The troubling reality of pet pampering

I’ve lived with cats and dogs my whole life. Having an animal in my home has always been something I’ve truly treasured. No matter how terrible of a day I had, I was always greeted warmly by my pets. They were thrilled and excited to see me walk through the door everyday and it was very therapeutic for me.

In America today, people are taking the welfare of their pets into consideration more than ever before. The culture of how we treat and care for our pets has drastically changed over the last few decades.

We originally domesticated animals to serve a certain function. Pets were traditionally used for things such as herding sheep, pulling sleds, hunting, helping the blind and killing rodents. Nowadays, we have strayed from this idea and objectify animals for our own pleasure. Now, they are used as commodities or personified to the point of humanity.

The infatuation with anthropomorphizing our pets needs to stop.

Walk around the city and you’re bound to understand what I mean. You’ll find pets in some of the most ridiculous articles of clothing and accessories that only benefit the owner’s personal gratification.

Throwing a jacket on a greyhound when it gets cold outside might be reasonable, but it’s absurd to be dressing your pet as if it’s a Barbie doll. Putting novelty or fancy clothing on pets can restrict their ability to behave normally.

If a dog saw another dog wearing the newest designer “dog sweater,” that wouldn’t make it more “attractive” to the other dog, but rather more isolated from interacting with it. It’s important to ask if you’re really helping your pets. It’s all about wants and needs, and your pets certainly don’t need half of the products being sold on the market.

Pet owners are willing to spend big bucks on pet pampering. The American Pet Products Association’s annual report on pet industry spending says Americans spent $58 billion in 2014 on their 397 million pets, which range from freshwater fish and reptiles to cats and dogs.

Last year, people spent $22 billion on food; $15 billion on veterinary care; $14 billion on supplies such as beds, bowls and collars and over-the-counter medicine to fight ailments such as fleas, ticks and colds; $4.8 billion on other services; and $2 billion on the animals themselves.

Those other services? The $4.8 billion was spent on things such as day care, grooming, boarding, and even trips to the spa. That’s $4.8 billion dollars that could be spent on other things more beneficial to your animal’s health, such as a routine trip to the vet or higher quality pet food.

I understand how this whole article might sound a bit crazy, but pets get nothing out of expensive jewelry, nor do we get anything in return besides another outlet for expressing our own social aspirations and tastes.

We live in a world today where homelessness still exists, where millions are stricken by poverty on a daily basis and where many social programs still lack efficiency and funding. Pet pampering needs to be set aside because there are simply more important crises that need to be addressed.