The rise of fur parenting

The rise of fur parenting

By now, most of us have seen the tearjerker of a video that showed a three-year-old Golden Retriever named Killua, who died in the most unfortunate of circumstances. The virality and controversy of this news are testaments to the transforming relationship between fur parents and fur babies, and this evolution is presenting not only a myriad of opportunities but likewise challenges and calls to action.

My late dad grew up taking care of dogs in his ancestral home in Bacood, Sta. Mesa, as was the customary tradition back then to have dogs — if only to have an alarm system for the household — was a practical deterrent to avoiding robbery and the like. When he had a family of his own, he continued to take care of our Japanese spitz dogs but the practicality of doing so remained ever present.

These days are different. Not only have most households adopted doorbells and CCTV, but well-loved pets such as dogs and cats have also found their place inside the family homes. This is a strong indication of how the relationship has transformed over the years — fur babies are now treated very much the same as human babies. In fact, taking care of your pet is akin to taking care of a baby — you need to give it attention, nurture it, feed it, take it to the doctor and spend time together.


The Philippine market is witnessing a significant evolution with the emergence of a new consumer segment: fur parents. Gone are the days when pets were simply domesticated animals; they are now regarded as cherished family members. This shift in perception has opened doors to a multitude of business opportunities tailored to cater to the needs and desires of pet owners. In a survey conducted last March 2023 by Social Weather Stations (SWS), the results showed 64 percent of Filipino households have pets at home based on the data gathered covering 1,200 Filipinos nationwide. This significant rise in pet ownership can also be attributed to the strong link between pets and mental wellness. In an article published in, having pets in relation to mental wellness can give benefits such as companionship, a sense of achievement, the need to exercise, stress and anxiety reduction, and a boost in confidence, among other things.

Effectively, the rise of fur parents reflects a broader cultural trend toward humanizing pets, wherein they are treated as companions rather than mere possessions. This trend is fueled by factors such as changing lifestyles, urbanization and increased awareness of animal welfare issues. As a result, pet ownership has become more prevalent across various demographic groups, creating a diverse and lucrative market for businesses to explore.


Business needs uncovered

The surge in fur parenting has led to the identification of various business niches that are waiting to be explored. The demand encompasses a wide spectrum, from essential pet supplies to specialized products. Additionally, there is a growing need for pet-friendly accommodations such as hotels, along with services catering to pet celebrations such as birthdays, milestones and memorials, such as pet cemeteries. These areas represent potential for entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the burgeoning pet industry.

The pet care market in the Philippines is ripe with opportunities for businesses to innovate and differentiate themselves. In addition to traditional pet care services such as grooming and veterinary care, there is a growing demand for premium products and experiences that cater to the unique needs and preferences of pet owners. From organic pet food and eco-friendly toys to luxury pet spas and personalized pet portraits, businesses can tap into this market by offering innovative solutions that prioritize pet health, happiness and well-being. When the fur baby is happy, the fur parent can feel the same.


The innate nature of emotional caregiving

At the heart of Filipino culture lies a deeply ingrained sense of emotional connectedness and compassion, which extends not only to human relationships but also to the bond between humans and their pets. This innate nature of emotional caregiving underscores the significance of pets as integral members of the family unit. Understanding and leveraging this emotional connection is key to resonating with Filipino consumers and establishing lasting relationships with pet owners. Playdates are no longer just referring to children — they apply to fur babies going on playdates with fur parents.


Taking care of fur babies

Pet ownership is not only a privilege but also a big responsibility. Fur parents need to ensure that their fur babies remain protected wherever they are, as being exposed to an environment unfamiliar to them may give rise to issues along the way. Republic Act 9482, or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007, lists the responsibilities of pet owners, including maintaining control over their dogs and not allowing them to roam the streets or any public place without a leash. By ensuring compliance with these regulations, businesses can uphold the safety and well-being of pets while also demonstrating their commitment to ethical and responsible pet care practices.


Pet care businesses must also stay abreast of evolving regulations and industry standards to ensure compliance and adaptability. This includes monitoring changes in zoning laws, animal welfare regulations and licensing requirements, if any, to ensure their operations remain lawful and ethical. By prioritizing legal compliance, businesses can build trust and credibility with pet owners while also safeguarding the welfare of pets and fostering a positive reputation within the community.

The rise of fur parents in the Philippines represents a dynamic shift in consumer behavior, creating a wealth of opportunities for businesses to thrive in the pet industry. By understanding the emotional bond between Filipinos and their pets, entrepreneurs can develop tailored solutions that resonate with pet owners while ensuring compliance with legal requirements. Through strategic planning, innovation and a deep understanding of consumer needs, businesses can establish themselves as trusted partners in the journey of pet parenthood, fostering long-term relationships and sustainable growth in the evolving marketplace.

Kay Calpo Lugtu is the chief operating officer of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation firm. Her advocacies include food innovation, nation-building and sustainability. The author may be reached at