School Daze: Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety in pets can increase when school starts.Whether you have younger kids or older ones heading off to college, it’s normal for everyone to go through an adjustment period at the start of a new school year. Pets feel the change as well, especially if they’ve enjoyed a pet-centric summer for the past 3 months.

Separation anxiety in pets is quite common this time of year. An estimated 15-30% of pets regularly experience symptoms. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can help support your furry family member!

Where is Everyone?

Pets thrive on routine, so a sudden change in the daily schedule can be confusing and upsetting. The hustle and bustle of preparing for a new school year and the sudden departure of key family members can leave a pet feeling confused, anxious, and left out.

Symptoms of separation anxiety in pets include:

  • Excessive barking, howling, or meowing
  • Repeatedly sniffing, scratching, or whining at doors or windows
  • House soiling
  • Destructive chewing or scratching
  • Clinginess
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

Start Slowly

Although many pets eventually adjust to change, separation anxiety can set in when pets are regularly left alone for long periods of time. You can help your pet adjust to their new normal by changing their routine slowly rather than all at once. Begin implementing your new schedule a few weeks in advance by leaving them alone for longer stretches of time each day; adjust mealtimes, exercise, and play times accordingly.

Coping with Separation Anxiety in Pets

A little extra TLC will go a long way toward making your pet feel like part of the pack again:

  • Exercise – A tired pet is often a happier pet, so make a commitment to provide plenty of exercise before you leave for the day and after you return.
  • Play – Make sure your pet has a few mentally stimulating toys to enjoy while everyone is gone, such a Kong, food puzzle, or cat tree.
  • Company – If your pet is regularly alone during the day, help combat their loneliness by hiring a pet sitter/dog walker or enrolling them in doggie daycare.

We Can Help

Your pet’s behavior (and your stress level) will benefit from some extra time and attention, but if you’re still concerned about your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Some cases of separation anxiety in pets require professional help. The staff at Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital is always here to provide assistance.

A Quick Reminder

Back-to-school time means appointments, and you’ve probably been running everywhere from the doctor to the dentist to the hair salon, but has your pet been in to see us lately? Include your pet’s annual or bi-annual wellness exam in your fall schedule. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!