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"Extension of the family" offers unique business opportunities

Long gone are the days of keeping your pets at home while you and your family enjoy lavish vacations in other countries. If your pet isn’t already going on your annual family vacation with you, then it’s on its own vacation at a pet lodge or a doggie daycare.

Pets today have moved up on our lists of things that are important, landing right under family and before friends. Standing as the best friend to man are not only dogs, but the usual cats, Guinea pigs, hamsters and the unusual monkeys, reptiles and scorpions.

Joie Chandler, owner of Peninsula Pet Lodge in Gig Harbor and Olalla, understands this type of relationship more than anyone and has dedicated the majority of her life to pet care. “People are more willing to spend money, because they are an extension to the family,” she said. “People just don’t want to put their dogs in runs anymore.”

Americans are spending billions of dollars annually on pet care alone, despite the downfall of the economy and everyone cutting funds in whatever areas they can. According to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association , Americans will spend an estimated $43.4 billion on their pets this year, $16.9 billion of it on food.

A quick and steady rise of more people eating natural foods has also extended to their furry loved ones. “More people are becoming aware of what they put into their pets, they just don’t feed them junk,” Chandler said. “Just like people are more aware of what they feed their own children.”

Literally speaking, Chandler offers and an array of services to her pet customers, and she’s not the only one. You can find a pet lodge in just about every community. Ranging from night walks, hydrotherapy spa treatments to a “101 Dalmatians” movie night, these pet hotels offer the best of the best. Whether your pet needs a bedtime story, bottled water, or breakfast in bed, pet lodges are catering to every need and want.

At this year’s APPMA Global Pet Expo, over 750 exhibiting companies from around the world showcased some of the top new trends and products for pets. Everything from GPS pet locators that text or email pet owners when their pet leaves an area, to a canine microwaveable cake was displayed.

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