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Posts Tagged ‘pets separation anxiety’

Beating the Back-To-School Blues with Your Pets

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Back-to-school time usually means changes in the household routine. Kids going back to school, parents working, and sometimes this change means your pet, used to be surrounded by family, is left home alone for long stretches of time.

Some pets are unfazed by this change, but often pets become anxious at being left.

For example, if you own a dog that is a herding breed, the change may be particularly difficult. These breeds tend to think of the children as their “flock” to take care of, and when the flock is missing they can be left feeling lost or bored when they are alone.

You need to be alert for signs of distress once your kids go back to school.  Some of these signs in dogs include separation anxiety, destructive behavior, inactivity, depression, and even stress-induced diarrhea.

It is not always just dogs.  Cats can also become depressed by the change too.  Some signs to be alert to in cats include sleeping more than usual, changes in their vocalization, and having accidents outside the cat box and spraying.

There are some things you can do to get your pet ready for the upcoming routine change to help them avoid back to school blues:

  • Increase physical activity–a laser light for your cat to chase and a long walk for your dog may give them a natural “feel good” endorphin release.
  • Maintain your pet’s normal routine as much as possible. Try to avoid changing the times that it is “let out” and meal times.
  • Leave a worn t-shirt or article of clothing out for your pet to smell.
  • Explore options for doggy day-care centers in your area.
  • Reduce separation anxiety by providing positive association with your absence.  Buy a new toy your pet can play with while you are gone.  Toys designed to challenge your pet will occupy his or her time. You can find specifically designed toys at major retailers such as those that require “working” for a treat. For dogs, we suggest stuffing a rubber toy called the KONG with food to provide stimulation.

On the final note, the best strategy in beating the back-to-school blues with your pets is to avoid an abrupt change in schedule, and in the weeks before school gradually introduce your pet to short periods of separation.