The Humanization of Pets

There’s no question that as each new generation is born into the world our society as a whole adjusts and evolves. Did your parents ever say something to you like “when I was younger…” or “we never had that when I was your age” when you were a kid? That’s because as a society, we change and grow when new technologies and different ways of thinking are introduced.  

Over the past few decades, we can certainly point to obvious society disruptors, like computers, mobile phones, 3-D printing, Wi-Fi, electric cars, social media, and other technological advancements that have changed the way we live and the way we think about ourselves and about others. 

Humans have reportedly been keeping dogs as domesticated pets since the end of the ice age, dating as far back as 11,000 years ago. So why all of a sudden are we changing the way we feel about and interact with our pet dogs? 

The plain answer is simpler than you might think – It’s because we love them so much. But finding out why we love our pets more now than ever before and how this love has evolved into a whole new way that we care for our pets is what we want to explore.

Why More Love Now?

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why we have more love for our dogs now compared to years ago and our response always seems to narrow down not to one answer, but to one interesting concept: Humans are probably more stressed than ever before. Some factors include:

  • The pace of life has gotten faster.
  • We see an increased amount of messages every day.
  • We have our own stress, and now with things as social media and TV, we see other people’s stresses, which only adds to our existing stress.
  • We work harder to make a living. 
  • We delay having children for our careers and financial gains.
  • The cost of living continues to rise.
  • The workforce is becoming more specialized, making it more difficult to change careers.

And while it is very fair to say that humans are stressed out at any point in time, the most recent shifts have resulted in a seismic shift in the way we view our pets. 

Humans have to find ways to process and deal with their stress and one way to do that is by creating a unique and meaningful bond with our dogs. Dogs have so much unconditional love to give and to receive, making them the perfect human companion to help relieve stress. We love them so much that we consider our pets to be family. Let’s face it, sometimes we love our dogs more than we love family. There’s a reason a dog is called a person’s best friend (Yes, we changed that saying).

How the Love Manifests itself into Pet Care

When you consider your dog to be a member of the family naturally you are going to care for them as such. Long gone are the days of grocery store dog food and a trip to the vet once a year. Welcome to a new level of caring for your dog. Humans have gone through some incredible advancements in what we feed our bodies and how we take care of our bodies, so it’s no wonder we are seeking out the same for our four-legged family members. 

Organic Dog Food and Treats

One of the ways we are starting to take better care of our dogs is through diet. As a society, we are much more conscious of what we put into our bodies, and as a result, more and more people are seeking out healthier and more natural foods for themselves and their dogs. For years now, food manufacturers have offered all-natural, organic, humanely-raised, hormone-free, non-GMO, or other alternatives to standard processed foods, so naturally, we project that onto our family member, the dog. 

A great example of the humanization trend as it relates to organic dog food is the brand Nutrish, formerly owned and founded by celebrity chef, Rachel Ray, who is famous for being a chef who makes delicious and healthy food, obviously for humans. What she stands for as a brand – a nice, down-to-earth, practical, and approachable person who cooks great, healthy food, is the perfect brand extension into the dog food category because that is exactly what people want for themselves and their dogs. Nutrish did so well it was sold in 2018 for $1.7 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) after only a couple of years in the market.

Integration into our Lifestyle

Dogs are such a part of our family that we are beginning to integrate their behaviors into our lifestyles in pretty cool ways. The following are some examples of those changes:

Manufacturers are building dog-specific bathing tubs with features, like swinging doors, retractable hoses, and special hair catchers – and we are infatuated. Just think, next time Fido splashes through a mud puddle, corralling him into the bath will be much easier on everyone. 

We all love home fashion trends and who doesn’t love custom-built furniture for our dogs? Everything from water bowls and beds built under a staircase to maximize space to a built-in just to hide dog toys, any way to hide clutter and maximize space is welcome in our home.  

Road trip! Since our dogs are family we take them in the car with us on an errand or on a road trip. Automobile manufacturers have caught on and offer specialized dog features and accessories in order to appeal to these dog owners. Nissan, Chrysler, Volvo, Kia, Jeep, Tesla, Subaru, Mercedes – just about every car manufacturer is doing something small or big for dog owners. What’s next, a dog-driven car? Just kidding.

And speaking of traveling, many more hotels, rentals, and even restaurants are allowing dogs as part of a strategy to attract more travelers and to provide convenience to their guests. Let’s just hope your dog doesn’t snore!

Improved Pet Care Options

During the 2008-2009 recession almost every industry in the United States saw a decline in spending, but not the pet category. In fact, consumers cut back on spending on themselves before they were willing to cut back on spending on their pets. It’s all-out pooch pampering and we love it.

So what are the dog parents spending their money on now that wasn’t available years ago?

Dog Walking/Pet Sitting/Day Care

Dog walkers, pet sitters, and daycares have been in business for decades and are an integral piece of the infrastructure of the pet care industry. Think of them as professional caretakers for your family member while you cannot be there. In addition to great pet care, many of these businesses now provide 100% digital accountability for you and your pet by using software like PetCheck, which shows GPS maps of the walks and manages all of the dog’s pet care schedule and needs. Daycare facilities offer video feed accessibility and a place for extended exercise. Many businesses will provide one-time or regular schedules to accommodate your needs.

Physical Rehabilitation

People have received physical therapy for decades, so why can’t our dogs? Well, now they do – and a lot of it. Dog-specific physical rehabilitation businesses are popping up across the United States. Most of them offer a combination of physical treatments and expanded services, such as hydrotherapy, treadmill, and even acupuncture. They are great for dogs recovering from surgery or for dogs treating a medical condition, like muscle atrophy.

CBD Dog Treats

Consumers take CBD products to the tune of nearly $7 billion a year, and the category is expected to grow to almost $20 billion by 2024. The category is growing so rapidly because of CBD’s effectiveness to treat so many different conditions, and it follows closely along with the healthy foods trend since CBD is an all-natural derivative from the hemp plant. And best of all, our dogs have the same exact endocannabinoid system that we do, so we already know that they will react to CBD the same way as us. CBD allows us to naturally treat conditions in our dogs and help to provide them with a better life. 

PetSoothe uses only certified organic CBD oil in our dog treats. We create CBD treats for pet owners who are invested in making sure their pups are as happy as they can be. And we’re happy to report that some dog owners have seen positive results in their pets after giving them CBD. If you would like to support a healthy stress response in your dog, visit our Calm product page to learn more. If you would like to support healthy mobility in your dog, visit our Joint Support product page to learn more.

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