If I change "pet" to "stroke", does it sound too formal? Or do they have the same meaning?
As verbs the difference between "stroke" and "pet" is that "stroke" is to move one's hand or an object (such as a broom) along (a surface) in one direction. While "pet" is to touch an animal gently in some way. One of these ways could be to stroke the animal but you could also pat, ruffle the animals fur or scratch it's ears. Because of this the words "stroke" and "pet" are not technically interchangeable. However, if you were to ask someone to "pet" their animal or to "stroke" their animal the general meaning would be that you're are asking permission to touch the animal. Ex: May I pet your dog? Ex: May I stroke your dog?