I have a dog and cat and I love them very much. They are an important part of my family. The attitude towards pets has changed over the past fifty years. These days pets are generally given more attention and are a bigger expense than they were half a century ago.
Like people, pets often live to an older age these days due to improved medical attention. With pets it is more likely owners will choose to pay for costly treatments these days. In times gone past the necessary treatment either wasn’t available or people would say, ‘I’m not paying that much to prolong the life of an animal. Pet insurance is available now to help cover vet bills.
These days people are more likely to get pets desexed. There are a number of vaccinations that are recommended and a variety of treatments for fleas, worms and other problems. Yearly check ups are recommended and six monthly checks for senior pets. These all mean improved health and comfort for the pet but also higher costs.
In times gone past a pet’s life was not luxurious. Dogs were more likely to sleep outside. Some had a proper kennel and others had a 44 gallon drum on its side with a wheat bag to lie on. These days kennels are fancier and a dog is likely to have more comfort. There are also special dog beds and a variety of baskets for the indoor dog to sleep in. It is possible to spend thousands of dollars on a pet bed or special accommodation for a pet if you are a celebrity.
Some dogs have doggy coats to keep them warm. There are pets that have fancy bows and are dressed up in clothes. Collars are sometimes expensive and decorative.
When I was a child it was common for dogs and cats to be fed a lot of scraps or the cheapest of meat off cuts or offal. There was some tinned and dried dog and cat food available but not the wide variety of specially formulated products to suit different ages, sizes and conditions we see today.
Dogs were often fed all sorts of bones but now there is an awareness of the danger of many types of bones splintering and causing the dog harm. These days a wide variety of treats and dental chews can be bought to take care of a pet's teeth. There is pet toothpaste which can be used if your pet will cooperate to having his/her teeth cleaned.
There are all sorts of pets these days and families can become very attached to them. The pet industry is lucrative and there are magazines and television shows devoted to pet care.
These days people are better informed about how to take care of a pet. There is greater awareness of food that can be harmful. As well there is more discussion about responsible pet ownership. There are more regulations about places where dogs must be on a lead. Some people keep their cats indoors or in a large run so they can not harm the native wildlife.
Puppy school and dog training is available. Owners are more aware of a dog’s need to be taken out for walks and the need for companionship for pets. Generally people think a lot more about the best way to care for their pet. Yes, there are those who do not act responsibly but many do.
I have noticed some shop and home owners putting a bowl of water out for dogs to drink if they are thirsty. Some cafes have an outdoor eating area where they allow dogs if their owners are having a cuppa. There is more awareness of dogs as part of our lives now and the importance of children being involved with pets. The health benefits of pet ownership are widely recognised.
When a pet dies some people choose cremation and keep their pet’s ashes in an urn. Others pay for a specially made headstone or grave marker as a memorial to their beloved pet. It is not only dogs and cats but also rabbits, birds, guinea pigs and other small pets that may be remembered in this way. Pets are becoming an increasingly important part of the family. For the increasing number of sole householders the companionship of a pet is especially valuable.
Fifty years ago the contribution of a pet or pets to a household was not recognised to the extent it is today. A cat might have been kept to catch mice and a dog for protection or for the children to play with. There wasn’t as much thought about the responsibility of the owner to the pet.