It’s a Pets’ Life, the Life of Luxury Pet Accessories
After my blog about luxury pet accessories a few days ago upon seeing an $18,000 Ralph Lauren pet carrier, it got me thinking about on what pet accessories, luxury or not, do people spend their money and why. Not the staples like food, veterinary care, regular accessories, dwellings (tanks, cages, etc…) I’m interested in expenses like flamboyant grooming, boarding, training, pet sitting, and extra items like jewel encrusted collars, all leather carriers and pricey diets. Surveys by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) show that Americans spent more on their pets in 2011 than in 2012, and data for 2013 project that figure to increase. At the same time, we spent less on ourselves because of a recessed economy. Is it because the cost of pet care has increased? Maybe, but probably not any more than the cost of human care. So, what do we buy for our pets above and beyond the basics?
The first thing that comes to my mind is more expensive food. The last several years there has been a trend towards better quality, more nutritious pet diets. A positive trend but with which comes a higher price compared to the store bought stuff that was pretty much the standard pet diet for many years. Now we have “designer” brands of foods mimicking those of our fur kids’ wilder cousins. Why do we continue to buy the more expensive cuisine for our pets but cut back spending on our own groceries? (I know I have!) Perhaps we have a strong need to nurture and “baby” what we see as a helpless creature relying on us for survival. On the whole, we are more attentive to the needs of something under our care that lacks self sufficiency. Even in better economic times, many are apt to cut back on their own expenses for the sole purpose of spending more on their kids.
I’m on board with higher quality pet food and don’t mind paying a little more for it. A high priced carrier for my cat Thomas, however, is not in either of our budgets. His current ride to the vet is an inexpensive pet store special that serves its purpose well. Besides, jewel encrusted or not, Thomas hates to get in his carrier at home but hates to get out of it at the vet.
Another relatively recent trend is taking your pet to a veterinary specialist. In the not too distant past, DVMs were “Jacks of all trades” regarding the veterinary discipline. As the knowledge base grew, branching out into specialties became a natural outcome. There are veterinary clinics all over the nation specializing in internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, oncology including radiation therapy, dentistry including orthodontics. Eastern and alternative disciplines such as holistic medicine, acupuncture, laser therapy, chiropractic and even massage therapy are also becoming more common albeit slower than that of traditional Western veterinary medicine. These days specialized medicine isn’t so much a luxury as it is a choice that costs more. Thomas has needed the care of veterinary specialists in the past, a dermatologist for benign cysts in his ears and, most recently, an ophthalmologist for a pretty severe eye infection. All is well now but as for getting a massage, kitty will have to settle for an occasional chin rub and fur brushing. In between naps of course.
Then we come to the decadent luxuries, the absurdly unneeded, the Bling! Choose from matching diamond studded collar-leash sets, fancy dog bakeries with overpriced treats, doggie spas and of course $18,000 pet carriers, it’s all out there. I, however, choose to stick to the plastic and mesh sided, faux denim topped cat carrier with which Thomas has a love-hate relationship.