July 31, 2023

Back to School Blues: Tips to Help Your Pets Cope

Dog leaning on a stack of books, sad about Back to School.

As the back-to-school buzz takes over, don't forget to consider the impact on your four-legged family members. After months of cherished family time, your pets might find the sudden absence of their human companions a bit overwhelming. Dogs and cats alike can experience anxiety and depression when left alone. It's essential to help them adjust to the new routine and provide the support they need during this transition. Here are some practical tips and insights on how you can make the back-to-school period smoother for your pets: 

1.    Gradual Adjustment is Key

Just like kids need time to adjust to the new school schedule, so do your pets. The American Society for thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) advises starting with short absences and gradually increasing them leading up to the big day. This helps your pets get comfortable with the idea of you leaving and eases their anxiety. Pets thrive on consistency, so introducing changes slowly can make a big difference in reducing their stress levels.

2.    Distractions and Treats

Loneliness can lead to boredom, which may result in unwanted behaviors like excessive barking or destructive chewing. Engage your pets with mentally stimulating toys and interactive games to keep their minds active while you're away. For dogs, a food-stuffed toy with their favorite treats can provide a delightful distraction. Offer this special toy only when you leave to create a positive association with your departure and eventual return. Cats, too, need their playtime. Engage them with toys or set up a cozy window perch with a view to keep them happy and entertained.

A girl snuggles her cat while doing homework.
3.    Post-School Reunion

When the family reunites in the evenings, shower your pets with love and attention. Reassure them that they are not forgotten, and make sure they get plenty of exercise to stay calm and content during the day.

4.    Maintain Exercise Routine

Keep up with your pet's exercise routine, even with the new school schedule. Regular walks and playtime are essential for their physical and mental well-being. Engaging in activities with your pet can also be a fantastic way to bond and relieve any stress they might be experiencing. 

5.    Pay Attention to Signs of Anxiety

Watch for any signs of anxiety or distress in your pets, such as excessive vocalization, changes in eating habits, or hiding. If you notice any unusual behavior, consult with your veterinarian. They can offer valuable guidance and support to help your pet navigate this transition.

6.    Dogs and Emotional Cues

Keep in mind that dogs often take emotional cues from their pet parents. Stay calm and avoid making a big fuss when leaving or saying goodbye. Your composed demeanor will help your pet feel more at ease with the change.

7.    Kitty Entertainment

Cats enjoy exploring and hunting, even indoors. Hide pieces of dry cat food around the house to stimulate their natural instincts and distract them from missing the family.

With a little planning and attention, these strategies can help your pets transition smoothly into the new school year. By providing them with love, care, and consistency, you'll create a positive environment that supports their overall well-being. Let's make this back-to-school season a happy time for the entire family, including your furry companions!