People with ill pets may have higher depression risk

People with ill pets may have higher depression risk

If you own a seriously ill pet, you may be more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety. This is the finding of a recent study published in Veterinary Record.

Caregiver burden is a response to problems encountered while giving informal care for a sick family member.

For example, if a family has a stroke patient or a dementia patient, people who take care of them may feel heavy burden.

But the caregiver burden is not limited to human family members. When a dog or cat pet get illness, the owner may feel the same stress.

In this new study, researchers compared 119 owners of an animal pet diagnosed with a chronic or terminal disease with 119 owners of healthy pets.

Researchers tested symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in all the pet owners. They found that owners of seriously ill pets had greater burden, stress and more symptoms of depression and anxiety.

These owners also had poorer quality of life and lower psychological functioning. The researchers suggest that veterinarians should provide tailored treatment that can recognize which clients are distressed.

Future research is needed to better understand risks for caregiver burden in the client, how this might be reduced, and how it impacts veterinarian wellbeing.

Tips to keep your pet healthy at home:

Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Like humans, being overweight or underweight can harm animal’s health. If this happens to your pet, you should make a plan to help it achieve a healthy weight.

Exercise your pet regularly and frequently.

Feed your pet a balanced, nutritious diet.

Vaccinate your pet against potentially deadly diseases such as distemper, parvo, panleukopenia and rabies.

Have your veterinarian examine your pet at least once a year to make sure your pet is healthy and to help detect problems earlier.

Make sure your pet is free of parasites (fleas and ticks, heartworm, etc.). Consult your veterinarian for the best product for your pet.

Spay or neuter your pet.