Is Pet Anxiety Normal at the Start of the School Year?

pet anxietyPreparing to go back to school is a feat in and of itself. Supplies, shoes, and snacks fill the homes of many families across the city…but where is Fluffy or Fido among all the hubbub? Quite possibly hiding, sleeping more, or pacing. Indeed, pet anxiety manifests in many ways – especially when a pet implicitly understands that, after all the chaos, a big change is afoot. How will you help your pet cope?

Connect the Dots

Sometimes, pet anxiety is subtle and many pet owners may not necessarily connect the new, somewhat odd behaviors with back-to-school antics. Louder, more persistent vocalization, sleeping more than usual, or moping about are typical side effects of the start of the academic year.

I Know What’s About to Happen!

Animals are creatures of habit, and our pets depend on their routines. They know what to expect at roughly the same times every day. Meals are anticipated. Exercise times are closely anticipated.

If your cat or dog has grown accustomed to playing all day with the kids, going to the park at certain times, and snuggling together in the afternoon, he or she may be a bit off kilter when the kids go back to school.  In fact, if the change is abrupt, it’s downright upsetting to the delicate balance of routine.

Support Pet Anxiety

Involve your kids in the process of addressing back-to-school related pet anxiety. Encourage them to offer kindness and compassion before leaving the pet at home for the day, and ask them to play with the animal once they get home. Try not to have a long, drawn out, sad goodbye, as this only reinforces pet anxiety.

The new part of your pet’s routine will be to expect the children home at a certain time every day moving forward. Ask your kids how the family pet may be included in after school activities, like snuggling during homework, attendance at soccer practice, etc.

When Your Pet Needs Help

Pet anxiety can result in aggressive or destructive behavior. Try to help your pet associate your leaving with something positive, fun, or rewarding. Interactive puzzle toys are wonderful antidotes to boredom, frustration, or high energy.

Make sure your pet gets ample exercise every single day. This will not only keep most of your furniture intact, but will also relax your pet into a state of happy satisfaction. Play with your pet for at least 20 minutes to reinforce the bond between you and to burn up extra energy.

Some pet owners may consider adding another four-legged friend to the fold. Company for a single pet might come with its own set of complications or challenges, but perhaps your pet could benefit from a playmate. We encourage you to contact us to discuss this possibility.

Don’t Let it Happen to You

Pet anxiety can become very serious. If you need help answering questions about your pet’s behavior, we invite you to call us. We’re always here for you and your pet!