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The Humanization of Pets: Treating Our Fur Friends Like People

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Dogs and cats are getting a seat at the table when it comes to some of our biggest life decisions. More than ever, our generation (from GenX to GenZs) takes their pets into account when approaching milestones like buying a home, applying for jobs, or even having children.

We’re also spending much more on our pets overall. The pet industry is growing rapidly and is set to reach $109.6 billion this year. For context, the amount of money the average person spends on their pets has more than doubled in the last decade.

Home buying with a pet

It’s more and more common for homebuyers to look for a place to live based on where their pets can be comfortable. A 2020 survey by showed that 61% of homebuyers had at least one dog and 34% had cats. Another 9% of home shoppers had small pets like fish, birds, or rodents.

Unfortunately, house hunting with a furbaby does limit your options. Most dog owners are looking for a dog-friendly neighborhood with a nearby park and a fenced yard. In major cities, this setup can be hard to come by. More pet parents may be opting for remote work or a longer commute in order to secure a home where their pets can roam.

Renting can also be difficult for dog owners who come up against pet restrictions limiting dog size. When looking for a house, be sure to read over any HOA or building restrictions about how many pets are allowed per unit or whether your pet needs to be spayed or neutered.

Going back to work with a pet at home

COVID-19 sparked an enormous increase in pet adoptions. Under quarantine measures, most pet owners were able to stay at home with their pets 24-7. This was great for puppy training and eliminated the need for doggy daycare.

However, with the world normalizing, companies are asking their employees to return to work. This has created a wave of concern and even guilt for pet owners who have to find a way to make it work with their pet at home.

One survey of 400 dog owners said that 67% would consider finding a different job if their current company stopped allowing remote work. With pet ownership becoming the rule, could this affect how employers hire and what work flexibility they allow?

When possible, it's a great idea to welcome a new pet into your home after you’ve bought or signed a rental agreement. This way you can be sure to have the space your new furbaby needs.

If you’re planning on adding a puppy to your family, check out pawTree’s ultimate puppy starter kit for everything a new puppy needs. Also, see pawTree’s deodorizing mist that keeps your dog and her space smelling fresh and clean.

Postponing children for pets

Pets demand a lot of attention and can be costly month to month. But pet expenses aren’t the only reason Millennials are opting for pet ownership and postponing a family.

Millennials were graduating college right as The Great Recession began. Many were expecting to use their degrees to find jobs and step gracefully into the American Dream. But the economy had other plans.

Facing job shortages and taking longer to get on their feet, many Millennials have had to postpone “full-on adulthood” as they navigated the transition from college to the workforce. A pet may have been a welcome placeholder (or replacement) for the joy and responsibility of raising children.

Are people choosing pets over children? It’s hard to say, but we know that pets are pulling their weight in terms of needed emotional connection and making a form of parental responsibility attainable regardless of socio-economic status.


About the Author

Kristi Diaz MD

Kristi is a retired anesthesiologist who loves helping people take good care of their pets.


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