In spring we lose an hour, in autumn we gain one – daylight savings and clock changes can be confusing enough for us, but for our pets it can be an even bigger change.
Pets – in particular dogs and cats – are creatures of habit. When the clocks change, you might find you need to change their routine which can be unsettling for them. There are a few simple things you can do in the lead up to or once the clocks have altered.
When the clocks go back
On the last Sunday in October, the clocks go back and we ‘gain’ an hour. The mornings get lighter (and the evenings get darker), 6am becomes 5am and so on.
Most pet owners will have a set routine, which is great for our pets because this is familiar and reduces stress. So how can you help your pet get used to the changes without having to alter your entire routine?
You’ll need to let them adjust slowly to the new timings. This is usually less of an issue with small pets like rabbits or hamsters where the chances are the main routine change they will need to settle into is shifted feeding times. However with dogs and cats there may be a little more to think about.
If the first thing you do in the morning is let your pet in or outdoors, you’ll still need to do this at the same time as always (which will be an hour earlier by the clock), to prevent any accidents for the first day the clocks change. From there, try shifting your pet’s morning routine 10 minutes later every day until you have made up the extra hour – this works for evening routines as well as feeding and playing with your pets, too. Depending on your routine, it might be easier to start the shift a few days or a week before the clocks change so that you’re not having to get up so much earlier. As an added bonus, shifting your routine slowly can also make you feel less jet-lagged by the sudden change as well!
If your pet has an accident in the house while you’re all adjusting to the hour difference, don’t be angry at them. They don’t understand why the clocks have changed. By slowly delaying their routine by an hour, they should adjust to the difference over a few days.
Older pets with problems like dementia may struggle more than young and healthy pets to adapt to routine changes, so it can be worth taking changes more slowly to give them a bit longer to get used to things. If they’re struggling, it’s best to talk to your vet who can give you advice on other things that might help them.
Remember that evenings will now be darker, too, so you may need to start walking your dog a bit earlier. If this isn’t possible, read our advice on walking your dog when it’s dark.