How Your Problems Affect Your Pets
Could your personal difficulties be putting your pet at risk?

How obesity, disruptive home environments, smoking and depression could be damaging your pet, and how you can help them.

OBESITY Being obese has an obvious negative impact on pets. Due to shared lifestyles, it’s common for an overweight owner to raise an overweight pet.

Excess weight carried by cats and dogs places too much demand on vital organs. This can lead to disease and serious health risks including diabetes, joint and ligament damage, heart disease, difficulty breathing and decreased stamina.

Unfortunately, if the animal needs treatment for obesity-related complications, they will have increased surgical and anaesthetic risks, and may not be given the go ahead until they have lost weight.

It is therefore vital to make sure your pet is being fed the recommended daily nutritional allowance, and given enough exercise for their particular breed. A little research goes a long way.


If you know that there is to be a domestic upheaval or change coming up – such as moving house or a relationship break-up – take measures to keep things as calm and as nondisruptive as possible. Keep on top of your pet’s usual routine, shower them with the same levels of affection and attention and perhaps invest in some calming plug-in air fresheners that are designed to help keep stress levels low.

SMOKING Second-hand smoke affects animals as well as humans. Health risks range from respiratory problems to nasal and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats.

Their oral tissues become exposed to hazardous amounts of carcinogens that lie in the air and on our clothes, hair and furniture.

Birds’ respiratory systems are also hypersensitive to air-born pollutants (think of those canaries once used in mines). They can develop pneumonia and lung cancer as well as developing eye, skin, heart and fertility problems from living in a smoker’s home.


You can help minimise the negative effects by smoking outside, changing clothes and washing after smoking or before touching your pet, using a high-quality air purifier for excess toxins, and disposing cigarettes butts out of reach of pets.

DEPRESSION Firstly, it is important to point out that depression is not contagious, as some would have you believe, and our mental health issues do not have a negative effect on our pet’s behaviour.

However, sometimes when we are dealing with our own problems we may neglect the needs of our pet. Try to keep up with your pet’s usual daily routines and needs and give them the same interaction as best you can in the circumstances.

For instance, if you have a dog and the thought of giving it its usual walk is causing you anxiety today, just attempt a short stroll or play fetch indoors for longer.

If your pet is exhibiting signs of stress or anxiety themselves, such as attention seeking or self-soothing behaviour (excessive paw licking, grooming, furniture chewing) take them to the vet to see if there are any underlying problems that need inspecting.