As the summer days dwindle away, many Rockaway and Denville families are preparing for the back-to-school season. For children, this means stocking up on school supplies, meeting new classmates, and adjusting to new teachers. For pets, this means a new schedule and more time at home alone, which many pets find extremely difficult. Our team at MountainView Veterinary Hospital has the tips you need to make the back-to-school transition a little easier for your pet. 

#1: Create a consistent pet schedule

To help your pet adjust to the new back-to-school routine, set a consistent schedule that you stick to as closely as possible. Like children, pets need a schedule with specific meals, walks, and play times that every household member follows closely, to keep them on track. Providing your pet with a designated quiet retreat where they can go during chaotic or stressful times, such as the busy mornings when the kids are rushing out the door, can be helpful. Also, start gradually introducing the new routines several weeks before school starts, to ensure your pet has plenty of time to get used to the many changes.

#2: Ensure your pet gets enough exercise

Pets need a designated exercise schedulewalking them at least 30 minutes per day is recommended. You can walk in the morning, afternoon, or evening—what’s important is sticking to a routine. Also, set aside some playtime each day with your pet, which keeps them physically active and is a great way to build your bond. 

#3: Schedule your pet’s annual wellness exam

Prepare your pet for the new school year by scheduling their annual wellness exam. Your veterinarian will not only perform a thorough physical examination, but also will ensure your pet is up to date on their vaccinations and parasite preventives, and will take the time to discuss any concerns about your pet’s health or behavior. 

#4: Keep your pet comfortable at home

Your pet will be spending more time home alone, so ensure they are comfortable and safe when the family is away, perhaps splurging on an orthopedic bed and new, engaging toys. Turn on the television or soft music to keep them calm. Leave them with a tasty treat, such as a Kong filled with xylitol-free peanut butter, and always ensure they have access to plenty of fresh water. 

#5: Ensure you update your pet’s identification

Life gets busy quickly when the kids head back to school. Mornings can be rushed as everyone hurries to get dressed, eat, and head out the door to get to school and work on time. With everyone so distracted, your pet can easily sneak out and get lost. Ensure they wear a secure collar with appropriate identification, that they are microchipped, which is the best way to permanently identify your pet, and that all the information on their tag and with the microchip data registry is current.

#6: Keep kids’ backpacks and lunch boxes away from pets

The contents inside backpacks and lunch boxes can be dangerous for a curious pet.  School supplies, medications, and foods that are toxic if ingested by your pet for pets include: 

  • Art supplies — Some art supplies can be toxic and cause intestinal blockage. 
  • Xylitol — This artificial sweetener, found in many candies and gum, is toxic to dogs. 
  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs, and can be fatal.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) meds — ADHD medications are stimulants that can cause increased activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature in pets. 
  • Epinephrine pens — Chewing an EpiPen can make your pet sick and cause seizures, and severe facial and throat swelling.
  • Albuterol inhalers — A dog’s heart rate can be elevated to dangerous levels if they chew an albuterol inhaler.

To keep your pet from getting into any of these dangerous items, designate a storage area for backpacks, such as wall hooks near the back door that your pet can’t reach. Also, remind your kids to empty their lunch boxes as soon as they get home. 

Back-to-school time is hectic, but do not forget about your pet. Be patient and understanding as they adjust to the new schedule. And, of course, extra TLC will go a long way in calming them down. However, If your Rockaway or Denville pet is experiencing significant anxiety because of all the changes, contact our team at MountainView Veterinary Hospital to discuss how we can help alleviate your pet’s anxiety.