Pet health and care – almost human?

Baby care and human beauty trends are defining purchase patterns of pet owners, especially where it regards dog and cat related goods and services.

Pets personal hygiene

Pet health and care is going above and beyond what has – up till now – been considered ‘normal’: a visit to the vet and regular grooming. As the humanisation of pets increases, suppliers are also adapting to the latest market trends.

Take a pet’s personal hygiene for instance. Skin and coat products have definitely reached a next level. Special oils with which to massage your dog? Not as bizarre as it may sound: the products suggest that they can alleviate joint pain and arthritis. The bonus is that they are odour free. An interesting crossover is that such products are also marketed for human use. A good reason for retailers to stock and sell such products!

And then there is pet dental care. Fresh breath sprays and products claiming to have a ‘doggy dentist in a bottle’ fighting plaque and tartar, not only eliminate the often-unpleasant smell of dog breath aroma, they also do away with expensive and stressful visits to the vet. The downside is that pet owners might omit going to a vet altogether, despite the fact that these products can fall short of what they promise.

Deodourising sprays that prevent bad odours, might sound the ideal purchase for pet owners. Especially if a dog or cat is kept indoors (as is the case in densely populated regions and inner cities). There is a snag though: such sprays can mask possible pet health issues. What is more, simply using a spray to mask their smell can be harmful for the pet. Because, in doing so, pet owners fail to take into consideration their pet’s natural olfactory needs (their sense of smell is far more advanced than humans). It could cause pets to become extremely unhappy.

Walking the dog, or the dog owner?

Dogs are often taken on as pets to enable owners to exercise along with them. Going out for a walk is the traditional way for both owner and pet to keep those muscles in shape. But, humanisation is leaving its mark here also. For instance, Dog Yoga (or ‘Doga’) services are becoming increasingly popular. Together, owners and dogs take on various yoga poses, sometimes matching each other and other times following a fixed routine. The promise offered by Doga is that it is great for human-dog bonding. This may be true, but critical voices warn that a dog has no choice but to follow its owner. In this context, the UK charity Dogs Trust points out that: ‘It is important to remember that dogs cannot tell us when they have had enough.’


We all know that pets require social contact from a very early age if they are to mingle with humans. Now that cats are a popular choice for millennials who are out to work during the day, kitten ‘kindergarten’ and Cat Café services are fast gaining ground. Basically, such cat playgrounds are full of feathery toys, treats, climbing and activity trees and – of course – humans willing to pet them. The idea is to provide a service that helps cats to socialise. However, as with dogs, it can be difficult to tell when a cat has had enough. It is important that cat wellbeing is always paramount.

Pet care – not always the same as pet wellbeing

Concluding, we can say that whatever the trend in pet care and wellbeing, it is important that we never forget their natural wellbeing. Pets are not humans and we must be careful not to expect that pets enjoy the same things we humans do. Every animal has the right to live according to their own species-specific behaviour. The wants and needs of pet owners or the economic interests of the pet industry should never be placed above those of our pets.



Karen Wild

Dog trainer and pet behaviourist
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