Aging pets spark a booming market in Japan

2 years ago by in Japan Archives, National

People often care about their pets more than about their own family. For some, pets are family. It happens more and more in fast-aging Japan, where owners and their four-legged friends are graying together. Surprisingly this is a huge business opportunity.

Better pet food and veterinary care have helped cats and dogs to live longer, allowing a big range of new services to flourish. Animal diapers and non-stop emergency care are just two minor examples. But how about the increasing number of scientists who are dedicating their life and work to walking aids designing or pet tissue-engineering techniques?

Japan is getting old fast, with children under 15 covering only 13 percent of the population. The country has one of the lowest birth rates and longest life expectancy in the world, with one quarter of the population currently being 65 or older. It may come as no surprise that the 22 million dogs and cats kept by the Japanese are outnumbering children under 15 by 30 percent.

Many companies have noticed the opportunity. "We realized that there is demand for goods to take care of elderly dogs because they are considered members of the family," said a marketing official at Osaka-based Yamahisa Co., a company which started selling elderly pet products five years ago.

Electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd. has meanwhile started a trial with veterinarians at a Tokyo animal clinic. The program offers non-stop emergency treatment for pets, including state-of-the-art X-ray scans and ultrasound technology.

On the other hand, kidney failure, a common problem with elderly cats, is being researched at the Jikei University School of Medicine using cutting-edge technology to attempt to grow new cat kidneys in pig embryos.

If you’re a little envious by now on the attention the pets are getting, you should probably know that it’s a lucrative field as well. Total sales of pets in Japan, including food and other products, reach about Y1.37 trillion ($17 billion dollars) a year. [AFP] Photo by: Skycaptaintwo

Editorial content written and produced by The Tokyo Times staff.

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