Help Pets Beat the Back-to-School Blues

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Petplan pet insurance says separation anxiety spikes when the school year starts

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When lazy summer days give way to structured schedules in September, one family member has a particularly tough time weathering the transition: your pet. In a survey of nearly 4,000 people conducted by Petplan pet insurance, pet owners reported a spike in separation anxiety in pets who lose summer companions to the classroom during the back-to-school season.

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 Fido can feel stressed by the sudden increase in alone time.

When pets are anxious about being left behind, most exhibit behaviors like clinging (36%), trying to follow the family out the door (31%), changes in appetite (10%), accidents in the house (11%) and even destructive behavior (15%). Some pets go to unusual lengths to get their owner’s attention – one pet parent said she has to tape the refrigerator door closed when she leaves or her dog will open it and pull out the food!

In addition to being home alone more often, pets in “back-to-school” households reportedly receive less exercise than they enjoyed during the summer months – which can exacerbate the stress associated with this time of year. Twenty percent of respondents with family members going back to school said their pets exercise less come September, and 29% said their pet spends less time outside (compared to 13% and 19%, respectively, from those without family members in school).

“As families adjust to a new school schedule, be sure pets are included by carving out quality time for them,” recommends Dr. Jules Benson, Petplan Chief Veterinary Medical Officer. “Whether it’s a morning walk, chasing a ball or laser or practicing obedience commands, this time will help pets get their daily dose of exercise and give them the companionship they’re missing from the summer. Getting the whole family involved will make things fun and keep pets engaged.”

To ease pet parent guilt (those puppy dog eyes as you leave are enough!), try these tips to make the transition back into the school year happier and healthier for furry friends:

  • 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 become more comfortable when you leave.
  • 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.
  • Buddy up: Get a dog walker or pet sitter or enroll your pup in doggie daycare to help break up the stress and monotony of hours spent solo.

Keeping pets happy during the back-to-school season is important, but keeping them healthy is essential every season of the year. Twenty percent of respondents agree that September is the perfect time to check a wellness exam off of their “to do” list. For families who have trouble remembering to make the appointment, switching it to September when scheduling is top of mind can help form healthy habits!

For more information about soothing pets’ stress during the back-to school-season, visit http://www.GoPetplan.com/blogpost/back-to-school.

ABOUT PETPLAN
Petplan is more than a pet insurance company. 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. For the third consecutive year, Petplan was listed among Forbes' annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan is the only pet insurance company to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage for all hereditary and chronic conditions for the life of the pet as standard. Petplan policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group was rated A+ by A.M. Best in 2014. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit http://www.petplan.com or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Jessica Kinney
Petplan
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