One family member in particular has a tough time transitioning from summer days to school year: your pet. 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.
Of those surveyed with “back-to-schoolers” in the household, 26% said their pet shows signs of separation anxiety in September. Another 26% reported that their furry friend becomes bored. Compare this to the non-school crowd – where only 10% of pets suffer separation anxiety and 9% are bored – and it’s clear that pets can feel stressed by the sudden increase in alone time.
A lot of pets will make their loneliness known. Pet owners noticed their pet clinging to their side (36%), trying to follow the family out the door (31%), having accidents in the house (11%) and even being destructive (15%). Another 20% also said their pet exercises less come September and 29% said their pet spends less time outside (compared to 13% and 19%, respectively, from those not going back to school).
Petplan staff veterinarian (and mom of two boys), Dr. Kim Smyth, understands the back-to-school blues all too well and shares these tips about how to ease the transition:
Busy their brains: Give your pet something to think about while you’re gone, like a treat-filled toy or food puzzle.
Practice makes perfect: Before the first day of school, go about the usual morning routine and then pretend to leave for the day. Go outside for a few minutes and come back in. Increase the amount of time for each “departure” to help your pet be more comfortable when you leave.
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.
Keep calm: Try not to make a fuss when leaving or be too excited when returning home. Calmly say goodbye and hello to your pet so he learns that coming and going is nothing to be emotional about.
Visit the vet: When students head back to school, 20% of survey respondents said their pet heads to the vet. Even if they’re in perfect health, pets need to visit the vet for an annual check-up. But if you notice something unusual with your pet’s health over the summer, have him looked at as soon as possible and don’t put off visiting the vet until September.
Petplan is more than a pet insurance provider. We’re dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance plans provide comprehensive coverage for hereditary and chronic conditions, alternative and behavioral therapies, and dental and cancer treatments – all as standard.