(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
Here’s everything you need to know about Millennials as pet owners: They take their role as pet parents very, very seriously. In fact, Millennial pet owners demonstrate an overwhelming urge to pamper their pets, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts’ report Millennials as Pet Market Consumers.
Packaged Facts National Pet Owner Survey data reveal that Millennials are much more likely than other pet owners to agree “I would rather spend money on pet toys and other products for my pets than on things for myself.” Millennials also are much more likely to “splurge” once in a while on an item for their pets and to enjoy purchasing products that pamper their pets. So it is not surprising that Simmons National Consumer Study data show that both dog and cat owners in the 18- to 34-year-old age group are much more likely than other pet owners to buy toys and fashion accessories for their pets.
Millennials want pets they can pick up and carry wherever they go. Packaged Facts National Pet Owner Survey data show that 18- to 34-year-olds are much more likely to prefer to have a small pet “you can take with you more places.” Thus, dog owners in the 18- to 34-year-old age group are more likely than other dog owners to have small dogs weighing less than 25 pounds and much less likely to have dogs weighing over 40 pounds.
Millennials are more likely to coddle their pets when they feed them. Around 30 percent of Millennial dog or cat owners prepare home-cooked meals for their pets, compared to just 19 percent of dog owners and 10 percent of cat owners in the 35- and-over age group. Millennial dog or cat owners are more likely to prepare side dishes to add interest and nutrition to pre-made pet food. Millennials also spend more money than other pet owners on treats and chews for their dogs or cats, suggesting that they especially like to reward their pets with treats and chews.
Millennials also appear to be a bit more obsessive about the health and safety of their pets. For example, Millennial dog or cat owners express an elevated concern about the possibility of feeding their pets contaminated foods. Besides being more involved in providing home-cooked foods for their pets, they are much more likely than other pet owners to use raw pet food or pet foods with formulations geared toward enhancing the health of their pets, such as organic, natural or non-GMO.
Moreover, compared to their older counterparts, 18- to 34-year-old pet owners are more fixated on keeping an eye on their pets. They are much more likely to employ a wide range of technologies to track the activities of their pets and monitor the status of their health, including webcams, smartphone or tablet apps, collars with a tracking device and motion/sound sensors.
In short, compared to other pet owners, Millennials are more likely to be anxious about the health and safety of their pets. They also are more inclined to pamper, coddle and keep their pets with them whenever they can, while using technology to keep an eye on them when they are away from home. If this sounds like pets play the role of surrogate children for many Millennials, it’s because they do. According to data compiled by Packaged Facts National Pet Owner Survey, the vast majority (71 percent) agree that having a pet is a good way to get ready for having a family. Thus, for many 18- to 34-year-olds owning a pet is part of their transitioning into creating a family. So, for many Millennials it may just be that looking out for Fido and taking care of Fifi is simply a way to get ready for bringing up baby.
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)