, the sooner you’ll be acclimatized and rested.” Says Dr. Ernie Ward.
2. Ask your vet about a dose of melatonin
If your pup is especially sensitive to time-change Dr. Ward recommends asking your vet about using melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep. You could also consider using some aromatherapy - if your pup will tolerate it try diffusing some lavender essential oil or using a spray near where they sleep. Remember that pups have a stronger sense of smell than we do so be conservative in your use of scent!
3. Keep meals around the same time all year
Dr. Ward suggests that: “Meals should be fed at roughly the same time each day, year round. Avoid high-carbohydrate or sugary foods, especially before bedtime.” He says, “I’m a big advocate of daily routines, especially morning rituals. Wake, walk, feed and walk again before leaving. Dogs are true “creatures of habit” and relish routines.”
4. Re-evaluate your pup’s exercise needs
As the weather gets warmer you might also notice your pup is more energetic and needs longer walks and more playtime. This may be especially true of older pups, as the cold weather was likely making any arthritis or joint pain flare-up. The warmer weather also brings out health issues like allergies that can make your pup uncomfortable. When spending more time outdoors consult your vet if you need additional support for allergies, sun protection or to renew preventative medications to prevent fleas, ticks, heartworm, and other parasites.
We hope you don’t get up too early Sunday morning but want you and your pup to enjoy the longer days, warmer weather, and outdoor activities!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.