Kids Back to School but ……What About the Pets?

Sadly (for some but maybe not so much for parents) summer is winding down and we are all engaged in the return to the three season “normalcy” of the school year. Supplies, after school programs, day care, work and school schedules are all in the forefront now. While our four legged friends don’t overtly require the hoop jumping from us that our kids do, they too have needs. During the summer, our dogs and cats readjust their lives to accomondate our increased presence, or absence or combination of both. While dogs generally welcome more attention from their owners and tend to pout a bit when we are away, cats often prefer the peace and quiet of a nearly empty space.That is not to say that our felines don’t like our attention, but it is usually on their terms rather than ours. A well known behaviorist once summed the behavioral differences as “dogs are more people oriented and cats are more place oriented”. So while we pack the car and it is obvious to the family canine we are going away, they are often hanging right with us as if to say “Take me, don’t forget me, please can I come?” while the cat relaxes on the window sill, watching the outside as if to say “Have a good time…..see you when you get back”. Of course there are exceptions to every generalization.

As we return to the more usual schedule of the school year, our pets need to adjust as well. For dogs, it may be back to puppy or dog day care, training classes and play time, while our felines have to readjust to having more activity in “their” home. They need to get used to all the comings and goings and the change of pace. It may be hard for us to accept, but these alterations in the household schedule can have an impact on the stress level and well being of our pets. Stress in companion animals is now commonly recognized as a contributing factor to illness. Urinary tract disease, skin diseases and inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases are all considered to be impacted by stress. Remember, our own moods can greatly impact our pet companions.

So as we all enjoy these last few days of the summer, make sure to consider the four legged pal. As we realign for the next few months, remember that our pets have their needs too. They are always there for us, let’s us make sure we are there for them.