How Does The End of Daylight Savings Time Affect Pets?

Daylight savings time is one of the most contentious inventions in human society. Some places use it, some places don't, some places use their own version of it. And the one thing that most people can agree on is that people can't agree on whether daylight savings time is useful or not.

small Chihuahua sleeping in the sun
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According to National Geographic, daylight saving time originated in 1918, right as World War 1 was drawing to a close. The purpose was to change the time on the clocks to maximize hours of sunlight during the longer days of the year by taking an hour of morning sun, when many people are still sleeping, and adding it to the end of the day.

One of the things people don't like about daylight saving time is that it messes up everyone's schedule. In spring (March), time on the clocks "springs" forward an hour. In fall (November), the time on the clocks "falls" back by an hour. It means adjusting by an hour everything you do: waking up, going to bed, getting to work (you're likely late if you accidentally forget to change the time!), and feeding and walking your cats and dogs.

Feeding schedule

Dogs don't know how to adjust their routines based on what time the clock says. If they're used to getting fed at 7 a.m. but the clock all of sudden says 6 a.m. at the time that it used to be 7, their breakfast is an hour late and they won't know why. Likewise, their dinner bowl will be filled an hour later.

This unplanned delay might cause your dog or cat to beg for food or otherwise be more rambunctious than usual because they are hungrier than usual. Dogs and cats that are hungry can act out by chewing on things, or tearing around the house or, in the case of cats, up the curtains.

dog waiting for food with his bowl in his mouth
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Sleeping schedule

It might not seem like a single hour would make much difference, but to an animal that is very in tune with its owner's routines, it does. If your dog or cat is used to you getting up at a certain hour and they are waiting for you while you continue sleeping, this can cause them anxiety. Furthermore, if you are active for an additional hour in the day it could mean that your pet isn't settling down at the time that they normally would so they could become more irritable.

Bathroom schedule

Most pet owners have a pretty similar routine day after day. When we humans first wake up, our first action might be to grab ourselves a cup of coffee, followed quickly by feeding or walking our pet so they can get their breakfast followed by a bathroom break. Any change in that routine could mean that your dog is waiting an extra hour for their morning potty break.

If your dog is young and not entirely housebroken yet, he might have a hard time waiting an extra hour. first thing in the morning. One of the best ways to teach a puppy or dog who is new to you about their potty routine is to keep it a routine. A change in time can make this a difficult habit to maintain.

Adjusting to daylight savings time

An extra hour in the morning or end of the day might not seem like a big deal to a human. But it can lead to separation anxiety symptoms for a dog or cat who is used to their owner arriving home at a certain time. Your dog or cat is telling time by where the sun is in the sky rather than by looking at a clock, of course, so when it gets dark and you're not home yet, she won't know what's going on.

Maine coon cat yawning
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Rather than changing your routine all at once when daylight saving starts, consider adjusting your routine by a few minutes each day in anticipation. A couple of weeks before the time changes, start leaving for your morning walk a few minutes later, and do this later and later, if you can. Gradually walk in the door at the end of the day a few minutes later than you normally would.

If you take steps ahead of time, you can enjoy the extra hour of sleep while knowing that your dog or cat won't be missing her meals or walk time too much. Just don't be late for work!