Our Pampered Pets
Our four-legged friends have never had it so good. Bespoke beds, cat champagne, doggy yoga – yes, these are all real things. Times have certainly changed when it comes to looking after our pets. More than ever, proud owners are giving their furry companions the ‘very important pet’ treatment, with everything from treats and toys to pampering and paddling pools.
We buy them gifts, stylish accessories and there’s a growing trend for performance accessories such as pedometers or cooling jackets. More than half of pet owners say their pets make them feel happy (66%), loved (55%), relaxed (54%) and comforted (51%). So, why wouldn’t we want them to feel the same? After all, they’re part of the family.
But, with the average cost of owning a cat over its lifetime already sitting at over £11,000, and dogs over £15,000, how much is too much to be lavishing on our pampered pets?
There’s very little that we won’t do for our pets and there’s an increasing sense of parent-like pride in how we treat and present our animals. In fact, 81% of pet owners say they actively take pride and pleasure in how their pets look.
So it’s no surprise that 51% of people like to share pictures of their pets on their own social media – there are just shy of 80 million posts on Instagram tagged #dogsofinstagram and more than 66 million for #catsofinstagram. But it doesn’t stop there. In recent years, pets have been branded a new breed of online ‘influencers’, with dedicated animal accounts – often with celebrity-like status and a significant number of followers– such as Grumpy Cat and Doug the Pug.
As there’s less risk in adorable animals embarrassing brands, pets with more than 250,000 followers can command up to £7,500[SF1] for a collaborative social media post. Not bad, considering their human has to do all the real work.
This significant rise in dedicated Facebook and Instagram accounts for pets has led to a surge in pet spending too. Owners seeking internet fame for their cats and dogs splashed out on more premium products, seeing retail sales shoot up 163%[SF2]. It starts off simply enough…a stylish collar, a printed neckerchief, maybe even a branded jacket for woodland adventures. Before you know it, you’re immersed in a world of diamond-encrusted cat flaps, scented poo bags and 22-carat gold food bowls.
From treats to treadmills
However, this new approach to treats isn’t limited to material goods and often involves food-based rewards. Whilst there’s no doubt your furry friend will love a tasty, meaty treat, vets estimate that up to 45% of all pets they treat are overweight or obese, with many believing weight-related issues to be on the rise. Of course, it’s the fast and efficient way to show we acknowledge good behaviour – and they don’t have to do much before your hand is in the treat tins. If they sit down, come back or get the ball, there’s usually a bitesize prize waiting for them.
Considering that 46% of dog owners say they struggle to give their dog the amount of exercise they need, it’s certainly something to consider the next time you give man’s best friend the odd sausage or two. Of course, a doggy treadmill could act as damage limitation…
How the other pet lives
It’s becoming quite common to include pets in our seasonal celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter, with doggy antlers and kitty Santa hats on the shelves of every pet store and supermarket. However, there’s a significant amount of pet owners who like to take the festivities that bit further.
Pet birthday parties are increasingly popular. Complete with pet-friendly cakes, hats and decorations, owners encourage their friends and family to bring their four-legged friends along too.
The UK pet care market in 2017 is worth just over £900 million and is expected to grow by 15% in the next five years. So, whether you believe pets are too spoilt, or you already have an Egyptian cotton cat bed in the post, the world of pampered pets is showing no sign of a slow down.