Is your dog a small person?

Baby talk isn’t the only way that humans treat their pet dogs as if they were human children. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Do you treat your dogs and cats like children? Do you think of them as “four-legged people?”

A recent studyby Harvard-affiliatedMassachusetts General Hospitalfound mothers’ brains showed similar responses to their babies and their dogs. Since that report emerged, scientists have found a new trend among pet parents they call “pet humanization.” We do this by putting human traits on our pets, and it can come in the form of dressing our dogs and cats and treating them like children.

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), American pet parents spent almost $56 million on pet-industry items in 2013.

According Huffington Post piece by Sean Conlon, CEO and co-founder of PetBox, a San Diego pet-product subscription service, here are three ways that we treat our pets like children:

We buy “people quality” pet food:

According to Psychology Today,74 percent of pet parents said they dine with their pets every day, and they often share their food with their dogs. Many pet parents also purchase human-grade pet food for their dogs.

When we are at work, our dogs are enrolled in doggie day care:

Dog and cat sitters are being vetted in the same manner as child care workers. Pet parents who take their dogs to a local doggie day care also get references and make site visits to make sure their pets get the very best day care.

We think style matters for well-groomed dogs:

A large number of pet parents (mostly women) purchase clothing for their dogs that match! This can be booties, raincoats, and T-shirts. A number of pet parents noted they spend more money on grooming their dogs than on their own hair care.

Sources:Huff Post Business, American Pet Products Association (APPA), Psychology Today