NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- The pet industry is enjoying growth at a time many other industries are stagnant or shrinking due to the economy.
According to the American Pet Products Association, roughly 73 million homes, or two-thirds of U.S. households, own a pet. The association estimates those consumers are spending more than $50 billion, up 5% from last year, on such things as pet vitamins, travel expenses, kennels and boarding, and food treats, among other things.
|A dog is led through its paces by an employee of Zoom Room, a dog training and agility franchise.|
Small-business owners should take advantage.
"The biggest reason why the market will stand is the humanization trend that's been going on for a number of years," says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association. "You see pets treated like family members. It's no longer collars and feeding bowls. It's become so much larger than that."Some of the hottest business trends include organic pet food, computerized identification tags, touch-activated toys, digital aquariums, pet spas and pet costumes -- yes, dressing Fluffy as a lumberjack. "You don't have to go out and invent some patentable, new concept that's technologically innovative," Vetere says. "If you have a pretty sweater that you can knit for a dog -- that's got a niche too. You can cater to both ends." The largest segment of pet owners are baby boomers who have discretionary money to spend and whose kids have left home. "They were called helicopter parents