After a long, lazy summer filled with pool days, picnics, and leisurely strolls through your neighborhood park, your children are heading back to school. Your two- and four-legged “children” are likely in for a rude awakening on the first day of school if you don’t prepare them for the upcoming school year—particularly your pet. Avoid an abrupt, unsettling change for your furry pal by beginning your back-to-school preparations well in advance. Use the following tips to help keep your pet safe, happy, and entertained, while your family is gone and they are home alone more. Then, you’ll be sure to ace the back-to-school transition.

#1: Ease your pet into a new routine

Sleeping in is a key summertime habit, but when school starts, your family—including your pet—may need to rise with the sun. You’ll need to allow plenty of time for your pet to eat, take a walk, and use the bathroom before you shuffle your kids out the door, and these tasks can easily add 30 minutes or more to your schedule. To make the change in routine easier on your pet—and you—practice your new schedule a week or so in advance. Slowly move up your wake-up time in 15- or 30-minute increments each day. Giving up that extra shut-eye before you need to will pay off in the long run, because your pet will adjust more easily to a gradual rather than abrupt schedule change. Upheavals in routine can cause pets, particularly cats, a great deal of stress and anxiety and lead to behavior issues, such as inappropriate elimination, destructive behavior, excessive vocalization, and more.

#2: Provide plenty of mentally stimulating entertainment

After a summer filled with comings and goings and lots of fun activities and excitement, an empty house will be boring and lonely for your pet. With no one to interact with, your pet needs something to occupy their time. Fortunately, you can entertain your pet in plenty of ways when you are not at home. Try these:

  • Treat puzzles — Treat puzzles are a great way to encourage your pet to use their brain. Design your own puzzles using cardboard, fabric scraps, crumpled paper, water bottles, and other household items, or purchase a variety of puzzles that you swap out to prevent boredom. Your pet will work diligently to access their snack, while exercising their mind and body.
  • Robotic or interactive toys — While your pet may enjoy chewing on or snuggling with a plush toy, an interactive robotic toy can provide longer-lasting entertainment. Cats enjoy chasing robotic mice, especially if they receive a treat when they successfully hunt down their prey. Dogs may like a ball launcher placed at the end of the hallway, or a toy that rolls around the floor. 

#3: Give your pet a comfortable place to relax

Since your pet will be spending most of their day inside, ensure they have a comfortable place to relax. Stock a cozy corner with your pet’s essential supplies. Your cat will appreciate being able to rest in a climbing tower in front of a window that overlooks a bird feeder, while your dog will love curling up on an orthopedic bed with a new stuffed animal. Consider a pheromone diffuser to help create a calming atmosphere, and leaving on the TV or radio to keep your pet company.

#4: Hire a pet sitter or dog walker

Some pets simply cannot go eight-plus hours alone without a bathroom break, medication administration, or human interaction. For these pets, a pet sitter or dog walker can break up the day’s monotony and ensure your furry pal does something fun, while taking care of their basic needs. If your dog is a social butterfly who enjoys other dogs’ company, a doggy daycare may be an exciting option.

#5: Prevent poisoning possibilities

When your pet is home alone more than usual, they will have an increased chance to find mischief, and if they get into something they shouldn’t, the consequences can be disastrous. Prevent potential poisoning, gastrointestinal obstruction, and other health issues by pet-proofing your home. Also, when your children come home from school, ensure they place their backpacks and lunch boxes well out of your pet’s reach. Snacks and art supplies can cause toxicity in pets if ingested, or they may lead to an obstruction that requires surgical removal.

As you’re frantically purchasing school supplies, scheduling haircuts, and picking out that special first-day outfit to complete your children’s back-to-school list, don’t forget about your pet’s wellness care. When you schedule your children’s physical exams and vaccinations for the upcoming school year, ensure you also schedule your furry pal’s wellness visit. Give our Adamson Veterinary Services team a call to set up an appointment.