CLOSE
iStock
iStock

Caring for a Sick Animal Can Lead to Anxiety and Depression, Study Finds

iStock
iStock

It’s widely known that tending to a sick loved one can lead to physical and emotional stress, a phenomenon known as caregiver burden. But as CNN reports, pet owners with ailing furry friends can also experience similar—but until recently, overlooked—feelings of tension, anxiety, and depression, according to a new study published in the journal Veterinary Record.

Researchers from Kent State University, Stow Kent Animal Hospital, and Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital in Akron, Ohio conducted the study, which involved 238 pet owners recruited through social media, along with their dogs or cats. The participants were split into two equal groups, one containing members who owned animals with chronic or terminal diseases and the other with members whose pets were healthy.

The researchers used questionnaires and testing scales to measure each pet owner's quality of life, their levels of stress and caregiver burden, and signs of anxiety and depression. These metrics were mostly borrowed from real-life studies on human caregiving relationships, save for an additional questionnaire that measured how well each pet owner adhered to his or her vet’s prescribed caretaking regime. (Owners with healthy pets could answer N/A to these.)

After analyzing the results, the researchers learned that pet owners with sick pets had higher levels of caregiver burden and stress, along with a lower quality of life. They also exhibited more symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Scientists have conducted little scientific research on the physical and emotional drawbacks of tending to a sick pet—which is why the study’s lead author, Mary Beth Spitznagel, whose own dog suffered from both Cushing's disease and cancer, decided to investigate the prospective effects. She claims that it’s the first study to take a close look at pet caregiver burden, and at pet owners' psychological experiences during this tough time.

"It turns out that the effects of caregiving for a sick pet—burden, stress, anxiety, depression, low quality of life—are in many ways similar to what we see in a person caring for a sick family member, for example, a parent with dementia," Spitznagel said in a news release. "In the case of this study, burden is at a high enough level that for some people, it could be causing symptoms of anxiety and, more likely, depression."

"There is a ton of research and support for those who care for humans, but virtually none for pet caregivers, even though 85 percent of pet caregivers consider their pets members of their families," Spitznagel added.

If you’re dealing with a sick or dying pet, Spitznagel says it’s OK to let yourself feel stressed out, acknowledge the toll it’s taking on you, and enlist friends or family members for support when you’re in need of a break.

[h/t CNN]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Amazon Is Offering Free Same-Day Shipping to Prime Customers for the Holidays
iStock
iStock

The holidays are arriving early for Amazon Prime customers—along with every gift they’ve yet to order through the online shopping behemoth. Amazon has put all of its Prime members on the “Nice” list this year, and is rewarding them with free same-day shipping from now through Christmas Eve. While that may be cutting it a little too close for some shoppers, the limited-time perk has perpetual procrastinators singing “Joy to the World.”

“We are continually investing in Prime, adding more selection and making delivery faster and more convenient,” Greg Greeley, Amazon Prime’s VP, said in a statement. “In fact, in 2016, the last Prime Free Same-Day order from Amazon.com delivered in time for Christmas was ordered at 10:23 a.m. on Christmas Eve. The order included Venum Contender Boxing Gloves, and was delivered to a Prime member in Richmond, Virginia at 2:42 p.m.—the very same day, for free.

(Whoever received those boxing gloves last year: now you know.)

This year’s holiday shipping schedule will allow gift-givers to push that deadline even further. While two-day shipping is always free for Prime customers, if that were the only option, they’d have to be done buying all their gifts by Friday, December 22. This year’s shipping perk means that you can push your shopping all the way to Christmas Eve, as long as you live in one of Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery zones (you just have to order by 9:30 a.m.). Even better: If Prime Now is available in your area, you have until 9:14 p.m. on December 24 to place your order and still have something fabulous to stick under the Christmas tree.

Of course, zero-dollar shipping costs are far from the $99 service’s only perk: unlimited streaming of Prime Video movies and TV shows—including Amazon-produced series like The Man in High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, One Mississippi, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—is there for the bingeing. Free Kindle books, photo storage, and grocery delivery are among Prime’s many other benefits.

Not a Prime member? No problem! “Even if you are not currently a member, holiday shoppers can try Prime for free for 30 days and get two-day, one-day, and same-day shipping for free,” says Greeley.

It’s hard to argue with free.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
iStock
iStock

It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


WalletHub

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios