Sorry kids: Best part of day for 4 in 5 pet owners is seeing their four-legged friend when they come home

NEW YORK — For nearly four out of five Americans, the ideal welcoming committee has four legs.  That’s according to a recent poll of 2,000 pet owners, where 78 percent agree that seeing their pet when they come home is the best part of their day. 

It’s no surprise, to that end, that 71 percent say they regularly put their pet’s needs before their own.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Chewy, the survey aimed to uncover the degree to which pet parents prioritize their fur babies’ happiness when making major life decisions and planning their daily activities. According to respondents, pets influence what trips they take (40%), where they live (37%) and the people they hang out with (35%). Moreover, one-third (36%) agree that their pet is a key factor in how they spend money.

Pets also play a significant role in all aspects of day-to-day activities with nearly half of respondents (49%) admitting they plan their free time around being with their pet. More than two in five (43%) would change plans so their pet could be included, and 39 percent would rather cancel to spend more time with their pet. 

Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents say they have gotten another pet for their pet — and 33 percent would consider getting another! Most commonly, it was to keep their pet from getting lonely (66%), but 51 percent did so to give their current pet more exercise.

“Pets have become our whole world, so it’s no surprise to see them claim a place of prominence in the household,” says Dr. Katy Nelson, senior veterinarian at Chewy. “This reflects the larger trend of ‘pet prioritization,’ or placing our pets’ needs above our own when considering major life decisions or planning our social calendars and daily behaviors.”

To bolster their pet’s well-being and happiness, 23 percent have cooked them a homemade meal and 21 percent let them choose where they’d like to sleep in bed first. Almost half (46%) of pet parents have spent more on their pet’s medical needs than their own.

Pets change owners’ lives

Since getting a pet, respondents believe they’re more responsible (40%) and empathetic (32%). Almost three in 10 (28%) even feel more prepared to have kids. About half (51%) of respondents say they’re equally in tune with both their and their pet’s emotions, and two in five (20%) say they’re more in touch with their pet’s emotions than their own. 

This essential bond has allowed pet owners to pick up on their pet’s “love language.” More than half (55%) said their furry friend has this form of communication with them, and 36 percent of them believe it to be physical touch in the form of petting, kissing and hugsAnother 24 percent believe quality time is the way to their pet’s heart.

“The deep understanding of our pets’ emotions and personalities increases our attentiveness to their needs and the desire to provide them with premium care and comfort,” says Nelson. 

Understandably, this may be why many respondents find it harder to leave pets at home. More than half (62%) wish they could bring their pets with them when they leave either “all of the time” or “most of the time.” And for those times when it’s better to leave them at home, pet parents give them hugs and kisses (42%), give them their favorite toy or blanket (39%) and turn on the TV (35%) to make sure they are comfortable and happy.

It’s no surprise that 35 percent of pet owners cited “giving me kisses when I get home” as a way they bond with their four-legged friend. Other common rituals pets and their parents share are watching TV or a movie together (38%) and lying next to one another in times of stress (36%). But others share more intimate rituals. like taking a nap together (34%) or being “supervised” by their pet when they are in the shower or bathroom (32%).

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