Making It Through the Cold, Dark Times Together

By Dr. Joe, Emergency Veterinarian at PVH

In our morning rounds at PVH, we try to discuss subjects to help us better serve our patients and clients with our medical and surgical knowledge. This last weekend, the subject was one that doesn't precisely fit into those categories. Many people are aware that this cold, dark time of the year can be difficult for some people. Our bodies may tell us to hibernate, with the shorter days, longer nights and unfavorable weather conditions.

Holidays can also be a time when childhood memories resurface. Some of those are good memories; for others, those memories are stressful and a source of anxiety. Our animal companions can pick up on this stress.

The colder weather can also be hard for our pets this time of year. Most veterinary hospitals see a dramatic rise in euthanasia over the holiday season. Many families are hoping to get one more holiday season with their aged pet. For other families, this may be the first holiday season without a beloved pet or a human family member. Unfamiliar and sometimes unrecognized emotions may come to the surface.

I believe that the important thing to remember during this time of year is that we give each other some grace. As individuals, it is more difficult for us (as it was our ancestors) to get through this time of year. We solved some of those problems by getting together as a society help each other through a difficult time. Some sociologists believe the innovation of getting together as a species for mutual support evolved into having an assortment of holiday celebrations, which helped us as a society but can still be difficult for some individuals.

If you feel out of sorts during the holiday season, be certain to reach out for support. If someone reaches out to you, take it as a chance to give someone a gift that doesn't require wrapping paper.

Article added 12.11.14