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Pets Over Parenthood: The Millenials’ Choice and the Only Downside of Pet-Centric Lives


More and more people are foregoing human children and opting for animals. A survey done by Rover.com found that 43% of 27–42-year-olds are opting for pets over parenthood at this time. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason for this but the evidence points in a few directions; the rise in living costs, being more career and travel focused, wanting independence and freedom, as well as environmental concerns.


cat in sweater baby cat

The economy is making a lot of people second guess if they want children. The cost of living has been steadily rising in recent years. From food prices rising 33% from 2019 to 2022 (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization, Food Price Index, December 2022), housing costs have risen 23% since 2019 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Housing Price Index, November 2023) and wages cannot keep up with all the expenses (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Real Average Wages, November 2023). Owning a pet brings everyone joy, their cost to live a meaningful and healthy life is more manageable and they offer more flexibility to live a work/life balance. Some Americans are drawn to a pet’s smaller carbon footprint compared to a child’s, from the amount of transportation they need to their lack of use for electronics (Source: Transportation and Climate Change | Environmental Protection Agency; Energy Consumption in Households | Energy Information Administration). With financial pressures mounting and the worry about stability while still having freedom, many millennials are turning to pet ownership over having children.


pet in pajamas child pet

For the most part owning a pet is a wonderful thing. Pets are cuddly, rarely talk back, are innocent in any wrongdoing that happens and they keep everyone entertained. The only downside to all of this? We expect human children to outlive us but our pets are pretty much guaranteed to not.


old dog quality of life

When dogs were “just dogs” and cats were “just cats” it might have been easier when it was Fido’s time to go, but now our dogs and cats sleep in our beds, have better nutrition than we do and see the doctor more often than we can. They require us to cancel plans, hire babysitters, factor into our monthly budget and we will readily pull out our phones to show you the abundance of photos we have of them sleeping.  Now that they aren’t “just” anything and they are family, what do we do when they leave this world? When we lose one because their time on earth is shorter than is fair, the grief takes over similarly to losing a sibling, niece, or uncle.


Owning pets and treating them as if they are family has been gaining traction for decades but is still relatively recent and our loved ones might feel as though they are still “just” a pet and mourn with us momentarily but that grief sticks around since we have lost a family member. Even though our pets are expected to only live a short time it does not make the loss any easier. Losing them before we’re ready is only part of the pain, we also bear the burden (and honor) of helping them pass on in dignity and without pain. Choosing their end is agonizing, but keeping a quality-of-life calendar and consulting with your veterinarian can offer guidance. Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice and Palliative care provides comprehensive support for pet owners facing the end of their pet’s life (https://www.lapoflove.com/). The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers a wealth of resources for coping with their loss, they have support groups, online forums, and educational materials (https://www.aplb.org/).


pet urn creamted ashes

Once your pet passes, we can get them cremated and have the ashes returned to us. There are so many ways to honor your pet after they are gone, from beautiful pieces of blown glass, to jewelry and wind chimes. Some companies create urns that can grow trees and plants or, if you can bury your loved one in a spot you can visit and mourn that is a beautiful option as well.


Have you recently lost a furry family member? Share your story and know you’re not alone in your grief. Let us support each other through this difficult journey.


dog pass dead grieve
My sister's dogs Jayda and Athena. Both gone too soon we love you!

 

 

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