Pampered pooches in India don’t just live a life of comfort but a high-end luxurious life. While pets used to be just watch guards, the trend has shifted and it became a symbol of social status to have a dog. Today, they have become a part of the family and the Indian market has been booming with the rising demand for pets and the increase in the owner’s willingness to spend on them.
According to Euromonitor International, last year Indians spent Rs 19.8 billion on pet care. The market research provider projects that the number would grow by 12.5 per cent annually through 2022. From fashion to spa treatments, relaxing centres and exotic hotels — everything is available for the loved pooches.
It is the major segment in capturing more than two-thirds of the market revenues. “Today, we are not only producing but are also exporting dog food unlike earlier times when we used to import good quality dog food. Though dogs do not demand anything, it is the owner who feels it is going to make the dog happy. This has encouraged owners take their dogs to pools and salons,” shares Viren Sharma, also known as the Dog Man of India. He is a dog behaviourist with over 20 years of canine experience. He also launched India’s first online portal for dogs (www.dogbazar.org) which is the highest rated and consistently visited e-commerce website in India. His esteemed client base includes Bollywood superstar Salman Khan and many others.
Doctor Dharam Vir Machanda from Pampered Pets in Gurugram shares, “In 2012, there was seven per cent dog food consumption in India. Now, it has risen to eight per cent, and the rest feed homemade food. Though it has increased only marginally, it is still sufficient.”
Anand, who has a mixed street breed, also opts for Barf raw food diet. “We used to feed him homemade food but then he started having medical complications. We switched to raw diet and it improved his health.”
“Today, pets have become an integral part of owners’ life — people share the same bonds with dogs that they do with their loved ones. If you treat your pets like your babies, you don’t mind spending a lot on them. High-end stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Armani have an entire collection for dogs, from wardrobe to jewellery, perfumes and headgear, and I know people who have these items on their bucket list. Many manufacturers are importing it to India as well to take pet fashion to the next level,” says Viren Sharma. What’s more interesting is that people are willing to spend more than half of their salary on their dogs as they give them utmost happiness and loyalty.
Luxurious boarding options
Sharma, who started this business in 2001, owns more than three pet boutique stores and a pet hotel in the pink city. With his unique marketing strategies, the number of dog owning families in Rajasthan has increased from 300 to over 1 lakh. “Travelling for pet parents was a big problem, so the idea of putting up a pet hotel was not just in sync with luxury but convenience too. Earlier, people used to cancel their trips because of their pets. Now with dog hotels, the owners can leave their pets with us for as long as they desire. We also provide online video chatting on 56 inch screens for the owners to keep a check and spend some quality time. We offer pick-up and drop services with personal chauffeurs and organic homemade diet. For indoor facilities, we have a small gym, customised kennels and even a swimming pool. For us, dogs are VIPs and they also deserve a holiday.”
Siddharth Saigal, founder of Wrap Studio is the proud owner of three pets. “We make sure to take them for their summer vacation to our summer home in the hills (Kashmir). We celebrate their birthdays in dog cafés while using trumpetz service for their washing/spa treatment,” shares Saigal. His monthly expenditure, on an average, is Rs 20,000 per dog. It includes their food, spa and vaccines.
Critterati in Gurugram is an all exclusive luxury hotel for pets with facilities like a pet café, swimming pool, spas, playground, veterinary care, television lounge, deluxe suites, salon and a cafeteria for wedding and birthday parties.
For pet relocation, Pet Fly and India Relocation in Delhi, Anvis in Bengaluru, and Furry Flyers in Mumbai are known for their services.
More for entertainment
With every passing year, the number of organisers and participants of pet shows are growing. Akshay Gupta, founder of Pet Fed, one of India’s biggest pet festivals, shares, “Back in 2014, we realised that there are not a lot of places in India for pet owners. If you compare it to places in Europe, cafes are all pet-friendly. So we decided to encourage this culture and allowed owners to hang out with their pets. This inspired us to start Pet Fed in every city.”
Sharma who has also been organising pet shows for over 15 years adds, “India is just gearing up to a trend which already prevails globally. My first dog show had 20 dogs and 50 audience members. But now when we organise a show, we’ve 20,000 dogs and 40,000 to 50,000 people.”
“With increasing awareness about luxury, awareness about adopting stray dogs is also increasing. You’ll see that NRIs and ambassadors coming from different countries are opting for adopting stray dogs. People who adopt tend to spend more on their pet. They feel these pets should also feel the same comfort. They don’t have pets for their status. They really love pets,” shares Gupta.
Luxury travel for pets
Why should humans have all the fun? Hong Kong’s travel company Life Travel has started organising luxury trips for dogs.
Ding Dong and Fun Fun, a pair of 12-year-old Yorkshire terriers owned by Zoe Man, were flown in a private jet from Hong Kong to Japan, which costed Zoe $30,600. “I’ve asked myself why I spend so much money on them. I’ve wondered whether they know the difference. But I think they do know — they must have known the air smelt different,” says Zoe. Meals and water are served to both dogs and owners and after arriving at their destination, they are taken to designated pet-friendly accommodation.
Dose of love
For the ones who don’t own dogs, you can ask for your yearly dose of dog love at pet festivals across India. “Our dose of puppy therapy is for the people who do not have pets. They can come and spend time with pets. It can be a stress buster,” concludes Gupta.