Parents may be rejoicing the start of school, but some pets may be feeling a little left out. Take some time this fall to educate clients about how to keep their pets happy as the children head back to school. According to the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, many behaviors can signal a pet’s anxiety or sadness because of a shift from a summer to a school schedule. These behaviors may include:
> Excessive pacing, barking or meowing
> Urinating or defecating in the home or in unapproved areas
> Escape attempts
> Destruction of furniture or toys
> Unusual chewing, digging or other frantic behavior
Clients who notice these behaviors in their pets should take specific measures to address them. Suggest these strategies:
> Introduce short separations to help the pet become accustomed to the upcoming schedule change.
> Foster the pet’s independence by helping it play alone with toys and engage in activities.
> When the pet is alone, leave it an interactive toy via a food dispenser, such as a Kong.
> Do not punish or scold the pet for unusual behavior during the adjustment period. The behavior could be rooted in fear, and punishment could exacerbate that insecurity.
If the behavior does not improve, encourage the client to set up a follow up appointment with your clinic.