Pet parents feeling guilty as they return to work – or go on holiday

Nine in ten (88%) dog owners say they have experienced ‘pet parent guilt’, the feeling of not doing enough for our four-legged friends, new research reveals.

‘Parent guilt’ is a feeling familiar to many who have children – feeling completely responsible for your child’s safety, happiness and wellbeing. Your love and devotion to you child can lead to a fear that, at times, you are not good enough or doing enough for them.

Following the huge rise in dog ownership in the UK in the past few years, this feeling appears to be no different for pet parents. Naturo Natural Pet Food has explored the rise of this new phenomenon which appears to be hitting the nation’s pet owners hard.

Naturo surveyed 1,000 dog owners to understand the depth of their relationships with their animals, and the results reveal multiple reasons which could bring on a bout of pet parent guilt, especially as life returns to a ‘new normal’ after over a year of lockdown.

The top 5 reasons dog owners experience pet parent guilt:

Rank

Reason

%

1

Leaving my dog alone on its own at home

69%

2

Going to work

40%

3

Going on holiday

29%

4

Not being able to take them on a walk

25%

5

Not having another dog friend for them to play with

21%

Respondents expressed that a large chunk (69%) of their guilt comes from leaving their beloved dogs alone at home, with many worried that their companion will develop separation anxiety (45%). Others worry about their pet getting bored (41%), having an accident (30%) or even hating their owners for leaving them (25%).

Despite lockdown restrictions now easing, over a third (34%) of pup owners have been skipping social plans with their friends to hang out with their dog to help alleviate their guilt. Three in ten (30%) also work from home more often so they can spend more time with their precious pooches, and a quarter (25%) even say they’ve skipped work or called in sick to see them more often, showing serious dedication to their fluffy companions.

Over a third (34%) say that pet parent guilt makes them feel sad, whilst three in ten (29%) feel like a terrible pet owner.

Over half (53%) of dog owners make it up to their four-legged friends by setting aside quality time for them and their pets to spend together and many choose to spoil their dogs by buying treats and toys to make themselves feel better about it (48%).

Some also work on their relationship with their pet by choosing to work with a dog behaviourist (14%) and one in ten (11%) choose to discuss these pet-parent related issues with their therapist.

Lauren Toal, Brand Manager from Naturo commented: “At Naturo, we understand that the bond between a dog and owner is exceptionally special, and people care an enormous amount for their pets. Therefore, we can appreciate that people are feeling just as much guilt at the prospect of not doing enough for their pets as they do about their children. They are, after all, important members of the family.

“We are, however, delighted to hear that many UK dog owners are looking for ways to spend more quality time with their pets. Some of the most rewarding time you can spend with your dog is during feeding time, as this is often the way they establish trust and further bond with their owners. At Naturo, our ingredients are of the highest quality and entirely natural, and as we know, a healthy dog is a happy dog.”