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Petlag: half of pet owners feel guilt when jetting off

30 August 2017

  • 15% won’t go on holiday without their pets
  • 32% buy their furry friends holiday souvenirs
  • 41% of pet owners use technology to keep track of their pet whilst on holiday.

The research reveals that a third (31%) of pet owners spend their travels thinking about their pets whilst a fifth (15%) refuse to go on holiday without them.

Highlighting that the guilt sets in before pet owners even set off for their breaks, a third (32%) of pet owners say they treat their pets to make up for what’s about to happen.

More traditional forms of communication are also used by holiday makers with almost a tenth (8%) of pet owners admitting to sending a postcard to their beloved animals.

Furthermore, the study reveals that UK pet owners are dependent on technology for keeping track of their pets whilst on holiday, with two fifths (41%) saying that this is the case.

In terms of the most common forms of technology used to keep in touch with their companions, one in seven sent and received text messages, 6% received video updates and a further one in 20 made phone calls to their pets.

Skype, FaceTime and Instagram are also seen as popular choices for pet owners.

For almost a third (32%) of pet owners, returning from their holiday with a souvenir for their pet is a must. Three quarters (75%) purchase toys, two thirds (65%) opt for edible treats and a fifth (19%) spoil their pets with new bedding.

Once back to normality, pet owners say that out of guilt for leaving their pets they continue to spoil them, almost a third (29%) say they are even more affectionate, over a quarter (28%) provide extra treats and a fifth (18%) buy their pets new toys.

#Post-holiday pet spoiling%
1 Give extra cuddles and attention 29%
2 Feed their pets treats 28%
3 Buy their pets new toys 18%
4 Feed their pets extra food 11%
5 Let it sleep in my bedroom 11%

Resident Co-op Insurance vet, Matt Brash commented: “Pets have complex emotions and there is some evidence to suggest that they do feel a sense of excitement when their owner returns from being away. That said, owners should avoid spoiling their pet before or after their holiday as this can have health implications relating to weight gain and dental problems.

“Like children, pets respond to routine and are sensitive to changes in their routines such as packing, and quite obviously associate suitcases with their owners going away. This can exacerbate separation anxiety, which is one of many reasons for keeping their routine as normal as possible. So whilst a holiday treat won’t do any harm, it’s advised that owners keep their pet’s sleep, exercise routine and diet as balanced as possible.”

David Hampson, Head of Pet Insurance at Co-op added: “We know that the bond between a pet and its owner is special and the fact that half of owners feel guilty when going away on a much needed break confirms this.

"As well as finding out the extent at which owners feel guilty whilst away, we also wanted to look at how this impacts behaviour among pet owners. Evidently, owners are making up for lost time and spoiling their loved ones like any other member of the family, but it was surprising to find that as many as 15% send and receive text messages on behalf of the pet and almost a tenth send postcards. Clearly, love has no bounds when it comes to our four legged friends.”


Notes to editors

*Survey of 1,000 UK pet owners was conducted on behalf of Co-op Insurance by Atomik Research.

For more information contact:

Rosie Brierley
07834 446709

Claire Newmarch
07808 609944