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Back to School for Your Pets

Back to school is a very exciting time for many kids and parents near our animal hospital here in Carmel. What about your pet though? All of a sudden the family is leaving when they have been home for a few months. Some pets do very well, while others become anxious and destructive. What can you do about it? 
Below you will find a few simple tips that may help. 

Give Your Pet an Adjustment Period
        Anytime there will be big changes in your pets lives, it is a good idea to have some adjustment time. If you are getting the kids up the week before to get settled into a routine, then why not help your pets too. You can head outside for a quick morning walk just to get them used to the idea that you will be leaving or hop in the car and run an errand. It does not have to be long, but enough time for them to realize that you did not just step outside. Just like kids can thrive on routine, your dogs and cats are the same way. 

Set a Routine
        Maybe you can fly by the seat of your pants, but your pets are probably not as easy going and may get stressed out with a chaotic morning. Perhaps a week (or two if you know your pet is particularly anxious) before heading back to school, come up with a list of what you want to do and stick to it. This way your dog or cat will know what to expect when you and the kids do leave. 

Turn on Some Music or the TV
        Music and/or having the TV on can be relaxing for you. So why not for your pets? Not only can the music be a distraction from being alone, but it can also be a relaxation tool. Try it out for a few days and see if it makes a difference in the behavior of your pets. 

        Many people agree that positive reinforcement is helpful. That being said, why not give them something good to eat before you leave? They may begin to enjoy you leaving just so that they can get their treat. These can include crunchy treats for both cats and dogs, treats or peanut butter in a Kong (a toy) for dogs, carrots, popcorn,  or any treat that you and your vet deem safe for your pet to have. 

Let the Kids Get Involved
        Many pets wait for the kids to get home so why not allow the kids to help your pets enjoy their return? Perhaps take them all for a walk or allow the kids to give treats or spend quality time with your pets when you get home and are settled. 

Consider the Crate
        Did you know that some animals are just more anxious than others? For these pets and those who may not be anxious, but can be destructive, safety is important. Many dogs enjoy den-like spaces so the crate can be a safe alternative to being free in the house. If you do not like the idea of using a crate, try gating off a room or area for these pets. In worst case scenarios, it could be wise to consult with a professional behavorialist or one of our veterinarians here for additional recommendations such as pheromone diffusers, medications, or other suggestions for your specific pets needs. 

Doggie Daycare or a Pet sitter
         In some cases, it could be better to allow your pet to go to a doggie daycare to release some built up energy or have a pet sitter come in to walk your dogs or pet your cats. These can be great ways to keep your house safe while enriching, but also to enrich the lives of your pets if they get lonely. 

written by Danielle Fuller ~ RVT


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