Back to School Blues: How to Manage Pet Separation Anxiety

It’s that time of year again. Shopping for school supplies, snacks, clothes, and shoes and figuring out new schedules occupy the minds and hours of families with school-aged kids – but how does the family pet feel about the change in routine?

Pet separation anxiety is real, and it can rear its ugly head as your pet’s small (or tall) summer companions troop back through the school doors for the next 9 months. Fortunately, boredom, depression, and behavioral issues can be prevented, and the your local Veterinary office can help.

But Why?

Pets are creatures of habit who depend upon and anticipate meals, playtime, for pet first aid and exercise times. If Fido or Fluffy has been used to extra playtime, playing in the pool, sneaking bites of PB&J under the table, and snuggling on the couch during afternoon movies all summer, the sudden change can come as a shock.

Signs of Pet Separation Anxiety

Behavioral changes are typical of pet separation anxiety, although some are more subtle than others. Careful observation is key when it comes to figuring out what’s going on with your pet.

Unusual vocalization – Barking, whining, howling, or yowling that begins as you prepare to leave for the day or occurs while you’re gone (you may hear about it from neighbors) is a sign that your pet is suffering.

Destructive behaviors – With pet separation anxiety, destructive chewing tends to occur with personal items such as shoes, clothing, pillows, and furniture. It may also be directed at exit points, such as doors and window frames.

House soiling – If your housetrained pet is suddenly urinating or defecating in the house when they’ve been left alone, you may have pet separation anxiety on your hands.

Depression – Moping, loss of appetite, hiding, or excessive clinginess can indicate your pet is feeling stressed or depressed.

Kindness and Compassion

Pet separation anxiety is serious and deserves our careful planning, patience, and veterinary expertise. Our pets are our friends and family members, after all! Try our expert tips to thwart your pet’s back-to-school blues:

  • Strive to keep your pet’s scheduled meal and exercise times intact.
  • If possible, begin to acclimate your pet to their new normal several weeks prior to the start of school by leaving them alone for longer and longer stretches of time.
  • Encourage the kids to spend time with your pet before and after school, either playing, grooming, or just being together.
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercises each day, preferably in the morning and evening. Regular exercise will help to release built-up tension and makes pets tired and happy.
  • If your pet is alone all day, consider scheduling a dog walker, doggie daycare, or even a friendly neighbor to pop in during the day to spend some time with your pet.
  • Keep a variety of mentally stimulating toys and activities around the house and switch them up often.

Every pet is unique, and they will all react differently to changes in their routine. If your pet is not responding to your attempts to help, or you are concerned about them for any reason, please don’t hesitate to contact our staff at Toronto Animal Health Partners 24 Hour Animal Hospital. We are happy to help you come up with a plan to combat pet separation anxiety and help your furry friend get back to normal.



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