Anxious dog owners fear they are passing on their own health problems, including stress and depression, to their pets.
As many as one in seven feel they are guilty of making their pets suffer the same stress that blights their own life.
And one in ten owners believe they have passed on feelings of depression to their dog.
Certainly, many dog owners say they can spot signs of mental health problems in their animals.
In the last 12 months, two fifths of dog owners (42 per cent) believe their pets have developed conditions usually associated with their owners, such as stress, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
As many as one in seven owners feel they are guilty of making their pets suffer the same stress that blights their own life (stock photo)
Some believe they also effectively pass on physical problems such as obesity and heart disease.
A survey of more than 1,000 dog owners found that in the same way that children can be susceptible to mirroring their parents’ stresses, some owners think they are the ones to blame for their pets’ problems.
One in seven (13 per cent) believe they are guilty of passing on their anxiety to their dog, while one in ten think they have passed on their depression.
Stress within the home was listed as a cause for concern (12 per cent), as were arguments within the home (nine per cent).
Dogs that are stressed exhibit a host of symptoms such as excessively shedding their coats, pinning back their ears, diarrhoea, or destructive behaviours such as chewing the furniture.
To deal with the conditions suffered by their dogs, the majority of owners (57 per cent) sought professional medical advice from a vet and 16per cent asked for help from specialist animal psychological therapists.
Sarah Page-Jones, Head Vet at PawSquad, an online pet health consultation service, said: ‘As our human lives get busier and more complex, we may become distracted and stressed by our own schedules and, as a result, spend less time with our pets.
‘Pets often pick up on our stress and can become anxious when left alone, and this can affect their wellbeing.
One in seven (13 per cent) believe they are guilty of passing on their anxiety to their dog, while one in ten think they have passed on their depression (stock photo)
‘Although it’s not always appropriate to extrapolate human conditions directly to animals, it is becoming increasingly important to take time to understand our pets’ behaviours and act to reduce the risk of stress-related disease.
‘Many psychological and behavioural conditions are not covered by Pet Insurance policies; however, there are lots of practical online guides offering valuable advice for owners to help them take proactive steps to manage their pets’ mental health.’
Madeline Pike, a veterinary nurse at Direct Line Pet Insurance, who funded the study, said: ‘Pets are often relied on for comfort by their owners when they are upset or stressed. However, dogs are sensitive, emotionally intelligent animals that also respond to the environment around them.
‘We can rely on our dogs to cheer us up when we are feeling down. However, it is important we reciprocate this dependency by ensuring that the environment in the home is as positive as possible so we don’t negatively affect our dogs’ behaviour.’
As well as mental health problems, over a fifth of owners (22 per cent) report their dogs as suffering from serious physical conditions. These include arthritis (25 per cent), being overweight or obese (18 per cent) and heart disease (six per cent).