A few days ago, The Economist shed light on an emergent phenomenon: Millennials are showing a different attitude toward their pets than previous generations. Dogs, thought of before as guards and then as companions, are now being treated like children.
As some surveys have shown, the majority of young Americans increasingly identify themselves as “parents” rather than “owners.” This is leading to a boom in the pet industry. In America alone, people spend a whopping $44 billion and growing, annually, on pet food, supplies and toys.
There are several reasons for this change to be happening. The most relevant lies in the fact that young people in the Western part of the world are delaying getting married and having children.
Millennials dedicate to their animals the time and emotional energy they might show to a child. Pets not only get human names but are also dressed with custom sweaters, offered home-cooked meals and thrown real birthday parties with gifts and guests.
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Just like parents invest in the physical well-being of their children, owners monitor their pet’s exercise via wearable devices for animals to keep them healthy. Devices similar to baby monitors also let owners who are away from home keep an eye on their cats and dogs, with the possibility of talking to them through a speaker.
Some go as far as buying small mattresses made of memory foam to allow for better sleep. Most want their pets to eat like they do, so they provide them with a raw food diet, for example serving them patties of wholesome meat, an emerging trend.
Pet pandering continues to take new and different forms, expanding beyond the household and to the workplace. Companies such as Google are trying to attract employees by allowing dogs in the office. Genentech is offering doggie daycare.
There is also now an “Airbnb for pets,” a new American company called Rover.com. Owners can use these services to find caretakers who look after pets at home when they are away.
People can also check their pets into “hotels” that play TV and promise soothing “pawdicures.”
Traveling is not out of question either. A new terminal under construction at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport will soon cater to pets and livestock traveling long journeys.