There is no doubting it, we are a nation of pet lovers. But just why are we so obsessed with our furry four-legged friends? We know that pets, in particular cats and dogs, have been part of British history and can be traced back throughout the British monarchy. There is, of course, also the emotional support, unconditional love, and many mental health benefits to owning a pet.
Are we really pampering our pets?
While any pet lover will tell you that their pet is part of the family, do we run the risk of pampering our pets? We asked Dr Emma Chandley MRCVS to weigh in on this with her thoughts.
In recent years, pets have become part of the family. They’re pampered more than ever. There are several possible reasons for this. The first is that our society now has more disposable income than ever before, and this means they have money spare to spend on pets. In contrast to a hundred years ago, when pets had to ‘work’ to be given expensive food, today’s animals are often just companions.
Furthermore, the birth rate, at least in the developed world, is falling. Adults are having children later in life and often have a pet first, leading to the ‘firstborn’ being a pet instead. Some people are even deciding not to have children and are instead keeping pets, meaning that they’re treated to the best of everything, just like a child!
How to responsibly pamper your pets
There’s nothing wrong with pampering our pets, but – just like raising children – pets do best when given clear boundaries. Empathetic and evidence-based training around these boundaries is key – a pet that can get away with anything is generally not a happy one!
Always ensure that your dog or cat maintains a healthy balanced diet, which includes regular exercise. Avoid giving excessive treats to help ensure your furry family member maintains a healthy weight, thus avoiding many health-related issues that come with obesity.
Empathetic and evidence-based training around these boundaries is critical – a pet that can get away with anything is generally not a happy one!
Many pets also miss having a ‘job’ – after hundreds of years of being bred for work, our dogs are extremely intelligent. They can become bored when treated entirely as companions, leading to destructive behaviours.
Consider engaging and playing with your pets rather than showering them with gifts or treats, as often this quality time can help to form even stronger bonds.
Understand That Every Pet Is Unique
Just like us, our pets are unique. While some may thrive on extra attention and pampering, others may prefer a more independent lifestyle (just ask any cat owner). As pet parents, we should be aware of the personalities and preferences of our pets and strike a healthy balance wherever possible.