Disneyfication warning – Treat pets as animals, says expert

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We pride ourselves on being a nation of animal lovers… but treating pets like humans can do more harm than good. Kisses and cuddles, along with one-sided conversations, are standard among adoring owners.

However, experts fear giving them the same attention as a human can lead to dogs and cats being put through gruelling medical procedures when euthanasia may be the kinder option. Professor Eddie Clutton, co-founder of EthicsFirst, a group campaigning against excessive treatment, warned against the “Disneyfication” of pets.

Examples include elderly animals being given prosthetic legs or put through cancer treatments when their owners treat them like family. Prof Clutton, of Edinburgh University, said: “Animals are capable of quite tremendous emotional experiences. But they will not experience them in the same way as human beings. They experience life in real-time.

“It is one thing for a grandfather to consent to chemotherapy because he knows its worth, and another to subject a dog to it which does not have the capacity to hope.

“I have had people say, ‘Can you just keep them alive until Christmas?’ Do you think your dog understands Christmas?

“People feel they owe it to their family member to do everything they can, to pay for the most expensive treatment, to try everything.

“They can be part of the family but not treated as a human, which actually detracts from what they really want – to be catered for as a dog or a cat.”

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