Pet Regret is More Common than You Think. Here’s How to Handle It

Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a cuddly new puppy or kitten. You get to take this adorable creature home and are now responsible for the daunting task of caring for it for the rest of its life. 

You signed up for this but didn’t realize the massive challenge you’ve agreed to undertake. 

You might be experiencing pet regret. 

What is Pet Regret

Pet regret is the realization that you made a giant mistake. Animal care is far more complex than you imagined, and you have neither the time, energy, or desire for the challenge. 

Pet regret may stem from the realization that your pets hold you back from living the life you want to live. You can’t travel because you need a pet sitter, you can’t move because landlords hate pets, and you can’t save money because you’re constantly paying vet bills. 

Regardless of the reason, pet regret is a real thing people experience. 

Realizing You Feel Regret

Some people have an epiphany, instantly realizing they made a mistake. They brought the puppy home and knew it was a bad idea within days. 

But it takes longer for others. Pet regret isn’t always instantaneous. Sometimes, it’s a slow-dawning realization that takes months, even years, to come to terms with. 

It took me years to realize that dog ownership isn’t for me. I didn’t fully understand how much they impacted my life when I got them. 

I Love My Pets

Before the brigade of pet lovers starts crucifying me– hear me out. 

I have four cats and two dogs, and I love the little buggers. I would never dump them at an animal shelter or give them less than the care they deserve. 

They are a part of the family. They are my responsibility, and I will do my best to ensure each one has the longest, most comfortable life possible. 

However, despite how much I love them, I failed to consider how much they would impact my life.

Perhaps my story will help someone else realize they aren’t ready for pet ownership, while it might make others on the fence decide they’re up for the challenge. 

Getting a pet should never be an impulse decision. It should be well-researched and enthusiastic. 

Anyone considering pet ownership must know all sides of the story – the joys and limitations. 

Why Do I Regret Getting Pets?

My life would be different if I didn’t have pets. I could have taken that job in California or rented while living in Savannah and Pennslyvania. 

I could quit my job on a whim, travel the world, or even do something simple, like a spontaneous vacation. 

Unfortunately, pets make all these dreams unfeasible. 

I Regret Getting a Dog

I regret the dogs far more than I regret the cats. 

Cats are easy. When it was just them, I could take weekend trips whenever I wanted when it was just them. They’re fine for a few days, with plenty of food and water scattered throughout the house. 

Dogs are different. You can’t leave them alone and go on an overnight trip, much less an entire weekend getaway. 

If I want to get away, I must hire a pet sitter or boarder. Pet-sitting cats is easy. Someone only needs to come once per day. But dogs need to go out at least three times a day, skyrocketing the cost of sitting. We also need to book well in advance to ensure someone can watch them, which significantly limits spontaneity. 

Though the travel limitations are part of why I regret dogs, they aren’t the only reason. Dogs are more challenging because they’re more expensive, limit mobility, and take far more time and energy than cats. 

Dogs Are Expensive

I have two large dogs. Their food costs $75 every three weeks, not including special treats or bones. 

Dogs require constant medical care. They must go to the veterinarian at least once per year minimum, and at any sign of a problem. One of my dogs had constant ear infections, while another suddenly developed a skin rash. These little problems and the vet bills required to treat them constantly pop up. 

I also pay for flea, tick, and heartworm prevention and their yearly vaccinations. 

In addition, I have to buy plenty of chew toys and bones so they don’t destroy my stuff.  

When Coyote was a puppy, he ate my brand-new couch on the day it was delivered, costing me hundreds of dollars in repairs. 

Time and Energy

People buy energetic dog breeds and then ditch them when they eat their couch. But who’s fault is it?

Energetic breeds need constant attention and engagement. They become destructive if they don’t have healthy ways to release their energy. 

Knowing what you’re getting into before adopting a dog is vital. 

Although I had a bit of an idea with Coyote, I didn’t know the full extent. However, I didn’t exactly choose him. I found him. 

An eight-month-old husky mix showed up at my mom’s house in the Mojave desert. He was chipped, but the family said they didn’t want him. I assume they bought him rose-colored glasses and ditched him when he ate their couch. 

I felt terrible for him, and although I knew I couldn’t give him all the engagement he needed, I figured life with me would be better than a short life in the desert or a shelter, so I took him home. 

I didn’t ditch him when he ate my couch, but I did try to take him to the dog park more often. Unfortunately, I usually don’t have the time or energy for it, but at least he’s calmed down and rarely eats my stuff anymore. 

Coyote is a wonderful dog. He gets along well with the cats and loves everyone he meets. I’m glad I saved him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he requires much more energy than I have.  

Lack of Mobility

Dogs make finding housing hard. If you want a dog, you must understand that they may prevent you from moving. 

Many landlords refuse to rent to someone with a dog weighing over fifty pounds; even “dog-friendly” buildings often have restrictions. Some have no weight limits but don’t allow “bully breeds.” Unfortunately, my sweet, gentle, terrified Akita, Malaki, is considered a “bully breed,” making it nearly impossible to find an apartment. 

Dog ownership has severely limited my mobility. Moving is prohibitively expensive, making it hard to look for better opportunities in different cities. Most of the time, renting is out of the question, so I almost always have to buy. 

In 2019, I got the most fantastic job offer of my life. It was for nearly 120K per year and back in Long Beach, CA. 

I turned the job down.

My official reason is that moving back to California won’t help me on the path to financial freedom. While that’s technically true, it’s only accurate because I have so many pets.

Can’t Move, Too Many Pets

The real reason I turned the job down is that I have so many pets. Moving back to California with them would be incredibly expensive. Finding a home where we could all live in the area would cost me more than the yearly raise. 

There’s no way I could afford it. 

If I didn’t have them, I would have taken the job. I could have easily found a one-bedroom apartment or roommate situation for around $1000 a month in the area. 

After my housing costs, I’d still take home over 100K a year. That would be worth it for a few years and would help me on my journey to financial independence

Regretting My Cats

I don’t regret my cats as much as my dogs, as they are more manageable.

When I was just a crazy cat lady, I could take weekend trips and not worry about whether the cats would destroy the house when I was gone. Sure, they’d get mad and throw a few things off the counter, but overall, they could take care of themselves for a few days.

However, I do regret getting four cats.

If I had only two cats, like a normal person, I’d be able to do most of what I want. I could have found a cheap one-bedroom rental in California that accepts cats. I could have moved them cross-country without having to stop every two hours.

But still, even with just one cat, my dreams of traveling the world would have to be put on hold. Cats don’t travel well, and there are many rules and restrictions to bringing domestic animals across international borders. And with four cats, it’s a pipe dream.

What Should You Do if You Regret Getting Pets?

If any of this story resonates with you, you have options. Pet regret is real, but there are things you can do to manage it. 

Suck it Up

The first option is to suck it up and deal. You adopted the pet; it’s part of your family, and you must figure it out. 

Many far reaches of the internet will stubbornly advise you to do just this. Although some of us do it and find ways to be happy, we need to acknowledge it’s not realistic or appropriate for everyone. 

Make Adjustments

Another option is to find ways to make it work. Sometimes, we regret getting a pet because we’re overwhelmed and don’t get the help we expected from a partner. 

If people in your household want the pet but aren’t helping, adjust your workload and force them to help. 

Have older kids walk and feed the dog. Make your partner responsible for vet visits. Adjust the workload in your home so it’s not all on you. 

You can also adjust your life goals to account for your animals, like I did. I’m still on the path to financial independence, but I acknowledge I will have to work longer to provide a home for my pets. It’s okay, though. The extra years will fatten up my investments, and I will get to experience the full joy of pet ownership along the way. 


Sometimes, pet regret situations arise from lack of training. Dogs can be difficult. If they think they can get away with something, they will. 

If you regret your dog because it’s behaving poorly, consider taking it to training classes before giving up on it. Your furry friend may need a little guidance to become the perfect companion. 

Pay for Help

If you’re overwhelmed and nobody can help, it’s okay to pay for it. Hire a dog walker to walk your dog a few times per week or take them to doggy daycare while you’re at work. 

Outsourcing some of the dog’s care may make dog ownership easier and more manageable if you can afford it. 


If all else fails and you cannot give your pet the care it deserves, it’s perfectly acceptable to rehome it. 

Many internet users will give you hate for re-homing, but often, it’s the best option for both you and the pet.

Be sure to do the proper research before re-homing a pet. Give your pet to good owners, where it will be happy, healthy, and well taken care of. Use these great tips for re-homing to find a perfect match. 

Please avoid dropping your pet off at a shelter. Most shelters are so overrun with homeless animals that most only get a few days to get adopted -and get euthanized if they don’t.  If you can’t find a good new home, at least find a no-kill shelter

How to Avoid Pet Regret

Sometimes, pet regret is unavoidable. Life changes, jobs change, families change, and commitments we once made are no longer feasible. 

However, there are ways to mitigate pet regret to a great extent. 


Before getting any pet, you should research its needs. Consider its life span, common ailments, food needs, and energy levels. 

Ensure you know exactly what to expect with a specific animal and breed before purchasing. 

Choose an Appropriate Breed

Huskies are the cutest animals. They’re furry, with blue or multicolored eyes, and often make people swoon. 

However, huskies are also very high-energy dogs. They love being outside and being active. They get bored quickly and often turn to destructive behaviors to alleviate their boredom.

Huskies don’t do well as inside dogs. If you live in a small apartment, choose a breed suited for apartment life or get a cat. 

Don’t get a dog that’s not suited to your lifestyle just because it’s cute. 

Ensure Stability

Although life has a funny way of throwing curve balls during the best of times, there are some times we should just know that getting a pet is a bad idea. 

Put off getting a companion if you’re about to graduate college and don’t know where you might move after. Consider getting a small cat if you’re not yet stable in your career and have to hop from job to job. 

Before you get one, consider whether you will move soon and whether your companion can come with you. 

What Am I Going to Do?

As I said above, I will continue living my life and caring for my babies to the best of my ability. 

I’m capable of caring for them, and they enhance my life in many immeasurable ways. I’m sacrificing my freedom for them, and I’m more than okay with that choice. 

I didn’t write this because I will give them up or change anything I’m doing. I’m writing to acknowledge my feelings and let others know their regret is valid. 

People don’t discuss these regrets or acknowledge that having pets can hold them back, but these conversations are essential. They can prevent people from getting pets who probably shouldn’t have them while offering others a realistic idea of what to expect if they choose to adopt. 

So, if you regret getting pets, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make you a bad person.  

In fact, it’s best to acknowledge your feelings so you can decide the best way to move forward for you and them.

16 thoughts on “Pet Regret is More Common than You Think. Here’s How to Handle It”

  1. It’s refreshing to see someone honestly address the drawbacks of having pets, particularly indoor house pets. We have a couple of stray outdoor adopted animals, a cat and a dog. They don’t come inside but have freedom to roam the 800 acres of wooded wetlands around our house. All we have to do when we travel is to pay someone to put food in their bowls once a day. But even at that we don’t intend to replace them when they pass. We prefer the company of each other and of our friends to that of pets.

    • Yes, indoor house pets do have tons of drawbacks, and thank you for your appreciation of this post. It would be nice if I only had to pay someone to fill a food bowl when I traveled! I do enjoy the company of my pets (there’s nothing quite like that low rumble in your lap when you are reading a book) but I don’t intend to get another one after these guys pass for quite some time. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. I regretted getting a dog. I loved her to death but she was a lot of work. Luckily my ex-husband took care of her (and then took her in the divorce). But she was just too much for me. I realized that I’m much happier s oolong the litter box every few days than having to go outside every time the dog needs to per. And worrying about paying attention to the signs that the dog needs to owe. And yes even overnight stays wouldn’t be feasible with a dog without much preparation.

    I don’t regret the cat though she’s mildly insane. But I also have just the one. Even two cats is a lot of cat to me so I admire you for taking in 4.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I also regret the dogs more than the cats, because they are just so much more work. I don’t really think 2 or 3 cats is much more work than 1 though (admittedly 4 is pushing it!). The limitation in mobility is the same regardless of how many you have, which is why I won’t be getting any more for awhile after they pass on. I’m glad we both realized what our limitations and needs are with pets though, that part is important.

  3. All such valid reasons not to get pets! I generally caution people not to jump into getting a dog if they’ve never had a pet before – we knew people who made that mistake and seriously regretted it. They ended up having to rehome the puppy because they weren’t ready for the intense adjustment and training needed.

    Even though the short period that we didn’t have dogs was the saddest period of my life, it was also a lot of freedom. No one to walk, feed, bathe, shop for, clip nails of, worry about veterinary issues for … it feels like an endless list when you’ve got more than one!

    Regretting a decision about getting pets thankfully doesn’t mean you won’t love them or you’re going to act like a jerk and abandon them. It hopefully means that you’ll think twice the next time you start to fall for those EYES. I’m so weak when it comes to seeing pictures of dogs that need homes. I’ve adopted 6 dogs in my lifetime, and the last one is the only one I’ve ever regretted. We still take good care of her and train her and the whole shebang BUT I realized that we may not have been the best fit for her between our stage in life and her needs. I’ve never felt this before and felt terrible about it but I’ve made my peace with it and we’ll do our best by her.

    • Exactly! I’m going to keep all my babies and give them the best life I possibly can. But I know that getting a new pet after they pass is not the answer. That will be my time for traveling, taking risks, and being mobile. The important thing is to do the best you can by them, like we both are. They are living creatures and they deserve at least that. Thank you so much for the comment and the support.

  4. This was tough to read, but I have to agree. Grew up with pets, have had as many as three, and married a veterinarian. It led us to buy when we should have rented and now we rent in a less than ideal spot. We’re down to a 12yr old mostly deaf beagle mix that will howl when he’s in a strange place. We are paying $2300 for a single family house in the suburbs and driving too much when we should be in a $1400/mo townhouse in an area of town we’d rather be in.

    The hidden costs are real. We’ll probably go petless for a few years after our buddy passes

    • Yep, that’s exactly where I’m at. I’m glad that there are people who relate. I’ll be going petless for awhile after they pass as well. Thanks for your story and commiserating!

  5. I have similar thoughts at times, but I love having my dog. She is truly the best part of every day. Of course, she does limit things at times for me, but she’s also opened a whole new world for me. Pets are definitely not cheap and one should thoroughly consider the reality of owning a pet before choosing to adopt one.

    • Yeah, thats my biggest point in writing this. Everyone sees the fun side all the time, but we don’t often talk about any negatives. I think the housing part is the biggest set back for me, I didn’t consider how limited my mobility would be with pets.

      • Finally someone that gets it lol. I have four cats and an 80lb dog. I love them all but sometimes I feel regret. Recently had 2 friends visit and stay the night and I almost felt embarrassed with the amount of animals I have. Cats kept them up all night too by stepping on them. Again, I love all my animals but at 19 I do wish I had taken the time to think and not act. In the end all my animals get along, I just have to keep on top of the hair and feed them. My dog really is like having a baby though haha because you can’t leave them alone for long periods of time. I get anxious but I remind myself when I finally get a house there will be so much room and my kids will start life with so many loveable pets. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I was given a cat 1 year after graduating university. While she was a lovely cat, I wish I could have travelled more during those single years before husband and kids.

    And pets are expensive. Very expensive! Vet visits, medications, boarding if you’re away, vaccines, not to mention food and everything else from the pet store.

    • so so expensive! My cat cost me over four thousand dollars with just one accident! I love the little buggers, but after they pass I won’t be getting more for a long time.

  7. I needed to read this a week ago….I was wanting a dog so badly because I’ve been depressed during the pandemic. I just adopted a rescue dog a couple days ago and I am panicking. I don’t know if I can handle the cost, the training, etc. I used to have a dog but I forgot what it was like when he was new. I hope my panic is short-term and I will come to love having a dog again.

  8. I know this is over a year later but I was relieved to find this article. I adopted a cat in late 2020, not at all on impulse as it was something that I researched thoroughly before taking the plunge. What I did not anticipate was adopting a cat that would have physical and mental health issues in my first 6 months of having her. I struggle with anxiety myself so it’s been very stressful to troubleshoot what seems like persistent health problems, and to see the tufts of hair around my apartment from her compulsive fur pulling. This is my first cat and I feel like a bad cat owner for having all of these issues. I’m thankful she’s a senior so this won’t be a 10+ year commitment. This experience, thus far, is bringing me to the conclusion that I will not be a cat (or dog) owner again. The headache and stress of her neediness has been a lot, even if at times my cat can be rewarding.

    • Thank you for your comment. This is the reason I wrote this post. Pets aren’t for everyone, and they require a ton of time and effort. I wish people would stop pushing the “just get a pet” thing. And you’re right, even with all the research, you never know what you are going to get. You’re not a bad owner for not always being able to help her with her problems. You’re giving her a loving home at the end of her life, and that’s something to be proud of.

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