Owners Of Sick Pets More Prone To Anxiety & Depression

A pet is not some random animal running around your house, it’s a loving member of your family. Science has already confirmed that pets have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing.

They make us happier and healthier. That’s why we hate to see our pet sick or struggling with some severe health condition.

In these cases, we suffer too. In fact, owners of sick pets are more prone to depression and anxiety, according to the latest study. Keep reading to find out more.

Pet Owners And Their Health

Pet owners consider their animal companions proper family members and previous studies discovered that veterinarians are exposed to the same level of stress as other healthcare professionals.

Bearing these facts in mind, Dr. Mary Beth Spitznagel and a team of scientists at the Kent State University in Ohio carried out a study whose primary goal was to assess caregiver burden and psychological function among pet owners.

More precisely, researchers inspected the relationship between pet’s terminal illness and its impact on the risk of depression or anxiety in an owner.

In order to find the answers on this interesting subject, the study enrolled 238 owners of a dog or cat. Of these, 119 owners had a dog or a cat with a terminal or chronic illness while the remaining 119 were owners of healthy controls.

For the purpose of the study, scientists compared the psychological state of owners whose pets are sick to owners whose furry friends are healthy. Also, participants were matched according to different parameters including age, sex, and species of their pets.

The journal Veterinary Record[1] published results of the study which revealed that owners of animals with chronic or terminal illness were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Also, they were more likely to have a poorer quality of life compared to participants with healthy pets.

Sick Pet = More Stress

Expectedly, the study found[2] that owners of terminally or chronically ill dogs and cats were exposed to high levels of stress. The discovery only depicts the bond between humans and animals.

It is not easy to see the animal companion, four-legged friend, suffering and you’re not able to help him/her and take the pain away. When you spend years with a pet, it’s not surprising that their illness or weak physical state also influence your own psychological wellbeing.

Scientists also discovered that a sick pet and stressed owner also have a negative impact on vets[3].

In cases when depressed or stressed pet owners have a hard time separating their distress from the vital veterinary attention the consequence of such behaviour is service overutilization. Also, veterinarian ends up working longer hours and his/her stress levels increase* at the same time.

Coping With Sick Pet

If your pet is diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness, the most important thing to do is to listen carefully to veterinarian’s recommendations about treatment options. He/she will also inform you about different management techniques you can do at home to help your pet.

Always bear in mind that a veterinarian is a professional who deals with these cases all day and he/she recommends the best approach.

Tweaking treatment options or trying some alternative methods without consulting the pet’s healthcare provider is irresponsible and counterproductive.

Make sure you get informed about the condition, its causes, symptoms, and other facts. The more you know, the better you will understand the unique needs of your pet.


The latest study showed that owners whose pets are terminally or chronically ill are more prone to stress, anxiety, depression, and lower quality of life than people with healthy pets.

This is entirely understandable if we bear in mind that our pets are like a family to us and we don’t want to face the truth they are sick.

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