When we are glued to our smartphone, we often neglect the people around us and things we should be doing.
That includes paying less attention to our dogs.
And the effects can have serious consequences on your pet’s mental health.
A study from the United Kingdom found that dogs can become anxious and even experience depression when their humans are on their cellphone all the time.
The study initially tracked how a new pet could help people suffering from mental health issues but found that owners can depress their pets.
“Dogs do read body language, they read our eye contact,” Philadelphia veterinarian Dr. Alexander Collada told ABC 13.
“They read our facial expressions, so if we are on our phone and acting disinterested, and they’re looking for attention, it basically is ignoring your dog. We need to all get off our phones.”
When dog owners are focused on their screens too much, dogs can become sad and even develop behavioral issues.
According to Daily Mail, this is because dogs are pack animals and crave feedback from those they bond or in a pack with.
“To understand what’s going on we have to look at the basic principles of how a dog interacts physically and emotionally with a human. You administer every facet of its life – you collect, you feed, you show it where it’s allowed to go and you – hopefully – nurture its development,” veterinary surgeon and founder of VetUK, Iain Booth.
“But if you’re perpetually attached to your phone, that vital bond breaks down and the dog is hit for six. That dog requires constant feedback and interaction. It wants to please you – that’s simply how its evolutionarily hard-wired,”
Some experts say our smartphone addiction has lead to a recent spike in unruly dogs.
It also affects house cats.
However, they are less likely to act out or get depressed over it.
“I’d urge people to put their phones away when they’re with their dogs. You might think you’re spending quality time with your animal when you take it for a walk, but the minute the phone comes out, the dynamic changes without you even realizing it,” veterinary nurse Amber Pickworth from the UK clinic The Vet said. “After all, as the saying goes – a dog might be a small part of your world, but you’re their entire world.”
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UK campaign group Digital Detox estimates that adults spend about 9 hours and 30 minutes in front of screens a day, which is more time than they are asleep.
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