One in five Brits prefer their pet to their partner

More than a quarter of people in the UK claim they are happiest when home alone with their pet and a third prefer quality time with their furry companion over time spent with most of their friends.

But the poll of pet-owners, commissioned by Panasonic Smart Home to celebrate National Pet Month, showed that the nation’s love for animals comes at a cost.

One in six admitted their pet has cost them a relationship or friendship and a third said their animal had “directly impacted” their social life.

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The research marks the launch of the Panasonic Smart Home monitoring system, which allows owners to keep an eye on their beloved companions when we’re away from home.

The average pet owner gets 884 hours - or 74 working days - of quality time with their pet each year.

A spokesman for Panasonic Smart Home said: “The results show the relationship we have with our pets is unshakeable and sometimes there’s nothing else, or no one else, that can compete.

“The unique bond between a pet and their owner is testament to just how much our pets bring to our daily lives and how they shape our social and working routines.

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“And rather than regret or reconsider the decision to take on a pet, the results showed quite the opposite - respondents wanted more time with their pet and the ability to check in on them when they’re away from home.”

But much as we love them, pets can test our patience - as these tales of woe prove:

A couple’s excitable puppy smashed an urn, spilling a departed relative’s ashes all over the floor

A couple returned home to a flooded kitchen with their guilty-looking cats marooned on top of the washing machine

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Two dogs sat meekly on the sofa … watching a burglar rob the house

One greedy cat dragged a whole roast chicken - a neighbour’s Sunday lunch - through the cat-flap

A puppy ate his way through important vehicle registration documents and, ironically, a book called ‘Perfect Puppy’

One dog ate both arms of a pair of glasses and another chewed his way through his owner’s dentures.

Just under half of respondents said they were less stressed because of their pet, while boosts to avoiding loneliness and having more energy were common.