Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of I and Love and You in advance of National Hug Your Hound Day, the survey looked to see how much people love their four-legged friends and, within that, pinpointed what it means to be a “pet fanatic.” Using a panel of 2,000 pet owners, OnePoll's results found that 34 percent of parents prefer their furry friends to their own flesh and blood. The survey, wherein 72 percent were parents, revealed a fifth of parents have bought a gift for their pet more recently than a gift for their child.

Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) said their pet was their best friend, while another 78 percent said their pet was part of the family. 54 percent even think their four-legged companion understands them better than their best friend or their significant other.

Our furry friends are there to pick us up at the end of the day; 68 percent said spending time with their pet helps cheer them up, more so than spending time with family or friends. They’re also there to help us through the hard times. Respondents said their pets have helped them during stress from work (40 percent), relationship troubles (40 percent) and health problems (34 percent).

“Pets are more than just a companion, they love us unconditionally and make us want to be better people,” said Lindsey Rabaut, Vice President of Marketing for I and Love and You. “A pet’s love brings out the best in all of us.”

40 percent of those surveyed self-identified as a pet fanatic, with the top signs found to be creating a social media account for a furry friend (44 percent), something that 17 percent of respondents have done.

The other top signs of being a pet fanatic included throwing a pet a birthday party (42 percent) or buying them clothes and accessories (42 percent). That was followed by spending more money on a pet’s meal than on their own (41 percent) or allowing their four-legged friend to regularly sleep in the bed (40 percent).

And the survey found that 68 percent agreed: Pets are people, too. This might be why the majority of respondents (72 percent) believe their pet’s food should be of the same quality as their own. 41 percent even prepare their pet’s food from scratch.

“One universal moment that brings the entire family together is mealtime,” said Rabaut. “The thought we put into our food really expresses the love we share. We believe that pets are people, too and that they should be fed a diet that allows them to be their best selves all day, every day. We exist to help you get the most out of your relationship with your BFF furbaby.”

Our Pets Have Been With Us Through

  • Stress from work: 40 percent
  • Relationship trouble: 40 percent
  • Health problems: 34 percent
  • The end of a relationship: 33 percent
  • Bereavement: 30 percent

Top 20 Signs of a Pet Fanatic

  • Creating a social media account for a pet
  • Throwing a pet a birthday party
  • Buying a pet clothes or fancy accessories
  • Spending more money on a meal for a pet than a meal for themselves
  • Allowing a pet to regularly sleep on the bed with them
  • Matching their outfit to a pet’s outfit
  • Turning down plans because their pet couldn’t come along
  • Having more photos of a pet on their phone than any person
  • Taking a pet to a pet-friendly spa
  • Calling their pet their “child” or “baby”
  • Making a pet their own little room in the house
  • Calling a pet their best friend
  • Saying hello to a pet before a significant other/roommate when getting home
  • Owning animal-themed clothes or accessories
  • At a party, being more likely to be found with the animal(s) than the people
  • Setting up DOGTV for a pet to watch
  • Using technology to watch a pet when they’re not home
  • Purchasing essential oils for a pet
  • Bringing a pet to the store and letting them pick their own toy
  • Taking time off work to care for a pet