MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Pet owners caring for seriously ill animals may be feeling an impact on their own health, similar to the burdens of caring for a human loved one.
Researchers call it the “caregiver burden” and it’s not unlike what people experience when taking care of a sick family member.
The team from Kent State University found stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression in owners of pets with chronic or terminal disease.
The compared 119 owners of an animal diagnosed with a chronic or terminal disease with 119 health controls blindly matched for owner age and sex and animal species.
Results showed greater burden, stress and clinically meaningful symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as poorer quality of life, in owners of animals with chronic or terminal disease. Higher burden was also related to poorer psychosocial functioning.
The authors say their findings “may help veterinarians understand and more effectively handle client distress in the context of managing the challenges of sick companion animal caregiving.”
The study was published Monday in Veterinary Record.