Back-to-School Can Mean Pet Anxiety!

While many parents are celebrating their children’s return-to-school, there’s also a feeling of anxiety in the air. Kids are not the only ones feeling anxious about the end of their summer freedom, spending hours in the classroom and after-school activities, not to mention homework! Your pets are also feeling – and responding – to the new schedules and a home that is suddenly very quiet and empty.

Pets are creatures of habit and when normal routines change, it can leave them confused, anxious and even depressed, especially for our canine friends.

Not sure if your pet is anxious or depressed? Typical symptoms include:

  • Acting lethargic, bored, overly tired or sleeping more than usual;
  • Disinterest in normal activities like eating and playing;
  • Hiding;
  • Unexpected accidents in the house;
  • Excessive barking, whining and panting;
  • Destructiveness, chewing or scratching; and
  • Over-grooming (particularly in cats).

Bored pets often find unwelcome and destructive ways to keep themselves occupied and busy in the absence of attention they’re used to receiving. Below are some steps you can take to help make the transition easier and smoother.

Give Pets an Opportunity to Adjust

Before school even starts (or kids go away to college), leave your pet alone at home for periods of time (increasingly longer each time) to give them a chance to slowly adjust to being on their own again.

Keep Routines Consistent

Our pets do best when they know what to expect each and every day. Regular exercise helps our pets stay healthy, mentally-balanced and stress-free. It’s even more important when day-to-day routines change. Continue to follow regular schedules for exercise (and even add a few extra outings) to help relieve anxiety. Also keep mealtimes (including the same food/treats), playtime, grooming and other activities on a consistent daily schedule.

Call In Outside Help

Providing extra attention and activity can also help your pet re-adjust to new schedules and ease pet separation anxiety. Reach out to your local dog walker, pet sitter or even doggy daycare to keep your pets occupied and happy.

Spend Extra Quality Time

Spending extra time with your pet can help them adjust faster when the kids are spending more time away from home. Whether it’s an extra walk, a game of fetch or a quick training session with Fido; or extra grooming or engaging Felix in play, the extra attention can help ease anxiety and restore the bond between you.

Keep Them Busy

Offer your pets a favorite toy or treat-filled toy to keep them busy and happy when they are alone (even if they are getting extra exercise and attention). Engage their attention with interactive electronic toys, treat-filled toys (like peanut butter or treats stuffed or frozen in a Kong) or a catnip sock to provide positive ways for your pets to soothe themselves with an outlet for pent-up stress or anxiety.

(If these suggestions do not help your pet readjust to being back on their own again within a few weeks, check with your veterinarian for possible medical issues or call in a trainer who can help address separation anxiety. We have some great resources too!)


Are Your Pets Going to be Home Alone Once School Starts?
Distinctive Pet Care can help with daily
pet visits, mid-day dog walking, puppy playtime and
potty visits, pet sitting and pet care services.
Just call us at 303-904-0484 or email us at today.

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