NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In the United States alone, approximately two-thirds of households have at least one pet, many with even more. And these pets are no longer being considered simply as animals but rather as true members of the family. The phrases "puppy sibling" and "four-legged child" now regularly circulate in conversation, which in turn sheds light on the "humanization" of pets.

While this concept has come into existence partly because of the increase in pet adoption rates, it is mostly because of the way these pets are treated as family members once they are adopted. The majority of families are no longer leaving their cats outside overnight or their dogs out in a separate dog house. Pets are now grabbing the hearts of their owners in quite a similar manner to what children do, and the pets in pet families are now viewed, treated, and cared for just as children are.

MainStreet consulted with both CEO Brad Kriser and COO Ken Grouf of Kriser's, a pet retail store that prides itself on the sale and promotion of food, toys, supplements, and grooming items all related to natural lifestyle for animals. As members of pet families themselves, Kriser and Grouf explained the company's focus on a consumer based that has increased its concern with hyper-pure treatment of animals.

While selling products that are free of harmful ingredients, Kriser's also strives to educate their customers in all of the various ways that a natural lifestyle is just as beneficial for animals as it is for human beings.

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For parents, knowledge about what can either benefit or harm the quality of life for their children and pets also taps into their conscience. As soon as parents get educated on what common ingredients have a negative impact on a body, whether human or animal, they feel as though they need to do right by those that depend on them. Kriser and Grouf explained that the amount of money being spent in the pet industry is anticipated to creep close to $60 billion this year alone. Since it's gotten to the point where pets are now sleeping in the same beds as their human family members, it only makes sense that pets now start following similar trends as those occurring with humans, specifically in areas like diet, play and grooming.

According to data from both Mintel's U.S. Pet Food report and, 68% of the growth in consumables is driven by natural foods. Between the years of 2012 and 2016, the current and anticipated increase in general pet food spending is $2 billion, with natural pet food making up approximately $1.3 billion of the total amount. Pet foods have also now become as "clean" as the foods that humans purchase at supermarkets. Manufacturers have started producing food products that are free of corn, wheat and soy.

There is also a wide span of protein sources, which Kriser's sells in abundance, and which Kriser himself even taste tests in order to ensure that he is promoting a quality product. For families with pets who have food allergies to the common protein sources, like chicken and beef, foods with other protein sources like lamb, fish, bison, and venison are also available and growing in popularity.

Pet humanization has not stopped at just natural food and sleeping in bed, though. Kriser and Grouf explained that their natural supplements, toys, and grooming products have become just as popular in recent years. Consumers are now looking to purchase items like supplements for digestion aid, probiotics, fish oil supplements, and multivitamins. As far as grooming products, many human beings are coming to find out why certain additives in our cleaners and lotions are bad for our health, and, in turn, they're also beginning to realize that if these things aren't good for us, they're probably not good for our pets, either. In today's market, it's easy to find pet shampoos that contain health-conscious ingredients without all of negative additions, like parabens and sulfites. There are also other cleansers within this category, for things like carpet stains from pet urine. Like the shampoos, these pet stain cleansers are also chemical-free, making them not only great for pet health, but also a wonderful choice for families with small children.

Personally, Kriser has come to find that an all-natural pet lifestyle makes a world of difference for his own pets in comparison to other pets that are fed mainstream dog food and are exposed to other more mainstream dog products. Among the benefits are increased energy, a healthier and shinier coat, a less irritable personality, and less disease, which also leads to a lot fewer veterinary visits. Monetarily, the pros and cons can go both ways. While the cost of an all-natural pet lifestyle tends to be more expensive because of the higher quality products, the balance can be made with the minimized cost of veterinary care. While pet parents may need to pay more out of pocket costs for things like probiotics and food with no byproducts, they're also saving money by preventing illness and therefore avoiding a ton of fees in things like medications and potential surgeries.

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Providing pets with natural lifestyles not only helps the mental and physical wellbeing of the pets; it also helps the wellbeing of the pet parents. By making the switch to natural pet products, the initial cost may be greater, but the overall payoff is much more rewarding—both in saving money and in the quality of the animals' lives.

--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet