NEW YORK — Dogs are treated just like children in many homes, but some folks may be taking their puppy parenting to another level. Six in 10 dog owners admit they care about their pet so much, they consider themselves “helicopter parents.”
A survey of 2,000 American dog owners finds 91 percent pay close attention to what their dog needs. Another 89 percent worry about their comfort as the seasons change and, in order to protect their pup from harsher weather, dog owners are most likely to buy them a sweater (46%), winter coat (40%), or rain jacket (37%).
Seven in 10 Americans have even made major changes to their lifestyles just for their pets. These pet parents are exercising more (39%), buying pet-friendly furniture (31%), and moving to pet-friendly buildings (26%). More than four in five (87%) treat their dog as a valued member of their family and three in four insist their pup knows how spoiled they are.
Commissioned by NOW FRESH, part of the Petcurean family, and conducted by OnePoll, the study also reveals America’s emphasis on pet care really shines when it comes to food. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) say that what their dog eats is very important to them.
Two in three even see adding variety to their dog’s diet as a way of pampering them. Seventy-nine percent read the ingredients in their dog’s food before buying it and more than three-quarters will only buy food that uses premium quality ingredients.
For 60 percent, “premium quality” means dog food that uses fresh ingredients, such as fresh, natural whole foods (63%) or options that have a limited raw or frozen shelf life (33%). Other indicators of premium quality ingredients that people look for are high protein meat (46%), organic options (38%), no artificial colors or preservatives (34%), and being non-GMO (33%).
Special dog, special meal
Two in three Americans admit they’ve cooked a special meal for their dog — especially on their dog’s birthday (44%), after coming home from a long trip (22%), or on their adoption anniversary (18%). Some of the most extravagant meals dog owners make for their furry friends include beef stews, an entire venison leg, and a dog-friendly cake.
One respondent adds they once made their dog “a nice roast duck with an organic, dog-friendly herb sauce.”
When buying day-to-day food for their furry friend, dog owners prioritize quality ingredients (63%), a reasonable price point (55%), and functional benefits (41%) — such as probiotics that support healthy digestion.
“Dogs have worked and lived alongside humans for thousands of years, and it’s no surprise they were the first domesticated animal when you think about the deep bond that you develop over time with your pup,” says Radhika Kaistha, brand manager of NOW FRESH, in a statement.
“They 100%, wholeheartedly, and completely depend on us to make the right choices for their health & wellbeing, and in return they offer us unconditional love and priceless companionship. Our pets bring out the best in us, help us stay grounded, and remind us to cherish the little moments in life. Our time with them is precious, so it’s important we make the right decisions for our furry family members.”
Only the best for my four-legged friend
For dog owners who have opted to switch food brands, the most common reasons include seeing positive customer reviews (35%), receiving recommendations from their veterinarian (33%), or receiving recommendations from family or friends (32%).
Two in three people take the extra step to positively review a dog food brand if they see improvements in their pet such as a shinier coat or fresher breath. Another 33 percent would rave if a brand has a wide variety of products.
“A complete and balanced diet is such an important part of caring for our pets. As pet parent’s ourselves, we’re passionate about helping others feed their cherished companions a healthy, and trustworthy diet because happy, healthy lives are in the balance,” Kaistha continues. “Using fresh meats and fish, keeping processing to a minimum and preserving the nutrients and flavor are key to support the unique needs of dogs at specific ages and sizes to help them thrive throughout their lives.”