Dealing with Pets During Army Deployments

Getting pets to deal with deployments can sometimes be even more difficult than dealing with kids. Pets will also show their emotions and they will react when someone disappears from their daily routine. Please note, I am not a veterinarian…if your pets have problems that continue, please get them the appropriate medical attention.

Things that I, as well as friends, have noticed during deployments
Cats will sometimes quit using their litter box when there are changes in the household including someone being gone. Generally, they will soil a specific area. The simplest solution to this is to move the litter box to where the cat is using the bathroom. The problem with this is if your cat has decided to use the bathroom in the middle of the living room floor. However, you should be able to slowly move the box back to its original location.

Cats can also begin to shed their hair or lick themselves to the point of losing their hair when they are stressed. It is best to try to distract the cat when this happens and spend as much time as possible with them.

If your husband usually walks your dog, begin walking the dog together and then transition to you walking the dog alone before your husband leaves. Be sure to keep to the same routine as much as possible.

Pets will sometimes ignore your husband when he returns from deployment. This is usually truer with cats than it is for dogs. There is no real way to deal with this other than for your husband to try to spend as much time with the pet as possible.

Keep routines as close to normal as possible. If you go to the park on Saturdays with the dog when he is here, try to keep that up. If the cats are fed at 5am, stay with that routine. If they are always allowed to sleep in your bedroom, don’t start locking them out when he’s gone.

Pay attention to their behaviors and spend extra time with them. It’s a little harder to explain deployments to pets. I’ve heard of others who played audio tapes or video tapes of their soldier for their pets. They swear it helps – any thing is worth a shot.

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Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this article,

    my husband and I own a Husky who is practically our child, and with an upcoming deployment I was so worried about how she would react, this article really helped us, thank you so much

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