Cures for Winter Blues for You and Your Dog

Does your mood dip down during the winter? You may have also noticed your dog may be moping around the house. Your dog and you may be suffering from the winter blues (also called Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD]). SAD affects 25 million Americans annually. Women are still more affected than men. Those residing in the northern hemisphere of America are significantly more affected than those in the southern hemisphere. For example, 10% of Alaska’s residents are affected each year vs. 1% of Floridians.

Winter blues are triggered by less sunlight exposure causing decreased production of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin. Pets who spend a great deal of time outdoors are also drastically affected by decreased sunlight. Symptoms include low self-esteem, irritability, depression, fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety to panic attacks. Your craving for sweets, meat, and fried food can go up leading to increasing weight gain. The severity of the symptoms vary from mild where negative moods can blow over quickly to severe symptoms lasting the entire winter. 

Some natural cures for effectively treating the winter blues your pet and you are:

Light Therapy

To counter the effects of the shorter daylight, subject yourself and your pet to more light. Open the drapes to let in as much sunlight as possible.  Place your pet’s bed next to a window or under a skylight, and turn up indoor lighting. 

Try using a light therapy box or just switch to a 300-watt light bulb. Camp in front of the light for 45 minutes each morning, or for 20 minutes three times a day. This additional light exposure will help boost your serotonin levels temporarily. 

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet will help you fight the cravings and keep your blood sugar more stable.  

Have lots of vegetables with a side of whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, millet, or barley.  Mix up the dishes with beans and seeds like chia and flax seeds. Stick to meats, eggs, and fish only during the day and only two to three times per week at maximum.  Keep dinner light.  The heavier the meals are the more tired the body can feel when less physical exertion is occurring during the winter months. 

Stay clear of breads, white rice, starchy vegetables (i.e, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn), sweets and other forms of sugar.  Try to also avoid having more than one cup of a caffeinated drink per day since all of these items drains one of energy and suppresses serotonin production.

Coconut Oil

More than 90% of coconut oil consists of healthy saturated fats which provide an immediate source of fuel and aid in weight loss. Coconut oil balances the thyroid function in dogs, helping them feel energetic and help overweight dogs lose weight.

The recommended dose for dogs is a 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight, taken twice daily. 


Turmeric is a key ingredient in curry dishes, but apart from making food delicious, it has some other surprising properties. Turmeric contains a bioactive compound called curcumin. Curcumin detoxifies the body, stimulate bile production in the liver, purifies the blood, and  eradicates ringworm in animals. 

Turmeric is also used in treating depression and aids in fat metabolism and weight management. These traits make turmeric ideal to consume during the winter. 

According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, for every 10 lbs of dog weight add 1/4 teaspoon of the spice turmeric to water and into your dog’s food. 

Regular Exercise

It may be hard to keep a regular exercise schedule during the winter.  Exercising for 30 to 45 minutes four to six times a week is one of the best ways to fight winter blues. If you can’t get yourself to face the cold outside, try some indoor alternatives.

Play games like tug-of-war or wrestling with your dog; this may be a great workout and builds an appetite for both of you. Teach your dog to join you on the treadmill, or walk through the house and up and down stairs if possible. 

If the weather is not too unpleasant, go for walks outside especially during the brightest times of the day. It will maximize your sun exposure and you feel will great.


When you cuddle with your dog, your brain releases endorphins that create a feeling of happiness, well-being, and satisfaction. A recent study in Japan found that dog owners experience a spike in oxytocin when snuggling or petting them for 15 minutes. Oxytocin is your love hormone which also helps you cope with stress. The effects of cuddling work both ways. 

If These Cures for Winter Blues Don’t Work, Get Help

Try some of these fun tips to you prevent and/or treat the winter blues. If it’s not working, visit your doctor and take your dog to the vet. </p>

Advanced Health in San Francisco can help you find which factors are contributing to your low moods, provide the necessary treatments, and suggest the right treatments to curb the winter blues.

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Is “BPA-Free” Really BPA-Free?

“BPA-free” is not synonymous with bisphenol-free. Other bisphenols are often substituted for BPA, which may or may not act in a similar way and may or may not be less harmful. Our advice? Limit most plastics if you can.

Yoga for Sleep Quality Among Cancer Survivors

Pharmaceutical drugs cause too many problems and do not cure the root cause of sleep problems. They are toxic to the brain and spinal cord, are extremely addictive, and interfere with most other medications. Find out why yoga may be the solution you need.