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How to Prepare your Pets for Back-To-School Season

Many families find back-to-school to be an exciting time. For school-aged children, there are new classes and teachers, shopping for clothes and supplies, all kinds of preparations to get in order. However, not many of us are aware of how the changes are affecting our pets in all the hustle and bustle to get back on track.


While some pets will adjust quickly, others might feel anxious or stressed by the changes, and those behaviors should be paid attention too. You may also bring new things into your home this time of year for your pet (some of which may not be intended for them). To keep your pet healthy and happy, we'll be discussing some things to consider as you enter the back-to school season.



Separation Anxiety and Boredom

Both ourselves and our pets have adjusted to spending more quality time at home since the pandemic. Your pet may find it difficult to adjust to the change in routine that comes with going back school.


Dogs can dig, scratch, howl, or chew destructively. Cats with a history or trauma can be vulnerable. They may show signs like trembling or hiding and loss of appetite. Here are some things to look for and what you can do to help:

  • Begin by easing your pet into a new routine. Then, gradually increase the time you are away until your pet is more comfortable. Your pet will be more comfortable with a predictable schedule. Your pet will soon be able to predict when you'll return home and what they should expect.

  • Boredom can be kept at bay by providing distractions such as toys, window seats, or food-filled snacks. Turn on the radio or TV to keep your pet entertained. Your pet can feel connected to you by listening to music or hearing voices.

  • Spend quality time with your pet. Your pet will be more happy if you give them extra attention and playtime when you return home.

  • Exercise often.

  • Consider hiring a pet sitter. While it may not be necessary all the time, giving your pet some company when they aren't alone can make them feel more relaxed. You can encourage your pet to socialize and expend energy in a positive manner.

Crate training is an option if your pet exhibits destructive or accident-prone behavior. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet is still anxious.



Look for Hidden Dangers in Lunch Boxes

Many people see a new school year as the start of the long-running lunchtime debate, pack vs. purchase. Many of the convenience foods and healthy foods that we pack for lunch are great for children, but not for our pets.

  • You should be careful about what you pack for school. Grapes and raisins are two of the most popular lunch items. They are also toxic for our pets. Macadamia nuts and chocolate are two other items that frequently make it into lunch boxes.

  • Cold packs should be avoided. While they are useful for keeping your child's lunch cool, the cold packs can cause serious health problems. Some ice packs may contain ammonium nitrate or ethylene glycol, which can be extremely harmful if they are ingested.

  • Bags are dangerous. Your pet can be suffocated by plastic bags like chip bags or snack bags. Pets can get their heads stuck in leftovers and if they inhale the bag, it will close around their nose and mouth.

  • Pay attention to what is left over after lunch. Problems can also arise from foods that are used in science experiments. Fungal neurotoxins can cause serious illness in pets if they are exposed to moldy foods.

Lunch boxes should be emptied at school so that your child can return home with their lunch in a safe place. You must dispose of all garbage and leftovers immediately in trash cans that aren't accessible to pets.



Backpacks Could Have Hidden Dangers Too

Back-to-school time can also result in the return of backpacks to the floor or at the door. Pets can be persistent and curious.

  • Be aware of medications. ADHD medications, inhalers. and over-the-counter pain relievers (NSAIDs, Acetaminophen, etc.) can pose a danger to pets. You can keep these items in your backpack so that you have easy access throughout the school day. However, pets should not share human medications.

  • Be careful with your gum. Sugar-free gum can often contain xylitol, which is extremely dangerous for pets. Low blood sugar, seizures and liver failure can all be caused by xylitol. This warning applies to any sugar-free candies or mints that may be in your child's backpack.

  • Set aside school supplies. If your pet loves to chew, pencils, pens, erasers and other small school supplies may be tempting. If swallowed, broken pencils or pens can cause intestinal damage and obstruction. Ink from markers or pens is generally not toxic, unless it is ingested in large quantities. It can make a mess and be difficult to clean up.

  • Be careful with electrical cords. Your pet could become trapped in the cord if it gets chewed on.


Take extra care when packing your child's backpack and make sure it is secured after school. The bag can be secured by hooking it to a wall, however, if you are in need of an emergency vet in Bradenton, give us a call to let us know you're on the way.


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