Pets and Back to School Blues

As soon as summer begins, it seems to end. School is back in session at least for the most part normal. The thought of school beginning can be distressing to children, but it can also be a difficult time for pets. After two months of frequent play and exercise with the kids, suddenly, they go back to school. Pets can understandably feel lonely, abandoned and sad. With nothing to do, dogs and even cats may find destructive ways to entertain themselves. Some dogs can become depressed or may suffer from separation anxiety.

If we recognize the potential for these problems early on, there are some things we can do to help with stress and behavioral problems in some of our pets.

  1. Avoid sudden changes in their daily routine. Slowly start a new routine 1 to 2 weeks before school starts. Begin by introducing your dog to short periods of separation and begin increasing the time that you are away.
  2. Make departures happy with toys and treats. The idea is to transform a potentially sad event into a happier, less stressful one. Kong toys filled with frozen peanut butter or filled with food can distract a dog for 15 to 30 minutes after you depart. For cats there are DIY treats easy to help keep their mind distracted. (Pinterest and YouTube have a number of great ideas)
  3. Create a place where your pet can feel safe and secure. This could be a den-like environment or an enclosed open crate in a quiet area of the house. For cats it could include a new cat tree with a view to the outdoors.
  4. Avoid indulging anxious or nervous behavior with baby talk or sympathy. This only encourages or reinforces that behavior.
  5. Make additional time for play or walks one to two weeks before school starts. Consider adding an additional walk at night and or going for a walk in the morning before leaving. Brushing your dog or practicing tricks before you leave is another way of engaging them for a short period of time before the day begins.
  6. Cats tend to be more self-sufficient than dogs and can have less depression and anxiety when school begins and schedules change. Still, many cats enjoy an additional brushing or extra play sessions.
  7. Punishing or scolding anxious or distractive behavior will only make it worse. If your pet is having difficulty, consult with your veterinarian about other available options.


SEPTEMBER 20th -26th 2020

Deaf Dog Awareness Week is the last full week of every September. It’s estimated there are about 35,000 dogs in the United States who are deaf in both ears. Dogs who are deaf in just one ear are more common, about 120,000.

More than 30 breeds of dogs have a known susceptibility for deafness. Some of those breeds include Australian shepherd, Boston terrier, cocker spaniel, Dalmatian, German shepherd, Jack Russell terrier, Maltese, toy and miniature poodle, and West Highland white terrier.

In most of these dogs, the deafness is hereditary. And for nearly all, it is associated with piebald or merle coat patterns. (Merle is a pattern in a dog’s coat. Merle comes in different colors and patterns. The merle gene creates mottled patches of color in a solid or piebald coat, blue or odd-colored eyes, and can affect skin pigment as well.) So, almost any dog with white in its fur or any “blue” dog is at least more likely to be deaf.

The Deaf Dog Education Fund says, “The most common cause of congenital deafness is pigment-related. If there is unpigmented skin in the inner ear, the nerve endings atrophy and die off in the first few weeks of the puppy’s life, resulting in deafness.” Click here to learn more:


Other than the loss of hearing, deaf dogs behave normally. They make all the regular sounds just like hearing dogs. Dogs who lose their hear or are born deaf, are also fully trainable, social, and eager to please. Trainers give commands using sign language. As with hearing dogs, hand signals are an effective training tool.

Since they cannot hear cars or other dangers approaching, a deaf dog should never be allowed to roam freely outdoors. Owners should provide a secure fenced enclosure instead. In some cases, electronic signaling devices are used to communicate with the dog.


Why is Deaf Dog Awareness Week celebrated this week? It’s because this week is both National Dog Awareness Week and Deaf Awareness Week.

We would like to leave you with some tip on being the best pet parents you can be. It is our goal at Keystone Animal Hospital to help inform and educate all pet owners to the best of our knowledge. There is NEVER a “dumb” question!! We are always here to help answer all your questions and help provide for your needs.

  1. Keep your pet at a healthy weight.
  2. Exercise your pet.
  3. Feed your pet a balanced, nutritious diet.
  4. Have your veterinarian examine your pet at least once a year  to make sure your pet is healthy and to help detect problems earlier.
  5. Vaccinate your pet against potentially deadly diseases such as distemperparvopanleukopenia and rabies.
  6. Keep your pet free of parasites (fleas and ticksheartworm, etc.) – consult your veterinarian for the best product for your pet.
  7. Spay or neuter your pet.

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