You might think it unlikely that this weekend’s switch from daylight saving time (DST) to standard time could throw your cat or dog’s busy schedule — eat, sleep, eat, sleep — off-kilter. But, as it turns out, some animals are so in tune with their owners’ schedules that falling back an hour can cause our furry friends some confusion.
Just like humans, animals have their own internal clocks that tell them when to eat, sleep and wake up. This biological timekeeper, also known as circadian rhythm, is set in motion by natural sunlight. However, for pets this effect is minimized by the artificial environment they live in, where light comes and goes not only with the rising and setting sun, but most often with the flip of a switch.
Humans set their pets’ routines, said Alison Holdhus-Small, a researchassistant at CSIRO Livestock Industries, an Australia-based research and development organization.
“Animals that live with humans develop routines related to human activity — for example, cows become accustomed to being milked at particular times of day, or pet dogs become accustomed to going for walks or being fed at a particular time of day,” Holdhus-Small said. “When humans apply daylight saving time to their own lives, if they carry out their routine according to the clock, the animals can become confused.”