Is taking care of your pet more stressful than being a parent?

Taking care of your pet is more stressful than managing a romantic relationship or being a parent, new research suggests. That’s according to a survey of 2,000 pet owners, which found people are more stressed about their ability to care for their fur pal (42%) than their relationship with a partner (37%) or their kids (30%). That may be because over half (51%) think their fur pals are also experiencing stress. When asked what would help their pet feel calmer, their human companions noted spending more time outside (47%), connecting with other pets (46%), spending more time with them (44%) and a pet therapist (43%) as potential solutions. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ElleVet Sciences for Pet Wellness Month, the survey also found people think about their pet aging as much as they think about getting older themselves (65% each). Pet parents think they can identify the signs their pet is slowing down, such as if their pet lacks energy (56%), no longer enjoys their favorite activities (54%) and has difficulty scaling stairs (51%). Similarly, people pointed to lack of energy (60%), joint soreness (48%) and not enjoying the things they usually do (48%) as signs they, too, are getting older. People’s top three worries about their pet’s health are digestion (37%), the inability to play and enjoy life (37%) and their pet’s heart health (33%). When it comes to their own health, people’s concerns include not being able to enjoy sports or activities without fear of injury (39%), their heart health (38%) and digestion (37%). Over two-thirds (68%) of pet parents said watching their pet age and suffer would be very hurtful for them, more so than losing an expensive item (62%), losing their job (61%) and divorcing or breaking up with a partner (61%). Many grew up with a pet and still cherish those memories, thinking about their childhood fur pal more than three times a week, or about 180 times a year. “Supporting your pet through all stages of life can minimize their stress, allowing you to create more happy memories together,” said Amanda Howland, co-founder and CCO of ElleVet Sciences. “As your pet gets older, it’s important to be proactive in identifying the signs of aging, such as difficulty moving, trouble sleeping and social isolation. It’s all about more time, and more quality time with your pet, and for them aging and stress are intertwined so taking care of discomfort related aging and cognitive decline can reduce their stress significantly” On average, respondents have owned their current pet for five years, spending two of them establishing a bond of trust. Six in 10 (61%) said their fur pal frequently comforts them when they’re feeling sad. In fact, 73% consider their pet to be their “protector.” People also shared their favorite memories with their current pet, including “listening to him snore,” “taking my pet on the boat,” “The day we brought him home from the humane society,” “watching movies together,” and simply “spending time together.” “Just like us, pets’ needs can change as they age, so their daily routines, diet, and exercise may need to be adjusted to improve their quality of life, as well as adding high quality supplements. Small adjustments can ensure your pet’s golden years are less stressful for both themselves and their human companion,” Amanda added. PET PARENTS’ TOP STRESSORS My finances - 54% My job/career - 49% My ability to take care of my pet - 42% My health/wellness - 40% My romantic relationship - 37% My kid(s) - 30% WHAT WOULD HELP PETS FEEL LESS STRESSED, ACCORDING TO PET OWNERS? Spending more time outside - 47% Connecting with other pets - 46% Spending more time with me - 44% A pet therapist - 43% A change in diet - 38% A massage - 37% Vitamins/supplements - 31% – Pet owners who had a childhood pet think of them 3.46 times a week x 52 weeks = 179.92 times a year Survey methodology: This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 pet owners was commissioned by ElleVet Sciences between Sept. 8 and Sept. 16, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).