Do We Treat Our Pets Like Our Children?

By Lisa Spector, Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert and co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear.

A recent article in Pshychology Today by Stanley Coren, PhD referred to a recent online survey by Kelton Research. Of 1,000 people tested, more people are considering their dogs as part of their family and are also referring to them as children. Here are some of the results:

  • Nearly 60 percent say that their dogs play a different role than the dogs of their childhood
  • 54 percent call themselves “pet parents” instead of “pet owners”
  • 58 percent have nicknames for themselves, such as “mommy” and “daddy”
  • 35 percent call their dog their “son” or “daughter”
  • 62 percent of the dogs have their own chair, sofa, or bed
  • 81 percent of dog parents know their pets’ birthdays
  • 77 percent have celebrated their pets’ birthday by buying him or her a birthday present
  • 23 percent of pet parents have a photo album dedicated to only pictures of their dogs
  • 16 percent have started scrapbooks for their pets
  • 71 percent of pet owners admit that they have at least one picture of their dog that they carry with them (although the convenience of storing photos on mobile devices may have added to this percentage)

Personally, even though I do consider my dogs as part of my family, I’ve never called myself a pet parent or referred to myself as mommy. However, Sanchez and Gina do have their own dog beds, I celebrate their birthdays (you are invited to a virtual party for Sanchez’s 8th birthday), have scrapbooks dedicated to them, and a picture of my dogs is both my screen saver on my laptop and on my iPhone.

Next: Are you a pet parent?

That being said, I received so many beautiful comments in response to my article Happy Motherís Day! Love, Fido, that I am now starting to not only consider myself a pet parent but am proud to be one. One reader commented that “all children are our children, as all animals are our children and deserve our love enough to want to be their voice, to protect and offer a happy healthy life.”

Another wrote, “Being a ‘MOM’ is about compassion, nurturing and caring for those who have come into our lives with trust and faith in us, whether they walk on 2 legs or 4. I have both kinds of children, and it is a blessing each day to interact with/care for all of my children.” Another Care2 reader posted this beautiful poem, of unknown origin:

Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute;
You didn’t grow under my heart
but in it.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank my Care2 readers for really brightening my Mother’s Day and also use this as a chance to hear from more of you on the subject. If you have pets, do you consider yourself a pet parent? Thanks for voting and adding your comments.

As co-founder of Through a Dogís Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.
Image: Dog in Baby Carriage

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell5 months ago

Of course! they are my children! My 15 children :-)

Elisa F.
Elisa F.1 years ago

Yes :)

Debbi Ryan
Deb Ryan2 years ago

Meant to say, OF COURSE!

Debbi Ryan
Deb Ryan2 years ago


katarzyna phillips

if you treat them with the same dignity, decency and respect as someone else in your household, then they are part of your family. you decide what type of family member they are to you, but they will see you as the care giver and be loyal to you as a result

Dale Overall

It does not really matter if one considers oneself a pet parent or a companion or whatever as long as you love the pet giving the pet a quality and loving existence, care and everything necessary for comfort and survival.

Sometimes I call myself mom to my sixteen year old blind cat, sometimes friends call me auntie to their lovely cats. Am now allergic to her, but she stays!

One can get caught up in labelling and whatever fits your own situation is fine.

Have no children of my own and will always have a pet companion in my life and enjoy the company as does the cat enjoy my company while she rules the roost. She has several of her own beds around the house as she is arthritic and no longer jumps up on my bed to snuggle up.

After becoming blind she does prefer all paws on terra firma and does not like being up on a bed, chair or anything else - she gets her comfort on plush beds on the floor/rug. She navigates well being blind using her whiskers to map out her journey and certainly increases speed on the way to the food bowl.

Darla G.
Darla G.3 years ago

I don't have 2-legged kids b/c I never wanted children. I do, however, have 4-legged furkids and I am 100% their mom and they are my babies.They are treated better than many human children in this world and they're definitely better behaved than many human kids.

Viviana C.
Past Member 3 years ago

I don't have any children so I do call my dogs my babies.

Lika S.
Lika S.3 years ago

My cats are my babies. My human one is 12, and is my young man already. I don't have pictures in my wallet, but I have a photo album special for my pets.

I don't do the birthdays, but, when we have holidays, I make them a special treat as well. They are in on the family celebrations. If we go elsewhere, I give them gourmet canned treats.

My cats even act as if am their "mama".

LMj Sunshine

thank you..