Dog jet lag and cat jet lag really do exist! Most humans who have traveled across time zones can tell you that jet lag is harsh. Jet lag can make you wake up in the middle of the night, not allow you to fall asleep and can make you tremendously hungry at odd hours. Though our pets seem to have an easier time with jet lag, they will still experience a certain degree of these symptoms. The basic reason why pet jet lag is a bit different is that our pets are very good at napping throughout the day no matter where they are.
So why does jet lag affect pets? Even though pets do nap quite a bit, they still follow a daily circadian rhythm (a daily sleep and awake cycle that is influenced by alternation between day and night). So when it’s dark they tend to have a deeper sleep pattern than when they nap during the day. And regardless of the current local time at your destination, your pets are used to getting their meals at about the same time every day, so they will still be expecting it even if it is the middle of the night.
Usually pets like cats and dogs will have an easier time recovering from jet lag when they are headed west. Apparently it is easier to adjust to a longer day than it is to a shorter one, or at least that’s what most humans say about their experience with jet lag.
There are several things that you can do with your pet to prevent some of the symptoms of pet jet lag. The most sensible one is to begin slowly shifting eat and sleep patterns to accommodate the upcoming time switch. Feed your dog or cat a bit earlier or later than usual to get closer to what “feeding time” will be in their new home. Make sure the changes are gradual (30 minutes to an hour off schedule at first and so on over a few days or even weeks, if you can manage). Do the same thing when settling them for bed, if you usually put your pup in a crate for bedtime, adjust that time too. If you are able to do the transition switch with them it will greatly help you as well with your own jet lag.
Experts also suggest providing plenty of water to keep your traveling pet hydrated after the trip. Providing exercise before your pet travels and at the destination. After arrival, let your pet spend some time in the sun to decrease the symptoms of pet jet lag. All of these suggestions are thought to help humans too, with their own jet lag, so keep them in mind for you!