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Healthy Pets

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Are You Obsessed With Your Pet?

Experts talk with WebMD about the line between devotion and obsession with your pet.

When You're Called Obsessed

Christine Pellicano of New York, known in the pet world as Aunt Christine, has been a cat sitter, dog walker, pet artist, and photographer for more than 25 years.

“Some people have judged me by their own standards and mistake my commitment and dedication to animal welfare and my own pets as an obsession," Pellicano tells WebMD. "Family members were extremely judgmental and their attitudes resulted in a rift between us that has never been repaired. Love me, love my dogs and cats, and respect my feelings about them.”

Ada Nieves, a certified pet fashion designer and registered gourmet treats baker in New York, agrees.

“When people call me obsessed with pets, to me that is a compliment. It means I go above and beyond for my dogs and that others are watching, hopefully emulating my example,” Nieves tells WebMD. “It is unhealthy to hear negative comments saying you have an obsession with pets. My advice? Dump the person, keep the dog, and have a happy life,” Nieves says with a grin.

Still, Pellicano says she sees “a trend that’s similar to what we see among some parents with their children: people achieving their own sense of achievement and stardom through their pets. There are people who force their pets into uncomfortable settings, environments, and situations even when the pet is shutting down and not enjoying the limelight.” These pets are placed in situations that clearly make them uncomfortable, yet the owner dismisses it.

Animal Hoarding

"I don't personally know of anyone who has gone overboard with their pet, excluding hoarding of course,” Susan Sims tells WebMD. Sims is the publisher of FIDO Friendly, a travel and lifestyle magazine for dog owners.

Animal hoarding is a form of abuse where people acquire an excessive number of pets and may not believe nor recognize they are doing something wrong. In the eyes of the hoarder, they are saving animals.

But animal hoarding is unsafe and unhealthy for the pets and the people involved. Contact animal control services if you suspect animal hoarding.

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Reviewed on June 02, 2010

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