EXPERTS have revealed how pets can suffer from ‘back to school blues’ when youngsters in their household return to full-time education.

Pet care experts say when pupils go back to school, cats and dogs are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety, which can result in a change in their animal's behaviour at the end of summer holidays.

A study by Pets at Home Poole revealed more than four in 10 children admitted to having more fun with their pet than they do with their friends or siblings, with more than half of children surveyed spending more than an hour interacting with their furry friend each day.

The results also discovered that a third of children are unhappy when spending time away from their pet, and one in ten were noticeably upset while apart from them.

Carolyn Mentheith, an expert in dog training and behaviour, said: “The main problem with the end of the holidays is that very often the dog will have had 24/7 company as the family are all at home - and then suddenly everyone vanishes and the dog is left home alone. This is especially a problem for people who choose to get puppies during the holidays and at a time when they have time to devote to their new arrival.

“While it's great to get a puppy in the holidays while you have time to devote to them, part of that time has to be spent slowly and gradually teaching them that it's safe to be alone.”

Colin Nicholson, store manager at Pets at Home Poole, has developed five top tips to help pets cope with ‘back to school blues’.

Keep all arrivals and departures low-key. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your pet for the first few minutes, and then calmly stroke them. This may be hard for you to do, but it's important

Lessen the feeling of loss by leaving behind an item of clothing in their bed as having your scent around will help your pet relax

Leave the TV or radio on to reassure the pet that someone is at home

Where possible, try to play with your cat or walk your dog before you leave so they will be more inclined to sleep while you are away

Don’t punish bad behaviour, such as chewing the furniture, and make sure they have enough toys around to keep them entertained