VCA Animal Hospitals

Back-to-school affects pets too

Published: Sep 17, 2012

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The end of the summer means a lot of changes for each member of your household, even your pet. With kids going back to school and moms and dads going back to work after vacation, many families' schedules completely change this time of year. And vets say it's normal for your cat or dog to exhibit some signs of depression, or back-to-school blues.

"Every time we get back from holiday, my cat, Katou, uses my bed as a litter tray for several days," Philippe Uzan, the proud owner of a Siamese, told AFP News.

Pet health experts say other signs of a depressed animal may include sulking, refusing to eat and behavior problems.

"If a dog barks incessantly or chews the furniture when it gets back from a holiday, it is showing that it is missing having company and that it has the back-to-school blues," pet behavior experts Aline Auble told the news provider.

She also says it's important to remember that he is acting out because he's missing your company.

"By playing with things that belong to his master, the dog is maintaining a contact with him. They have to relearn how to be on their own," she said.

Animal experts say that you can avoid destructive behaviors when a schedule change happens in your home by ensuring your pet is kept busy while no one is home. For dogs this may mean buying some new toys that will stimulate them throughout the day or hiding treats in different rooms of your home. New toys may also help make the transition easier for your feline friends.

Dog owners may also consider hiring a dog walker to play with their pet during the day or enrolling him in a doggie daycare program. These programs help keep canines engaged and active while their owners are at work. And, just like a childcare center, you drop him off before work and pick him up afterwards.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, proper crate training may also help you avoid destructive behaviors caused by boredom while you're away from home.

"A crate should be introduced slowly and made to be a great thing," Maria DeFillipo, of the Cumberland County SPCA, recently told the Daily Journal. "Include comfy bedding - as long as the dog won't eat it - toys, treats, lots of praise. Many dogs associate their crate as their 'home' and will go in it happily when they are tired."

Remembering to set aside some time in the morning and at night to play with your cat or dog is always important, especially when your family's schedule has changed.

"Usually most pets will adapt to the new routine after a few days," veterinarian Celine Moussour told AFP News. "But if they refuse to eat for several days or won't come out of their beds then it could be something more serious. In that case a visit to the vet is required."

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