Soothing Your Pet’s Back to School Blues

Yellow cat with long tailThe summer is arguably your pet’s favorite season, probably because there is always so much going on at home! Scampering feet, belly-aching giggle fests, and snacks galore… what’s not to love for an attention-loving pet? But, with summer rapidly coming to a close, and the kids heading back to the books, your pet’s happiness could be left hanging in the balance.

To be sure, the back to school blues affect your four-legged family member. With some careful planning and consideration, your pet can handle the change in dynamics like a Grade-A student.

Stick to the Routine

Your pet is a creature of habit. He or she knows – and anticipates – scheduled mealtimes, bathroom breaks, when it’s time to play or exercise, and when to settle down. While it’s possible your pet had to adjust to the increased energy of kids back at home during the summer break, he or she likely got used to it (and even found it delightful) within a short time. By the end of summer, he or she became comfortable witnessing (or being a major part of) noise, chaos, and fun.

Preventing Back to School Blues

It’s ideal if you can slowly prepare your pet for longer stretches alone at home. Start with a few hours a day and increase your pet’s alone time to match the upcoming schedule. If your pet is prone to depression, separation anxiety, or stress, please call us. Our veterinarians and staff will do everything we can to help.

Helping Hands

Encourage your children to help your pet understand and accept this new routine by offering extra hugs, snuggles, and praise prior to leaving every day. Favorite treats can help create a positive association when you leave and return. Additionally:

  • Increase physical activity before you leave and immediately after you return
  • Settle your pet down in his or her favorite spot to inspire feelings of safety and security
  • Leave behind a stimulating and rewarding toy, such as a Kong or puzzle toy

Do not scold or punish your pet if he or she behaves differently. This can reinforce the anxiety causing such behaviors. The back to school blues can present the following behavioral changes:

  • Excessive barking, whining, whimpering, or howling
  • Pacing or nervously circling the room
  • Destructive behavior
  • Soiling inside the home
  • Repeatedly sniffing, searching, or peering out windows
  • Escape attempts
  • Hiding
  • Scratching
  • Inappetance
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Clinginess

Some behaviors, indicative of the back to school blues, might warrant extra attention or professional support. Preserve your pet’s wellness and call Berkeley Veterinary Center for help.


Without the demands of keeping everyone in the house happy and entertained, your pet may find him or herself in trouble. Boredom can lead to explorations of the trash receptacles, potted plants, laundry, pantry, or storage areas that contain myriad dangers.

You may consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to visit once or twice a day to keep your pet happy and safe. You can rest assured that your pet will be tended to in your absence, alleviating much of the heartache associated with separation.

Remember to keep your pet’s routine on schedule, and call us with any questions or concerns. Between your effort and your pet’s awesomeness, we give your household an A+ for tackling the back to school blues!

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