Shocker: Pets May Be a Threat to Your Gadgets

Alas, poor cellphones, we knew them well.

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Don’t trip on the bombshell: Pets, we’re apparently just realizing, may be hazardous to our smartphones, tablets and other electronic gadgets!

(WATCH: Cats Play with Vacuum Cleaners)

Make that eight million electronic devices that our domestic furry friends are vandalizing each year, according to a new study sponsored by SquareTrade Inc., a San Francisco-based company that sells extended warranty plans for consumer electronics. The most maligned device in the survey? Cellphones, of course, representing one-third of all devices.

The company that conducted the survey, Survey Sampling International, asked 1,200 American pet owners with cats and/or dogs about their animals and gadgets back in April. In addition to the eight million count, the company found that you’re three times more likely to have a pet-related device accident if your pet sleeps in bed with you, that you’re 2.5 times as likely to suffer a damaged device if you drive with Fido or Fluffy in your lap (“1 in 4 dog owners do this!” writes SquareTrade) and that roughly one in six cat or dog owners say a pet has vomited or responded to nature’s call directly on one of their personal electronics.

When are these device-mangling incidents happening? 66% of the time when you leave your pets (and the devices in question) alone, 17% of the time when your pet’s angry with you (so these survey respondents “believed” anyway — grain of salt time) and 21% of the time while you’re using the device.

Here’s one you probably weren’t expecting: You’re 72% more likely to have a device damaged if your pet is fat; here’s one you probably were: Male pets were 50% more likely to damage a device than female pets. Another non-surprise: If your pet is overprotective, it’s twice as likely to damage a device.

At the same time, the press release leaves a few important questions vague or unanswered: Is the eight million devices damaged annually figure up or down for 2013? It’s not clear. It’s also important to think about the definition of “damage”: biting and chewing you’d expect to be culprits, but the survey included devices that were simply licked or drooled on. Were they cosmetically damaged? Functionally? To what extent? That’s also not clear.

SquareTrade wants you to buy an extended warranty, of course, so — assuming these survey results mean what they seem to — bear that in mind, though the company’s offering several helpful no-service-required tips.

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