Back to School Pet Tips  | PetFirst
Back to School Pet Safety Tips 
Pet Care & Health

Back to School Pet Tips 

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
2 years ago

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit and do best when they have a routine to follow

After a summer of playing ball, swimming, catching fireflies and getting tons of attention from their favorite family members, your fur kid may feel abandoned when they head back to school.  This sudden and upsetting change to your pet’s schedule may cause him to develop bad habits: eating too much, not wanting to eat at all or eating strange objects such as plants, dirt, toys or clothing (which could result in an emergency veterinary visit). 

Now is the PURRfect time for adults to give your four-legged family members some extra attention and bone-up on their Pet First-Aid skills because no matter how hard you try…life happens!   

In addition, keep a few things in mind to help your pet adjust and stay safe:  

Ease into the Separation & Check the Perimeter 

If there is still time, ease your pets into the separation they will be experiencing.  Have the kids leave in the morning for summer camp or enroll in an art class, so that their furry playmates can start adjusting to spending more time alone.  

This is a great time to make sure you have been keeping your backyard dog-friendly.  If your pooch uses a doggie door, check it is working properly.  Look for loose boards in the fence or places where a dog, left alone, can dig under or jump over, and shore them up.  Be sure yard and household dangers (i.e. cleaners, fertilizer, pool chemicals) are stowed out of paws & claws reach.  A bored pet will find trouble, so make sure doors and cabinets remain securely latched.    

Stick to a Routine 

Most of us perform better when we know the routine.  Dogs and cats are no exception, so establish a schedule and stick to it.  What time do we get up?  Who lets the dog out and when?  When is doggie or kitty breakfast served? What time are walks?  Making a plan and following it will help pets adjust to change.    

The School Bus 

Two schools of thought, so choose wisely knowing your personal situation: 

1) Keep pets confined when kids head to school.  If you drive them, don’t take your dog with you unless you are double-dog sure he won’t be out of your sight. Canines are smart, so they may also sneak out of the house and attempt the journey on their own after drop-off or another day following, becoming lost or injured along the way.    

2) If you accompany your children to the bus stop or school, bringing Fido along, on-leash, this may tire him out and give him a job of seeing his favorite humans arrive safely at their destination.   

Backpack & Lunchboxes 

More pets ingest poison when kids head back to school, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).  To prevent CATastrophes, teach kids to place backpacks in a specially designated spot out of paws reach. 

Dogs who help themselves to what might be inside could choke or get poisoned!  Gum containing xylitol and boxes of raisins can be deadly to pets, while APCC gets calls regarding albuterol inhalers for asthma, ADHD medications (which often contain amphetamines), and even over the counter pain and tummy meds that have been consumed by dogs. 

Keep in mind also, that toys like fidget spinners, action figures, and balls, not to mention erasers, loose change, even paper clips, are all hazardous if swallowed while rummaging through a backpack for something tasty.    

Lunchboxes are another concern as they may contain leftovers that are not pet-friendly, including the gel ice pack used to keep food items cold.  Knowing what people foods to avoid could be a life-saver for your cat or dog!  Teach kids and remind adults to place leftovers in a covered trash can, or at least far back on a countertop to prevent dogs from getting the goods.  If you have a cat, countertops are fair game!   


A new school year means new friends who your son or daughter will invite over for a sleepover or to do homework.  Guests must be kindly provided rules about the family dog or cat:  how to approach safelywhat to feed and not to feed, and to make sure doors are closed.   

On the other paw, if your cat or dog appears bored, consider adopting a second pet.  It will be up to you, the adult, to do proper introductions and provide the necessary supervision and training. Having a duo will allow your pets to play and exercise together, and will give you a break from time to time on having to be sure they are not too bored. 

Exercise & Activities 

Have dogs entertain themselves with interactive toys or toys filled with low calorie treats.  Give your cat an electronic mouse, an empty box or ping pong ball for hours of fun.  Just supervise for safety’s sake.  Nothing is indestructible!  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!  

Going Back to School  

If mom or dad is experiencing a bit of the empty nest syndrome, get over it by spending time with the family pet. A tired dog is a good dog, so emBARK on an exercise and training program together.  Refresh obedience commands, cats too!  “Stay” and “leave it” may save a canine or feline life.  

Quality Time Together 

Love and attention are a bow-wow-wondeRUFFul thing, so when school is outtraining and exercise done for the day, get the whole family down on all fours or let your furry loved ones curl in your lap, and enjoy the quality time together. 

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets throughout their lives. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 can help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget. Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today. 



1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.

Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught 20,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes and books.  Learn more at 

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