As summer ends and school begins, we know family life can get a bit hectic. First there is supply shopping and errands, then worrying about the first day of school preparations, and getting into the new bedtime routine.
Question: With all the chaos, have you noticed a change in pet’s behavior? Afterall, many pets have gotten used to their people being home around the clock during COVID times.
With the kids away and the sudden change in family routine, some pets will adjust easily, but others may find themselves with too much time on their paws, which can lead to boredom, depression and even danger.
We’ve put together this guide to help keep your pets happy and safe this back-to-school season.
UNDERSTANDING PET ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
When a dog or cat struggles with the type of change brought on by back-to-school season, separation anxiety is usually the root cause. You can basically think about separation anxiety in pets as the inability to handle being alone for longer periods of time. The severity of this can vary by animal.
Crying, scratching, whining, barking, urinating on carpets and furniture, defecating, chewing, and trying to escape are all tell-tale signs of separation anxiety, along with some other unusual behaviors.
Consistent exercise, quality dog food, making sure your pet is engaged when you’re not at home and doggy daycare or boarding your pet for the day are some of our top recommendations for coping with separation anxiety. Read on for more tips on keeping your pet safe and happy.
EASE YOUR PET INTO A NEW ROUTINE
Most animals thrive on routine, and making sure that your pet is able to anticipate what will be happening day-to-day can go a long way in relieving stress and anxiety when school actually starts.
Sit down with your family a few weeks before and talk about the new schedule and how your pet’s fit into the routine. Then, start practicing. Every day, get up early with your furry friend, take them for a walk, feed them, and incorporate some exercise and play-time. It’s important to do these things at the same time each day to start to build a routine. If you will be boarding your pet during the day when the kids are in school, start taking them for an hour a day so they can begin to get used to being away from home.
CURB BOREDOM WITH EXERCISE, GAMES, TOYS & TREATS
Boredom can lead to destructive and undesirable behaviors in animals, which can in turn lead to danger or injury. Dogs with anxiety are known to dig, scratch, whine, howl and chew destructively on furniture and other household items. Cats with anxiety, particularly those with a history of abandonment, trauma, or abuse can also be susceptible, showing signs such as trembling, withdrawing and hiding, loss of appetite and aggression.
Regular enrichment is one key to a happy, healthy pet and keeping their personal environments engaging and safe while you’re away is a great place to start. Here are some more ideas for curbing your pets boredom while you’re away from home:
- Exercise, exercise, exercise:
A tired pet is a happy pet. If it’s possible to exercise your dog or cat before you leave the house, this can help tire them out before you depart. Release some of that pent-up energy in the morning before you leave and at night when you return. It doesn’ have to be too much – a rousing game of fetch with your pup or an intense round of playtime with a feather toy or laser light with your cat will do just the trick.
- Tips for dogs anxiety:
Use a snuffle mat and fill it with dry food and dog treats, or stuff a puzzle toy with yummy food like peanut butter, plain yogurt, or their favorite meal for a fun and delicious challenge that will keep your dog busy and mentally engaged. Once they get good at getting the treats out of the puzzle toy, you can try freezing the toy so the food is harder to get out and engages them longer.
Don’t have a puzzle toy? They can easily be made out of household items like cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, and plastic jugs.
You may also try setting up a mini scavenger hunt in your home or backyard so your pup can put his powerful nose to work and stay mentally engaged while doing so. Hide treats all around your house, leaving them in partial view or even placing them inside of things like cardboard boxes, empty paper towel rolls, or cereal boxes and egg cartons, to be discovered by your pet. If you have a yard, simply toss treats throughout the grass for your pup to hunt and find.
- Tips for cat anxiety:
Cats are already naturals at finding ways to amuse themselves. It takes very little to engage your kitty.
Offer them meals and treats in food puzzle toys designed for kitties. You can also try providing various random objects for them to explore like cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags (with handles cut off), plastic game balls like ping pong balls, and even plastic shower curtain rings. The possibilities are endless when it comes to household items that can double as cat toys, just be careful and use your best judgement when it comes to hazards and safety precautions.
You and the kids may even consider making your own toys such as sachets, or felt mice stuffed with catnip.
Schedule your back-to-school pet checkup or vaccine exam now. Boarding is also available at select locations. We offer real-time online booking. You can view our schedule here or call us directly at (702) 874-4259.