New School Year, New Problems: Coping with Separation Anxiety in Pets
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and endless tasks that accompany a new school year. Shopping, schedules, and snacks are on the agenda, but where does the family pet fit into the new routine? Frustration, anxiety, and even depression are common among pets once the summer ends and their best buds return to school.
Fortunately, the start of another school year doesn’t have to lead to separation anxiety in pets. We’ve outlined some simple strategies any family can use to help their pet stay calm and focused during this time of transition.
Recognizing Separation Anxiety in Pets
Separation anxiety in pets can manifest in a variety of ways, ranging from obvious (destructive chewing, scratching, or vocalizations) to subtle (sleeping more, eating less, loss of interest in toys or favorite activities). Give us a call right away to schedule an appointment if you notice any changes in behavior.
Set the Schedule
Pets tend to be creatures of habit, and even the slightest change in daily routine can throw them off. If possible, begin acclimating your pet to the school year schedule a few weeks in advance, including any anticipated changes in mealtimes, walks, and playtimes. If possible, begin leaving your pet alone for longer and longer periods of time in the days leading up to the beginning of the school year.
A Tired Pet is a Happier Pet
Regular exercise is important for all animals, but it can play a vital role in alleviating separation anxiety in pets. Making sure your pet is exercised in the morning and evening will help them burn off excess energy, making them more likely to sleep and less likely to pace, whine, or chew on your sofa while the family is away. Besides keeping them lean and healthy, a walk, hike, game of fetch, or session with a laser pointer or feather chase is also a wonderful way to bond with your pet and provide them with necessary mental enrichment.
If your pet is experiencing separation anxiety and is regularly home alone for most of the day, consider asking a friend, neighbor, or pet sitter to stop by to provide a walk, playtime, or just snuggles. This can break up the day for a lonely pet and give them some much-needed relief.
The team at The Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center hopes your family has a fun and successful school year! Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make the transition easier for your pet.