Trends in Japan > Lifestyle > Cats And Dogs Join the Family
Pet Services Expand and Diversify
(October 23, 2007)

The range of services catering to pets has grown dramatically in recent years. Clothes for animals have been around for quite some time, but did you know that dogs can now relieve their stress with pet aromatherapy or a session in an oxygen capsule? Nowadays if you cannot bear the thought of leaving your pets at home when you are away, you can check them into a pet hotel; you can also take out a pet insurance policy in the unfortunate event that he/she falls ill. No doubt this trend is due to the increase in pet owners who consider their furry loved ones members of the family.


The suite room at the Narita Airport pet hotel (©Pet inn ROYAL NARITA Airport)

Pet Population Rises
Although cats were originally domesticated for catching mice and dogs for hunting and guarding, both animals have long been the most popular house pets in many countries, including Japan. This is no surprise, given that many people feel they can relate to the animals' personalities. Although such animals have long been kept as pets in Japan, recent years have seen a particular boom in their popularity.

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association of Japan reports that as of 2006 there were 12.09 million dogs and 12.46 million cats kept as pets in Japan, amounting to a total of 24.55 million critters. Seeing as how 10 years ago there were only 10.02 million dogs and 7.85 million cats, this represents a considerable rise. The reasons for this jump include increases in the numbers of married couples whose children have flown the nest, childless families, and people who live alone. There are also more apartment buildings that allow pets nowadays.


Dogs enjoy their time at a pet hotel. (©Pet inn ROYAL NARITA Airport)

Catering to Four-Legged Friends
Some animal owners treat their pets as they would their own children, nurturing them with love and affection. They wrap them up warm when it is cold outside, take care of their teeth to prevent them from getting cavities, and make sure they have a balanced diet so they do not become overweight. Noticing the great lengths people go to in order to care for their animals, a variety of new pet-oriented services have come onto the market.

Owners can check their pets into a pet hotel when they leave their house for long periods of time, such as on a trip overseas. Although most of these hotels are located in big cities, they can also be found at the Narita, Kansai, and Central Japan international airports. Especially popular is the 10-square-meter suite in Narita, complete with air purifier, air conditioning, and sofa bed. Owners can check in on their furry friends during their stay at the suite thanks to a webcam hooked up to the Internet, and, of course, the hotel makes sure that each of its guests gets enough exercise. An animal clinic is also located on-site. One night at the suite costs ¥20,000 ($171 at ¥117 to the dollar).


Source: Pet Food Manufacturers Association of Japan

Meanwhile, pet insurance policies are becoming more and more common as pet owners seek to cover expenses when their animals become sick or injured. There are several insurance companies to choose from, and a pet premium typically costs a few thousand yen per month.

Now pets can even be treated to some time in an oxygen capsule—vessels filled with concentrated oxygen that are sometimes used to accelerate athletes' recovery from tiredness. Reputedly effective at relieving animals' stress and tiredness, 30 minutes in a capsule costs ¥2,000 ($17).

To those less inclined toward animals these services may seem excessive, but ask any pet owner and they will tell you that you cannot put a price on family.

Page Top

Copyright (C)2007 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.