back to school… tough on pets with separation anxiety?

After more than a year of the family hanging around the house – glorious, fetch-filled days, just purr-fect, really – some pets are really going to miss the kiddos when the school bell rings again.

Our pets have been there for us, keeping our spirits up during the pandemic. So now that we’re heading back to the way things used to be (mostly), we want to be there for them, even when we’re not physically there for them 😊.

Watch for signs of pet separation anxiety

Picture this: You’ve made the lunches, the kids have their backpacks on, everybody’s headed out to head to school… and Milo, your furry, silly, happy, four-legged friend won’t leave your side. Stuck to you like glue. You open the door to leave and he wants to come with you. He’s panting a lot. He didn’t eat his breakfast. Milo, poor boy, is showing some of the classic signs of separation anxiety.

(Other signs you might see include whining, barking, reacting to noises that didn’t used to bother him, chewing and damaging things in the house while you’re gone.)

What can you do?

Make some changes to help your four-legged friend

  • Start with small steps to prep your pet. If you start to see some signs of separation anxiety, dip into some training right away. After a relaxing walk or other calm activity, go into another room for a few minutes while your pet stays put. They’ll start to see that being alone is OK. Gradually increase the amount of time you’re apart, don’t emphasize greetings or goodbyes… just make it feel easy, calm, and normal.
  • Keep things consistent and predictable. Establish a routine and stick to it, so your pet is comfortable and knows what to expect during the day.
  • Train and encourage calm behavior. When you’re at home and your doggo or kitty is happily relaxing in a comfortable spot, reinforce their serenity with a gentle voice and a tasty treat (don’t overdo it, of course). No guarantees, but this praise could encourage similar behavior when you’re out of the house.
  • Make home fun, even when you’re not there. Your pet loves you sooo much… but they also love food and play. So try hiding food in feeding toys to give your BFF something to do while you’re away.
  • Get moving together. Health and safety is still the number 1 priority, but there’s no doubt that we can all get outside more for walks, dog parks, even a ride in the car. Exercise your pet, inside or outside, and their overall mood might improve. It’s a good way to reduce your own stress, too.
  • Talk to your vet team. Banfield’s vets and vet techs are great people to talk to if your pet is having behavior issues, including separation anxiety. Don’t hesitate to give your local Banfield a call and schedule an appointment.

All that hybrid learning and screen time last year… enough already. It’s been way too long since kids could see their friends, decorate their lockers, audition for plays… and, yeah, sit in a room together and live, like, a normal-ish existence.

Sure, kids will miss being home. While they’re digging into social studies and pre-calculous, running around the gym, singing harmony in choir… they’ll miss the cuddles and hilarity and comfort we all get from having pets in our lives. And pets will miss them, too. But with care and love, we can help keep the stress down and the happiness up.

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