Friday, March 20, 2015

Cute Puppies and Kittens

Is this stuff getting a little out of hand?  Not too long ago I wrote about some folks who were upset that pet pharmaceuticals are not held to the same testing and safety standards as human drugs; and I pointed out that if those people got their wishes, they and all the other pet owners would be paying far more for drugs that take longer to get approval.  That’s just critical thinking and economic understanding.

Since then the pet lovers keep coming up with more ways to surprise me.  As I walked out of the grocery store I saw a poster advertising all natural pet food.  I saw this as another way to use trigger words to lure shoppers into spending more than necessary for a false sense of making a big difference.  I went on line to research it and found more examples: all natural treats, shampoo, odor remover and toys for pets.  It seems the marketing game has gone far beyond food and supplies for humans.

Sticking with the food category, though, I found an ad suggesting: “Feed your furry family member” a dry dog food formula featuring “tasty, healthy ingredients in fun shapes and sizes to interest and delight your dog.”  It contains “complete and balanced nutrition” with “wholesome grains and vitamin-rich vegetables” to support “your dog’s health and lifestyle in a variety of ways.”  Apparently dogs have “lifestyles” that needs to be supported, and they need to be amused while eating.  See how they appeal to our nurturing instincts in order to charge us more for fancier sounding products by rebranding pets as furry family members.

Unfortunately this is the same brand of pet food that is being sued for allegedly poisoning thousands of dogs.  In addition to those healthy grains and vitamins, litigators claim that it also contains “an ingredient toxic to animals, propylene glycol,” which is blamed for the deaths of many dogs and sickness of others.

But this is only the beginning.  I easily found an item on pet plastic surgery.  One procedure described is called Neuticles:  “silicone implants are slipped in during the time of neutering and replace the testicles that the veterinarians are removing.”  The dog looks like he’s still ready for action, and the company claims “more than 500,000 pets have had them implanted since they were put on the market in 1995.”  (Is this another product to support the dog’s lifestyle or just a way to keep the pooch from getting low self-esteem?)  Other examples of plastic surgery include nose jobs and facelifts, but these are mostly for health rather than cosmetic purposes and are often the result of people not doing proper research before adopting a particular breed.  But even the writer seems to be surprised that pet owners would “shell out the $4,000 to $5,000 needed for these surgeries” not for champion show dogs but for average household pets.

Cats and dogs can also develop dental problems.  Eighty-five percent of dogs have serious periodontal disease that needs treatment.  Some need braces to correct biting problems.  And 72 percent of cats get cavities known as tooth resorptions.  This too can get expensive.  Again it is done for health, not cosmetic reasons; and animals have high pain threshold meaning that by the time the owner becomes aware of the problem more drastic measures may be called for.

People are drawn to the pictures of cute puppies and kittens on the Internet.  Replaying these pictures and videos on the morning “news” programs is bound to elicit an “aw” from the entire panel of presenters.  It seems like few people really recognize how much care these pets require and how easily they can be lured into spending even more by clever advertising reinforcing the part-of-the-family notion.  How many times does “cute” trump common sense decisions?

I don’t have pets myself – although I do have a couple of “grandcats” – but I can understand the love people have for their pets.  They are good companions and sometimes treat you better than your human friends and family members, but from a perspective point of view, this seems a little bit over the top.  Fifty or sixty years ago pet owners were just as fond of their dogs and cats, but seemed to be a little more down to earth about how much they would be willing to spend on food, treats, toys, Christmas presents and medical attention.  

Under normal circumstances, having a pet is a luxury.  By making them members of the family we have volunteered for even more expense and maintenance without fully realizing it.  It always brings me back to the reality that millions of people have pets, but fewer have emergency savings or enough saved for their retirement.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Click again on the title to add a comment