Fall 2018

What Weighs Heaviest?

Caregivers of dogs with heart disease are stressed most by worry.

By Francis Storrs

Looking after a human loved one with heart disease takes a significant toll on a caregiver’s quality of life. And that’s also true when the loved one is a dog, according to a new Cummings School study co-authored by professors Lisa Freeman, J86, V91, NG96, and John E. Rush. It makes sense. Dogs with congestive heart failure, for example, may urinate excessively and require frequent trips to the vet, which can cost owners money, sick time at work, and more. But which of the seven stressors covered by the study, slated for publication in the journal Anthrozoos, have the strongest correlation with a decline in caregiver quality of life? Freeman and Rush determined it wasn’t disruptions to sleep, issues with medication, or even burdensome costs: It was the worry about the dog’s condition. “This study,” Freeman said, “is yet another indication of the strength of the bond between caregivers and their pets.”

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