Owning a pet brings immense joy, love, companionship, and fur into our lives. However, alongside the pleasures of being a pet parent, there often comes an unwelcome guest - guilt. Pet parent guilt is a common emotional experience that arises from the fear of not meeting our furry companions' needs to the fullest extent. Even veterinarians are not immune - I experienced it myself when I had to euthanize my dog, Alma, in 2021 after a valiant battle with cancer. It was gut-wrenching.
In this blog post, we will explore the various aspects of pet parent guilt and provide strategies to cope with this challenging inner experience.
Understanding Pet Parent Guilt
Pet ownership guilt can manifest from many different situations, such as feeling inadequate in providing proper care, feeling like you are neglecting pets' well-being, or not spending enough quality time with them. Separation anxiety guilt may arise when leaving our pets alone for extended periods, leading to worry and doubt about their emotional state. Guilt related to a pet's health may emerge when we feel responsible for their ailments, believe we could have done more to prevent them, couldn't do more because of financial limitations, or feel like you chose euthanasia either too early or too late. Additionally, guilt may weigh heavily when we perceive our pets' behavior as problematic because they are bored and lacking exercise opportunities and mental stimulation.
Dr. Sarah Wooten is a well known international influencer in the veterinary and animal health care spaces. She has 16 years experience in private practice and over 10 years experience in veterinary media work, and is a certified veterinary journalist.