One in five workers would quit their job if their pet can’t come with them

New research from pet insurance provider Bought By Many reveals that 75% of pet owners are experiencing Peteration Anxiety – worrying about being apart and missing their pet.

Separation anxiety is a recognised behavioural condition in pets, but few are aware of the impact being away from a pet can have on their owner’s work, social and home life.

With the government campaigning to get people returning to the office, a third of pet owners (33%) say they would be more inclined to go back if their pet could come with them.

This may be key to increasing workplace attendance, as a fifth are considering quitting their jobs if they’re not able to bring them into the office.

In fact, 19% have already asked their boss if their four-legged friend can come along and over a quarter are even contemplating moving jobs to be closer to their home, so they spend less time on the commute and more time with their pet.

In The Dog’s House

Our pets are so much of a priority they’re even unknowingly the decision makers when it comes to choosing a new home, as owners say they prioritise their pet’s needs over their own (41%) and their partners (27%).

Almost a quarter (23%) say they are looking to move somewhere more pet-friendly – this was particularly true for millennials (41%) who may be first-time buyers looking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

A further 27% of owners would sacrifice dream features in their home, for somewhere that was better suited to the pet, such as a property with a garden (43%). And over a third (34%) said they would avoid moving into a property if they thought their pet didn’t like it.

Fur-ever Love

But it’s not just our work and home lives that pets are impacting, it’s also our relationships. Pets have become so integral to our lives that 42% of single pet owners admit their furry companion also comes before any potential partners, with 53% declaring they’d never date someone who their pet didn’t appear to like.

In fact, 22% of dog owners confess they couldn’t imagine dating a ‘cat person’ (vs just 15% of cat owners who wouldn’t date a ‘dog person’).

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist says: “Lockdown has been isolating time for many and those with pets have sought comfort in their four-legged friend. During the early stages of the pandemic when families and friends were forced apart, we relied heavily on their companionship.

“Spending time with our pets increases our levels of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, which in turn increases our attachment to them. So, as the UK slowly returns to normal, it’s no surprise that people are finding it difficult to cope with the thought of being apart from their pets and are considering making lifestyle changes in order to spend more time with them. Returning the workplace in a time of uncertainty can be anxiety provoking for some, and the added stress that Peteration Anxiety can bring is not to be dismissed.

“We’ll miss the companionship and reassurances that our pets have offered us and know that they will really miss us too. This can result in feelings of excess worry and guilt and a reluctance to leave them for any length of time. It’s important to recognise the signs of Peteration Anxiety so you can make simple steps to stop it from becoming a long-term issue. However, it’s positive to see that owners are thinking about how to adjust their working and home lives to reduce Peteration Anxiety and are creating lifestyles that are more pet-centric.”

Jo Hemmings shares her top tips on dealing with Peteration Anxiety:

  • Speak up: if you have the opportunity, speak to your manager at work about bringing your pet into the office if that is a practical option. Try and take a calm yet assured approach, emphasising all the positives and perhaps suggesting just a trial day to start with. Research has shown that the vast majority of employees love having a dog in the workplace, even if it’s not their own as it makes them feel calmer and also more productive.
  • Pet tech: If you’re really missing your pet and wondering what they are up to in your absence – it might be worth investing a pet cam so that you keep reassured that all is well and also get a little surge of the pleasure hormone, serotonin, at the same time. Be aware that this checking in can get addictive (and your boss won’t appreciate it either!) so keep to a couple of watch windows a day, maybe one in the morning and one in the afternoon, just to check in.
  • Don’t have doubts: Peteration Anxiety comes from the feeling that your pet will also be suffering by being apart from you. But if you’ve taken the appropriate steps to ensure they’re going to be well looked after then there’s no need to worry. Perhaps you’ve arranged to leave them with a dog sitter or have left the radio on as a short-term solution to keep them company whilst you’re not there. Have confidence in yourself that you’ve done the best thing for them. Bought By Many has a handy guide on how you can help your pet with separation anxiety.
  • Take a deep breath: if you’re feeling anxious and getting upset then take a moment to control your breathing. Inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose and exhaling through your mouth will put the breaks on your worries and stop them from spiralling out of control. Breathing might seem simple but it has many benefits and is great at alleviating these symptoms and calming your thoughts.
  • Looking forward: one thing that can help keep this anxiety at bay is anticipation. How pleased will you be to see your pet when you get home? What will you do at the weekend to make it extra special for you both? A long walk or a play in the park? Just the thought of it can soothe and comfort you.