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By:  Alyssa Mages, BS, CVT | Education and Development Coordinator

It’s that time of year, when the hustle and bustle of getting children ready to go back to school has started.  We’re all darting out for last minute school supplies, arranging travel schedules, and managing after school activities. During these hectic times, it’s extra important to make time to consider how this new schedule will affect your pets!

Both dogs and cats can experience separation anxiety/depression, especially after spending the entire summer with kids in the household, and suddenly being left without their playmates.  Some signs to be aware of for separation anxiety in dogs could be excessive whining, barking, and/or howling, destructive behavior, a setback in potty training, as well as an overall mood change.  Whereas cats may withdrawal, either by hiding or trying to escape, have a decrease in their appetite, and an overall mood change.

You can help your pets adjust by easing them into this transition.  Slowly increase the amount of time your pet is home alone until the first day of school.  You can also consider to slowly introduce crate training if destructive behavior or potty accidents are occurring and/or worsening during this time.

Using toys while you are away could help make your pet more comfortable – treats can be hidden in toys for your dog or cat to keep him/her occupied.  If you don’t already have a place set aside for your furry kids, providing an area to sunbathe by the window for your kitties to watch wildlife, or a particular cat tree or dog bed in a secluded portion of your home may also be preferential for those solitary pets.

Exercise is also a very important part of transitioning your pet(s) to these back-to-school days, which will burn off extra energy enabling them to better relax during the day while you are away.  And of course, when you return be sure to give your pet a lot of extra attention and love to reassure them that they are not forgotten, this is a tough time for the whole family!

If your pet is experiencing a severe case of separation anxiety while you are away and none of the above tricks are working, don’t hesitate to reach out to your family veterinarian about additional medical interventions that may be beneficial during this transition.  Here at MVA we also have a board-certified behaviorist that you could schedule an appointment with should that be warranted and remember – you’re not going through this alone – we’re here for you & your pets 24/7/365.

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