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Bringing Pet Pampering to a Whole New Level – Lap of Luxury

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A light-hearted look at the lengths pet-lovers will go to offer the utmost of comfort and pampering for their four-legged pals. From oxygen spas and high-end doggie day care to pre-nups and mental wellness. From Reiki healing to IQ toys. From diamond collars to Ruff Lauren fashion accessories. In today’s pet marketplace, there’s something for everybody and every buddy with extravagant taste and a healthy chequebook.

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Things We Do For Pets

The image uses humor for a delicate critique of excesses with pets. It brings a sophisticated dog with very long hair receiving various care (comb, scissors, dryer and spray in the wellness spa salon) while calmly reading the Diva Dog Magazine.
Dog in the hairdresser, investing in beauty. Ready to look like a Dog Diva! (Photo by Damedeeso Dreamstime.com)

Bringing Pet Pampering to a Whole New Level

Let me paint the picture. The room is softly lit with peaceful sound effects: a babbling brook, sheep bleating in the pasture, the swoosh of hummingbird wings.

A team of massage therapists in white lab coats gently apply pressure to tired muscles with smooth gliding strokes. An attendant slips in alongside to start a mani-pedi.

What’s that now? Is that a tail wagging from under that towel? Yup – there’s your first clue. That and the small, serve-yourself bowls of Milkbones and Temptations… you’re in a pet spa. It’s a thing.

Although to me this seems like a scene from Bizarro World – or a Gary Larson comic strip – this level of pet pampering does exist, and people pay good money to send their pets for the service. It’s just one of the examples I’ll share today in this post about ‘out-there’ extremes.

I have been reading about Oxygen Spas and Gatorade for pets. Inspired by the Disney movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua, a pet parent can now splurge on a pink, miniature baseboard-mounted Chihuahua urinal. Or on high-end dog perfume and animal earrings. If your dog would like to book a play date or a friends-with-benefits rendezvous, you can log into doggydate.com. But don’t despair: there are also several dating sites for pet parents to bond over their common love for animals.

My favourite? A shoe-shaped toy called Jimmy Chew and accessories by Ruff Lauren. Priceless!

Of course, I am poking fun and not trying to be judge-y. A pet is a valued member of the family and emotions run deep. So deep, in fact, that lawyers across Canada are reporting record volumes of animal custody lawsuits. You heard that right: divorcing couples are fighting in court over who gets to keep Fluffy after the split. CBC News reports many cases of conflict between parents and their grown kids, between ex-roommates, and even friends battling over cats and dogs, reptiles, horses and – wait for it – pot-bellied pigs.

So… let’s be more serious now

Because laws in Canada consider pets to be property, a judge’s decision can be based on who made the biggest investment in the pet’s purchase, care and upkeep. But the verdict can just as easily depend on what is in Fido’s best interest, like who can care for it best and whether it has bonded more with one party than the other or even with children or another animal.

Laws are evolving to recognize that animals are more than just property.

Disentangling a broken relationship can be a traumatic life event. Prenuptial agreements can ease the ordeal. You’re probably thinking that this could even apply to pets: you’d be correct. Lawyers are advising shared-pet owners to keep a good paper trail to document who paid for what. And to agree to and sign a Pet-nup. If this seems logical to you, and you want to draw one up, you can find free animal custody agreement templates available on the internet. You might not think it’s important now, but it could end up being in the best interest of everyone.

Including Fluffy and Fido. Pets can sense tension. They can sense danger and even illness. And they experience their own anxiety – just watch any YouTube video of a dog figuring out that he’s going to the vet. Have you ever wondered what else causes your pet stress that you don’t even realize? Enter your friendly neighbourhood Pet Psychologist.

A shiny-haired black Staffordshire bull terrier takes a nap accommodated on soft cushions on an expensive retro-style leather sofa.
A bull terrier dog sleeping on a retro-style leather sofa (Photo by Christine Bird | Dreamstime.com)

Another image comes to mind of a large dog stretched out on a leather couch. But seriously, a specialist can help a great deal with behaviour issues that might otherwise affect a family’s ability to live with the pet. Excessive barking can quickly draw complaints from your neighbours and aggressiveness with humans and other dogs can prove to be a real problem during daily walks.

Anxiety, jumping up on people, especially the little ones, chewing and housebreaking can all be signs of medical or emotional complications that can usually be resolved with professional help.

Attention to physical and mental wellness – for humans – has become increasingly mainstream. This overall awareness has made its way to the animal kingdom. Where obedience and behaviour training do not get the desired results, many people are turning to nutritional supplements, calming treats, interactive toys and even CBD oil for their furry friends.

Trends worth watching…

The legalization of marijuana in many countries has triggered a growing interest in products derived from cannabis and hemp. Clinically documented health benefits of CBD oil in humans include management of chronic pain, anxiety and inflammation. Although its use in pets is less tested, similar results have been achieved with animals to the point where you can now purchase CBD Chews and oil drops made specifically for pets. I would think this is something that should first be discussed with your vet but it’s definitely a trend worth watching.

There was a time when a feather and a bit of catnip on a string was all it took to keep my cat entertained for hours. Apparently, she now requires a wriggly USB-rechargeable fish to chase and wrestle.

We have discussed pet tech in another episode, but I do want to touch upon a few types of new interactive toys that boggle the mind. My mind, anyway, but not your dog’s: there’s a wide array of toys designed to enrich your pet’s IQ. Several brands of these puzzles feature objects that need to be moved in a specific order to release snacks. Like a Rubik’s Cube for your pup but with a reward for success!

Also, there’s also a variety of stimulating “Snuffle Balls” that engage your dog’s natural foraging instincts, keeping them focused and entertained.

Another trend: Animal Reiki

The practice of Reiki (ray-key) healing is the activation of a multi-faceted energy that can be used to help people on the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Meditation and healing rituals help achieve balance of the Life Force Energy that flows through the body of all living things, a belief that has been part of the wisdom of many cultures for thousands of years.

You heard the part about “all living things”, right? Animal Reiki is a relatively new area whose popularity has been growing. The Canadian Reiki Association has even developed an Animal Reiki Practitioner designation to establish guidelines and certification to oversee the highest, most ethical standards of practice possible.

To end this post, let’s go back to the visual in my introduction. Let’s dim the lights and turn that Rainforest Sound Machine back on… there we go! If you’re the kind of pet parent who places no limit on the cost of pampering your furry friend, you’ve probably already visited a place like this. By you, I mean your dog, of course! With creative names like Pet Palace, Dogtopia, DoggieLand and Flow Canine Wellness, upscale doggie day cares and pet spaws are very easy to find. Traditional kennels and retail pet store chains are upping the ante in their grooming department, too.

Hair clipping, ear cleaning, baths and nail cutting have always been standard fare. And Pitou always looks – and smells – amazing after his session. But today, I’ve been reading about deep tissue massages, therapeutic mud treatments, acupuncture, and ozone spa baths. Chiropractic adjustments and intense moisturizing treatments. Breath freshening, anti-itch and anti-dandruff treatments and blueberry facials. All. For. Your. Dog.

Cute kitten finishing the bath in a spa, wrapped in a towel and with foams of bath salts, indicating a lifestyle full of care and pampering.
Cute kitten finishing the bath (Photo by Dmytro Kirichay | Dreamstime.com)

On a more serious note, I have been learning about the significant medical value of many of these services. For example, the Canadian Academy of Veterinary Dermatology is encouraging pet owners to be more aware and attentive to their furry friends’ skincare needs through the “Empathy for Itch” campaign. Expert grooming can get to the root cause of many canine and feline complaints that you might not have known they had until you heard it from their psychologist.

So that’s it for today. Gotta go take Rexx to his lawyer’s appointment.


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Things we do for Pets


Podcast: Things We Do For Pets
Made possible with the support of Ontario Creates

Directed by: Teresa Botelho
Content writing: Lauri Richardson
Pre-production & research: Ana Carolina Botelho
Recording / Editing / Social Media: Christian Pedersen
Host: Eric Major
Vignettes & special effects: Robson DJ Estudio 
Website & Digital Marketing: Creative Team Canada


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