They say it's a dog's life, and for Obi, a sweet-faced Yorkshire terrier, it's hard to imagine life being much sweeter than this, according to the INDY STAR. The 2-year-old gets a regular wash and trim -- complete with plum-scented shampoo and all-natural conditioner -- from an at-home dog-grooming service.
"He's like a kid I can't write off," owner Peter Renai jokes.
Pet lovers like the Renai family of Pike Creek, Del., are fueling an explosion in spending on pets that runs the gamut from aromatherapy to hip replacements.
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association forecasts Americans will spend $40.8 billion on their pets this year, nearly double the $21 billion dished out in 1996. This year's tab will include $16.1 billion for food, $9.9 billion for supplies and over-the-counter medication and $9.8 billion for veterinary care.
Pet ownership is at an all-time high, with 71.1 million households in the U.S., or 63 percent, owning at least one animal, the group says. Those numbers have caught the attention of financial analysts.
Cox predicts that the increasing number of pet owners paying for expensive medical treatments will spur an increase in the number of health insurance policies for pets. Less than 5 percent of owners now carry pet insurance, he said.
Whiskazz and Pawzz, in Hockessin, Del., sells gluten-free dog food, dog treats and pet-themed art work. Since the store opened five years ago, there's been a huge increase in the variety of pet-related products on the market, said owner Alyce Duffy, a retired corporate executive.
Duffy says owners aren't shy about indulging their pets because they provide the "loyalty and unconditional love" that don't always come from people.
"They're there for you," says Duffy, whose 9-year-old beagle, Cappi, has the run of the store!