OVRS_iStock_000019749935_Large.jpgIn the not too distant past, dogs and cats spent the majority of their time outside and on their own. Many were working animals, earning their keep by herding sheep or cattle, defending the farm, keeping vermin out of the grains stores, etc. For many families, the idea of a pet sleeping indoors was distasteful, and the thought of pampering a pet unimaginable.

Cue 2015: It’s not uncommon nowadays to see dogs trotting down the street on the ends of jewel-encrusted leashes and dressed in expensive, name brand clothing, or to hear about a neighbor who spent thousands to pay for their beloved cat’s kidney transplant. There’s no doubt that a major shift in the American psyche has occurred regarding pet ownership. But just how did this shift occur and what has it meant for the veterinary and pet care industries?

Humanizing our Pets

Thanks to the humanization of our pets, which began more than 20 years ago according to Bob Veter, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, pet-related spending is ever on the rise as pets become more and more a part of the family. 2015 is set to be a record-breaking year with a projected $60.5 billion dollars spent on our dogs and cats.

As more and more young people delay starting a family, all that extra love, attention, and income gets showered on their pets. Empty nesters want a pet to pamper now that the kids are grown. Prospective grandparents, while waiting patiently for a human grandchild to appear, are opting to spoil their “granddog”. Couple all of this with an improving economy and you have the perfect recipe for a generation of pampered pets.

Integrating Pets Into Our Lives

It’s no surprise that the pet care industry has risen to the challenge of providing any item or service a discerning pet owner could want. More and more, new homes are designed with built-in pet features. You can send your dog to daycare, summer camp, or swim class, and hire a company to plan your dog’s role in your wedding, outfits and all.

As long as people continue to view and treat their pets as “little humans”, pet care products, innovation and spending will keep climbing.

Advances In Veterinary Care

The pet products industry isn’t the only one that has seen major advances. Veterinary care has come a long way in recent years also in part due to the elevated status of pets in our society. Pets now have access to advances in cardiology, diagnostics, surgery, emergency and critical care, oncology, and other specialties once reserved only for humans.

It’s safe to say that our increasing willingness to pay for the best and most advanced medical care possible for our four-legged-friends has spurred an entire field of study toward a level of sophistication that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.

It All Boils Down To One Thing…

…Love. The connection we have with our pets is unlike any other, and in a world of emails, text messages, and the increasing isolation from our neighbors and communities, perhaps we need that connection now more than ever. Every single day our pets award us with fulfillment of the deepest, most secret of desires hidden in the hearts of all humans: to be seen for who we are and loved unconditionally anyway. How can you not buy a jewel-encrusted leash for a friend like that?