As a developing country, many of the experiences I’ve witnessed in the Beijing region of China were quite similar to those I experienced in Turkey. (I was stationed in Turkey for two years when I served in the United States Air Force.) Not just China and Turkey, but from consultations from around the world, including Thailand and India, but I’ve noticed that developing countries share similar development of the household pet experience.
From an economic perspective, as countries develop and the people experience growing incomes, discretionary funds allow for more freedoms, including pet ownership.
20 years ago, it cost a resident of Beijing an entire year’s salary to own a dog. Now, dogs and cats are more affordable as pets. This means the market is wide open for development by conventional veterinary medicine practices and pet food companies.
A perception that accompanies increasing affluence is that now pet owners can change from sharing their own meals to purchasing prepared food-such as the all convenient kibble. It’s an unfortunate perception that has been well trained by pet food companies and conventionally trained veterinarians. Fortunately, as the birthplace of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, there are many veterinarians in China who are trained as integrative veterinarians – practicing both conventional and traditional veterinary medicine. Hopefully, this will allow the pet owners of China to quickly realize the convenience of dry pet food does not always bring excellent health that comes from feeding healthy, balanced people food.
Sadly, the one dog I was able to interact with up close was overweight and had greasy coat due to eating inferior quality dry dog food.
All and all, it was an amazing trip to China! I would definitely go back and visit with my amazing Chinese colleagues. Perhaps next time we will meet in Taiwan!