Caring for a Sick Pet Can Harm Your Mental Health
Caregiving for a loved one or family member, though often rewarding, can be extremely stressful and take a toll on mental health. The same is true for caregivers of a chronically ill pet, according to a new study. Results of the study were recently published in Veterinary Record.
For the study, researchers from Kent State University in Ohio examined the link between caregiver burden in 119 owners of pets diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness and veterinarians who care for these animals and anxiety and depression. The same number of owners of healthy pets were used as study controls.
The research team assessed levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as the study participants’ quality of life using a version of the Zarit Burden Interview – a questionnaire typically used to evaluate caregiver burden in those who care for the elderly. They discovered that owners of sick cats and dogs are exposed to high levels of stress and experience higher than normal rates of anxiety and depression and a lower quality of life.