Kids Going Back to School? The Many Ways Pet Anxiety is Linked to Change

A floofy dog stares out the window of a door, waiting for its owners' return

Summer is the season when pets and kids have the most fun. Whether it’s playing fetch, or rolling around in muddy puddles together, the endless fun is priceless. But with the start of another school year, all these fun times are about to come to an abrupt end. 

Kids have dozens of distractions to keep them from missing their furry best friend, but pets don’t always have those helpful distractions. Pet anxiety can be a direct result from a sudden shift in routine. With the start of a new school year approaching, know what you can do to help your pet transition smoothly from summer to fall.

Back to Our Usual Programming

It’s not uncommon for many pets to endure long stretches at home by themselves. Between work, play, school, and extracurricular activities, we often find ourselves tending to our pet’s basic needs, but then we’re out the door again all too quickly. This is especially true when things start revving up with the start of a new school year.

Tough Balance

Pets can be profoundly impacted by any change in their day-to-day routines. After several months of human-animal connection, suddenly leaving a pet home alone all day may have severe behavioral ramifications.

To stay in front of any potential problems, we recommend scheduling a pet wellness exam. We can discuss strategies for keeping your pet happy and safe while you’re not home, including both medicinal and natural fear-free techniques.  

Beyond Boredom

Sure, it’s boring when no one is home. It’s common for many pet owners to assume that their pets sleep, groom, and eat all day. But the truth is, many pets end up pacing, calling out, and developing other symptoms of separation anxiety.


If you’re wondering what to look for, please keep an eye out for any of the following signs, indicating various levels of stress and pet anxiety:

  • Destructive behavior
  • Indoor soiling
  • Uncharacteristic clinginess
  • Hiding
  • Pacing
  • Digging
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Chewing
  • Change in mood or personality
  • Loss of appetite
  • Withdrawal
  • Escape attempts
  • Upset tummy and/or diarrhea

Pets with personal histories that include fear, abandonment, trauma, or abuse are more likely to show these tell-tale symptoms than more well-adjusted pets. That being said, however, pet anxiety can affect all individuals

Easing Pet Anxiety

Gently and slowly introducing your pet to the new schedule should start as soon as possible. Some owners find success if they start 2-3 weeks before the first day of school to allow for as much time as possible.

Introduce short absences throughout the day. Over time, extend how long your family is away from home. Whenever you return, it’s important to remain calm and neutral. Try not to feed into the excitement that your return will naturally bring to your pet. 

Give your pet plenty of exercise. An extra walk in the evening or some bonus play time can really take the edge off the feelings associated with pet anxiety.

Head Off at the Pass

Pet anxiety can cause animals to destroy furniture, garden spaces, and even personal belongings. If this is an issue, it may be time to consider crate training, doggie day camp, or even a pet sitter/dog walker to check in during the day.

When you are home, be sure to give your pet calm, steady attention, and reassure them with an abundance of praise and affection.

Value Wellness

Your pet’s health and wellness means the world to us at Berkeley Veterinary Center. If our veterinary staff can assist you with further questions or concerns regarding back to school pet anxiety, please let us know

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