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The booming pet business is nothing to bark about

Canadians have never been more in love with household pets. According to the latest statistics fr...

Canadians have never been more in love with household pets.

According to the latest statistics from the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), there are 8.2 million dogs and 8.3 million cats in Canadian households. That’s a 10 per cent increase over the past 10 years, CAHI reports.

It’s no surprise then that the pet business is booming.

Pet owners are concerned with the health and safety of their furry friends now more than ever.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Ag Canada), a third of respondents in a recent U.K. study said their dog or cat’s health and well-being was of greater concern to them than their own.

That means scrutinizing food more closely and not just buying the kibble on sale at the grocery store.

Specialty and big-box pet stores have expanded across Canada, occupying massive retail square footage in nearly every urban centre and offering expansive food product lines.

The global pet industry was recently valued at around $116.6 billion US, with the lion’s share of that going toward pet food specifically at $84.5 billion.

Expansion of pet care options

With the humanizing of animals as “part of the family” comes a need for expanded services beyond what pets have traditionally enjoyed.

This has opened a wealth of opportunities for businesses across the country, including Saskatoon’s Furbaby Pet Care, which recently opened the doors to a new facility with some unique services: 24/7 boarding, mobile pet massage, pet taxi for appointments, in-home sitting and scheduled dog walking are just a few.

Validating their status as a true 24-hour facility, staff actually sleep alongside their charges.

Furbaby offers daily daycare or drop-ins for two indoor parks, separating small and large dogs.

As a dog parent, I will truly welcome this luxury come January when my furry one is bouncing off the walls because it’s -30 C outside.

The owner, Jocelyn Davey-Hawreluik, made the investment to become a certified canine massage therapist in addition to certified professional pet sitter because she saw a gap in the market. Along with her designations, all staff at the Furbaby facility must possess Pet Saver, pet first aid and CPR training.

While this may seem like overkill to some people, Davey-Hawreluik believes people will pay to know their pets are truly comfortable in capable hands.

Bigger picture

Another trend identified by Ag Canada is that pet owners are more likely to support brands and businesses that show humanitarian work towards animals.

Most manufacturers of pet food, for example, have partnered with rescue or adoption centres. This “mission-based marketing” is one of the strongest trends in the pet industry.

Market analysts predict the strength of the pet industry still has plenty of room to grow, too. Optimism in our commercial real estate world for pet-related businesses is understandably high.

Unlike other industries that seem to have buckled under the challenge of online commerce, there continues to be a need for brick-and-mortar storefronts for pet retailers.

I can only assume I am in good company as I sink embarrassing amounts of disposable income into my dog’s lifestyle. That’s right: it’s her world now, I’m just in it.

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