Half of female pet owners prefer to spend time with their dogs than with their partners or family members, a new survey finds
Maybe dogs are really woman’s best friend.
Half of female dog-owners say they would rather spend time with their dogs than with their partner or family members, according to a survey conducted by pet food brand Just Right by Purina. And of the more than 1,000 dog owners surveyed, 95% said that they view their dog as part of the family; 62% reported that their furry friend helps them de-stress after work; and 55% believe that their dog provides emotional comfort after receiving bad news.
Taylor Napoli, 35, from South Hadley, Mass. admits that spending time with her 6-year old black lab/collie mix, Dexter, is often better than being with other humans. “I like when he’s laying next to me when my husband isn’t here, because I feel like there’s no stress,” she told Moneyish. “He has no expectations of me. He’s just there, and so reliable in a way that people aren’t sometimes.”
And now that she’s a new mom to a baby girl, Napoli feels guilty about neglecting Dexter, since he was really she and her husband’s first child. “Every morning, I’m making sure that I take him out first before I feed her (the new baby),” she said, adding that she just bought a new kiddie pool for their pup. “It doesn’t even matter how hot out it is, I always make sure he’s able to take a swim every morning,” she said.
And Sophia Olson, 24, from Kannapolis, N.C., admits that when she and her husband are not taking their 1-year old terrier/spaniel mix Pontiac camping, or teaching him how to swim, they each like to spend their downtime apart with him. “We like our alone time to be with the dog,” she said. The elementary school art teacher and part-time waitress said there are only a few hours when she’s not with Pontiac. “In the summer we spend almost all day together … most of the time we are together asleep in our bed,” she added.
Olson is one of the almost half (45%) of American pet-owners that say they allow their fur babies to sleep in bed with them, according to a survey by the American Kennel Club. The same is true for Napoli: “He sleeps with us in the bed,” she said. “He’s literally never used his dog bed.”
This all comes at a time when Americans are spending more than ever on their pets. Pet parents spent nearly $70 billion in total on their pets last year, up 4% from 2016, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) — and that number is expected to continue to climb.
And for most dog owners, their primary pet expense is food. An estimated $29.88 billion will be spent on pet food by the end of this year, according to data from the APPA. And more pet-owners are springing for the fancier foods: Pet owners are projected to spend more than $11,000 on premium organic and grain-free pet-food in 2019, in comparison to about $5,500 on mid-priced food and $2,650 on economy chow.
This is partly due to the fact that human diet trends are making their way into the pet-world. For example, Paleopet, the nutritional book for pets, has gained popularity for its no-starch, meat-centered diet plan. And in 2014, Purina rolled out a line of dog supplement bars such as the Pro Plan Sport PRiME Bar and ReFUEL Bar, which are meant to help puppies gain and keep healthy muscles.
While Olson said that Pontiac doesn’t eat better than she and her husband, most of their monthly dog expenses (about $30 a month) do go towards food. “He does eat grain-free, but we don’t cook his food like some people do,” she said.
Napoli on the other hand, makes sure Dexter is spoiled with as many fancy treats as possible. In addition to the nightly 8 p.m. rawhide bone he gets every day, he also has a sweet tooth. “When I go to Starbucks, he always gets a ‘Puppuccino,’” she said. “Everyone at Starbucks knows him.” In fact, after gaining five pounds from the Starbucks secret menu puppy item, Napoli decided to cut Dexter off from his usual espresso cup filled with whipped cream. Dexter’s fancy taste brings their monthly food expense to about $40 a month and $30 every two weeks for his rawhides.
Napoli is not alone in indulging her furry friend: Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said that they find themselves asking their dog if it likes its food after serving it, and 40% have even bought their dog a birthday cake. Although Napoli has never indulged Dexter with a cake, she said that she has celebrated his birthday with decorated cookies and doggie ice cream.
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