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A Third Of Kiwis Believe Their Pets Get Depressed In Winter, According To Leading NZ Pet Insurer

Pet-n-Sur, the largest, specialist 100% New Zealand owned and managed pet insurance provider, has revealed that a third of New Zealand dog and cat owners believe that animals feel down in the dumps when the colder, wetter weather settled in.

The online survey, which ran throughout June and attracted more than 500 responses, revealed that almost fifty percent of New Zealanders (47.5%) feel that their dogs sleep for longer during the chillier months, with two in five reported to be less active.

One in three cat owners reported that their pet seems less playful during winter. One in five dog and cat owners also said that their pet’s appetite increases.

One participant from Orewa said:

“I always feel a bit low over winter, particularly if we’re having a cold snap or the rain has been coming down for a few days. My Jack Russell, Otis, is the same. He is never as enthusiastic about his walks, and just seems to wag his tail a little less as well – and I swear he piles on some extra pounds! Come spring he is back to his bouncy usual self again though.”

The fast-growing Kiwi brand, which provides pet, dog, rabbit, and equine insurance, says that while animals probably don’t struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in quite the same way as people, it’s likely that the change in temperature does have some impact on their behaviour.

Tony Radisich, Pet-n-Sur CEO, said:

"Despite our similar brain chemistry, there is extensive research in people but really very little research into SAD in animals. However, even if they don’t suffer from SAD in quite the same way as we do, that’s not to say that they don’t feel different at this time of year. Commonly reported signs from owners include grumpiness, sleeping more and an increased appetite.”

“Pets are great at mirroring our emotions so they could be reacting to your behaviour. We are sometimes more reluctant to go outside when it’s raining, for example, so your dog could be feeling the blues from being taken on less frequent, shorter walks. There is a tendency to project our feelings as well, so be careful that you’re not overfeeding your dog or cat simply because you feel cold, a bit down and in need of some comfort food yourself.”

Tony advises maintaining the same routine year-round, as much as possible, to keep dogs and cats feeling well. He also points out that older or unwell pets might feel the change in the seasons more acutely than others.

“If you start noticing a change in mood, give your dog or cat the opportunity to play and be outside,” he says. “Whilst it may not seem appealing to go for a walk on a grey, drizzly day, the change of scenery is not just exercise but a valuable time for mental enrichment and stimulation for your pet.”

“Remember that elderly pets and those with health conditions might struggle with the rain and cold – sore, stiff joints could be a problem, for example. Make sure they have a warm spot to curl up in, and perhaps consider a joint supplement for those dealing with arthritis and other mobility issues.”

Pet-n-Sur’s Top Five Blues Busting Tips

  1. Make sure to keep your home a good temperature for your pet and give them a comfy, cosy space to curl up in.
  2. Pay more attention to older pets and make sure you call the vet if they’re struggling with the drop in temperature or are not as keen to get up and about.
  3. Provide extra litter trays for cats reluctant to go outside.
  4. If the temperature dips, think about getting a coat for older dogs or those with thinner fur.
  5. Don’t stop exercising your pet. They’ll still need to get just as much exercise as they normally would to keep them healthy and stop them getting bored.

Pet-n-Sur was founded almost twenty years ago and is 100% New Zealand owned and operated. Dedicated to helping Kiwis care for their pets, the brand has helped its customers pay over $17.3M in veterinary bills over the past two years alone.

Remember: it's always important to contact your vet if you are unsure of your pet’s behaviour.

For more details, visit or follow the brand on Facebook or Instagram.

Pet-n-Sur will be attending the Rotorua Home & Lifestyle Show from 9-11 July (stand 172).

© Scoop Media

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