I was already a mom before I had my daughter — a dog mom, that is. My rescue pup was my first baby. My husband and I pampered him. He went everywhere with us from restaurant patios to dog-friendly stores. He was the king of our household.
I remember my friends who already had human children would look at me with those “oh honey” eyes that said, “Just wait until you have actual kids!”
In my case, they were pretty much right. Once my daughter came into the world, our poor pup got the shaft.
At times, the idea of walking him and making sure his nails stayed trimmed and hair was groomed was more of a burden than something we previously did with pleasure. My daughter’s needs just had to come first.
The fur king of our household was dethroned. And yes, I felt so much guilt for this sudden shift in dynamics. The night before I was induced, I remember snuggling into my pup, teary-eyed, knowing that his whole world was about to change. And while yes, our entire priority list changed, my devotion and love to him did not.
One mom echoed this sentiment in a very real and honest TikTok video about how much a household changes for a pet when a new baby comes into the picture and how to handle that “dog mom guilt.”
In a now-viral TikTok video, Andrea Cavaleri filmed herself cuddling her dog while her new baby napped.
“Feeling so much dog mom guilt lately," Cavaleri captioned the clip. “When your baby is napping...The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait. The cleaning can wait. The emails can wait. Go cuddle your first baby. It's a lot of change for them too. They need you," the on-screen caption read.
Cavaleri’s comment section was flooded with other parents who understood this kind of “dog mom guilt.”
“Omg I’m feeling this so much lately! 6 weeks postpartum and I cried over my cat more than anything those first few weeks,” one TikTok user wrote.
“I’ve been there trust me and I still feel it but as the weeks go by you’ll feel better and you’ll see how quickly your relationship never changed,” Cavaleri responded.
In a follow-up video, Cavaleri explained that her friends had repeatedly warned her that once she had her child, her dog would become her second priority.
“I never understood how someone could just disregard their first baby, which is usually their dog or their cat or their bunny — like that is your child, they need you,” she said.
Cavaleri also added that before she was a mom she would often tell friends that she could already relate to their love for their kids because of how she felt for her dog.
However, unsurprisingly, she was usually met with scoffs that the love for a pet and child could not be compared. She would understand when she had kids one day.
Well, now Cavaleri has as son, and she’s sticking by her pre-kid decree of love for her dog — a rescue pup named Nala.
“Now I have a three-month-old child and I’m here to tell you that it is the same thing,” she explained. “I love both of them so much. My love has not changed.”
Cavaleri’s post — now sitting at 1.5 million views on TikTok — encouraged other TikTok users to share their thoughts about fur babies vs. human babies, noting that while the love amount can be the same, there are obviously differences in the type of love.
“People who disagree just never had a soul dog, the love is the same, sure it’s different in many ways otherwise but the love isn’t different,” one user wrote.
“This right here!!! My Nala is my soul dog ❤️❤️❤️,” Cavaleri responded.
Another TikTok user wrote that there are differences between a dog and a human baby, arguing that it is not the same at all. “It's not the same because of the responsibility you bear. To the human child it's that much higher. The love is there but the baby needs you more,” they wrote.
“Absolutely they need you more the relationship IS different but like you said the love is there ❤️” Cavaleri wrote back.
While most of the responses were positive, affirming Cavaleri’s point of view, others were not so understanding. “Dogs are dogs. People are people, and I do not love my dog or any previous pet I've had like I love my human family,” one commenter wrote.
“That's too bad,” Cavaleri responded.
Cavaleri’s strong stance definitely sparked debate among parents and pet owners, wondering if the love people have for their pets can rival that of love for a child. Wherever you stand on the issue, there is one overarching point that Cavaleri hones in on at the end of her response video.
She warns couples who bring a pet into their home as a placeholder for children until they’re ready.
“You better love that dog and keep that dog when you do have your kids,” she said in a TikTok.