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Friday, 10 March, 2000, 15:20 GMT
It's a dog's life for pampered pets

Modern pets have phones, psychologists and Prozac
Crufts, that annual display of primped and pampered pedigrees, is just the latest visual example of how much care we lavish on our pets.

Nowadays they have their own passports, their own psychologists and - for when the dog's life is just too much to bear - their own version of Prozac.

'Tank' the Dalmatian at Crufts 2000
Dogs have their own health farms
In fact, they have so many accoutrements for modern living, their lives are beginning to resemble those of the most privileged of gilded youth.

Want to give your dog the latest designer gear? Burberry offers trench coats, and designers such as Gucci offer beds and bowls.

Harrods stocks a range of essentials - from stetsons and sunglasses to cashmere sweaters and jewelled collars.

Feel your moggie can't do without a mobile?

Shauna the chihuahua at Crufts 2000
If Shauna doesn't win Crufts, she could try anti-depressants
At least two Japanese companies, including BT equivalent NTT DoCoMo, are currently developing clip-on mobile phones for pets' collars, so owner can phone and talk to them.

And what about when boredom sets in? Again, rescue is on the way from Japan, in the form of a cat video player.

This comes complete with a scented remote control smelling of meat and fish, which cats use to activate a pre-loaded video featuring things such as mice and birdsong.

British cats already have Cat TV, a video from Telstar which shows 45 minutes of psychedelic images, including mice, balloons and goldfish.

If your pets need a holiday, there are several luxury destinations, such as The Posh Pets Animal Hotel in Nunclose, Carlisle.

cat wearing a santa hat
Sometimes, we seem to think pets are human
This offers 12ft by 7ft private rooms, complete with wallpapers, rugs, beds, armchairs, TV and radio. There is also a swimming pool and, in the summer, plastic garden furniture and deckchairs for dogs to sit on.

A lot of well-off people keep healthy with vitamin pills, and now pets have their own supplements too.

The Nefamol petcare range, for example, offers a daily dose of healthy stuff such as evening primrose oil, fish oil and vitamin E.

If that doesn't keep them healthy enough, you could sent them to a health farm - the Dog House in north Wales, for example.

Surrounded by 400 acres of wooded valleys, this offers personal fitness trainers, daily swims, monitored diets and regular trips to the seaside.

Geri Halliwell with Melvyn Bragg
Geri Halliwell even takes her dog to bashes
Alternatively there are slimming clinics, such as Companion Care in Edinburgh, where pet owners can get advice on diet and exercise for fat cats and portly pooches.

And it appears that as our pets get more pampered, these attempts to keep them healthy are increasingly important.

A recent Hungarian study found that the most pampered dogs are also the most dumb, losing some of their ability to cope with difficulties and solve problems.

The RSPCA has long been warning that one in three British pets are overweight and at risk of developing crippling, or even life-threatening, illnesses.

Dog in carrier, from Harrods website
Harrods' dog carrier: 29.80
But even in this worst-case scenario, there is still pampering to be had.

Posh Pets' Nick Ricketts is also chairman of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria.

He says some pets are treated better than humans, in death as in life.

"After laying their pet to rest many people go home saying: 'Do you know my mother/aunt/granny wasn't treated in such a nice way?'''
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