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Managing a pet's chronic or terminal disease can be stressful.  Our lab and science blog are dedicated to helping pet owners and veterinarians understand this stress, and finding ways to reduce it, so that people can make the most of their time with their pet.

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We love our four-legged family members because they bring so much to our lives:  love and affection, constant companionship, they even improve our health.

But what happens when our pets become sick?


Pets can live happy lives for months or even years after the diagnosis of a chronic or terminal disease. But no matter how much we love our pets, providing care when they are sick can take a toll on the owner— “pet caregiver burden.” Working with owners in distress can, in turn, cause stress for veterinary teams. is dedicated to the science of caregiver burden in the pet owner, and the understanding of how the owner's experience impacts others, including the pet and veterinary healthcare team.


Our team is based in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Kent State University. With backgrounds in clinical psychology and veterinary medicine, our team's research aims to help people decrease the stress and make the most of the time remaining with their pet.

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Meet the team members at the heart of this research and blog. We come together from our backgrounds in clinical psychology and veterinary medicine to create an evidence-based resource for pet owners facing the challenges of providing care for a sick pet, and to help veterinarians better understand the experience of their clients. 


Learn more about the team here!

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Mary Beth Spitznagel, PhD, lab PI, has a degree in clinical psychology from Ohio University and postdoctoral fellowship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. With specialized training in neuropsychology, she began researching caregiver burden in family members of people with dementia. After providing care for her dog with transitional cell carcinoma and cognitive dysfunction, she expanded her research to focus on how caregiver burden affects pet owners -- and how stress in pet owners can lead to burnout for veterinary teams. She is a Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Kent State University.     

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Consulting veterinarian, Mark Carlson, DVM completed his degree at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He practices at Stow Kent Animal Hospital, where he is Chief of Surgery. With more than 100,000 patient visits over 30+ years of experience, Dr. Carlson's extensive clinical expertise helps ensure our study of pet caregiver burden remains relevant to the veterinarian and pet owner.    

Photo credit:  Stow Kent Animal Hospital



Kylie Gannon, BA graduated from Longwood University with a major in Psychology in 2022. Kylie is a graduate student in the Pet Caregiver Burden research lab at Kent State University. She is interested in the application of Acceptance and Commitment Training for alleviation of distress across populations, including individuals working in veterinary medicine and those struggling with chronic medical conditions. Kylie is shown here with the very good boy, Murphy. 

The information offered on this website does not constitute psychological or veterinary medical advice. Please consult with an appropriate professional who can make recommendations for your specific situation. 

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Are you interested in joining the lab, a member of the media, or interested in scheduling a speaking engagement? Contact us here!

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