As a pet parent, do you ever wonder if you’re doing enough? Or do you ever find yourself comparing your parenting with what you see other pet parents doing? Are you consumed by guilt every time you have to leave them alone or decide to say no to something that would be good? (Like that uber-expensive spa treatment or just a night away?) Trust me, you’re not the only one dealing with pet parent guilt. 

Leaving for work or just going out for a simple meal with a friend or significant other.

Guilt is awful. It feels horrible and no one enjoys feeling that way. Even though you may experience guilt from time to time, I’m here to tell you— YOU’RE DOING BETTER THAN I BET YOU THINK YOU ARE!

What is Pet Parenting Guilt and What Does It Look Like?

I’ve always viewed guilt as the feeling I get when I feel responsible for how someone else feels and I don’t like how it looks like they are feeling. Pet parenting guilt can look like a lot of things: 

  • Feeling annoyed when your pet wants to play and you’re tired from a long day at work 
  • Knowing you “should” brush out your pet’s fur AGAIN or clip their nails but you can’t find the time or energy 
  • Scolding your pet aggressively to stop chewing up the pillow or scratching the arm of the couch 
  • Jerking the leash suddenly to stop them from getting into danger during a walk
  • Locking your pet out of the bedroom because he’s not letting you sleep 
  • Leaving your pet home alone for hours while you work or go out 
  • Downgrading their food because you can’t afford it anymore 
  • Lying to your dog about heading to the vet
  • Crating them when you have company 
  • Feeling resentful because your pet’s meds/surgery cost way more than you thought it would 
  • Wishing you could go on a vacation whenever you want and not have to plan care for your pet while you’re gone
  • Watching your pet age and not knowing how to help them 
  • Ignoring them when they beg 
  • Deciding if it’s time to put your pet down or not  
  • Spinning in your head after loss about what you wish you had done differently 
  • Deciding when it’s time—if ever—to get another pet after your pet dies 

While guilt might be a natural human emotion, it isn’t always helpful. The experts over at Psychology Today warn that ”[…] in excess, guilt may needlessly burden those who experience it.” I think that’s what happens often to us pet parents. We become burdened by our guilt and let it get the best of us. 

But as far as I’m concerned, so long as you are doing the best to keep them happy and healthy while making sure their needs (and yours) are met, you are good enough! 

When we can’t give our pets more, like access to us 24/7 or a bougie lifestyle, it’s easy to excessively beat ourselves up. If you fall into that category, it’s time to stop the guilt trap! 

4 Helpful Tips to Lessen Pet Parenting Guilt 

Stop comparing. 

Easier said than done, right? Comparing yourself to other pet parents is a waste of time. You have no idea what they are really going through themself. 

Now that you know better, you can do better. 

We don’t know what we don’t know. Different experiences will help you become a better pet parent in the future.Meals no longer come in a bowl for my dogs, we find other enriching ways for them to have meal time. It’s better and more normal for them plus it’s more fun for me.

Self-care is self-love. 

Self-care for me.I stopped enjoying taking walks with my dogs, so I found other ways to meet their physical needs and my sanity.  Making sure you’re well taken care of is the first step to making sure you can take good care of others, including your pet.

Sometimes things just happen. 

To feel guilty means that you feel responsible. The truth is, you aren’t responsible for everything that went “wrong” with your pet. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes things are completely out of our control. Sometimes you just have no idea it’s a thing until it is. We learn and grow from it.