Does Your Pet Have the Back to School Blues?

by Kristen

Back to school blues veterinarian examining dog

Does Your Pet Have the Back to School Blues?


If pets have spent all summer playing with the kids, running through sprinklers and chasing after toys, when summer vacation ends, kids aren’t the only ones experiencing those back to school blues.

Back to school blues dog and young boyWHAT CAUSES SEPARATION ANXIETY IN PETS?
Back to school for the kids means a change in routine for everyone, including pets. That change in routine is often enough to cause separation anxiety in dogs and cats.

In fact, 20 to 40 percent of dogs seen by veterinary behavioral specialists have separation anxiety.


Back to school blues cat toilet paper rollSIGNS OF SEPARATION ANXIETY IN PETS
Changes in behavior are some of the most common signs of separation anxiety in pets. Dr. Venator says to look for changes such as:
1. Improper urination or defecation in the house not associated with puppy or kitten training
2. Excessive barking or howling
3. Excessive chewing or other destructive behavior in the home



5 Ways to Beat the Back to School Blues

According to Dr. Venator, the following adjustments could help ease your pet’s separation anxiety.

1. Create a Routine
Family pets benefit from routines as much as children. Leaving and returning at the same time each day will help your four-legged family members adjust to the changes they’re experiencing. Keeping feeding, wake and bedtimes consistent can also help.

2. Schedule Time for Play & Exercise
Schedule designated play times for your cat or dog each day. Take your dog for a walk or play an interactive game with your cat before leaving for the day. After exercise, pets are usually ready for a nap, creating the perfect opportunity for you to leave.

3. Add Some Background Noise
No, it’s not crazy to leave the TV on for your pets when you leave the house. Playing music, leaving the TV on or turning on an audiobook or podcast can provide them some engagement and distraction. Plus, the sound of other human voices can make pets feel less lonely.

4. Try Puzzles or Games
Puzzle feeders and other mentally stimulating puzzles and games are a great way to reduce pet anxiety. Pour half their recommended daily amount of food into the puzzle feeder each morning and then refill each evening. Your pet will spend the day busy and engaged, which can ease their anxiety and prevent them from resorting to anxious behaviors.

5. Lead by Example
Prolonging goodbyes can increase feelings of separation anxiety in pets. Instead, keep goodbyes short and sweet. Your pets—and children— will follow suit. Try saying goodbye with lots of petting and praise up to 10 to 20 minutes before you leave. Then, when the time comes, you can go without feeling bad, because you’ve already said goodbye.

Dr. Venator’s tips should go a long way in addressing your pet’s anxious behaviors. If you’ve tried the above and your pet is still struggling, talk with your veterinarian about Calming Care. This supplement uses probiotics to help address anxious behaviors in pets.