Ease your pet’s back-to-school blues

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Dogs, cats, and other pets used to more activity with family over the summer can suffer when kids head back to school in the fall.

Back-to-school is a special time for families, but it can be anxiety-provoking for pets, especially for some former shelter pets that haven’t had stable homes before.
“If pet owners know what to look for and are equipped with preventive and healing techniques, this annual rite of fall can be more pleasant for everyone,” SEAACA Executive Director Sally Hazzard said.

A pet’s anxiety or sadness due to the change in schedule is often signaled by these behaviors:

• Excessive pacing, barking/meowing
• Urinating or defecating in the home or in unapproved areas
• Escape attempts
• Destruction of furniture or toys
• Unusual chewing, digging or other frantic behavior.
SEAACA has these suggestions to help pets cope with the transition:
• Provide your pet with plenty of stimulation and exercise so he/she wants to rest when you are away.
• Begin introducing short separation periods in late summer to help your pet become accustomed to the upcoming schedule change.
• Foster your pet’s independence by helping him/her play alone with toys. When your pet is alone, leave him or her with an interactive toy via a food dispenser, such as the Kong.
• Do not punish or scold your pet for unusual behavior during the adjustment period (punishment could exacerbate behavior).
• Leave the radio or TV on at a low volume so your pet does not feel as lonely.
• Research if stress relief items may be suitable for your pet (i.e. pheromone aroma wall plug-ins, specially created CDs or stress relief garments available online or at local pet store).

If the behavior does not improve, seek the help of an animal behavior specialist.