Tips for today's pampered pets
Forget Fido and Spot, pets now are a whole different breed
Most people treat their dogs like members of the family. Gone are the days of tying up the family pet in a drafty doghouse in the yard.
Nowadays, he gets his own plush bed right in front of the fireplace.
In fact, in a recent study conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), pets in the United States are enjoying more attention and more material wealth than ever before. Case in point: According to The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), American spending on pets has doubled in the past 10 years and maintains strong growth despite the stagnant economy. While pet products are a lucrative business, there are other pet trends that are all the rage. Here's a look at some of them:
In the past, dogs were named after their personality traits or appearances. Happy dogs were named "Happy." Spotted dogs were named "Spot." Today, however, dog names are decidedly more serious … and more human. The AAHA has found that "Max" is the most popular pet name. A survey by Kal Kan, a dog food manufacturer, found that in Los Angeles and New York, human names are definitely in vogue. That means when heading to the park, you'll certainly hear about more "Mollies," "Alistairs," and "Zacks" playing fetch than "Fidos" or "Buddies."
Dog pampering is another trend reported. Many dog owners allow their pets to sleep in bed with them (or in an equally cozy retreat). Still others celebrate their pets' birthdays and buy them holiday gifts. Dressing up pets, especially smaller-breed dogs like Yorkshire terriers, Malteses and Jack Russell terriers, is all the rage.
From Halloween costumes to designer duds, these pooches may have a more elaborate wardrobe than some people. (Have you ever seen Paris Hilton's pooch Tinkerbell in the same outfit twice?)
The AAHA has also found that more people are likely to spend money on pet health care – a whopping 73 percent would go into debt if it meant providing proper health care when needed.
Meet the Cock-a-Poo, Labradoodle and Peke-a-Pom, among many others. It has become quite chic to own a designer breed. And this doesn't mean a purebred variety. In fact, crossed breeds are becoming almost as popular as American Kennel Club (AKC)-recognized canines. While newspaper classifieds proclaim these unique breeds with interesting names and high price tags to be the best thing since sliced bread, in essence, these pooches are just well-planned mutts.
And it seems that discerning dog owners have taken the bait, eager to offer big bucks for a Yorki-Poo or a Bi-Tzu.
Keep in mind that dog clubs have not yet recognized these designer mixes and possibly never will.
Therefore, before you spend a lot of money on one of these dogs, consider a run-of-the mill mutt from a local shelter or family, which will be far less expensive and equally lovable.
If enjoying "man's best friend" at home isn't enough, more and more establishments are becoming Fido-friendly. Travel guides and Web sites like DogFriendly.com offer listings of U.S. and Canadian restaurants, stores and hotels that welcome friends of the four-legged variety. Now your pet, too, can sit down in style and enjoy a night out on the town.
In addition, you can learn about dog parks, trails and other recreational activities where it's okay to bring your pooch along. Just be courteous, and clean up any messes your dog … or you … may make.