Pets really enjoy the summer months as much as people do simply because the kids are home from school and there’s lots of activities and outings to keep them engaged and happy to be around the people they love the most.
Then September rolls around and children go back to school or off to college and the sudden emptiness in the home can leave them feeling very lonely and depressed – and often anxious too.
According to Professor Nicholas Dodman, director of the small animal behavior clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, MA at least one in six dogs will exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety or display increased levels if they are already prone to the condition, along with a countless number of cats.
“Dogs and cats that enjoy human interaction and affection can become psychologically unglued especially if their best human friend in the household happens to be one of the kids and suddenly that person “disappears” and goes off to college. It definitely leaves a void in the pet’s lifestyle,” explains Dodman. “The same applies when kids go back to school and suddenly their lives are so filled with extra mural activities that they no longer have the same amount of time for fun that includes the family pet.”
Dodman cited the a canine client who had slept in with his teenage best friend since puppyhood and when the boy went off to college, the dog found himself sleeping alone in the empty bedroom. He started howling at night looking for a new place to sleep.
This dog would have been an ideal candidate for a ThunderShirt, put on at bedtime to help ease his anxiety and get him into a different sleeping routine.
Cats can get equally upset but because they don’t often display their feelings, people are often unaware that they are feeling anxious and stressed in similar situations too.
Reduced appetite or complete loss of appetite is a sign that your pet may be suffering from empty nest syndrome.
When it comes to dogs, signs of stress and anxiety can include sudden pacing and even at attempt to escape by scratching the back of a door or pulling down a blind, trying to get into a trashcan or chewing on a couch.
For a feline perspective a cat that is usually friendly and comes to greet their favorite people may stop doing this and lie and sleep a lot more. Some can also begin grooming excessively, pulling out chunks of fur until their skin is raw.
Of course there are ThunderShirts for cats too and it’s a good idea to put one your cat (or dog) if they are going to be left home along for long periods until they are better adjusted to the new dynamics of the household.
Exercise is a great stress-reliever too. Be sure to schedule walks with your dog several times a day – even they are short ones and amp up games with your cat. Wand toys keep them very engaged. There are also battery-operated toys that can be pre-set so that they can play by themselves throughout the day too.
Sandy Robins is an award-winning author and respected Pet Lifestyle Expert.
We are happy to announce that we have another guest blogger today! Take it away Sandy!