The Care We Share

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Can a Pet Owner’s Addiction Create Stress for His Pet?

Original article written by Patrick Bailey.

No man is an island. Your words and actions have an influence on others, in either a positive or negative way. When you have an addiction, your actions will affect your family, friends, colleagues, and even your pets. Unfortunately, your furry friends aren’t immune to the negative effects of addiction on your life.

Addictions can change your emotions, personality, and behavior. These changes will not go unnoticed by your pet. Dogs, in particular, are quite susceptible to mood swings and personality disorders in their owners. A substance abuse problem can cause anxiety, stress, anger, confusion, or depression. Dogs have a way of picking up on these feelings and reacting to them in like fashion. If you’re stressed, your pet may show signs of stress. If you’re fearful, your pet may become fearful as well. In addition to being affected by your emotions, pets can feel the negative repercussions of your addiction through abuse and neglect.

How Addictions Affect Your Pet

When you’re addicted to alcohol or drugs, it’s easy to overlook your responsibilities to your pet. This leaves your pet in a precarious state as he obviously needs your attention and care. Addiction can affect pets in many ways:

The mental effects of addiction are often more profound on dogs than other types of pets due to the closer relationship people have with their canine companions.

In a non-addictive state, bonding with your pup can be extremely rewarding as you both benefit from mutual love and friendship. Your pup takes his cues from you when it comes to the way he perceives his surroundings. If you are happy, calm, and confident, he will feel safe and secure in his environment. If you’re nervous or fearful, your pup may feel threatened by his environment, which could lead to anxiety and aggression. According to a study by the Center for Canine Behavior, a dog’s “behavior problems,” i.e. fear, anxiety, aggression, can sometimes be triggered by their owner’s mental state. Here’s how your addiction can lead to mental distress in your pet.

Addiction and Mental Distress

Studies show that dogs can detect how you’re feeling and your feelings can affect their mental state of health. If you’re angry or upset, your pup can tell by your body language, tone of voice, and even facial expression. Your pup can also detect chemical changes in your body such as sweating when you’re anxious or afraid. He may not know what’s ailing you, but he can certainly tell that something’s wrong and you are not your “normal” self. By correlating the tone of your voice and body language to your actions, your pup could become wary or fearful of how you are going to react.

Alcohol and drug use causes changes in your personality and demeanor. If your pup has been around long enough, he can sense these changes. Over time, he may start to mirror the stress, tension, and fear you’re feeling in your addictive mental state. If you suffer from high stress levels, your pup will tend to have high stress levels as well. Your pup may bark or whine incessantly when you get drunk or high due to sensing the changes in your physical and psychological state. He may begin to associate the smell of drugs or alcohol with erratic feelings or behavior, causing him to become fearful or agitated when you drink or take drugs.

Addiction Can Lead to Pet Neglect

Substance abuse problems can lead to neglect of your pet. It’s difficult to keep up with your pet’s care if you’re constantly drunk or high on drugs. You may forget to feed your pet for days or fill his water bowl or even take him out for walks.

When you have an addiction, your only concern is yourself and getting the substances you need to avoid withdrawal symptoms. You may abandon your pet for days in pursuit of drugs, leaving him to suffer from hunger and thirst, and loneliness due to neglect. Your house will suffer from the messes your pet will make due to being stuck inside. You may even decide it’s not worth having a pet and turn him out to fend for himself. Imagine the stress and anxiety your pet will go through by being abandoned by the person he loves.

Addiction Can Lead to Pet Abuse

Addiction can lead to abuse of your pet as you’re not 100% in control of your faculties. You may strike your pet while in a drunken stupor or after taking drugs. You may not even remember being mean or abusive to your pet. The good news is that you don’t have to stay in your addictive state. You can overcome substance abuse problems through addiction treatment. Your pet will be forever thankful that you took steps toward recovery.

Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Pet during Recovery

Addiction changes everything in your life – your personality, emotions, behaviors, and routines. These changes can derail your pet. Your pet won’t understand what you’re going through or what he can do to get his old master back. The following steps can help your pet feel more secure as you undergo treatment to regain control of your life:

  • Take care of your health. Prioritize your health during treatment to help expedite your recovery. Good health will make it easier to care for your pet.
  • Maintain a routine with your pet. Pets feel more secure with a routine. Set regular times for meals, exercise, and play. If necessary, ask family or friends to help you keep this schedule while you’re undergoing treatment.
  • Continue training sessions for your pup. Your pup can benefit from the mental and physical stimulation that training sessions provide. Make sure your pup gets the positive reinforcement he needs during this time.
  • Don’t hold back on love and attention. Spend personal time with your pet, re-establishing your bond. Love and attention can help your pet overcome feelings of stress and anxiety and make him feel part of the family once again.

Your pet is worth fighting for. By doing your part to overcome addiction, you can win back his love and trust.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

Photo by Brad Halcrow on Unsplash

9 Best Ways to Ease Your Covid-19 Anxiety

Covering ways to relax and manage stress during pandemic and quarantine

Indefinite isolation from loved ones to prevent the spread of the coronavirus along with the cluelessness about what’s going to happen next have caused mental health crises for many people. As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge, Americans have experienced or are going through cases of anxiety or depression.

The global pandemic has made people deal with: 

  • Worry that comes with loss of income
  • Separation anxiety with loved ones
  • Fear falling ill
  • Fear being labeled from becoming sick
  • Suffering through boredom and isolation
  • Fear about not having food and other essentials

While it is entirely natural to experience anxiety during general uncertainty, it is essential to deal with it day by day to maintain your mental health. Here are 9 of the most effective methods to help you relax. 

Identify what triggers your anxiety

Anxiety can cause feelings of worry or fear which may result in panic attacks; thus, it is important to determine the source of your anxiety as it is the best way to deal with it. Do you experience anxiety because of health issues, skipping meals, negative thinking, conflict, or stress? 

To identify triggers, start journaling and write what causes your anxiety. If journaling doesn’t seem to work for you, consult with a therapist as they have other methods to identify the root cause of your anxiety. Further, relax and explore the different patterns in your past that are similar to what’s happening now. Analyze how these patterns affected you and how you overcame them. Through this method, you’ll have a better idea how to deal with the situation at hand.

Ask for help

Some people are too independent, and this makes them believe that they can do everything by themselves while others are afraid to ask for help because of fear of social stigma. They assume right away that others aren’t willing to help or are busy with their own lives, but as Dr. Wayne Baker said, “You never know what people know or who they know until you ask. Don’t prejudge the capabilities of the group. Just ask for what you really need.”

As such, don’t be the “do-it-yourselfer”. Ask another person about stockpiling food, converting your garage to an office, a trip you’ve been planning, or an influential person they know who can help with your business or work. When you’re afraid or have second thoughts, just remember what Dr. Baker said.

Communicate with your loved ones

Social distancing requires citizens to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean that you have to cut connections with your loved ones. Find ways to have a good chat with your neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, as well as with your loved ones whenever you have time. The most important thing is to reach out.

With the digital evolution, almost everything is possible. Use social media, text, phone calls, video calls or email to stay connected with your friends and family. Research has shown that positive social support offers you the power of resilience to stress.

Don’t deprive yourself of sleep

Ample sleep boosts your immune system, brain function, mood, and mental health. Following the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep as well as 10 to 20-minute naps reduce the risk of infection, promote complex thinking and decision-making, and increase your energy level which helps with overcoming depression.

To have a good night sleep, set your schedule which means setting your wake-up time, wind-down time, and bedtime. It is also essential to eat a healthy diet, avoid too much intake of alcohol and caffeine, get some sunlight, and meditate. And even if you can’t find a way to fall asleep, some good quiet time with no distractions, noises or bright lights will do.

Practice self management

Skipping self-care during this pandemic can have some unwanted effects that may interfere with your daily tasks such as emotions that are difficult to manage, feeling of hopelessness, and the inability to focus on daily activities. 

To avoid such from happening, engage in healthy practices including yoga, exercise, therapy, and meditation. These activities will help remove what’s blocking your mind and body, activating your free-flowing energy, which aids in concentration.

Listen to music

Music has been proven to relieve anxiety, ease depression, restore lost speech, lower blood pressure, and enhance concentration. It has a powerful soothing effect on your mind that helps you win over the invisible yet powerful novel coronavirus.

Different music has a purpose. If you’re in a blue mood, listen to upbeat music while performing exercises. If you’re trying to get some sleep, opt for quiet, melodic pieces with a slow beat. To reduce stress, look for slow music, but if you want to break the pain cycle, listen to lullaby-like selections. 

Stay up-to-date

News coverage related to Covid-19 is overwhelming; thus, some avoid keeping up to date with current events, but doing so means feeding your brain with fantasies that can, later on, escalate your anxiety. 

It is important then to find the few most valued sources of information that don’t increase your stress levels. You may try listening to podcasts and reading newsletters from reputable sources with solid reporting and nice storytelling without inflicting fear. The NPR One app, The Daily, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today are some reputable sources for your daily news.

Stop the shaming and blaming game

Toxic tongues can only worsen the situation during this pandemic. With the increase of survival anxiety in people, it has been a common thing for others to blame a particular group like the current administration or an old lady who uncontrollably coughs in front of others, or young people who stay out late. 

The heightening situation has compelled people to gather for protests, but doing so will only make the situation worse instead of solving it. Instead of putting the shame or blame on anyone, it would be best to stay positive and to unite with others to help those who are in need. This step, if done correctly, can end the global pandemic.

Adopt a pet

Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) mentioned that having a pet has many benefits including decreased blood pressure, decreased feelings of loneliness, increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, and increased opportunities for socialization. Pets are great listeners and innately sweet; they provide comedy relief and warm hugs.

For Seniors (Ages 60+): Pets can fulfill the lives of many senior citizens, long after the nest has become “empty”. Here an article from Sixty+Me that highlights the benefits pets bring to our elders. LINK: How Pets Can Benefit Older People

As such, people are adopting pets to deal with the loneliness of quarantine. In fact, pet adoptions in the United States are increasing and that shelters are running out of pets. If you’re looking for a companion who can make your day better, now is the best time to adopt a furry, warm non-human companion. After pet adoption, you might consider enrolling him in an affordable pet health plan that offers full coverage. This is to both keep you happy, not worrying about routine care or emergency veterinary treatment while enjoying each other’s company.

Photo by Vince Veras on Unsplash