SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Pets that have spent more time with a family during summer can get separation anxiety as children prepare to go back to school, a U.S. veterinarian says.
Bill Craig, a doctor of veterinary medicine and chief medical director of PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance, says dogs and cats suffering from post-summer stress can exhibit a wide range of abnormal behaviors that include:
-- Hyper-salivation or drooling.
-- Soiling the pet owner's belongings.
-- Chewing or scratching at doors.
-- Non-stop howling, barking, meowing.
-- Compulsive grooming or licking.
-- Tearing up furniture or pushing items off counters.
"Dogs are naturally social animals and especially sensitive to loneliness this time of year," Craig says in a statement. "The family fills the role of 'the pack' and in their absence; dogs can feel abandoned and become quite destructive."
To prepare pets for fall, Craig advises to wean pets into a new schedule through positive reinforcement, with praise and treats for appropriate behavior but no punishment for bad behavior related to anxiety because it will only reinforce the stress.
Create a pet safe haven -- a well-lit area where the "pack" normally gathers -- keep the TV or radio on, leave plenty of toys and old clothing containing the scents of family members, Craig says.