Stich is three years old and lives in New York. His education costs $ 200 (169 euros) a week and his food costs $ 60 a month. Every day at 7:00 p.m., he is picked up by someone who is paid to take him for a walk, and he has more toys than his father had as a child. Stich is the dog of George Tsoy, 22, and his roommate. “He is our little son, we treat him like a real person,” says Tsoy, visiting Washington. The pet market is booming. The United States is the country that spends the most per capita on caring for its domestic partners. In 2020, total spending was close to $ 100 billion, double what it was a decade ago, largely due to millennials, who are leading this kind of humanization of pets.
Almost half of Americans spend about $ 3,400 annually on tending to the needs of their dogs, according to a survey by Rover, the world’s largest network of dog keepers and walkers. Others spend more. Much more. Among the eccentricities that have the locomotive of consumerism at full speed are dating apps, television or taxi service. Everything for dogs. Nine in 10 owners consider their pets part of the family, report reveals The humanization of pets (2019). In this scenario, more and more companies appear that organize everything from weddings and birthdays to the Jewish ceremony of the bark mitzvah.
Ana Clara Muñoz, 30, is pursuing a specialty in pet psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Veterinary Clinic, where the dog is given a medical diagnosis, sometimes prescribed antidepressants and anxiolytics, and devised a behavior modification plan. Muñoz argues that the “humanization” of dogs has improved their health, due to the excellent care they receive, but that it can be negative when they are forced to do things that alter them, such as, for example, a photo session. “Millennials are expecting more to have children now that both women and men work, and having a pet fulfills the need to care for a being. In addition, the cost of having a dog is much less than that of having a child ”, points out the veterinarian who cares mainly for young people, but also retirees who no longer live with their children and now have“ doggies ”.
In the aisles of a branch of Petco, the second-largest chain of pet stores in the US, in the nation’s capital, they sell “human-grade” foods ranging from venison and pumpkin preparations to a package of snacks from brisket (beef brisket) at $ 29.95 for 140 grams. Also masks for the pandemic, raincoats or boots for the cold for 60 dollars. This type of wardrobe is designed for the mass public, but the luxury offer also makes its way. Renowned designers are making clothes and accessories for dogs. Louis Vuitton, for example, offers a leather plaque necklace for $ 345. The strap, for $ 480, is sold separately.
The Petco store clerk says that during the pandemic he has seen the sale of his products skyrocket online. The boom responds to the buying habits of millennials – or pet parents, as many define themselves. Accessories sales rose 21% in 2020, reaching nearly $ 800 million, four times the growth rate of 2019, according to the report. Pet Supplements in the US. Half of those subscribed to pet product companies online you are under 40 years old. “My mother was 18 when she had her first child and I am 22 and I don’t think she will have children until 40. We want to take on a small responsibility for someone, but not as much as a person,” explains Tsoy.
Manuela Tironi, 28, moved from Chile to Washington just before the pandemic broke out. With a part-time job, boredom prompted her to dive into the world of dog walkers and sitters. She created a profile on Rover and in six months her monthly earnings are close to $ 2,000, exceeding her salary as a lawyer in her home country (where the cost of living is significantly lower). His friends who are dedicated solely to this business earn $ 3,800 a month, he says by phone.
“I thought that since they were all locked up they weren’t going to require the service, but surprisingly there is a lot of demand. People here travel a lot and leave their pets alone, ”explains Tironi. He started charging $ 13 for a half-hour ride and now it goes for 20, and he closed his profile due to the number of regular customers he managed to harvest. They are practically all young. In the United States, there are more households with pets than with minors. About a third of those owners are millennials, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
In addition to walks, Tironi offers to watch the pets for one night ($ 50) or take care of them during the day. For those who do not want to hire a caregiver, there is the option of day care centers. One of the most famous in Washington is District Dogs. Dogs can arrive at the facilities in a “school dog bus” and, from 9:00 to 19:00, participate in “good manners” classes, play with their companions in the suites, relax in the spa or receive a complete cleaning, from nail clipping to anal gland emptying. The monthly cost for babysitting alone is $ 631. Now, if the owner wants to give him a less conventional education, there are Montessori schools for dogs like Patrick’s Pet Care, whose monthly cost exceeds 1,200 dollars.
The largest annual outlay for owners goes to veterinarians ($ 426), followed by food ($ 259), according to APPA. Pamela, 65, bought Teddy when he was a puppy in October 2019. The first year she spent $ 1,000 at the vet and another $ 500 in four training sessions. Since the dog suffers from intestinal problems, he buys it special food, worth up to three times higher than ordinary food. “It is very expensive, but it is less than what it costs four years at Harvard,” he says, laughing on the street. They had no children with her husband. “This is our son,” he says, pointing to the perfectly trimmed and flawless gray-haired animal, while he waits for his owner to buy him, as she does every day, a canine treat.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.