Going to the Dogs

June 15, 2011: Going to the Dogs

Earlier this year we talked about the continued growth in the general pet market, but after hearing about this year’s Global Pet Expo (held in April), I knew the topic of pets was worth another look. According to a recent account in the New York Times, nearly two-thirds of U.S. households have pets (about 62 percent). Dogs are more popular than cats, but the popularity of both has increased slightly in the last few years. Market researcher Packaged Facts reports that last year, Americans spent a record-busting $55 billion on our pets, despite the economic hard times we were living through.

What’s truly amazing is it’s apparently not enough to just feed and shelter our pets, we’ve got to treat them in style-human style, to be exact. The Times reported aisles of exhibitors hawking gourmet treats like pan-seared duck, butternut squash and blueberry compote; antidepressants; breath fresheners; and prosthetic testicles for animals that have been neutered so they can “retain their natural look and self-esteem” and “[overcome] the trauma associated with altering.” Um, OK.

There’s obviously a lot of potential for new entrepreneurs to get into the business of pampering pets. One area in particular you should explore revolves around products and services for aging and senior pets. Like their human counterparts, American pets are living longer due to the better care they’re receiving from their owners and advancements in pet nutrition and medical care.

As the economy improves, it’s very likely this trend will even pick up more steam. As one of the owners of Petzlife (an oral aid for dogs and cats) told the Times, “People are just gaga over their pets. They’ll spend money on their pets before they spend it on themselves.”