Written by: Zoe Russell, BSc (Hons)
Nutrition Officer, Skinner’s Pet Foods
Now that Autumn is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about putting our clocks back on October 25th. This will mean sunrise and sunset will be one hour earlier, giving us more light in the mornings as we mark the end of British Summer Time (BST). Some of us may find this time change beneficial to our daily routines, while others of us may find this change disruptive- but will our dogs feel the same way?
As mentioned in our previous blog ‘springing forward- do clock changes affect our dogs?’ we know that dogs have a natural “body clock”, called a circadian rhythm which affects their physical and behavioural changes within a 24 hour period. This is controlled by a special pacemaker in a small part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which receives signals from the eyes that detect external light changes. This enables the pacemaker to influence many factors, including a dog’s heart rate, hormone levels, body temperature, blood pressure, rest and activity, in response to these environmental changes.
How will clock changes affect my dog?
We don’t really know what effect changing the clocks has on our dogs. However, we do know that dogs are naturally conditioned to wake up at sunrise, so after the clocks change you may find your dog waking a little earlier than before! On the other hand, some research suggests that as dogs have such short sleep and wake cycles compared to humans, they can actually be very adaptable to changes in their daily routine.
In general, we suggest feeding two meals per day for dogs aged six months and over, which for many, means a breakfast and a dinner as this fits in with their owner’s daily routine. This is unlikely to be affected by the clocks changing, as the time is only falling back by one hour and will change around 2am on Sunday when the majority of us are (hopefully) fast asleep! However, some owners will understandably want to make the most of the lighter mornings by shifting their walking routine to avoid those cold, dark evenings. Therefore, if you are tweaking your exercise routine, it’s important to be mindful of when you are feeding and how much you are feeding. We suggest feeding at least one hour before exercise (ideally longer) and being mindful of the volume you are feeding, especially for deep chested breeds who are prone to bloat and gastric torsion.
For many dogs, their energy requirements will start to increase around this time of year as the working season gets underway. Therefore, it’s important to regularly assess your dog’s weight and body condition score to help identify any notable changes and adjust their feed intake accordingly. If you find you need to feed significantly over the feeding guidelines to help maintain your dog’s weight, then it may be beneficial to move to a more nutrient-dense diet such as Field & Trial Superior. If you are unsure about your dog’s body condition, then take a look at the PFMAs helpful guide for more information.
Supports high energy requirements and recommended for bitches in whelp.
If you would like any further feeding advice, then please contact our nutrition team at [email protected] and we would be more than happy to help.