It’s August, and that means millions of kids go back to school either this month or by early September. After a long summer together that was probably more unstructured than the school year, both your kids and pets might not be ready for the change. While your children can express their anxious feelings, your pets can’t do the same. Don’t feel surprised if your dog or cat expresses longing for his young friends in a variety of ways.
- Destructive chewing
- Howling by dogs and loud vocalizations for cats
- Lack of appetite
- Soiling in the house
- Trying to escape the yard to run after your children
Distraction is a useful tool in helping to keep your pet’s mind off her friend who has gone to school. For dogs, try filling a Kong with peanut butter or another favorite treat that she must work to uncover. A catnip-filled mouse will help distract your cat from what’s taking place at the front door. If other people are home, someone should interact with the pet while your children leave to catch the bus. If everyone leaves the house at the same time, be sure that your dog or cat gets plenty of attention from at least one person.
Be sure to rotate your pet’s toys frequently if he must be alone for long periods. The toys will be a novelty and help him feel less lonely. Dogs love any chew toy and need a comfortable place to sleep for naps. Your cat should have scratching posts, one or more perches to look out the window, hiding places, and toys as well. Leaving soft music on in the background while your family is away can help to calm anxiety also.
Your pet will adjust to the back-to-school change more quickly if everyone in the family gives her several minutes of undivided attention when they are home. This reassures her that she’s still an important part of the family and that no one has forgotten about her. Be sure to include your pet in family activities whenever possible.
Some pets have a more difficult time with schedule changes than others. If you have tried these tips and your dog or cat remains highly anxious, request an appointment at Noonday Veterinary Center. Dr. Morris can provide you with additional ideas, such as full or part-time doggy daycare for dogs. In severe cases, he can prescribe anti-anxiety medication that you can get from our online store.