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:
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.
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.
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.
Dry food Kibble
Dog coop Dog bed
Mutt Designer dog
No Dogs Allowed Pet Welcoming
Owner Dog Parent
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.