The school buses will soon be making the rounds to pick up enthusiastic students heading back to school. As the school year starts, you have likely been busy ensuring your child has all they need to return to the classroom, but is your pet prepared? Our team at Driftwood Animal Hospital would like to offer a few tips to help prepare your pet for the upcoming school year.

#1: Ensure your pet has appropriate identification

In the hectic commotion of children rushing around to get ready, with everyone distracted by their own agenda, your pet can easily sneak out and become lost. If they don’t have appropriate identification, they may not be returned. In addition to identification tags, consider having your pet microchipped, which is the best way to permanently identify your pet.

#2: Change your pet’s routine

If possible, change your household routine at least two weeks before the school year starts. Getting everyone, including your pet, used to the new schedule in advance will help the adjustment period seem less painful, and will help ensure that your pet has acclimated to the new routine before they have the additional stress of being left home alone.

#3: Teach your pet to enjoy being alone

Practice this process during the summer months, to help acclimate your pet to being home alone when the children go back to school. Create a safe zone, such as a small room or an open crate for your pet. Ensure they have a comfortable place to rest, their favorite toys, and clothing that smells like you. Provide a food puzzle toy and quietly leave the room. Once they are comfortable when you are in another room, you can start leaving them in their safe zone when you go outside, and when you leave the house. Learning to spend time on their own will help prevent your pet from developing separation anxiety when the school year starts.

#4: Exercise your pet

When the school year starts, you are likely much more busy, but your pet still needs daily exercise. Try to give them a good workout in the mornings before the family leaves, so they will be tired and ready for a nap. A vigorous game of fetch is a great way to tire out your dog, and using a laser pointer to run your cat around will help expel excess energy. Providing mental stimulation by teaching your pet a new trick is also a good idea, so they are physically and mentally exhausted.

#5: Ensure your pet cannot loot your child’s backpack or lunchbox

Several common school supplies, medications, and foods can be dangerous for your pet. These include:

  • Small objects — Any small object can become a choking hazard, or cause gastrointestinal obstruction, if swallowed. 
  • Art supplies — If your child’s art supplies do not contain an approved product (AP) or cautionary label (CL), they could be toxic to your child and your pet.
  • Xylitol — This artificial sweetener, found in many candies and gum, is toxic to dogs. If ingested, xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, and liver failure.
  • Grapes and raisins — Ingesting grapes or raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs, and can be fatal.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) meds — ADHD medications are stimulants, and can cause increased activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, if ingested. Signs can last for several days, and affected pets may need hospitalization for treatment.
  • Epinephrine pens — If a dog chews on an epipen, they can develop vomiting, diarrhea, 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.

#6: Arrange for your pet to have company

Have a friend or a pet sitter come by to visit your pet during the day. They can give your pet another good work-out so they will be ready for an afternoon siesta. Also, consider taking your dog to a doggy daycare two to three times a week, so they can make friends and stay stimulated.

#7: Remain calm when saying goodbye and greeting your pet

When you leave and return home, avoid making a big scene. Your pet will think this deems the event stressful. Give your pet a food puzzle toy in their safe zone a few minutes before you leave, and quietly depart while they are concentrating on cracking the code. When you return home, wait until your pet settles before greeting them.

#8: Do not forget your pet’s needs

As the new school year gears up, life will get more hectic, and your pet may get lost in the mix. Ensure you keep your pet’s food and supplies well stocked, and set reminders for yourself so you don’t miss administering their parasite preventives. Also, don’t forget to schedule their yearly veterinary wellness visits at Driftwood Animal Hospital.

Back to school is a crazy time, but following these tips can help ensure your pet’s needs are met. If you have concerns about your pet as the new school year starts, do not hesitate to contact our team at Driftwood Animal Hospital, and we will answer any questions you have.