An·thro·po·mor·phism

The attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal, or object.


When Anthropomorphism has a negative impact on pet health care: In my years of experience as a veterinarian there are two main issues that occur that relates to anthropomorphism being negative. Both have to do with misinterpretation of pet’s feelings or behaviour. This especially becomes a concern when owners are trying to interpret whether their pet is experiencing pain. There are some owners who expect pets to exhibit signs of pain the exact same way they do. As a result, owners may ignore exhibition of pain from their pets if they are not literally “crying”. Therefore they will often not seek veterinary care for them.


The other issue I have written about in the past in the article “Can You Love Your Pet Too Much“. This is when owners have such a strong emotional attachment to their pets that it can lead to irrational decisions regarding their health care. Some examples could include not recognizing when a pet is suffering because of the guilt to keep a patient alive despite a debilitating condition. This could also involve pursuing treatments for medical conditions that are obviously terminal. Another problem is that some pet owners may get so desperate they may seek dangerous home remedies to treat their pets.


Pets as property and its impact on pet health care: Even though we would like to think everyone that owns a pet thinks of them as family, unfortunately that is not the case. I frequently encounter owners who don’t want to spend more on healthcare for their pet than they have spent on the pet themselves. So their choice of treatment mainly focuses on how it will benefit them vs, the pet itself. Often their mantra is why pay the cost of healthcare when the money can be used to replace a pet.


Final Thoughts: As you can see your attitude toward your pets can go a long way in determining what type of care they receive. Having a genuine interest in the well- being of your pet will have the best outcome for them. Extremes on either side can be negative and lead to harm for your pet. So balanced emotions and attitudes are important for the welfare of your pet. Article by: Dr. Alleyene. (Veterinarian)

Opinion: Anthropomorphism and Our Pets

Anthropomorphizing Our Dogs

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