How Millennials are Changing Pet Parenthood

Millennials Spoil their Pets Jack Russell Sleeping

There is a new generation of pet owners. They’re young, saddled with debt, bouncing between jobs and living in tiny apartments. I’m speaking, of course, of the Millennials.

With many of their life situations much more uncertain than their Boomer counterparts, Millennials are putting off big life events like getting married and having children.

Instead, they’re having fur babies.

Dogs Celebrating Birthday

Like many parents, Millennials want nothing but the best for their “practice children.” This includes the best, most nutritious food, and splurging on non-essential items – like customized pet beds – while sacrificing similar purchases for themselves. (Just like parents!)

And these non-essential items are high quality, too. According to a study by Wakefield Research, three quarters of Millennials expect their pet’s toys to be BPA-free or made of natural or organic materials. If you’ve seen an emergence of higher quality pet toys, accessories, and food, you can largely thank Millennial pet owners.

Millennials are also more likely than the Boomer generation to own clothing for their pets and to not feel ridiculous about it.

Small Dog with Female Owner

But don’t pampered children often end up being annoying and spoiled?

Like children, this depends a lot on the parents. These pups need to at least be decently behaved, as Millennials, who like to dine out, want to bring their dogs to restaurant patios and breweries. And with Millennials recently surpassing the Boomers as the largest pet-owning generation, these eateries are learning to cater to all members of their family (dogs included), or risk losing out on their business.

The pets themselves are becoming more portable too – smaller dogs (under 25 lbs.) now make up around half of household dogs. With Millennials this tends to be the norm, as rentals tend to impose weight limits on pets, moving frequently is easier with a smaller pet, and smaller pets simply cost less than larger pets.  

Small or not, many of these pets are inspiring their owners to go on more adventures, whether to get in shape, check off items on a bucket list, or simply add new photos to their social media accounts. And who wouldn’t be inspired by a small dog that can kick your butt on a hike?

Dog Trotting on a Path

Despite all the other changing-the-world-for-the-better behaviors, unfortunately, Millennials are more likely than the Boomer generation to adopt a dog from a breeder instead of a shelter, viewing shelter dogs as “damaged goods.”

Some go to breeders because they are looking for specific breeds, unaware that there are breed-specific rescues and that many dogs at shelters are purebreds. Some rescue agencies and shelters are taking notice of this and are attempting to use social media to show them pets up for adoption.

Black Labrador in Field of Yellow Flowers

With Millennial’s pets coming with them on more errands and being present for more life events, businesses are changing to accommodate and cater more to those of the canine persuasion.

Pets are being allowed more places and on more transportation. And with the Millennials now being the largest pet-owning generation, expect to see more pet-friendly places and products to cater to pets—in droves.


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