Pet guilt is real. In a survey of 2,000 pet owners, we discovered that 56% of pet parents feel guilty when it comes to their pets. Whether it’s lying to their pets, tricking them into going to the vet, or staying out later than they said, pet parents take their roles seriously and will do anything to make their pets feel better.
In fact, even the pets know when we’re feeling guilty. A whopping 84% of pet parents surveyed said that their pets know when something’s up and will take advantage. They’ll play coy, demand extra cuddles, or put on the puppy dog eyes. And 54% of pet parents surveyed said their pets even exaggerate injuries for attention.
It’s only natural to want to make it up to your pets when you feel you’ve done something wrong (especially since they’re not afraid to let you know it!). Buying expensive gifts, feeding extra treats, and overcompensating can all feel like a great fix to a tricky situation, but giving into the guilt isn’t always the answer.
If you’re overcompensating for your pet guilt, it’s time to stop. Some of your go-to fix-it methods may actually be making the problem worse.
Stop the guilt.
1. Treats are for tricks.
Going for the good stuff and throwing your pet an extra treat or two might seem like a great idea, but all those extra calories can add up. Most pets should only have 5-10% of their calories from treats, but if you’re serving up extras you’re getting into a danger zone. Extra pudge on pets might be cute, but overweight pets are more at risk for certain diseases, including diabetes and cancer.
2. Accidents happen.
We’ve all done it. Stepped on our pet’s toes, lost track of time, fed them late, or had to delay a walk. But that’s life. Feeling guilty that you messed up doesn’t fix the problem. Just get the help you need and move on, and maybe throw in a few extra cuddles if you need to (they’re calorie-free)!
3. Get to the vet.
One of the big sources of guilt we discovered was all veterinarian-related. Some pet parents lie to their pets about going to the vet to avoid stress (38%), while others hesitate over whether or not they should go to the vet (61%). And 20% of pet parents said they don’t even have a regular vet. But worrying about going to the vet or delaying a visit can only make things (including your stress) worse. If your pet’s hard to transport, if it’s after hours, if you can’t get an appointment, Vetster is open 24/7 to help you with any urgent (or general care) questions.
4. Cuddles count.
With 32% of pet parents spending $50 or more to assuage their guilt, we just have to say: pets don’t see dollars, they see love. Pamper your pet with snuggles or strokes, take an extra walk, or give them an extra treat (in moderation). There’s no reason to overspend or clutter your house with toys when your love is probably just what your pet needs to feel better.
5. Alone but not lonely.
One of the biggest sources of guilt is leaving our pets alone. In fact, 59% of pet owners feel like they don’t spend enough time with their pets. And with the return to office looming post-pandemic, that anxiety is ramping up. But if you prep your pet for your departure, and show them love and attention while you’re home, your pet will adapt in no time. They may even be happy for the privacy.
You love your pets. There’s no doubt about it. But spoiling them or giving into guilt isn’t the answer. Give them the attention they deserve, nutritious food, and a cozy home, and keep in touch with a licensed veterinarian for all their health needs.
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