Constant worry about animals

I have always been a worrier, even as a little kid. I have also always loved animals (more than people). Lately, I have been making myself completely miserable worrying about animals being abused and neglected. Two weeks ago, the trashy people across the street got a dog. I’m not using the word “trashy” lightly; they’ve had CPS called several times, are always in and out of jail for dealing drugs, and don’t take care of their house. Needless to say, this is not a good place for a dog. I am in the process of reporting them to animal control, but it’s been difficult because they won’t drive out to my township because it’s not in their jurisdiction. I won’t get into the details of the situation in case there are others like me who can’t stand to hear them. Anyway, since they got the dog, it’s all I can think about. I can’t stop thinking and worrying about it, then that just makes me think of other things I’ve seen on TV, the news, pictures, etc. The images are burned in my mind and I’m constantly thinking about the poor dog across the street and it’s beginning to be too much for me to handle. Animal cruelty has always bothered me and I constantly think about it, but now it’s just like a whirlwind of terror in my mind and I can’t escape it. I can’t focus, I can’t sleep, I will just start crying when I think about it, which is all the time now. I can’t watch commercials showing abused animals, I can’t read or watch the news when it comes to cases of animal cruelty, I can’t even read a book that has mistreatment of animals. I just literally can’t deal with it. My friends and family just think I’m being stupid and say not to worry about it. I have an appointment with EAP through work tomorrow to see what they have to say.

I have 2 dogs that I rescued. I am crazy about them and love them so much, but I’m constantly worrying about them, too. I won’t leave a crockpot on during the day when I go to work because I’m afraid it may start a fire. I have to go back and constantly check to make sure I’ve unplugged the straightener or curling iron. I’m not afraid of my house burning down, but worry because my dogs couldn’t get out of the house if there was a fire, and I picture them scared and panicking and trying to get out. During the winter when we have really cold days, I’m constantly checking to make sure I let both of them inside after they go potty. I know in my head that I let both dogs inside, but if they are not in my sight, I will get up several times to make sure they are inside and not left out to freeze to death. I have family that would dog-sit for me, and have dog-sat before, but I won’t go anywhere because I will constantly be stressed out about them. I’m constantly worrying about whether they have food and water, or if they are being watched when let outside so they don’t run off, or whether or not they are getting enough attention. It’s ridiculous! I stress out about break-ins, not because I’m worried about my possessions being stolen, but that the dogs would be hurt somehow.

Does anyone else have this obsession with animals and the mistreatment of animals? I seriously do think that I’m a crazy person. I know what I’m feeling is not normal, but I don’t know how to make it go away!!

21 Replies

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  • It's a wonderful thing that you care so much about other beings. As a sensitive person, you are prone to anxiety. It's distressing when you feel you have no control over a situation, as with your neighbours' dog. Though, I have seen some undesirable people treat their dogs much better than they treat human beings, so it maybe that the dog is alright. Is there a rescue charity you can contact who might be able to reassure you or monitor the situation? I understand very well how you feel. I am vegan and feel very strongly about animal cruelty, but it's not healthy to constantly look at distressing images. I'm a member of several dog rescue groups online and at times I have to block their posts because it does put my mind in a bad state. There are things you can do as an individual towards making the world a better place for animals without feeling too much distress. I donate money on a monthly basis and sometimes give one off amounts for emergency situations. I have 2 rescue dogs and a cat, too. I sign petitions and attend local fundraising events. It doesn't seem much but the number of people doing these thing amounts to making a big difference to many animals. With regards to your own dogs, think of the millions of households that have animal friends that live with them. It is rare that anything happens to them when they are left at home. Your dogs will not be thinking as you do. All they know is, that they are well cared for and loved. It is enough. Some days I feel bad because I can't get my dogs out for a run in the park because my anxiety is high - which makes me dizzy and weak. Then I remember that my dogs are fed and loved and they came to me after being abandoned and a hard life. Things could have been much worse than missing a run in the park. Think of the positive things you give them. I hope this helps a little to change your perspective. I wish you well.

  • Yes, I've contacted animal control and asked what I could do and they said that unless the dog is being physically beaten, or left outside in bad wether without food or water, there is nothing they can do. I guess I have done everything I can, and I just have to accept the fact that it won't get to live a good life like my dogs. It is hard because I am reminded of it constantly whenever I look out the window and see that house, or just when I think of it all day long. I am trying to focus on being a good owner to my dogs and focusing on their well-being. I make donations to rescue organizations when I can, and am trying really hard to stop myself when I start thinking about that topic and focus on something else. It's getting better; there are just those days where my anxiety level is really high and it gets too overwhelming. Trying to do breathing excersizes and meditation, and physical activities because I don't want to take meds.

  • What a lovely comment! Just so lovely to read about someone really working to cause good in the world, even when they have anxiety!

  • Both my boyfriend and I suffer much like you do- but we both come from different backgrounds. I worked at rescue centres tubing animals and dealing hands on with emergencies. And he has his first cat ever who just turned 6. We'll start with my boyfriend. He doesn't live with me. And in three years he has never spent the night at my home - even if he leaves at 3am - because he is worried about his cat. Then when we talk next he goes on and on how the cat was meowing when he got home. He can't read anything about animals being hurt in the news and when it happens locally he says he would like to track down the people himself. This is not in his character. He is a confident, average person in his demeanour - but when he talks about cats he gets really ... Not sure of how to say it. But it is very intense and unhealthy to a point as he gets so upset even he says it is not normal. He was at a party once and some girl made a joke about saying if she saw a cat crossing the highway she would speed up! And he made a scene yelling right in her face asking if she would like to run over him with her truck- saying that is what she said... Because to him it was the same thing... *crickets chirping/awkward silence* If he see a cat crying outside a door in neighbourhood we don't even know anyone he will mention many times afterwords how worried he is about the cat. So your feelings are shared by other animal lovers! For me I have pets with special needs so I am worried about them if I am gone any length of time. And pretty much without exception I love for any social occasion I am supposed to attend to be canceled so I can just stay home with my pets. There is software you can get now so you can watch live streaming video of your pets at home when you are away. I guess for me I have worked at the rescue shelters and seen how much sadness and pain is way too common. So I work extra hard loving my own pets trying to give them the bestlife possible. I belong to a lot of FB pet groups and really get so broken hearted of people constantly posting photos of their pets that just died. Even though I never met these pets personally. This is going to sound awful and I apologize - but cases like the sweet dog next door are more common than anyone would like to know. Even if you can not help that particular dog you can maybe go to an animal shelter and take a dog for a walk as your way of remembering all lonely pets who appreciate your love and kindness. I relate so much to what you say- but my boyfriend's relationship with cats maybe more closer to how you feel. As his partner I feel frustrated at times but I always atleast quietly support him because his feelings are important. When how you feel start interrupting your basic necessities of your day then it is important to reach out like you are and share how you feel. If my boyfriend reads a story in the newspaper about a cat - it ruins his entire day. He was asked by a friend to adopt a five year old cat because someone in their family was allergic. For days he kept on talking about that cat and how he could not thinking about that cat. I told him there is a column of cats just like that particular cat looking for homes in the Buy and Sell newspaper. And then he said he really felt even worse. Those cats or dogs sadly are always going to be out there. Loving the ones in our own life and donating time or money to charities is all we can do. Reporting cruelty to the authorities is also something important you can do. I guess what I am trying to say is trust deligating the information to the people in charge to do something is you doing the best you can. However I too often find that difficult. But it sometimes is all we can do.

  • It sounds like your boyfriend's problem is similar to mine. I feel for him - it's miserable to feel like that and be constantly worried, fearing the worst about your animal’s well-being. I, too, recognize that these feelings are not normal. I know there are a lot of people that worry about their pets and other animals, but not to this extreme. Last night I went to my grandparents’ house and they had container lids all over the furniture. We asked why, and they said it was because they didn’t want the cat on the furniture. I know it is healthy and in a cat’s nature to be on tall/high spaces. I am going to get them a cat tree, because last night I was constantly thinking how it was mean to be that way to the cat, and feeling that it was psychologically abusive to the cat. I know the cat is taken care of, but I was up half the night worrying about him. And these are my GRANDPARENTS! Who I know would never abuse the cat or treat it bad in any way. Then it makes me think about all of the cats in shelters who need a home. This is why I can’t foster animals, because I would totally become an animal hoarder. Good luck to you and your boyfriend; I know it is hard for both of you when one person obsessively worries about something.

  • Thank-you for your reply! It is supportive to know other people share these feelings. I used to be really extreme about 15 years ago. I once had someone drive me home in the middle of my own birthday party to check on my budgie! I noticed my boyfriend gets most worried about his cat when there is other big stresses going on. If he sees a tragic thing such as a cat being hit by a car- he gets really upset like if he knew the cat personally. I am not sure how I eased up on my anxiety. Getting a cat tree is a lovely thing. When I lived in South East Asia there was feral cats. One got into my room and dropped a kitten and then came back with a huge rat almost the size of the cat! I stood there froze while the cat ate every single part of that rat- and I mean monster rat- not a mouse. Teeth, tail- absolutely nothing was left but the ears. I mean the car even ate the bones and most of the fur! I say this because there is a lot of ways cats live around the world. A barn cat in the USA would never be so hungry to consume a entire rat like what I witnessed in the feral one in Asia. But that feral cat was living in the jungle in her natural environment some may say. But there is no way we would want our cats living that dangerous life. Cobras are black and hang in the trees looking like branches. I was very upset at the treatment of cats in a culture much different than North America. Somehow I convinced myself that I will spoil and love everyone of my pets for them and sometimes give them treats saying this treat represents what I wish I could give every cat. Spoil and love your own like they are the furry embassators representing all cats! And also for the individuals they are too of course. Do the people in your life support you when you have anxiety about your cat! I feel it is important to respect my boyfriend's anxieties because the fears he feels are real to him. I catch my tongue sometimes when he sounds a bit excessive. And he would be the same with me.

  • Michael Jackson; 'They're killing a dance.'

    Once, during a dance rehearsal, he had to stop because an image of a dolphin trapped in a net made him so emotionally distraught. "From the way its body was tangled in the lines," he explained, "you could read so much agony. Its eyes were vacant, yet there was still that smile, the ones dolphins never lose... So there I was, in the middle of rehearsal, and I thought, 'They're killing a dance.'"

    huffingtonpost.com/joe-voge...

  • I suffer the same way -- I want to save all the animals in the world and I fund so many organizations and do hands on work if I can finding people to adopt animals. But when my anxiety is highest I think about misfortunate animals and their suffering. It is so painful especially when there are children in the world suffering as well.

    My heart pours out to you. My therapist says I suffer from PTSD from childhood. Because I wasn't nurtured properly by stable parents this has caused this coupled with the anxiety. I do know being on social media where you are bombarded by stories of suffering animals makes it worse, so I recommend staying away. They say ignornace is bliss -- there is some truth to it. I just take care of my two cats and love them and pray for all the others. I do feed feral ones outside if I am able. There is only so much we can do.

    I can only empathize -- unhappily, I don't know how to make it go away. Tranquilizers help to a certain degree coupled with therapy but I don't think you will ever be immune to these feelings.

  • Hello, how are you doing with this? I am currently awake, worrying about the animals and the horrors they go through at the hands of humans. It has gotten better for me, though, when I became a vegan. I do not have enough money to donate to animal rights groups, but I have saved so many innocent lives by choosing not to contribute to the suffering and simply changing my lifestyle. I am able to focus more on the honorable things I am doing to help. Maybe this is something that would help? I still worry, like I am now, but it's better. And please realize that you ARE normal. You are compassionate, empathetic, and kind. You have goodness to offer and these are the best qualities to offer the world and the animals. Love & Light

  • Hello Mychi,

    I have the same problem. I am such an animal lover . i am constantly worrying and i nowadays i am getting worse. I can't even see FB. I am scared i will come across some animal cruelty article. how can people abuse animals? They are helpless and speechless. What is this world coming to? I dont know how to help.

    Today I read something terrible and saw the picture in FB. I cried and cried and i told my husband we will go for a drive. i had to stop in the car in the middle and burst into tears. he was shouting at me as to why I am reading such articles.

    I feel helpless. Can someone advise. I need help.

    Nivsan

  • I am the same. It's impossible to understand why people are so cruel it really really upsets me and I constantly worry about it.

    It's ok people saying turn a blind eye but I never ever will.

    I support charities that I can and write to the government / if I did nothing I would feel even worse.

    It's never ok to do nothing 

    Just do your best x

  • I worry a lot about my animals, since for as long as I can remember I have been on my way home worrying so much I feel sick. I'm the past some bad things have happened, we have lost a few beloved pets. I do worry when other animals are in a bad home and being neglected but most of the time it's for my animals. I love animals all animals and when they pass it makes me soooo sad. I try to continue but I can't. I have had animals all my life and from about 2 years ago when we moved are horses over to another yard it has been so hard to go over there, I worry so much and I feel so sick even thinking about it. I have lots of animals so of witch are quite old like my hamster and worry so much about her, it brakes my heart that one day she will not be here. Having the worry thing it has changed my life, I can't go for a normal hack with my friends anymore I worry to much to even go other to the horses. Every day I push my self so hard to go over there and I think that makes it worse. I find it really hard to talk about I feel as if no one will understand my problems. I try to put a smile on no matter how much I'm worrying, I try to take my mind of it but that does not work. I have no idea what to do ?!? I also feel what makes it worse is if one day one of my animals are not themselves it makes me worry more and harder to go check on them more so with the horses tho.

    I don't know what to do.?!?

    Wish you well.....

  • I know this is an old post, but I've never read anything that sounded exactly how I feel every day of my life...this is EXACTLY what I go through in my mind...I also have 2 dogs ...I'm obsessed with worry about them and all the sweet animals of the world...not able to function properly anymore it seems.  I've never talked to anyone that felt the same as me...as severely I suppose you could say..I know people say to just shut it out or try not to think about it...but how?!?  How does one do that when the images and thoughts are burned in your mind.  I feel like I need some kind of brain transplant or at least hypnosis if that might alter these horrible thoughts and anxities about something I simply cannot control.. Just wanted to tell you I completed related to every word you said...

  • Same. I can't sleep, can't think without crying. My chest feels so heavy.

  • Today I was feeling so horrible and overwhelmed with worry for my precious furry babies that I googled "how to stop worrying about animals" and found this thread. This is exactly what I'm going through! I can completely relate to constant checking on my animals and if I turned off the flat iron or the stove or whatever it is.... I have to go back and check and sometimes I have to make myself not go back to double check! I even unplug nightlights or air fresheners when I leave even though they say they are perfectly safe to leave on.

    I worry when I go out that something will happen and the house will somehow catch on fire and my babies will be trapped inside. When I absolutely HAVE to go anywhere and I'm close to home I look up into the sky to see if I can see any smoke.

    One of my darlings died two months ago in her sleep cuddled up to me as usual, and she had never been sick in her life. It was my ultimate worst fear realized, and now I'm constantly petrified something will happen to one of my other babies. I wake them up all the time just to check and my heart beats so fast out of my chest until they respond and I know they are alive.

    I'm scared to take any of them to the vet because I fear they'll tell me something is wrong with one of them. I give them the best food and read up on the best care I can give them and what to look out for if any of them are sick. I check their poop and watch to make sure they are eating and drinking normal and not going to the bathroom too often. I'm just racked with worry and sometimes I feel I would rather die than have anything happen to one of them.

    I can't bear to watch nature shows for fear I'll see an animal hurt or killed. I can't hear stories about animals mistreated or see them dead on the side of the road.

    I hate living like this and being constantly scared that something horrible will happen to one of them. I've been on different medications for the past decade but nothing has made me feel better. They've just switched my Lexapro to Prozac and upped it to 40mg so I'm hoping I'll feel a little better. I just want to be normal and not live in fear.

  • I do empathise with you. I have a situation where the little cat next door is left out all the time and isn't really looked after and it breaks my heart and I cry about it frequently. It helped me to read your post because it made me think what I would say to you to help you, that I can also say to myself. I would say that it's lovely to have empathy and sensitivity, and you are doing a great job of dealing with a challenging animal cruelty situation (as am I). I would also say that you deserve to have a break and let go of worries about the dog because you are important too.

    I have a strong sense of suffering and can get bogged down by the presence of it at times and I am working to heal this now. We have a right to be happy as much as we can and the world and life do involve suffering and this is just the way it is and shouldn't be a reason to negate out happiness. In fact, quite the opposite. I realised earlier that, in my view, we all should aim to be prosperous and happy because that is how we can help others - if I had lots of money I would buy land and have an animal sanctuary. So letting go of suffering is necessary for us to realise our full potential and prosper in life, as is right and good.

    If I may say, you may perhaps have some slight OCD and I recommend a website called Uncommon Knowledge that has a lot of information about that. I think anxiety is often linked to this sort of inability to claim happiness - I am currently recovering from depression, through a course on the above mentioned website. I think it is a lovely quality of people that they can care massively about the fate and health of others, and I wish we all could be happy and peaceful.

  • I just came across the term 'compassion fatigue' in relation to an animal charity organisation.

  • I am even worse. Not only animal cruelty but other things that happen to animals make me cry. Facebook post saying that a kitten didn't make it due to illness, picture of an animal in a post saying that they are no longer alive and have crossed the bridge, nature shows where animals die, get injured, lose parents, or starve make me feel depressed. I will think about this over, and over, and over as if it's a job. It feels like that I won't let it go or just want to hold onto it.

  • I worry evry night about ALL the animals right now at this very moment who are sad, in pain, lonely, tortured, will be tortured and it makes me crazy, thus i googled to see if anyone else feels the same way, and i found this site and link and can so relate to everyone on here. I am at the point where i hate humanity and wish the world would end, just so the Animal cruelty would all end. This affects me daily and i have only one cat but worry about her all the time. I lost a cat two years ago and was so upset, i had her for 10 years and have depression and i wanted to commit suicide so bad, but didnt because my mom begged me not to. I got another cat, identical to her 4 days later, or else i would have literally died of grief.

    I know this is beyond not normal, but i get so attached, thus why i can not even own more then one pet, it is just too hard. I took my kitty to the vet today and was more stressed then she was! I hate being this way, sometimes i think the psychopaths have a better life, not caring or feeling. I pray every noght for God to end all the animal suffeing in the whole world...so many, in so many different ways, experiments, factory farms, entertainment, single abuse cases, work animals, etc etc....list just goes on, this one article came up after i googled to find if anyone was out there like me and i came upon this site telling me the 10 worst countries who abuse and omg why did i read it??? I am mow more traumatized. I use to be on care2 and sign so many petitions that it affected me so badly, i had to stay off the site. I donate to some charities, but they send me articles and pictures via website and in the mail and i am back to square one. All i can do is hope this world ends.....that sadly is the only way....people will never all be like us on here, so many think animals feel no pain and are ours to do with what we want...for our sick needs, entertainment etc and i can not go on like this...am i sick in the head for thinking these thoughts, well i would savrafice my life in an i stant if it could even stop half of the world torture, but it wont help...nothing lil ol me and can do, but keep enduring this cruel cruel sick world, that we are destroying in so many ways, for ourselves and for all the gorgeous innocent creatures out there, so unfair...God gave us this world...all of us....not just MAN.

  • I just found this from a google search and reading through this thread was so comforting, to know that others feel exactly the same as I do. I had something happen this weekend that triggered the floodgates of my already intense anxiety around animals. The sadness I feel over the situation I encountered feels like knives in my stomach and my heart/lungs being crushed. And there is nothing I can do now.

    I guess after reading this thread I feel less alone, and also a little less worried knowing that others are out there that care as much as I do. That more people than I realize are looking out for animals. I need to still figure out therapy or something because the anxiety it gives me affects my quality of life, and the things that upset me the most are the ones that I can't do anything about. I'm sorry we are suffering, but I'm grateful for this community.

  • I just googled to see if I could find others who feel the same as I do, and I must say, I am a little comforted to know I am not alone. I hate humans. We have ruined every gift we have been given. We are so cruel to each other and, what just kills me, we are so cruel to other species who have done nothing wrong. I am crying right now, as I think of all the poor creatures on earth who get born only to be tortured and killed by our stupid cruel awful human race. I know that sounds crazy. I don't tell people how I feel because so many of them get mad that I don't want our species to thrive. We would be doing the world a favor to just go extinct. God, I feel so horrible when I think how many cows, pigs, chickens, dolphins, horses, and on and on...how they are suffering because of us. And then, my mind starts thinking of little kids and babies whose parents hurt and kill them. I used to not care as much about that stuff, but as I get older, my brain seems to lump babies in with all animals, and I cannot control the anger and sadness that just crashes down as soon as I even think of it. It has gotten so much worse since my cat died in May. I don't feel guilty so much as just horribly sad. But I have been this way for so long. I can't kill any insect, and I am a vegetarian and mostly vegan actually. I just don't get it. I torture myself. It's some kind of guilt, maybe? Like maybe it makes me feel I can control something if I think of it enough. Or, at the very least, maybe I am a good person if I get this upset? As awful as it feels to make myself sick with worry, there's also a part of me that seems strangely addicted to it. My emotions are soooo strong. I cry multiple times a day, and I am used to it. I think I must enjoy it on some level, or I would have figured out how to stop. I can stop anything I don't enjoy. I feel like I need a new perspective. Maybe I am trying to find a sense of power or control by letting this pity take over. I know animals grieve, so I wouldn't be so ignorant to say I should try to be like them and not worry about the suffering of others. I genuinely believe and have seen plenty of evidence that other animals care about each other (and us). But, to get to a more healthy place, couldn't there be some shift in perspective that will allow me to let go a little? I am starting to plan for an animal rescue, but I know if I don't think long and hard about this decision, I could ruin my life by completely losing myself in some kind of quixotic melodrama. I want to do what feels right, but I don't want to live my life from a place of guilt and pity. That doesn't even seem respectful to animals.

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