The holidays are coming up and it is likely that your pet is on your gift list. Common holiday gifts for pets range from special treats and toys to fancy beds and designer collars. We include them in our celebrations because most of us view our pets as our children or our best friends.
The trend of treating pets as little humans has become more common in this last decade. Important reasons for this are that more and more people are living alone, seeking the companionship of an animal. Retired people are living longer, and many younger people are opting to live without a partner. Additionally, younger couples are opting for pets in place of children. Nowadays, almost every product or service available to humans is available for pets as well. Doggy day care, dog sitters, party planners for pet birthdays and weddings, professional pet photographic sessions, pet fashion designers, and pet spa treatments are just some of the popular items and services. In 2017, Americans spent nearly $70 billion on products and services for pets. The largest portion ($30 billion) was spent on fancy pet food. Pet owners are looking for healthier food for themselves and their pets, paying premium prices for it. Pet food companies are taking advantage of this trend and are transferring human eating philosophies to the pet food industry. Diets are being marketed as containing high amounts of a single ingredient, grain free, non-GMO, whole grains, real chicken, etc… and showing pictures on the package of the meats, fruits, and vegetables in the product. The same company may offer a brand of canned dog food for 85 cents and a more “foodie” brand for $1.85. They are seeking to target the traditional pet owner as well as the ones who humanize their pets. As pets are fed more like humans, they too are becoming more susceptible to consequences such as obesity.
Humanizing pets benefits companion animals because they become integral members of the family, and their well-being and needs are being considered at all times. It also benefits humans as it strengthens the animal-human bond, which is known to be advantageous to our emotional and physical health. However, the most important thing to remember this holiday season is that you do not need to worry if you cannot afford high-end products or services for your beloved pet. To show love to your four legged family member, you don’t need to max out your credit card with Louis Vuitton pet collars or mahogany memory foam pet beds. Just spend time with your pet, take them for walks, pet them and keep them clean, brushed and healthy. Those are the things that will be appreciated the most, and cannot be bought with money. Everything else is extra. Happy Holidays!
Dr Sanchez-Emden is the founder of the Animal Health and Rehab Center in South Miami. She has been practicing veterinary medicine for 24 years. As a Certified Veterinary Journalist, she is the resident veterinarian for various national tv shows. She authored the book “CHIHUAHUAS: How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend”. She also hosts the podcast show “Hablando de Perros y Gatos con Dr Marta” available at the main internet platforms. Follow her @Drmartavet on You Tube, Instagram and Twitter. Also find her at Facebook.com/dr.sanchezemden and animalhealthrehab.com