Here at Kalmpets, we spend a lot of time going on and on about making sure that our furry friends mental health is good, but one thing that we rarely acknowledge outside of our individual consultations is the toll that our pets well-being can take on our own mental health.
Our clients often come to us feeling distressed and distraught that their pet is suffering, but it is also important to note that they themselves are also suffering. Certainly, a lot of our cases are very difficult, for example, dogs who are acting “aggressively” towards other dogs or people. Our clients often feel embarrassed, helpless, or very worried and stressed that their pet is going to cause harm to another being.
It is incredibly important to know that it is very rare for a client to “cause” their dog to have anxiety. Sure we may contribute to it, but in most cases, pets have to be genetically predisposed to get anxiety in the first place. For example, consider me and my fiancé – he absolutely loves surfing and going swimming. If he got bitten by a shark whilst surfing I bet that he would still be back out in the water the day after his stitches came out. I, on the other hand, am too afraid of sharks to go in the water at all, even though I have never even seen a shark. You can see that I am genetically predisposed to be a bit worried about things, and he isn’t. Therefore I could never absolutely cause him to become anxious about sharks.
Having a pet with anxiety makes life tricky for their owners. They need to always consider all sorts of things, ranging from leaving their pet alone, thunderstorms, or meeting unfamiliar people or pets. This can be incredibly draining for owners – after all, we all get a pet with the ultimate aim of living a happy and fulfilled life together.
It is so important for us to support owners of pets with mental health problems. There should be no judgment passed, we should simply be asking them “how can I help you?”.
And to all of the owners of worried pets, we absolutely salute you. We know that you have been dealt a very tough hand and we applaud the commitment that you have made to your furry family. We congratulate you on recognizing that your pet is suffering, and on the steps that you are taking to help ease that suffering. But most of all on behalf of your pets we raise a toast to you for the countless seconds, minutes, and hours that you spend thinking about how you can make their life happier.
We are not just about pets – we care about their humans too 🙂
Dr Anna Sim