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Animal Attraction: Help Your Pet Beat The Back To School Blues

by Stacy Fox

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Back-to-school season is an exciting time for the whole family, but it can be disruptive, stressful and even dangerous for pets. As backpacks are filled, lunches are packed and homework piles up, Petplan pet insurance reminds families that their four-legged friends could face some unusual health hazards during this transitional time.

While school supplies may not seem like drool-worthy after-school snacks to many pet parents, Petplan has seen more than one furry friend with scholarly taste end up in detention. A Goldendoodle who gorged on Gorilla Glue required more than $2,000 in veterinary treatment, while a bookwormish Boxer mix needed surgery to remove part of a volume he’d eaten, totaling more than $3,000 in vet bills.

“When household schedules change, it’s not uncommon for pets to become stressed, which may result in uncharacteristic behavior such as eating things they normally wouldn’t,” says Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan. “What might start out as a nuisance (a literal case of ‘the dog ate my homework’) can quickly turn into a trip to the emergency vet clinic, so keep any school projects and papers packed away – or at least out of reach of curious pets’ paws.”

Apart from developing an unusual appetite, additional signs that your pet is feeling stressed can range from bathroom accidents and compulsive licking, to excessive whining, meowing or barking. “If left untreated, stress can escalate into separation anxiety or self-destructive behavior. Sticking to a schedule – including routine mealtimes, bathroom breaks, exercise and even set bedtimes – can help pets feel more relaxed,” advises Dr. Benson.

To further help stressed pets ease back into the school year safely, take notes on these tips from Petplan:

Food for thought: Popular lunchbox favorites can prove perilous for pets. Grapes and raisins (including those baked into cookies!) can cause fatal kidney failure in dogs, while chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea and heart problems. According to Petplan, reimbursement for food poisoning claims average $480, and some pets need treatment exceeding $4,500. So keep backpacks and lunch bags off the floor, and stow snacks safely and securely.

After-school activities: Pets who suddenly find themselves alone for hours on end may experience separation anxiety or become bored, so give them fun things to do during the day. Select special toys to keep brains engaged, or hide food-stuffed treats around the house. Leave a radio on so the house isn’t completely quiet, and consider doggy day care a few days a week if it fits your family budget. Socializing with other four-legged friends can perk up even the poutiest pooch!

Class is in session! Physical exercise is important, but pets can benefit from mental exercise, as well. Pick a new trick or two to teach your furry friend, and have the whole family work together on training him. If your pet is athletic, consider enrolling in an obedience or agility class. Your pet will enjoy the stimulation of learning something new, and the whole family will benefit from the additional time spent bonding together.

Continue your pet health education by checking out the Healthy Bytes section on