Managing a beloved pet's chronic or terminal disease can be stressful.  Our science blog is 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.



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.” 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 veterinarian and the pet.


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.


Recent Posts



Am I a Burdened Caregiver?

“I love my pet. Why am I so stressed out?” If you’ve made a decision to provide care for your cat with renal failure, or manage your dog’s diabetes—you’ve made a choice that not every pet owner makes. You have chosen caregiving over euthanasia. A common reaction from pet caregivers when the topic of burden comes up is, “I love my Rover, and I want to take care of him!” Research shows that making the choice to provide care to a sick loved one may give a person a sense of purpose, a greater appreciation for their own strengths, and an opportunity to practice patience and tolerance. And as long as a pet has a good quality of life, the choice to provide care for a pet rather than euthanize is a

How It Began: Allo's Story

The phone rang--it was my mother. “Harry passed away.” Harry was a family friend, familiar from my early childhood, part of a core group within my parents’ circle. In later years, Harry was almost like an uncle, often present at the dinner table on major holidays. He was quick-humored but a little odd, and had a penchant for paisley shirts and large rings. He was an artist who was quiet about his work, though he loved to share it with those who appreciated it. “Allo needs a home--do you know anyone who wants a dog?” I knew Harry had loved his dog, a 55 pound Eskimo dog mixed with Treeing Walker Coonhound, somehow crossed with Corgi. Allo was an old dog, a fluffy, auburn girl with stubby legs



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 empirically-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!


Mary Beth Spitznagel, PhD has a degree in clinical psychology from Ohio University (2003) and postdoctoral fellowship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University (2005). 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, Cushing's disease, and cognitive dysfunction, she expanded her research to focus on how caregiver burden affects pet owners. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Kent State University.     Photo credit:  John Akamatsu


Mark Carlson, DVM completed his degree at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983. He practices at Stow Kent Animal Hospital, where he is Chief of Surgery. With more than 100,000 patient visits over the course of his 30+ years of experience, Dr. Carlson's extensive clinical expertise helps ensure our study of pet caregiver burden is relevant to the veterinarian and pet owner.    Photo credit:  Stow Kent Animal Hospital


Dana Jacobson, DVM graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. After more than 10 years as a general practitioner, she transitioned to her current position in emergency medicine at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital. With a background in both general and emergency practice, she is familiar with the acute and chronic issues faced by pet owners. She brings this broad perspective on veterinary client caregiver burden to our research team.   Photo credit: Michael Cinotti

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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