The rise of the pampered pooch in the UK

GUEST POST BY BIJOU CONCIERGE

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Bijou Concierge investigates the rise of the pampered pooch in the UK. From posh handmade treats and luxury dog hotels to the demand for designer dogs, have we gone barking mad?!

The pet industry is booming!

Whilst spending in many areas has declined in recent years, the amount we are spending on our pets has boomed, especially luxury pet food and pet accessories!

The humanization of pets is a significant factor behind this growth, as increasingly pets are viewed as members of the family. This has led to an increasing demand for high-quality pet products that they can indulge their furry family members with! Also, consumers are increasingly educated about their dog’s needs- short-haired breeds for example struggle as temperatures drop in the UK during the winter, and so their owners are demanding quality clothing to keep them protected. Consumers are becoming more aware of these issues, and look to both pamper and protect their pets. Pets have also become the substitute for the first child for the first few years of marriage, according to Dan Smith, Nestlé Purina’s head of R&D. There are even dogs with their own Instagram accounts!

UK pet owners spend £57bn on their dogs every year excluding pet food and medical costs. On average, a UK pet owner spends £3,304.12 on dog walking, training, pet sitting and grooming every year.

A survey by Animal Friends found that we spend more money on Christmas presents for our pets than we do for our friends. It’s little wonder that our love for animals seems to defy most financial trends!

A staggering 44% of millennials see their pets as ‘starter’ children and are obsessed with dogs! Some couples are even opting for “pet-nups” – an agreement made by both parties about the pet’s future in the event of a breakup – and a recent survey by The Dogs Trust revealed that 25 percent of all separating couples believe their dog would be the MOST important consideration if they separated.

Dog-loving entrepreneurs are turning their dreams of canine sushi, neckties and four-poster beds into family-run British businesses. And, with Christmas around the corner how about a gift box packed with natural treats and chews for your furry family member?! Or even their own dog cottage!

Britain’s most pampered pooches

BRITAIN’S most pampered pooch has had a staggering £40,000 spent on her over her short lifetime – and even owns three cars and a boat!

Princess Cleopatra, a staffordshire bull terrier, lives the life of luxury. Mr Welsh, her owner, even refers to his beloved pooch as his ‘daughter’. She is exercised daily both on foot and on her own mountain bike, which is specially adapted so she can ride along.

She is treated to manicures, designer outfits and only the best dog food, costing around £40 a bag! The dog also has three kids’ sports cars – a 4×4, a convertible white sports car and a racing car all at £500 each.

Close behind is Queenie, the chihuahua who has had a mere £30K spent on her! This pampered, pint-sized pooch has a bespoke wardrobe crammed with pricey dresses, coats, hats, wigs and accessories as well as her own personalised buggy and matching luxury poo bags!

Rising demand for premium dog food

The demand for premium dog food has meant small brands such as Lily’s Kitchen saw a 36 per cent rise in sales of its natural pet food to reach £19.8m last year.

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The rising demand for premium food isn’t just about taste and aesthetics. Just as healthy eating for humans has enjoyed a boom over the last decade or so, pet owners are increasingly concerned with helping their animals stay in shape. ‘There’s been a giant leap forward in pet care,’ says Will Bissett, a nutritionist at Pets Corner, which has more than 100 stores in the UK. ‘The thing that’s really good is…people taking an active care and interest in what they’re feeding their animals.’ In particular, there has been growing interest in hypoallergenic and grain-free foods that are said to be more gentle on an animal’s stomach.

To get a sense of where the market is going next, you just need to look to the US which is five or 10 years ahead of us. As well as the surge in pet pampering, many dollars are going toward wellness products to keep pets happy and healthy longer. Pet supplements like probiotics and vitamins are big business, sales of which exceeded half a billion dollars in 2014.

In America, Purina has a brand called Just Right, which recommends specific mixes of food based on the answers to questions about a dog’s weight, breed and lifestyle (from how active it is to the consistency of its stools). There are signs of a shift in this direction in the UK too.

I purchase kibble for my 1-year-old yorkie, Coco, from Tails.com. They ask similar questions and use the information to blend individually formulated kibble for each dog.

Another new company, Pawtions creates bespoke-sized portions of food, to help people ensure they don’t overfeed their pets. And Bella and Duke will deliver natural raw dog food to your door.

Humanised dog food is also booming in the UK. From popcorn, ice-cream and herbal tea, to breakfast cereal, vegan snacks and fancy baked goods, dog food now looks suspiciously like what we eat for dinner. Fast-food chain Shake Shack has a dog menu and you can even buy doggie beer and pawsecco!

And, earlier this year saw the launch of a new pop-up restaurant at the Bluebird Café in London’s Chelsea, where canines could tuck into a three-course brunch of venison sausages and beefy brown rice, chicken and lamb ‘barkenberg’ loaf, and a sweet potato and peanut butter macaron to finish – all for a mere £30 a head! 

Luxury Lifestyle Services for Dogs

There are many luxury lifestyle services that dog lovers can indulge their four-legged friends. From luxury grooming, luxury boarding, spas, massages, and even pilates classes the choice is endless!

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PetsPyjamas, the online bespoke dog-friendly travel company can even help you organise a five star break with your pooch!  Or how about doggie glamping?!

If you’re in London then you could take your pooch to a ‘doga’ (dog yoga) class at Dogamahny in Notting Hill!.

Global spending on pets is projected to surpass £66bn by 2019 so it’s no surprise that the demand for pet-friendly holidays has been on the rise in recent years.

Research from American Express tells us that just over a quarter (27%) of UK dog owners are expected to take their dogs on holiday during 2018, and spend £227 million on the privilege! It’s not difficult to work out that pet tourism could be worth millions to tourism economies.

And, Mutt and Pooch will also be launching soon, a luxury dog concierge based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent which will cater to all your dog’s needs.

Designer dogs: cruel not cool!

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The number of designer dogs seen in Britain has risen almost eightfold in a decade
Most popular in 2016 were the ‘cockapoo’ and the ‘labradoodle’, research shows

Can you match the dogs above to the breeds named here?

A jackahuahua – a jack russell and chihuahua cross, a goldendoodle – golden retriever and poodle, a shorkie – shihtzu and Yorkshire terrier, a cockapoo – cocker spaniel and poodle, a cavapoo – cavalier King Charles spaniel and poodle, a puggle – pug and beagle, a Labradoodle – labrador and poodle, a sprocker – springer spaniel and cocker spaniel, and a maltipoo – maltese and poodle Click here to find out

Designer dogs are more popular than ever before, however buyers have been warned it’s more cruel than cool to own a designer dog.

The RSPCA says that the increasing demand for ‘handbag’ puppies is boosting the trade of unlicensed breeders in the UK. Fortunately, Lucy’s Law, when it gets through parliament, will effectively close down puppy farms.

The trend for owning a designer dog is also the reason dog napping is on the rise.  Some breeds can fetch hundreds or even thousands of pounds on the black market – and criminals are taking advantage, according to campaigners and insurance companies.

Final thoughts

The demand for high-end pet products and services shows no signs of slowing down And, from matching designer threads for pet and owner, to ‘clean eating’ diets, and anti-establishment gear for rebel hounds, you can count on these 6 pet trends making a big splash in 2018!

Having a dog brings so much love, joy and companionship to our lives so if you have the cash to splash on pampering your furry family member then why not!

Anne Morgan