By Robbi Hess ~ Managing Editor Pet Calendar, Crimeless Cat Executive Story Editor, Chief Cat Herder
Spring ahead. Fall back. At 2 am on October 31, 2020 many areas of the country will “fall back” meaning our clocks will be set back one hour. This gives us an additional hour of sleep, but we wonder, “does daylight saving time impact our pets?” In a way, daylight saving time — whether springing ahead or falling back — is like dealing with jet lag and we know how that can make us feel!
As humans, we know the time change is coming. We set our clocks and we adjust our schedules to match the new hours. How, though, will your pets know why his dinner time may be changed. How will he puzzle through the fact that he’s taking a walk at a different time than he’s accustomed to?
I’m a pet parent to three cats and two dogs. My pets are quite in tune to both my routines and my rhythms. They seem to know when dinner time is looming. As a matter of fact, my pets will gather in my office and give me the stare down about fifteen minutes before their usual dinner time. They know the bedtime routines and they also know when it’s time for a walk. As I adjust my schedule with the time switch this weekend, I have to take into consideration that they may remain on the same schedule they were prior to 2 am. I have to ease them into the new hours that autumn in New York brings.
Pet Calendar: Daylight Saving Time & Your Pets
Here are some things you can do to keep your pets on a schedule to which they are accustomed and to not upset their routines:
- Feed them on the same time as it was before the time change. Ease them in increments toward a new dinner time that is on the “new” time.
- Be prepared for your pet to be nudging you to get up and go at a time that you’re not ready for. He can’t tell time, so be patient.
- Be on the lookout for signs of stress in your pets. Yes, some pets are impacted by the time change and will exhibit “bad” behaviors that could include scratching, excessive licking, pacing, refusing to eat or simply seeming needy. Again, be patient and understand she is being impacted by the time change. Chances are most of your pets will breeze right through, as mine do, but Henrietta is definitely effected by it and that could be because my body takes time to catch up and it impacts my stress levels for a few days.
Know that the one hour time change — whether forward or back — can upset your pets internal clock and can take a psychological toll. Dogs and cats and ferrets and birds, etc. are creatures of habit with their own built in biological clock (aka circadian rhythm) that is impacted by natural sunlight. If you work outside of the home, your dog may be stressed if you’re leaving in the daylight and coming home after the sun has gone down — especially if this is a change in the normal routine.
Ease your dog into the new schedule and get his routine in sync with yours and in a couple of days you’ll both be on track!