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Sending Your Kid to College with a Senior Pet: Easing the Transition

Aug 11, 2023

Going back to school can bring significant changes for our pets when the kids in the home head off to college. Discover ways to ease this transition for everyone involved.

Before Your Scholar Leaves for College

Before your scholar heads off to college, have an open discussion about how they’d like to stay connected with their pets. Initially, they might prefer regular texts or video feeds to see their beloved pet. Consider investing in a budget-friendly video camera if you don’t have one already.

Continue the comforts the pet enjoyed with your kid at home. If your cat used to sleep on their bed, can it now find comfort on or near yours? Does your pet have a favorite spot even when your kid isn’t home? Also, if your kid used to walk the dog in the afternoon, consider hiring a dog walker to maintain that routine.

Consider providing a surrogate companion of your pet, such as a stuffed animal resembling their pet or one with recorded sounds like your cat’s purr or your dog’s bark. Etsy offers various options for such comforting alternatives.

If You’re Considering Taking the Pet to College

If you’re contemplating whether the pet should go with your scholar to college, there are important aspects to consider:

  • Check if pets are allowed where your kid will be living. While some might share stories of successfully hiding a pet from a landlord, such situations can be stressful for the pet and inconvenient if relocation becomes necessary.
  • Evaluate whether the pet is likely to be happier staying with your kid or remaining in your home. Unless the pet spends most of its time with your kid, it might find more comfort in familiar surroundings.
  • Assess the presence of other pets in your young adults’s residence and their compatibility. Limited time for proper introductions and confined spaces can make cohabitation challenging.

Helping Your Scholar Maintain a Connection to Pets

Explore options for your young adult to get their “fur fix” while their pets remain at home:

  • Inquire about comfort animal visits on campus, particularly during high-stress periods like move-in, mid-terms, and finals.
  • Suggest volunteering at a local rescue or shelter. Many veterinarians can attest that assisting homeless pets offered a welcome study break in college.
  • Plan visits home whenever feasible. For pets that enjoy car rides or home comforts, having their two-legged siblings visit can be a heartwarming treat.

Wishing Your Scholar a Successful School Year

As your scholar embarks on this new chapter, we wish them a successful school year and a smooth transition to a slightly less full nest.

Written by: Dr. Kerry Muhovich, Caring Pathways Veterinarian

Dr. Muhovich is a graduate of Colorado State University veterinary school. She has worked in various areas of veterinary medicine, including shelter medicine, animal behavior, general practice, teaching techs, and end of life care. She has found her career home in end of life care. Dr. Muhovich is certified in canine rehabilitation, fear free, and low stress handling.

Dr. Muhovich loves serving her clients and patients in the comfort of their homes. She loves all cats and dogs, and is honored to help pets in need.

Mandi Browning
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