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20 Years Of Changes in Dog World

dog kiss

Dogs today are not the dogs of yesterday, this much I know is true. Thinking back to 1994, which seems a lifetime ago, dogs were not privy to so many things affecting their lives in 2014. Heck, the same can be said for the human variety: The times they are a’changin’, and 20 years of changes in the dog world is a long time.

From the annals of “then versus now,” here are eight of the prominent changes in the dog world over the past 20 years.  See how many of these you can relate to:

Diet:

As a kid, I distinctly recall my mother buying canned dog food from the grocery store and mixing it with whatever leftovers remained from supper: This was the dog’s diet. We never walked the aisles of a pet supply superstore because, of course, they did not exist.

How we feed what we feed and greater attention, even minute detailing, of the ingredients found in Fido’s food is one of the major changes to hit the canine scene since 1992. In the 19th century, meat started being fed to dogs and in the 1860s, dog food founds its niche. It was after World War I that horse meat made its way into commercial dog foods.

Dry food, canned food, soft-moist food, rehydrated/raw diets, home cooked, natural/organic, and the list goes on: The variety and types of foods we feed dogs have evolved. Where we purchase the food is evolving as well: pet supply stores, veterinary prescribed, mail order, online, custom diets, canine cookbooks, and rotation diets, to name a few.

Having had a dog with irritable bowel disease (and who heard of that 20 years ago), I am more cognizant of what my dog eats and the ingredients the food contains. No doubt, throngs of diligent Fidose fans ead a dog food label with the close scrutiny the likes of Sherlock Holmes.

dog food shopping

Healthcare:

From specialists to over vaccination awareness and everything in between: One of the major changes in canine world over the past 20 years resides in the healthcare domain. In 1990, not many dogs were getting MRIs, lining up for canine acupuncture, or taking a nutraceutical, such as glucosamine for improved joint mobility.

Dogs are living longer thanks, in large part, to owner-veterinary communication and advances in veterinary medicine. Laser surgery and laparoscopic procedures enable vets to more seamlessly heal Fido’s ailments with quicker recovery times.

My previous Cocker Spaniel was affected by a mast cell tumor, a potentially aggressive form of canine skin cancer. Because our vet was able to use laser equipment, cleaner margins were obtained, a quicker recovery time resulted, and she lived to be one week shy of 15 years.

My present dog, Dexter, was neutered via laser surgery and able to come home the very same day. In fact, I waited at the vet while the surgery occurred and had Dexter in tow, driving home with me a few hours later. Talk about nip, tuck, and go.

Verbiage:

Yesterday’s Rex is today’s Romeo, as everything from what we name our dogs to the lingo applied to their dog food has evolved and changed.

 Then                                       Now

Dry food                                 Kibble

Dog coop                                Dog bed

Mutt                                        Designer dog

No Dogs Allowed                  Pet Welcoming

Owner                                      Dog Parent

Animal                                    Furkid

Barking                                   Canine vocalization

Kennel                                    Doggie daycare

 

Dog Friendly Everything:

Pet-friendly vacations are becoming a staple in many families and hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts are rolling out the red carpet to this rising trend. Websites and books devoted to the topic are commonplace, whereas growing up the family dog stayed behind when we hit the open road. As I write this, my spouse and I are vacationing with our Cocker Spaniel. We were asked upon check in if a doggie massage would be needed…in room.

cocker spaniel

Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook, released the 16th edition this year. As someone who has not taken a vacation without a dog in close to 20 years, I can attest to the joys of finding destinations that welcome dogs.

Pet supply superstores, boutiques, indoor park facilities are onto the “dogs means dollars” movement. The Wall Street Journal reports that PetSmart embraces the mantra of treating pet owners like parents, contributing to their continuing success.

Products:

For those of us who grew up with dogs, do you recall the family dog(s) having toys that talked, treats in a bevy of flavors, placemats, leashes to match the season, clothes, and their own bed? Me either.

Of the over $55 billion the American Pet Products Association expects to be spent in 2014, supplies and over-the-counter medicine account for almost $14 billion of that total.

Having walked the show floor of industry shows like the Global Pet Expo and Superzoo, I’ve seen the products that will soon hit store shelves. In the early 1990’s who ever would have imagined a GPS tracking collar, programmable water and feeding systems, or earth-friendly eco toys would be on store shelves?

Resources:

The Internet has changed the face of how we obtain products and services for Fido, but also how we obtain dogs in general, for better or for worse. Betsy Banks Saul changed the face of pet adoption when she co-founded Petfinder, an online database of adoptable pets.

When I interviewed Saul in person, she revealed she never could have imagined the impact the idea formed in 1996 would have on pet adoption overall. With their 15-year celebration in 2011, the pet adoption giant marked close to 18 million adoptions, a number they have since surpassed.

The resources available by, for, and about dogs is immeasurable. I never thought I would be walking through the doors of a pet bloggers’ conference, but there I was in 2009 at BlogPaws pet bloggers’ conference meeting hundreds of others with a similar purpose in mind: Affect the care and well-being of our non-human family members.

cute dogs

Role Changes:

Pet therapy, search and rescue, seizure alert, arson dogs, emotional support, service dogs, and the list goes on: Awareness of the many facets of a dog’s personality and how to best channel, utilize, and embrace them has come into its own.

As a teenager, I recall the fascination when I saw a woman with a German Shepherd (her seeing eye dog) walking into the town’s True Value store.

In his Hero Dogs of 9/11 television special, Kenn Bell shared the stories of the 300 dogs who came to the site of the World Trade Center tragedy to scour for survivors and comfort those who needed a friend.

 Humanization of Dogs:

Perhaps one of the biggest non-tangible ways dogs have evolved in our lives is in the way we treat them. For many, dogs are the new kids. No longer are we the “crazy dog people” when planning a birthday party for Chico, attending a pet wedding for Romeo, or setting up play dates with a local group of friends (or is that “fur-ends”)?

Our furbabies enter costume contests, walk the fashion runways, eat in restaurants with us, and the definition of ‘family’ has evolved. We have the white picket fences, but dogs are behind them. We go to work, but pet-friendly jobs are a part of our culture. It is said every dog will have its day, and lucky for the over 72 million of us who embrace this philosophy, it seems as though our time has arrived.

QUESTION: What do you think is a big change in the dog world over these past 20 years? Bark back at us below.

 

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. I got my first dog in 1997 and I remember driving 45 mins to get her the best dog food I could find, which was Innova. Now my local hardware store a few blocks away has a vast selection of natural and organic kibble. It has changed but it is definitely for the better!

  2. For me it is the awareness that routinely having your pet vaccinated is not in the best interest of their long term health. For so many years, dog owners just blindly followed the advice of their vet regarding vaccinations, only to eventually discover that all of this medicine is not really necessary and can even cause grave danger to the life of a beloved dog. After actually losing a wonderful 10 year old Cocker to an autoimmune disorder and coming very close to losing a healthy 2 year old dog to a similar autoimmune disease, I personally will never have my dogs vaccinated again. Going forward, we will be doing the “titer” , to check their levels of protection for specific diseases. Also, in this day and age, having access to exceptional “specialty” internal medicine veterinary practices is a Godsend for the parents of fur kids!

  3. The past twenty years…
    The internet has provided an easy channel for puppy mills and backyard breeders to sell their merchandise (and yes, they consider the puppies merchandise). It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothes – they have fancy websites, know all the right verbiage to use and the pull the wool right over the unsuspecting eyes of their audience..

    The internet has also provided a great way of connecting with like minds and as a result those who advocate for rescue and against puppy mills can connect and grow their support. More states and cities are now looking at ways to curtail and legislate against sale of puppies in pet stores – definitely a step in the right direction.

    However, it is extremely distressing to see that the American Pet Products Association and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council are providing 6 figure support to FIGHT legislation that bans puppy sales in pet stores. At the same time, AKC panders to the interest of large scale and commercial breeding facilities.

    So while the past 20 years have definitely had some positive changes and advances for the pet world, they have also facilitated so of the worst horrors for these pets we love so dearly.

    1. We wouldn’t know about a lot of these horrors without the internet. We have awareness and legislation and a voice many of us use for animals. More pros than cons for me.

  4. It’s amazing to think of how much things have changed in the dog world. Sadly, about 20 years ago, syringomyelia in dogs was first diagnosed, though anecdotal evidence suggests it appeared in some breeds decades before that. In 2006 the first Chihuahua with the disease was identified. MRIs on dogs and other advances in veterinary science have helped make these identifications possible. Hopefully the disease can be wiped out soon.

    I’m glad we can now have furbabies as our children without seeming too crazy! It took a while but my mom finally accepted the title of “grammie” to my two dogs. That would NOT have happened 20 years ago!

  5. It’s amazing to think of how much things have changed in the dog world. Sadly, about 20 years ago, syringomyelia in dogs was first diagnosed, though anecdotal evidence suggests it appeared in some breeds decades before that. In 2006 the first Chihuahua with the disease was identified. MRIs on dogs and other advances in veterinary science have helped make these identifications possible. Hopefully the disease can be wiped out soon.

    I’m glad we can now have furbabies as our children without seeming too crazy! It took a while but my mom finally accepted the title of “grammie” to my two dogs. That would NOT have happened 20 years ago!

  6. It’s amazing to think of how much things have changed in the dog world. Sadly, about 20 years ago, syringomyelia in dogs was first diagnosed, though anecdotal evidence suggests it appeared in some breeds decades before that. In 2006 the first Chihuahua with the disease was identified. MRIs on dogs and other advances in veterinary science have helped make these identifications possible. Hopefully the disease can be wiped out soon.

    I’m glad we can now have furbabies as our children without seeming too crazy! It took a while but my mom finally accepted the title of “grammie” to my two dogs. That would NOT have happened 20 years ago!

  7. Fantastic post! I love that so many people view pets as family members now; our dogs truly are our furkids! Education on how to be better pet owners has improved significantly. Other big changes are that adopting from shelters doesn’t have the stigma it once did, and there is an increase in public outcry against animal cruelty, neglect & abandonment. Much more is still needed in educating people on pets being a lifelong commitment & on better stewardship of their pets so they don’t end up in shelters, but we’re getting there! There have been some negative changes too, such as Breed Specific Legislation and greedy puppy mills selling pups online. Like everything else, it’s a process!

  8. 20 years ago, were there Pet Supermarkets or Petsmarts? Do you remember seeing a commercial about your dog’s food on TV? Now its almost every other hour. The food has to be the biggest difference. There are 100x more dog foods than there used to be, or at least that is what it seems, as every manufacturer is trying to get a piece of the 60 billion dollar industry. We feature the Victor Dog Food line here, so we are a bit more special and under less pressure than from a Purina or Mars brand of dog food. Great post!

    Jack Bobeck
    Jacksonville, FL

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