Kenyan pet owners also having health and live insurance for cats, pigeons, parrots, rabbits and guinea pigs
It is like dealing with a baby as there are two vets on speed dial in case a pet has a running nose.
Pets just like humans, need a break from their hectic schedules of chewing bones, barking, peeing, playing and ruffling furs.
“Grooming is important to animals and pets also have to look presentable. They should be washed and basic things like nail clipping done,” says George Omollo speaking from over 25 years of experience as a veterinary nurse.
Some pet owners have no qualms spoiling their dogs.
Take Wairimu Nyingi. She has two dogs a German Shepherd and a Jack Russell cross breed named Mocha and King.
She says; “I’ve always loved dogs and I once took Mocha to a spa. I hadn’t adopted King at the time, so unfortunately, he didn’t enjoy a similar treatment. I spent Sh7, 000 which was the last time we saw a dog spa.”
On dog maintenance Wairimu exclaimed “Jesus, it is hard… let’s start with upkeep, grooming, dog food, you get bills - it’s crazy….is the sleeping basket comfortable, do they need socialization classes that way they won’ kill everything that walks on all four and two; you need to be ready for the responsibility.”
She adds that besides pampering them, immediate needs include flea treatments “and if you’re going with something like Nexguard, the damage is Sh5,000, so when you do the math, their health for me trumps pampering. But if one can afford, it’s a great feeling for your four-legged friends to enjoy all the best things life has to offer.”
Edwin Maina is another pet lover. He has six dogs of different breeds including a Japanese Spitz, two Boerboels, a German Shepherd and a Maltipoodle.
Maina’s pets go for haircuts at Sh1, 800 each every four months. Their meals include “Bravo dog food for the small breeds and for the big ones I cook rice and chicken or porridge and chicken’ these meals are served twice a day,” he says, adding that he has no financial limits for them as “In case you are planning to be a dog owner that’s what you are signing up for.”
Maina explains that being a dog owner is like being a parent because you are responsible for the wellbeing and education of another intelligent being.
Says Maina: “To me it means having a family, we buy dogs with my girlfriend so it’s like we’re raising kids or something, it’s not as weird as it sounds.”
Kennedy Mutua, another dog owner, has nine dogs- two long coat German Shepherds and seven Boerboels and dogs “have always been a part of me” and he has no heartburn parting with Sh3,000 for grooming each pet twice annually as “it has everything to do with cleaning and beauty…my dogs get ear and teeth cleaning as well as clipping nails and shampoo wash. However for the German shepherds, I get their fur trimmed.”
Mutua warns “don’t own a pet if you can’t take care of it. This means giving it food, space to play, regular checks, socializing with humans and other dogs, training, walks, giving it treats. Being a dog lover means loathing all forms of animal abuse;
getting annoyed when you see people selling and buying dogs along the streets.”
Vet Omollo says that dogs need clinic visits and consultation fee comes to around Sh2000 for advice on meal time regimen, breast feeding and weaning.
Pets also have vet health insurance with companies like APA and GA offering insurance covers for veterinary expenses incurred as a result of illness or accident where treatment is carried out by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
Then there is grooming in pet spas.
Angela Mukirae runs Pets Paradise in Karen, Nairobi. She has been doing pet grooming since 2016 and offers grooming, boarding facilities besides selling pet accessories like tags, organic herbal soap and dog food.
Lucy the administrator at Pets Paradise notes that grooming a pet is “important to your pet’s fir cosmetic and hygienic purposes” and Pet’s Paradise is like “a salon or a hotel” where a dog is taken to enjoy among others; full grooming care including a warm bath, manicure and pedicure, ear and eye cleaning, nail trimming, carding and coat shaving.
For starters, carding is the removal of undercoat on short coated dogs like Chihuahuas.
Carding can be done once or twice a year. It is beneficial to the skin and the appearance of the coat. According to Lucy, a proper grooming should take three to four hours. Coat shaving depends on the type of coat. There are seven types of coats; smooth, short, double, long silky, harsh wiry, curly woolly and corded. The charges range from Sh3,500-Sh6,000.
Boarding facilities-with a big pillow and a blanket- are for owners who want to travel without their pets which enjoy two meals a day for an adult dog and thrice for puppies. The meals are cooked dog rice and minced meat. You can also bring in your food.
‘It’s like dealing with a baby,” says Lucy of caring for pets since “a lot of training is needed” adding they also have two vets on speed dial in case a dog has a running nose.
But mongrels are not allowed, only pet dogs.
When a dog dies, for some, it feels like a relative has passed on.
Radio presenter Anita Nderu lost her dog, Chewytici, and she took to social media to express her grief about “my sugar plum poo bear.”
She wrote “Thank you for all the pee and poop! Your neglect of the pee mat. RIP my sugar…I will never know the ends to, the furry hugs, the dog eyes, everything about you my boo. RIP to the coolest dog that ever existed.”
Flamboyant businessman Gor Semelang’o has never hid his love for his departed dog Rogers, speaking to The Nairobian Gor said he has never gotten over his death. “I am still in distress that why I have not replaced him. He was like a close friend or a family member.”