Pets are prevalent in Japan, and often even more pampered than they are in the US. If you’re relocating to Japan you’ll have no trouble finding all the necessities and extras your dog or cat loves most. That includes food.
According to the Japan Pet Food Association, as of the beginning of 2018 there were more feline pets than dogs in Japan – nearly a million cats (9,526,000 to be precise) compared to 8.9 million dogs. Cats have grown in popularity for urban dwellers in particular.
No wonder Japan remains a delicious market for pet food companies. Sales are expected to hit $4,343,000 by next year, up from about $4,072,000 in 2014. As a pet owner living in Japan, you’ll be happy to know the trend is toward increasing quality. The Japanese are more than willing to spend whatever it takes to ensure their four-legged loved ones get nothing but the best, a key reason why premium and super-premium brand sales are growing fastest, along with veterinary special diet products.
What’s on the menu?
The pet food industry says chicken remains ichiban. However, with the increase in cats as pets, bonito and tuna are swimming into second place.
Brands that are popular in America are readily available in Japan as well, online or in the vast number of pet supply stores. And many veterinarians sell specialized diet foods for pets. In fact, the top 10 best-selling dog food products will make you feel right at home:
- Iams Lamb and Rice
- Artemis AGARX Immune Support
- Purina One Chicken Formula for Small Breeds
- Grand Deli Beef, Chicken, Green Vegetables, and Cheese Mix
- Canagan Grain Free & Free-Run Chicken
- Nutro Supremo
- Orijen Original
- Science Diet Lamb & Rice
- Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat
Or you might want to try Ciao Churu, a Japanese brand of cat food that you squeeze from a tube.
In case you don’t read Japanese, this guide shows you what characters to look for as you read pet food labels. This will help you avoid purchasing products that contain undesirables such as meat by-products, artificial flavors and colorings, etc.
What internationally-renowned food specialty comes from Japan? Sushi! If you’re going to live with your cat in Japan, the least you can do is learn to make homemade sushi for her. Need a little instruction on that? This video will inspire you (or perhaps scare you silly thanks to the chef’s astounding knife skills). Even if you’re not really the DIY pet food type, the video is a must-watch. Your kitty might like to watch with you, so she can at least dream of sushi.
And then there’s bento, another traditional menu item now available for pets, or at least dogs. What’s bento? A variety of tasty selections (dog-appropriate, naturally), artfully arranged in a tempting display within a lovely lacquer box instead of on a plate or in a bowl. After all, this is Japan. Presentation matters. But you don’t have to go to all that work for your dear pet, you can let someone else do it.
Generally speaking, restaurants in Japan are noticeably pet-friendlier than those in the US. Many cafés actually cater to pets, offering everything from one or two items to appease your furry companion to entire menus of scrumptious looking options. (Japanese menus include photos.) So you might find doggie bento at a café, or even at a roadside rest stop if you and your pooch are on the road.
And while we’re on the subject of food, let’s not forget those all-important treats! In case you missed a chance to pamper your pet with over-the-top treats for the year-end holidays, take heart on noting that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And, besides, who needs a formally-declared holiday to lavish goodies on our furry best friends?
Protect your pet’s chompers
Doting pet parents focus on nutrition. Nonetheless, as we indulge our dogs and cats with a wider range of “non-native” goodies, it can take a toll on their teeth. You’ll want to talk to your vet in Japan about regular cleanings, but you also be happy to know that Lion, a Japanese company that manufactures health and beauty products for humans, also makes a line of toothbrushes and dental cleaning sheets for pets.