Pets Are Affected by Drugs and Alcohol, Too

drugs and alcohol

Pets Are Affected by Drugs and Alcohol, Too

We know addiction is a selfish disease, and we also know it is a family disease. To most people, pets are family too, and addiction affects them also. Particularly sensitive to their master’s feelings, pets always seem to take note when something’s wrong. They also rely on their owners to provide food, water, walks or playtime, and shelter.

When a person is using drugs and alcohol, they can often forget these kinds of responsibilities, leaving their pets hanging. Pets are affected by substance abuse in the following three primary ways:

  • Mental distress
  • Neglect
  • Abuse

Cases tend to vary depending on circumstances. Some pets might barely be affected, while others could even die as a direct result of their owner abusing substances. Because dogs often require more TLC than cats, it’s important to be aware of how addiction affects them.

The Mental Effect of Drugs and Alcohol on Dogs

When a dog becomes a part of a home, they fall into roles and responsibilities as anyone would. They get used to how things are, and their personality and demeanor adjusts accordingly. When an owner begins to use drugs and alcohol, their energy shifts significantly, and dogs can feel that.

Dogs have actually been known to bark and moan at their owners who are excessively high or drunk, simply out of fear that their human is no longer recognizable. Substances change our physiology and certainly the way we act. Dogs can sense this. The animal is put on edge because they no longer know what to expect. They may even begin to recognize the smell of alcohol or drugs as a sign of danger and immediately begin to feel tense.  

If a dog is exposed to this kind of erratic behavior regularly, they may become nervous, agitated, and untrusting of other people. A dog like that has a high likelihood of biting someone out of fear, and that can cause a lot of emotional and financial damage to everyone involved. Besides, a loving pet owner doesn’t want to put their dog through that kind of trauma.

Lack of Proper Care

Dogs that belong to high or drunk owners can suffer from a lot of neglect and even abuse. A typical drunk might suffer from blackouts and forgetfulness and simply overlook feeding, giving water to, or walking their dog. Getting drunk is their main priority, and the animal might go unnoticed for days. The dog is left hungry, thirsty, needing to go to the bathroom, and scared.

Because of carelessness caused by substance abuse, someone might leave a door or window open, and the dog can get out unintentionally. This brings danger to the animal and depending on the dog’s aggression, to people in the neighborhood as well.

On the other hand, a drunk or drug addict may stay away from their home for excessive hours, or even days, leaving their dog to fend for themselves. Animals in these kinds of situations suffer from extreme neglect, and may even die of hunger or thirst. Addicts should do the responsible thing and find a different home for their pet while they get clean and sober.

Animal Abuse

In extreme cases, owners may become abusive towards their dogs while they are under the influence of any kind of substance. Just as people can become aggressive toward other people in their household, the same can happen to dogs and other pets. Many times detrimental events happen when the person committing them is blackout drunk or high. They may not recall what transpired while they were under the influence. Pets sometimes have a sixth sense about when you are in danger, it may already be setting them on edge. If they are incessantly barking while you’re going through withdrawals, it can be an extremely dangerous situation for both of you. Or in another case, a blackout may mean a missed walk for the dog, leading to a mess being made in the house. Imagine waking up and realizing you hurt or killed the animal you love. It isn’t worth it.

Helping Dogs Get Out Of Bad Situations

The fact is that if a person is far enough in their addiction, all other responsibilities go out the door. Animals, children, house, and home – you name it – it all falls to the backburner as seeking out another drink or drug continues to rage in the front. It’s important that anyone who is being neglected or abused by a drug addict or alcoholic gets out of the situation immediately and encourages the person to seek help.

For recovering addicts who have a loving dog at home, this information might serve as fuel to stop them from abusing substances. Knowing what they can put a beloved pet through is enough to convince them that it isn’t worth it. Or, to people who know an addict, maybe this angle will help you get a dog out of a dangerous situation, or better yet, convince the owner it is time to get help. Either way, in households that abuse drugs and alcohol, it’s important to know how ugly things can get with dogs.

If you are looking for treatment help but have pets that need to be seen to, don’t underestimate your friends’ ability to step in and take care of your furry friends. If you are upfront and honest with them, that you need help, and you need someone to take care of your pets for you, just until you are able to do so again yourself, you likely will not be disappointed how they will rise up to the need. Where your friends may have cut you off in fear of enabling you, taking care of a pet is a simpler decision for them to make.

Animals, unfortunately, don’t get to choose to walk away from neglect or abuse. As owners and dog lovers, it’s our responsibility to treat them as they deserve to be treated, and remove them from problematic or stressful situations. If you or a loved one need assistance from an addiction professional, contact us today. 

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