Is Pet Anxiety Normal When Kids Go Back to School?
For most pets, the summer is an absolutely wonderful, happy, fun-filled time. It’s so satisfying, in fact, that when it’s over and the kids go back to school, a surreal, confusing reality can set in. To be sure, pet anxiety can be the direct and natural result of an abrupt shift at home, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm the household. Instead, with a few tips from the Pet Experts you can do your part to help your pet continue to feel part of the pack.
Bored? Restless? You Bet.
The family pet may be dreading what the meaning is behind the new shoes, gear, and supplies starting to creep in. They might not know the details of what’s to come, but they’re pretty sure they’re not going to like it.
Many dogs accustomed to jolly afternoon antics with the kids can suffer from the effects of being left alone, but cats can also feel the back to school blues. Signs of depression include:
- Lethargy and listlessness
- Lack of energy
- Uncharacteristic disinterest in play or exercise
- Poor or non-existent grooming
Pet anxiety, on the other hand, can create the following side effects:
- Excessive barking, whining, and pacing
- Frantic chewing or clawing at the door you left through
- Destructive behavior, such as chewing
- Soiling inside the house
- Erratic escape attempts
What You Can Do
It is important to rule out any health problems that either contribute to pet anxiety and depression, or exacerbate symptoms. The Pet Experts recommend a wellness exam, and a discussion about behavior, to best support your pet’s needs.
Sometimes, medication is required to address dangerous symptoms of pet anxiety or depression.
Coping With Pet Anxiety
Exercise is the key to soothing your pet’s feelings of loneliness, isolation, boredom, and despair. Give your pet ample opportunities in the morning and evening to blow off steam. A physical outlet will keep your pet balanced and perhaps too tired to destroy things in the house.
Food puzzle toys are great distractions for pets. Keep 1-2 around the house in strategic positions to encourage play and activity. This will help make the time go by faster for them.
If necessary, hire a pet sitter or dog walker to come by your house 1-2 times throughout the day. Dog daycare is another fabulous option.
- Start early – A few weeks before school starts, leave the house in the morning for 30 minutes or so. Increase the time apart everyday until you’re gone for the entire day.
- Stay calm – If you don’t make a huge deal when you leave and return home, then your pet will hopefully follow suit. Remember, they pick up on whatever emotion you’re experiencing and react to it in kind.
- Positive reinforcement – Never scold or punish your pet for unwanted behaviors as this can accidentally reinforce them. Give them opportunities to shine and reward them.
Your pet’s routine is of the utmost importance to your pet’s health and wellbeing. Try to keep their meal times and bathroom breaks at the same times every day. Give them lots of attention and snuggles when you can.
As always, we encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns.
We accept walk-ins during our Doctor's Hours to meet your busy lifestyle. If you’d prefer to make an appointment, we offer those too!
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