Pets bring so many wonderful things to our lives. But it’s not all kitten snuggles and puppy noses—they also come with their fair share of worries. From strange smells to workday guilt to litter box woes, these weird life stresses are the less adorable side of pet parenthood that all owners understand:
1. The Waiting Room at the Vet
Most dogs are a little freaked out by the vet’s waiting room—it’s noisy, it smells weird, it’s full of hangry cats. But that’s nothing compared to us humans.
When you arrived, you were only worried about Baxter’s sneeze. Now, you’re anxious about leash manners, afraid those coughs are contagious and paranoid that the Pomeranians are judging you (they are, by the way).
2. Your Pup’s Poop
Too soft? Too hard? Too much? Too little? Too full of crayons? Even after you house train your dog, you will continue to worry about his poop entirely too often.
3. Food Deliveries
Balancing a hot pizza while trying to tip the delivery person and making sure the dog doesn’t run out the door is a dance every pet parent must learn. May the force be with you.
4. All Things Litter Box
Your cat has extremely high standards when it comes to his bathroom, which is why he’s trained you to be stressed about his cat litter box. Is it freshly scooped? How freshly scooped? Are you sure? Why are you still reading when you could be scooping, silly human?
5. Workday Guilt
As pet parents know, there is nothing worse than big, sad puppy eyes as you grab your keys and head to work. Get ready to spend your lunch hour Googling, “Does my dog miss me?”
6. Resentful Neighbors
If your pooch is, ahem, “vocal,” you’re probably wondering if his 3 a.m. bark fests annoy the neighbors. Just in case they’re too polite to say it, we will: yes, of course it does. But hey, at least you aren’t the guy with the garage jam band—he’s totally not invited to the block party.
7. Strange Couch Smells
Obsessively sniffing the couch before guests arrive is one of the many glamorous duties of pet parenthood. The only alternative is not allowing your pets on the couch … and then pretending they obey you.
8. Buying New Rugs
You know hardwood floors are the smart choice, but every once in awhile you get sassy and buy some new rugs to spruce up the place. And then you remember: waiting for the first accident is actually worse than the first accident itself.
9. Phantom Fleas
They may be tiny, but nothing strikes fear into the heart of a pet parent like fleas—or even the slightest suggestion of fleas. No matter how religiously you treat your pets for the little buggers, an innocent itch can trigger flashbacks to That One Time.
10. The Dog Park
Dogs care about two things at the dog park: chasing tennis balls and sniffing butts. Humans, however, manage to complicate things: Is he playing too rough? Is he playing too gentle? How clean is that water bowl? Are the Frenchies excluding him again? Who do those Frenchies think they are, anyway?
Monica Weymouth is a writer, editor and certified Weird Animal Lady. She lives in Philadelphia with her two rescued Shih Tzus.
Illustrations by Josh Carter