How Do the Back to School Blues Affect Your Pet?

How Do the Back to School Blues Affect Your Pet?

Back to school season is right around the corner. As you plan your children’s school supply lists, don’t forget that this time of year can be difficult for your pet.

Back to school days are coupled with excitement and nervous energy for the whole family. Your children are excited to see their friends but often nervous about the uncertainty of a new teacher, new classroom, and, of course, new rules. You are probably trying to understand the all-so-complicated school pickup and drop-off procedures and how to rearrange your schedule to work with school start times.

Your pets feel this energy and can sense a change in the security of their routine. This change in routine can increase your pet’s anxiety and stress.

Your dog or cat has adjusted to the attention and company of your kids during these summer days. Your dog received extra pets and mental stimulation while your cat got to chase shoelaces. It’s no wonder pets miss the kids while they’re at school.

The return to school is often coupled with your dog or cat becoming morose and bored without their playmates. This can lead to depression, separation anxiety, and destructive behavior. 

3 Ways to Help Your Pet Cope with the Back-to-School Blues

1. Day Board 

Don’t give your dog or cat the opportunity to stand guard at the front door or in a windowsill waiting for their favorite little humans to return home. Bring them by for a day board. Your pet will get plenty of attention here and dogs get to enjoy four to five walks in our grassy backyard! 

Bring your pet’s blanket or a shirt that smells like the kids to add comfort as they relax in our doctor supervised environment. 

Boarding your dog with us for a few days during the transition will provide socialization, companionship, stimulation, and exercise so your dog is happy, relaxed, and ready to spend quality time with your family at the end of the day – and he will look forward to the next visit with us instead of stressing over being alone.  

2. Stay Calm and Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Prepare 

Our pets often take their emotional and energetic cues from us. When we’re nervous, they’re nervous. Don’t add any extra stress to an already stressful situation – be sure to give yourself ample time to plan and prepare for the kids’ return to school. 

Consider leaving your pet alone for small, yet increasingly larger amounts of time leading up to the actual start of school. This will help transition him or her into this new season. If you notice destructive behaviors brewing, be sure to contact us.

3. Make Your Evenings Pet-Inclusive

  As the kids arrive home and tell you about the excitement of their school adventures, be sure your pets feel included in the love and joy. Take your dog on a walk as a family. Let the kids take designated breaks from homework to play with and pet your cat.  For a dog, being part of the pack (family) is very important, so try to include him in your evening activities as much as possible.  Lots of love and attention – and a few treats – will reassure your dog that he is a valued family member and that his pack is not leaving him.  

4. Take Cues from Your Pets 

Are you noticing changes in your pet’s behaviors? Perhaps you’re seeing destructive tendencies (i.e. chewing, digging, obsessive barking) or house soiling that hadn’t previously occurred. Keep in mind that the drastic change from a bustling household full of energetic noise and people may hit a sudden halt once the school year rolls around. The sudden quiet and stillness can wreak havoc on your pet’s emotions. 

 Consider using Feliway (for cats) or Adaptil (for dogs) pheromones, both are available in clinic or on our online store. These pheromones help your pet feel more reassured, relaxed and calm. Additionally, food puzzles and toys that encourage foraging or hunting, help keep your pet’s mind stimulated while you are away. 

If you’re noticing significant behaviors which are persisting, reach out to us to make an appointment. Keep in mind that punishment for your pet will not be helpful in these situations, and your pet’s behavior is really a plea for reassurance.

Happy Back-to-School from Sullivan Family Pet Hospital! We are here to help your pet manage any stress or anxiety they may feel as your kids prepare to learn and grow.

Image credit: JStaley401/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Leave a Comment