Pets are cute, but not cheap. They may not be as expensive to maintain as children - they don’t ask for iPhones, fees for sports clubs or a university education. Nevertheless, as we increasingly treat our pets like our children, the price of pet ownership is climbing.
Pets are playing a growing role in our lives. 68 per cent of households in New Zealand own some kind of pet, more than any other country in the world and collectively we are prepared to spend more than $1.5 billion on our fur children each year.
These days, treating people's pets is the major growth area of any vet practice. Spending thousands on a sick pet is not only expected, you can buy specialised insurance for it. A lot of people are single or some are not able to have children, so their pet becomes family, and when a family member becomes unwell, people want to do their best for them, says one New Plymouth vet.
Catteries, kennels and doggie daycare centres are very popular. Owners working long hours feel guilty about leaving their dogs at home all day. At doggie daycare, the owner knows their dog is playing, socialising, and getting some exercise and they see the value in that.
Dog groomers are another growing business trend. Dog grooming stylists will clip, scissor, wash, blow dry and trim their canine clients' fur. People are also spending a lot more at pet shops, buying the myriad of pet accessories they stock, from pet carriers and pet beds to fancy toys, designer foods, and even clothes.
Our pets give us a lot of pleasure and when they're seen as part of the family, it's only natural that we want to do our best to keep them safe, healthy and happy.