Battling Back-to-School Blues in Pets

5 Steps to Keep Your Pet Happy When You Return to Your Busy Schedule

The start of the school year can be just as difficult on your pets as it is on your human family members. Any sorts of big routine changes like that can trigger separation anxiety.

09-05 Back to School Blues_cat

Pets can become anxious or bored when left alone all day and may express that in different ways. In a recent survey, Pet360 discovered that 20 percent of pet owners with school-age children said their pets showed signs of anxiety or depression when everyone in the house went back to their normal routine at the end of the summer.

Here are 5 things you can do keep your pet happy:

09-05 Back to School Blues1. Keep regular feeding times

For most pets feeding time is an important and exciting part of their day, so it’s key to keep breakfast and dinner at the same time every day. At our shelters we keep all of the animals on a structured feeding schedule. For dogs each meal time is followed by dog playgroup or a long walk. ”We always recommend to our adopters that you do a consistent morning and afternoon feeding time” says Carolyn Curran, Assistant Manager of the Boston shelter. Animals often nap after they eat, so your pet may snooze away much of his time alone after a meal and some play time.

2. Exercise

Walking your dog and setting aside at least 15 minutes to play with your cat or other pet are essential to burning off extra energy. When you get home from work, get in the pattern of going to your local dog park, so that he can socialize. If you’re a runner, take your dog with you on your runs. “Start your dog out slowly. 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 a couch potato, start with walks.” Your pet will most likely be happier (and healthier) if he is getting the proper amount of exercise.

3. Learn new tricks

Pick a new trick to teach your pet and have the whole family work together on training him. This doesn’t only apply to dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals can also be trained. Check-out this guide on how to train your cat to sit! If your dog is athletic, consider enrolling in an obedience or agility class. We offer several classes here at the ARL. Your pet will enjoy the stimulation of learning something new.

4. Schedule a visit to the vet

Just like people, animals need vet checkups too. Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your pet is…. even healthy looking pets can have hidden problems.” Take your pets to the vet once a year to make sure that they’re healthy.

5. Prevent your pet from getting bored

Engage your pet while you’re gone, by leaving food puzzles for them (even rabbits and other small animals enjoy food puzzles). There are a variety of food puzzles and toys to choose from. If you’re a crafty cat lover, you can create a food puzzle for your cat by using this guide. It’s a fun activity for the whole family. For an easy to make dog puzzle, 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.

New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners

NYRBlogPhotoSo you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution for yourself, but have you thought about making a resolution specific to your pet? Here are 7 resolutions for pet lovers for 2013, because our four-legged companions always deserve a little more love! Take a minute to read through these and tell us which one you’re choosing for your New Year’s Resolution.

  1. Spend more time with your pet. Your cat or dog wants to be with you! After you’ve been at work all day, they can’t wait to see you! Pledge to spend an extra ten minutes with your pet every day. Get up ten minutes early and play with your cat or extend your dog’s walk by 10 more minutes or just take a few extra minutes to snuggle with your pup and scratch him behind the ear when you get home from work.
  2. Microchip your pet. We strongly recommend micro-chipping your pet. 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. HomeAgain, a microchip and pet recovery service, is responsible for reuniting more than 1,000,000 lost pets with their owners. 
  3. Bring your pet to the vet.  The League‘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 pet to the vet at least once a year to keep vaccinations current, get heart-worm prevention renewed and make sure your pet is healthy.
  4. Take better care of your pet’s teeth. Dental Disease affects dogs and cats, just as it does humans. There are several ways to prevent dental disease in your pets. Give them treats that clean teeth. Brush their teeth on a regular basis, if you can’t use a toothbrush, use your finger and apply special toothpaste as suggested by your vet. If tartar buildup occurs, your pet’s teeth should be professionally cleaned by your veterinarian.
  5. Give your pet the proper nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to poor health. There are many great dog food brands out there. Tell your vet what type of food you’re looking for, holistic, organic, all-natural, dental, weight control, etc… and ask your vet what brands s/he would recommend. An unbalanced diet can result in poor skin, hair coat, muscle tone, and obesity.
  6. DT_mini2Put an end to your pet’s behavioral problems. If your dog is misbehaving or if you want to teach him basic commands, enroll him in a dog training class. Dog training classes start at our Boston Headquarters on January 5. We offer a 10% discount to BVC clients and a 50% discount to ARL Alums!
  7. Allow your pet more opportunities to exercise. Most animals like to play, so find an activity that you both enjoy and go for it. Exercise is good for your pet and you! If your dog likes to run, try jogging a few times a week. If your dog likes to play fetch take him to the park and throw a ball around. For cats, try finding a toy that they like to chase.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLUES: 5 Steps to Keep Fido and Friends Happy

Photo courtesy of mashable.com

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.”

4. Exercise.

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.