Can you love your pet too much?

Love Your Pet

Throughout my veterinary career I have met pet owners who have varying attitudes toward their pets and animals in general. There are people who think of pets as property. Others love their pet but have limits on how much they will do for them.  There are  others who view their pets as family . While there are others that would sell their soul for their pets. So out of these types of people, which one is too extreme? Can one love their pets too much?

What does it mean to love your pet too much?

For frame of reference I thought I would define what it could mean by loving your pet too much. A pet owner who may make choices for their pets based on pure emotion alone could be loving their pet too much. Especially if these choices are detrimental to both the pet owner and the pet themselves.


Why is loving your pet too much a concern?

Since I am a veterinarian, examples of concerns will be based on experience during my career. Even though it’s refreshing to work with a client willing to do anything for their sick pet, there is a line that can be reached where I consider extreme. Often these type of clients may have unrealistic expectations for their pet’s response to treatment and are in denial of the severity of their illness.   They may often may want to continue treatment even if the pet is in poor condition. Pet owner may ask to run many unnecessary tests or treatments just so their conscience will be clear. Often they make these decisions without thinking about the quality of life of their pet. This often leads to them not wanting to let their pet go unless in extreme distress.


How do you deal with people who love their pets too much?

These points are how I have dealt with people in the past who may fall into this category. Discussing quality of life  is important. I try to relate the pets condition to a hypothetical condition of the owner. This means I have the owner imagine being in the condition that their pet is in. If they are causing detriment to themselves either financially or health wise  I try to point this out as well.  Most importantly I try to  be sensitive to their emotions. I wont’ disparage them because they truly love their animals but may be emotionally disconnected to the reality of their pet’s health.  

Are you one of those that love your pet too much?

I will make a disclaimer that these questions are purely subjective on my part, therefore there are no hard and fast rules for the answers.  Here are questions to answer to see if you may fit into the category.  

Do you attribute your specific emotions to your pet? e.g when you are sad, do you feel that your pet is sad etc.

Do you feel that when you are sick that your pet gets sick with you?

When your pet is sick do you tend to under or over react emotionally?

Do you have a budget or a spending limit on how much you will spend on your pets? If you do what is the budget based on?

Again these questions are purely subjective and there are probably no wrong or right answers. But  your answers should be based on the overall quality of life of your pet vs your emotional state.

Differences between people who love their pets and people who love their pets too much

People who love their pets will do everything they can to take of their pets but with the pet’s quality of life in mind. A person who loves their pet too much may only think  of their personal quality of life without thinking of their pets.

A person who loves their pet has boundaries on how far they need to go to treat their ailing pet.(These boundaries don’t have to be monetary)  A person who loves their pet too much may not see any boundaries at all.

A person who loves their pet seeks and respects their veterinarian input regarding their pet’s quality of life. A person who loves their pet too much is more likely to disregard their veterinarian advice and could even seek dangerous home remedies to fix their pet’s problem.


Final thoughts

In a specific sense, I believe there is no pet owner who can love their pet too much. For love has no real set boundaries. I used the phrase “love your pet too much” in this article to illustrate how some people can let their emotions overtake them. This then may cause them to have poor judgement for their pet’s care. Those people may not realize what they think they doing out of love is really causing harm.  Again this is only my personal take. What do you think?

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