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Daylight Savings Time Ends

Pets & Daylight Saving Time.jpg
waitscm (Chris Waits) [Flickr]
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Twice a year, we all have to reset our internal clocks - and our watches, and clocks, and microwaves - to accommodate Daylight Savings Time. We know that it messes with our internal clocks and sleep schedules, but have you ever considered what effect the time change has on our pets? 

This is the time of year when pet owners may wonder, does the end of Daylight Savings Time affect my dog or cat? Before you dismiss that as a silly question, consider how your schedule might impact your furry friend.

     Do you have a pet that sits by the door in anticipation of a family member coming home from school or work?  It might be confused when it has to wait an hour past the time when its human was due to come home.  That extra hour may not seem like much to you, but to an animal, it might be confused because part of its time-keeping system may be based how light or dark it is outside.

     Pets are creatures of habit.  They become accustomed to our schedules, and learn to anticipate our behaviors and actions.  They don’t look at the clock on the wall; instead their internal body clocks (much like ours) know our daily routine.  So as Daylight Savings Time ends and we get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep, perhaps, to our four-footed housemates, we are now late getting their breakfast, or taking them for their morning walk.

     What about the pet that is housebroken, and knows that you will be awake any moment to let it outside because that’s your routine?  Now your four-footed buddy will wait an extra hour for its morning excursion outdoors to relieve itself.  Most healthy dogs can handle an extra wait time, but older dogs may find it more difficult.

     One impact of the time change could affect a pet that takes medication.  You may want to adjust your schedule gradually to make sure your buddy’s health is not adversely affected by the change in daily routine.

     Whether it’s the time change, or a vacation trip, or anything that alters your routine, think about the impact on your friend; consider making a few adjustments gradually to ease the stress for all family members, including (or especially) the four-footed ones, when you’re speaking of pets.

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.