Heading back to school may take a toll on pet health

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By: H.R.
Pets Best Insurance Editorial Manager
La La the Chihuahua sits on the bed waiting for her owner to return home from work.
As much as I hate to admit it, summer is coming to a swift end. And with the cooler temperatures and the start of football season, pets across the nation are beginning to adjust to their owners’ schedules for work or back to school.

Instead of spending warm days playing Frisbee in the park, your pet is getting back into the routine of patiently waiting for you by the front door, or hoping you might swing by at lunchtime for a potty break. And although many well-trained pets often do just fine, some will display increased anxiety and pet health can even be at risk.

Before I began working for a pet insurance company, my Chihuahua La La grew accustomed to spending most days with me. Upon heading back to work, I noticed my tiny dog was not happy. Although La La cannot speak her mind in plain English, she let me know she had an, ahem, bone to pick with me by leaving me a little brown present my first day back at work.

Similarly to humans, some pets may have adjustment issues with new schedules. It’s not all that uncommon for pets to act out if they’re unhappy with the new day-to-day activities just like La La did. With less interaction from their owner who is now elbow deep in text books, or leaving the house earlier in the morning and coming home later at night, pets are looking for an alternate means of entertainment.

Common signs that your pooch or kitty may not be happy with the end of summertime fun might include these pet health and pet behavioral issues:

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• Urinating and defecating in the house
• Barking, howling or whimpering
• Digging in the yard or chewing off-limit items
• Pacing back and forth
• Eating more or less
• Sleeping more
• Increased anxiety or excitement when you try to leave

If you know your schedule will be changing, it’s a good idea to introduce the change slowly to your pet. You can do this by implementing shorter periods of separation and then gradually increasing the time you are away.

You can also reward your pet with a treat or play fetch a few times before departing for the morning. This can help your pet associate you leaving with something positive.

The most important thing to remember is that change can be hard for your pet, so attempt to work with your pooch or kitty until it feels comfortable with your new schedule.

If you notice increased anxiety or other pet health issues in your pet, talk to your veterinarian about options for treatment or medications that can help.

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