Depressed Pets? Could Be Back-to-School Blues

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Since your children have headed back to school, have you noticed your dog moping around the house, seeming a little depressed? I have, and so has my neighbor whose daughter just left home for college for the first time. Apparently, we’re not alone.  In a survey of nearly 4,000 Americans conducted by Petplan pet insurance, pet owners reported a spike in separation anxiety in pets who lose summer companions to the classroom during the back-to-school season.

Of those surveyed with back-to-school kids in the household, 26 percent said their pet shows signs of separation anxiety in September. Another 26 percent reported that their furry friend becomes bored. In nonschool families, only 10 percent of pets suffer separation anxiety and 9 percent are bored.  

So how are pets reacting to this new alone time? Pet owners with kids heading back to school say pets are clinging to their side (36 percent), trying to follow the family out the door (31 percent), having accidents in the house (11 percent) and even being destructive (15 percent). Another 20 percent also said their pet exercises less come September and 29 percent said their pet spends less time outside (compared with 13 percent and 19 percent, respectively, from those without kids in school).

If you’re looking for a way to ease Fido’s transition to a quieter house as the kids head off to school, here are a couple of tips from a Petplan staff veterinarian, who is also a mom to two boys.

• Busy their brains. Give your pet something to think about while you’re gone, like a treat-filled toy or food puzzle.

• Buddy up. Getting a dog walker or pet sitter or enrolling your pup in doggie daycare can help break up the stress and monotony of hours spent solo.

Of course, if you notice your pet continuing to mop around, visit the vet for professional help. 

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