Fall can be a stressful time for dogs and other pets alike. After a few months of fun, family vacations and extra playtime with the kids, back-to-school means more alone time for your pet.
People are sometimes surprised and frustrated by their dog’s destructive behavior, but we have to remember that our pets are very attached to us and it’s difficult for them to spend 8+ hours alone, especially after those lazy dog days of summer. Pets can become anxious or bored when left alone all day and may express that in different ways.
So, as you prepare your children’s back-to-school checklist, why not create one for your pet? We’ve put together a few items to help get that list started.
1. Microchip your pet.
In the event that Fido escapes from the yard or the park, a microchip could help you be reunited with him. A microchip is an electronic device placed under the skin of an animal. The chips are about the size of a grain of rice and emit a low-frequency radio wave when detected by a special scanner. Pet microchips aren’t a tracking or GPS device but simply a way of storing a pet owner’s address and phone number if the pet is lost. For more information about pet microchips contact your vet, local animal shelter or Animal Control Officer.
2. Schedule a visit to the vet.
While you’re scheduling physical exams for your kids during the first weeks of school don’t forget that Fido and friends need vet checkups too. ARL Boston‘s very own Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your dog is…. even healthy looking dogs can have hidden problems.” Take your pets to the vet once a year to make sure that they’re healthy.
3. Keep regular feeding times.
Most of us like to follow a certain schedule and so our pets, it gives them a feeling of certainty. For most pets feeding time is an important and exciting part of their day, so it’s key to keep breakfast and dinner time at the same time every day. Vetstreet’s Gina Spadafori suggests giving “your dog his most substantial meal (and probably a walk) before he’s about to spend his biggest chunk of time alone. Dogs often nap after they eat, so he may snooze away much of his time alone.”
It’s good for you and for Fido. Exercise is essential to burning off extra energy. Start the day off by taking Fido for a walk or by setting aside 15 minutes to play with your cat or other pet. When you get home from work, why not get in the pattern of going to your local dog park, so that your dog can have time to run around and socialize? If you’re a runner you can start taking your dog with you on your runs. “Start your dog out slowly, just like you would if you were new to running. If you gradually increase the miles, your dog will become more fit and their pads will toughen up and make him or her less susceptible to injury” says ARL‘s Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM. “Three times per week, 15 to 20 minutes at a moderate pace is a good place to start. If your pet is overweight or a couch potato, start with walks.”Your pet will most likely be happier (and healthier) if he is getting the proper amount of exercise.
5. Keep your pet busy.
Engage and challenge your dog, cat or other pet, by leaving food puzzles for them. There are a variety of food puzzles and toys to choose from or, if you’re crafty cat lover, you can create a food puzzle for your cat by using this guide from one of our ARL volunteers. You can even fill an empty marrow bone with some peanut butter and throw it in freezer. Leave the frozen treat for your dog when you leave the house.