A New Survey Reveals 80% of Owners Feel Guilty After Lying to Their Pets

Owners extend playtime, give extra treats, and pack on the belly rubs to get back in their pet's good graces.

If you ever feel bad about hiding medicine in your pet's treats or saying "Let's go for a walk" when you're really taking them to the vet, you're not alone. A new survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vetster found that a majority of respondents feel like they don't do enough for their pets. The main source of their guilt? Dishonestly. Eighty percent of the survey participants say they feel remorseful when lying to their furry friends.

Researchers surveyed 2,000 pet owners and found that about half of them (43 percent) are not always honest with their pets. Another 38 percent of the respondents say they've taken their animal to the vet after disguising it as a trip to the park, and about 70 percent believe their pet knows when they're being lied to. Some even say they just need to look at their animal to know when they're doing something wrong as pet parents, with telltale signs including not wanting to be touched (60 percent), giving the cold shoulder (56 percent), and the looks they're given (55 percent). According to the survey results, reptiles are 69 percent more likely to be standoffish than dogs, and large mammals—horses and goats—will refuse treats more than any other pet.

woman with dog on couch
Manuel Tauber-Romieri / Getty Images

If you're a pet owner, you likely know it's not hard to get back into their good graces. Per the survey results, 57 percent of respondents try to make amends by giving extra treats, 55 percent pack on the massages and belly rubs, and 48 percent say they play with their pets more. When it comes to overcoming guilt, 32 percent of the survey respondents will spend more than $50 just to earn their animal's forgiveness. "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. "Sometimes they don't have as much time to spend with their pets as they'd like to."

Despite respondents' willingness to go to extreme lengths for their pet's approval, 80 percent believe their animal uses guilt to their advantage. Fifty-six percent say they've noticed their pets faking an injury for attention and 58 percent usually believe them at first. However, that guilt goes both ways—56 percent of respondents say their pets appear guilty when chewing or scratching household items, as well as when they break things (53 percent), and urinate somewhere they shouldn't (52 percent). Pet owners say they know their companion has done something wrong when they give them guilty eyes, lower their head, or assume a submissive posture.

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