Caring For Pets More Stressful Than Being A Parent, Poll Reveals

NEW YORK — 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 furry pals (42%) than their relationship with a partner (37%) or their kids (30%).

That may be because over half (51%) think their companions 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 furry friend more than three times a week, or about 180 times a year.

(Photo by Meruyert Gonullu from Pexels)

Supporting your pet through all stages of life can minimize their stress, allowing you to create more happy memories together,” says Amanda Howland, co-founder and CCO of ElleVet Sciences, in a statement.

“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 furry pal frequently comforts them when they’re feeling sad. In fact, 73 percent 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,” Howland adds.

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).

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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