Many would suggest that there is no such thing as obsession with a pet, and that pets are part of the family (even if the pet is a $0.25 fish from the pet shop). An inordinate amount of money is spent on pets, and recent figures suggest that over $60 billion per year is spent on pets in the United States. That sum is not mostly made up of pet food and veterinary care; on the contrary, it is spent on toys, clothes, treats, birthday parties, and the like. Of course, such spending and activities can be fun and amusing, but in many cases they develop into unhealthy habits which can have a detrimental effect on the humans in the relationship.
It can be easy to become obsessed with a pet, especially if our personal life lacks the depth and detail that can make for a thriving and happy existence. The modern world and culture has created the need for companionship that used to be provided by friends and family; and even though social media has created an artificial version of what we used to have, the closest recreation of the relationships from bygone eras is that of a pet and its owner. Of course, we no longer call them pets, but rather ‘family members’, that are treated as spouses or children would be. To a certain extent, this is without problem; however, there are lines that get crossed, and our preoccupation with our pets and dependence of our emotional well-being on them crosses into obsessive behavior.
Does Your Life Revolve Around Your Pet’s?
We love our pets, but in some cases our devotion to these furry creatures ends up interfering with our own lives, to the extent where we put their comfort, needs, wants, and desires ahead of our own. This can be without a problem in healthy doses, but it often escalates into an unhealthy relationship with a pet. What is worse is that the person who is obsessed with their pet cannot see their behavior as a destructive obsession for both themselves and the pet.
We have all heard of the proverbial cat lady, and instinctively know that such a relationship with pets is not healthy; however, it is difficult to recognize our own obsession with pets as it builds overtime and takes the place of normal human activities and relationships. In many cases, it becomes necessary for those who are obsessed with their pets to have intervention by friends and family, and eventually receive professional help.
There are some signs you can look out for to try and notice your own potential obsession with your pet.
- Spending beyond your limits of affordability in order to get your pet yet another toy or taking him to the top (and most expensive) groomer in town. If your pet care activities have a detrimental effect on your own livelihood, then you may be dealing with obsessive behavior.
- Spending any time away from your dog causes separation anxiety, and you are not able to comfortably enjoy a night out at the movies or a walk in the park by yourself.
- You are more worried about your pet’s feelings than you are about that of your friends, family, or significant other.
These are just a few examples which you can use to guide yourself towards a better understanding of your relationship with your pet. If you are unsure, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a professional.