Stress. We’ve all been there. You might even be feeling it now. But if you push that aside for a moment, you might see that your four-legged friend may be experiencing stress, too, especially depending on where you live. For animals, the root of stress may stem from uncontrollable factors like thunderstorms, noisy neighbors and even crowded dog parks, according to officials from Spruce Natural Labs, a manufacturer of cannabidiol (CBD) products. Keeping this in mind, officials from the Raleigh, N.C.-based company set out to find which cities have the most stressed pets.
“As we continue to think about how to best support stressed pets and their owners, we’ve realized that, given the geographic nature of these stress factors, it might be a good idea to map out the U.S. cities with the most stressed pets,” officials said. “After all, some cities may get hit by many more thunderstorms while other cities may have frequent firework celebrations, creating entire clusters of stressed-out pets hiding under their owners’ couches.”
Birmingham, Ala., it turns out, has the most stressed out pets, with Orlando, Fla., not far behind, according to Spruce’s study.
To find out what cities housed the most stressed pets, Spruce ranked major cities based on the frequency of common stressors for pets, such as the number of days in the year with thunder, the percentage of residents who work away from home and the legality of fireworks. The rankings also took into account the presence of local stress-relieving factors such as the availability of parks and recreation land for exercise and availability of dog trainers.
“Not surprisingly, Birmingham’s high rank was due to the combination of a high incidence of stress-causing factors, like days in the year with thunder and open laws around fireworks, and a low frequency of stress-relieving factors,” officials said. “For instance, Birmingham, a city with over 200,000 residents only had 4 percent of land set aside for parks and recreation use.”
Spruce officials cited a CNBC report that listed Birmingham as the third-most stressed city in the United States among human residents.
“Given that stressed people often seek to adopt or buy a pet as a way to channel those negative feelings, these trends show that maybe Birmingham leaders may want to rethink programs and city designs to aid in de-stressing people and dogs alike,” officials said.
The top 10 cities with the most stressed pets are:
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Orlando, Fla.
- Memphis, Tenn.
- Columbus, Ohio
- Oklahoma City
- Tampa, Fla.
- Louisville, Ky.
- Houston and Indianapolis (tie)
- Richmond, Va.
“A major trend we saw among high-ranking cities was that many of them are located in the same region,” officials said. “Of the top 20 cities, 12 were located in the South, including Orlando, Memphis and Louisville. Unquestionably, this region, famous for its hurricanes, garnered higher scores for frequent thunder. However, widespread city policies surrounding open use of fireworks, all these Southern cities designate fireworks as being ‘allowed or mostly allowed,’ and little recreation use of city land suggests a trend in how city decision-makers create stressful conditions for pets.”
This may leave you wondering, what states have the least stressed pets? Here are the top 10, according to Spruce:
- San Francisco
- New York
- San Diego
- Sacramento and Chicago (tie)
- Washington, D.C.
- Los Angeles and Baltimore (tie)
“Nestled in a harbor that feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, Boston has plenty of beaches and public land set aside for pet-friendly parks, meaning that owners can take their pets out to unwind without running into hordes of other leashed-up animals,” officials said. “The city also has over 150 local dog trainers and is strict about its ban on fireworks. Plus, in a city where humans like to destress over drinks, there are plenty of dog-friendly restaurants and pubs where pets can relax with their owners.”
With other major cities like San Francisco and New York taking the lead, it shows that residents of big cities can responsibility add pets to their lives without worrying about adding too much stress to the animals’ lives, officials added.
“Given these surprising insights, you may be reconsidering the stress which your pet carries,” officials said. “However, no matter where you live, keep an eye on your pet for signs of stress. After all, for all the support animals give their anxious owners, it’s important to return the favor.”
Does your city rank on either list?