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 Sunday, June 24th, 2018
House Pets with Sandy Robins
Features   |   On The House Show and Tell   |   House Pets with Sandy Robins  

August 24, 2013

Empty Nest Pets

As kids across America go back to school or head off to college, bringing to an end weeks of summer fun and increased activities in the home, it’s not only parents who suffer from empty nest syndrome

According to Professor Nicholas Dodman, director of the small animal behavior clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, MA at least one in 6 dogs will have exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety or display increased levels if they are already prone to the condition, along with a countless number of cats.

“Dogs and cats that enjoy human interaction and affection can become psychologically unglued especially if their best human friend in the household happens to be one of the kids and suddenly that person “disappears” and goes off to college. It definitely leaves a void in the pet’s lifestyle,” explains Dodman. “The same applies when kids go back to school and suddenly their lives are so filled with extra mural activities that they no longer have the same amount of time for fun that includes the family pet.”

“Cats don't display their feelings as outwardly as dogs do,” adds Dodman. “So often their anxiety and depression flies under the radar and their people don’t really notice. But it can be an anxious time for a cat too.”

Another very obvious symptom that affects both dogs and cats is reduced appetite and sometimes a complete loss of appetite.

“They are simply too upset and too anxious to eat,” explains Dodman.

When it comes to cats, they may not come to greet people, if this is their usual modus operandi, and lie and sleep a lot more. Some can also begin grooming excessively, pulling out chunks of fur until their skin is raw.

Family pets can also pick up on parents’ emotions too.

Exercise is another fix recommended by veterinarians. Make sure your dog has enough exercise for its breed and that typically amounts to an hour a day of outdoor cardio vascular activity such as chasing and running that allows the dog to blow of steam. It’s also great for a dog’s mental enrichment.

From a feline standpoint, cats will benefit from between 30-40 minutes of exercise a day prompted by chasing laser beams, interaction with wand-type toys and a variety of batteries operated activities that hone their hunting skills and give both mental and physical enrichment. Behaviorists point out that the exercise can be broken up into ten-minute stints.

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