Are you experiencing pet parent guilt? Vetster’s leading Medical Director, Dr. Sarah Machell, shares some helpful insights and tips on how to cope!

dog in snow

The holidays can be a challenging time for some when it comes to experiencing pet parent guilt. According to Vetster’s leading Medical Director, Dr. Sarah Machell, pet guilt comes from worrying about not spending enough time with your pets or thinking that they can tell when you are having a bad day. In a recent survey of 2,000 pet parents, Vetster’s discovered some striking similarities in the way individuals experience — and fix — pet guilt.

In order to help pet parents address pet parent guilt, Dr. Machell is sharing top tips and tricks on ways to cope. Dr. Machell mentions that “as pet parents, we tend to overcompensate our love for our pets. It’s only natural to want to make it up to your pets when you feel you’ve done something wrong (especially since they’re not afraid to let you know it!).” When it comes to quick remedies to stop, she notes that, “buying expensive gifts, feeding your pets extra treats, and overcompensating can all feel like a great fix to a tricky situation.”

So what are some ways to resolve the issue of pet guilt?


Check out Dr. Sarah Machell’s top fix-it methods below:

Treats are for tricks: Going for the good stuff and throwing your pet an extra treat or two might seem like a great idea, but all those extra calories can add up. Most pets should only have 5-10% of their calories from treats, but if you’re serving up extras you’re getting into a danger zone. Extra pudge on pets might be cute, but overweight pets are more at risk for certain diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Accidents happen. We’ve all done it- stepped on our pet’s toes, lost track of time fed them late or had to delay a walk. But that’s life. Feeling guilty that you messed up doesn’t fix the problem. Just get the help you need and move on, and maybe throw in a few extra cuddles if you need to (they’re calorie-free)!

Get to the vet. One of the big sources of guilt we discovered was all veterinarian-related. According to the survey, some pet parents lie to their pets about going to the vet to avoid stress (38%), while others hesitate over whether or not they should go to the vet (61%). And 20% of pet parents said they don’t even have a regular vet. But worrying about going to the vet or delaying a visit can only make things (including your stress) worse. If your pet’s hard to transport, if it’s after hours, if you can’t get an appointment, Vetster is open 24/7 to help you with any urgent (or general care) questions.

dog in snow

Cuddles Count. With 32% of pet parents spending $50 or more to assuage their guilt, we just have to say: pets don’t see dollars, they see love. Pamper your pet with snuggles or strokes, take an extra walk, or give them an extra treat (in moderation). There’s no reason to overspend or clutter your house with toys when your love is probably just what your pet needs to feel better.

Alone but not lonely. One of the biggest sources of guilt is leaving our pets alone. In fact, 59% of pet owners feel like they don’t spend enough time with their pets. And with the return to office looming post-pandemic, that anxiety is ramping up. But if you prep your pet for your departure, and show them love and attention while you’re home, your pet will adapt in no time. They may even be happy for their privacy.

You love your pets. There’s no doubt about it. But spoiling them or giving into guilt isn’t the answer. Give them the attention they deserve, nutritious food, and cozy home, and stay connected with a licensed veterinarian for all their health needs.

Published by HOLR Magazine.