Like many of my fellow Brazilians, I grew up with pets. They ranged from an unruly dalmatian called Master Mister to Catherina, an adorable St Bernard – and I can’t forget Veridiana the rabbit and Blue the chinchilla. I only realised later that this wasn’t just a family tradition: pets are one of the safest investments in Brazil.
While Brazil’s economy has suffered in recent years, its pet industry has been largely unaffected. This is the world’s second largest market for domestic animals (behind only the US) and you’ll find a pet shop on almost every corner, from simple family-owned enterprises to gigantic shopping centres. Petz, the market leader, currently has 168 shops nationwide and continues to expand: 37 outlets were opened last year and 50 more are planned for 2022. The attention lavished on furry friends here is also unlike anywhere else: there are 24-hour pet shops as well as many special services for dogs and, increasingly, cats.
According to Brazilian daily O Estado de São Paulo, it’s becoming more expensive to care for a creature than a person: the cost of pet food increased nearly 24 per cent in the past year, compared to an 8 per cent rise in food overall. And yet people here seem impervious to price hikes: they still expect the best of the best for their beloved animals, from the latest fashion to the finest acupuncturist. I can see the allure. While our new family dog, Julie the German shepherd, doesn’t yet have a strong interest in fashion – she’s a bit of a naturist, especially in the blazing São Paulo summer – I made sure to buy her some tasty treats on a recent trip to Brazil. Even in times of hardship, the joy that pets bring isn’t something that’s worth skimping on.