From practically non-existent status, luxury pet care in Kenya has become a fast-growing multi-million shilling industry over the past decade.
The growth has been fueled by a middle class keen on giving their pets the best life has to offer, with expensive furry friends as much a status symbol as they are “man’s best friend.”
Indicative of the growth is the increasing number of pet spas open in upmarket Nairobi neighborhoods, such as Very Impawtant Pets, and the rise of other pet care-related service businesses in the city. The pet spas offer everything from massages and hair cuts to styling and ‘pawdicures’ complete with nail polish.
For these dog owners, its not enough to feed your dog scraps and left-overs or to grab a bag of generic dog food from the supermarket shelves every now and then. From what they eat to where they live and how they are taken care of, it’s no cheap affair to treat your dog to the finest.
Some luxury spas even offer day-care services for dogs to spend their days in a relaxing atmosphere when their owners are out working, and boarding for when owners are away travelling. Other owners employ full-time caretakers for their pets.
For owners who walk around with their dogs and carry them, it’s important that their pets always be clean and presentable.
Some of the dogs are entered in championship dog shows organized by the East Africa Kennel Club which was founded in Nairobi in 1919. The next Championship Dog Show is scheduled for October 30 and 31 with judge Mark Anderson coming in from South Africa for the event.
Owners of the most pampered dogs in Nairobi spend anywhere between Ksh30,000 to upwards of Ksh100,000 monthly on their pets.
Many of them keep trainable, expensive dog breeds, with some going for the so-called ‘designer’ dogs – a cross between two purebred dogs. A purebred dog is one that has been bred over many generations to breed true, ensuring every puppy has the same characteristics.
For example, oil sector entrepreneur and former Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) chairman Gor Semelang’o revealed in a 2015 interview his love for expensive dog breeds.
He owns three dogs, including an Ovcharka, a Caucasian shepherd famous for its use as a Russian military attack dog. According to Semelang’o, he got the dog named Rodgers from a friend who imports them from Russia setting him back around Ksh350,000.
At the time, he further disclosed that he was spending around Ksh35,000 a month on veterinary services, grooming and food for the dog.
Former Miss Kenya Cecilia Mwangi’s Terrier Cross named Bobby is another example of another dog that earned celebrity status accompanying the beauty queen to various events. Bobby was even featured in publications including The Nairobian as the dog’s luxury lifestyle fascinated Kenyans.
The dog died in 2013 after an attack by two Dobermans in Ridgeways Estate, Nairobi – an event that left Mwangi devastated due to the bond she and her family had formed with Bobby.
“One dog bit Bobby’s neck and the other bit his stomach. He bled to death before the vet arrived at the scene…I will miss Bobby as he was not only a good friend, but he was a great babysitter,” stated Mwangi who later got a new dog, a Daschund.