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BACK TO SCHOOL ADVICE FOR OUR PETS The summer is coming to an end and fall is just around the corner. We spend much time preparing our children and ourselves, yet this transition also affects our pets. The freedom and attention received during summer vacation abruptly ends at the first day of school. Without warning, schedules shift – the coming and going, eating, exercising, and freedom may be limited while you spend time on your lessons. Their human playmates of summer suddenly have new interests and friends. All of this can create a lot of anxiety in our pets. This stress adds insecurity and affects our pets in many ways. It can cause behavior problems such as chewing, soiling in the house, barking with dogs or clawing furniture with cats. These problems can be troubling to us, but more serious health problems can also occur with your pet. The distressed pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea, skin issues, or eating problems. Eating problems may range from not eating at all to eating things they shouldn’t, such as dirt, plants, socks,

toys, etc. This can lead to emergency medical problems as these objects can easily get caught in the intestinal tract and can be deadly. Crating or sectioning off a safe pet area is always the best solution to this when you’re not home to supervise. You wouldn’t leave a toddler with free run, without supervision; and you shouldn’t with your 4-legged children either. It is important that you make them as comfortable as possible. Provide a bed, pillow, or blanket; and even when tempted, don’t leave them with a chewy. That is for when they are under supervision. Get an interactive but safe toy to leave with them, which will keep them safe and occupied. Most importantly, NEVER send them to their crate/room as a punishment! This is to be their “safe” zone; and a treat to get them in their “house”(as we call it) will associate good things, not bad, with their space. When you associate it with punishment they will never think of it as their “safe” place.

Tammy Vasquez Owner: Bark Life 727-399-Dogs (3647)

Emotionally, pets can also suffer from depression. What can we do to help these important members of our family? If possible, make changes and adjustments slowly, over a period of time. Dogs are creatures of habit. Part of the reason dogs get so stressed when the kids go back to school is that it causes major changes in their routines. You can ease a pet’s stress during this time by quickly establishing a new routine. While you're scheduling carpools and after-school activities, you should also schedule regular times for your dog's feeding time, walks, and time with you.

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For pets that become overly stressed when being left alone during storms or travel, etc., there are several holistic remedies commonly used. Call or stop by Bark Life for more information. And finally, give your pet the most love and attention you can. Certified Pet Sitters are another great way to relieve the midday blues your pets can have when you get too busy. I have very good references as well as PSI (pet sitters international). Please make sure your sitter is bonded, insured, and properly trained. Like choosing a pet groomer, compatibility is everything! Reassurance through regular walks, exercise, playtime, and grooming will help your 4-leggeded kids make a much smoother "Back to School" transition. Have a blessed start to the new school year, everyone, and remember to “Smile! God is watching!”

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Pinellas • September 2012 • 39

Gulf Coast Family - August 2012 - Pinellas  

Gulf Coast Family's primary purpose is to encourage families along the Gulf Coast by providing worthwhile information that deals with family...

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