NEW YORK — Are you one of those pet owners who disguises a trip to the vet as an innocent walk in the park? A new study finds eight in 10 people feel guilty when they lie to their pets.
In a recent survey of 2,000 pet owners, more than half say they often feel like they aren’t doing enough for their pets, and one of the main reasons for their guilt is dishonesty.
Lying like a dog
Forty-three percent are not always honest with their pets about why they need to stop walking or playing with them. Another 38 percent have told a pet they’re going to the park, but made a beeline to the vet instead. At the same time, nearly seven in 10 people believe their pets know when they are being lied to.
Telltale signs of disappointment from pets include their companions not wanting to be touched (60%), giving people the “cold shoulder” (56%), and the looks pets give their parents (55%). Reptiles give the “cold shoulder” (69%) more often than dogs (56%), while rodents avoid pets the most (74%). Large mammals, such as horses and goats, will refuse treats (70%) more than any other pet.
How much will it take to forgive me?!
People will go to great lengths to make up with their animal companions, including giving them extra treats (57%), massages and belly rubs (55%), and playing with them more (48%).
They also fret over their pets’ health (58%) and on whether they spend too much or not enough money on their furry pals (58%). When it comes to overcoming guilt however, 32 percent of pet owners will spend more than $50 just to get back in their pet’s good graces.
At the same time, eight in 10 respondents think their pets use guilt to their advantage. Fifty-six percent have noticed their pets faking or exaggerating an injury or mood for attention — and 58 percent “often” or “always” believe them at first.
“Like regular parents, pet parents often worry about whether they are doing enough to care for their loved ones,” says Dr. Sarah Machell, Medical Director at Vetster, in a statement. “Sometimes they don’t have as much time to spend with their pets as they’d like to. But our data shows the average person devotes four hours a day to playing, snuggling or paying their pet special attention and are investing in their pet’s health and well-being.”
Pet guilt goes both ways
Although half the poll will give their pets an accurate time of when they’ll return, nine in 10 often feel guilty about leaving them alone. According to their owners, pets also appear to feel shame, but for different reasons — including chewing on or scratching furniture and objects (56%), causing things to fall or break (53%), and peeing somewhere they shouldn’t (52%).
Pet parents know their pals have done something wrong when they give them “guilty eyes” (70%), lower their head (57%), or take on a submissive posture (52%).
“Taking a proactive approach to pet wellness and health is one of the best gifts a pet can get from its parents,” Dr. Machell adds. “That includes seeking out tools that save time by allowing them to connect with a vet online from the comfort of their own home whenever they have a question about their pet’s health.”