A spa day can include a gentle scrub and a warm shower, towel and blow dry, comb, cut, clip, and then off to the dining room for some gourmet treats — it's not that unpleasant to live a dog's life anymore.
Sales of pet products have risen steadily in the last five years by approximately four per cent annually, while pet ownership has remained more or less the same, according to a report titled "Canadian Pet Market Outlook, 2014" published by market research group Packaged Facts, which monitors the pet market and surveys owners to gather data.
The report shows that even at a time of relative economic difficulty, the owners of 26 million pets in Canada are simply unwilling to cut corners when it comes to the well-being of their pets. In fact, pet spending is expected to continue to rise, from $6.6 billion today to as much as $8.3 billion a year by 2018.
Premium services at premium price
Pet owners treat their cats and dogs like people, Louis McCann, president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada, told CBC's Aaron Saltzman.
McCann said he has also seen a significant rise in the growth of holistic health care for pets.
But the greatest growth is in non-medical services, McCann said. Premium pet foods and eco-friendly pet services are on the rise, as well as pet sitting and dog-walking services, puppy daycare, pet spas, and puppy kindergartens.
"People want to make sure that their pets remain healthy and they are going towards services that we could equate to their own health," McCann said.
One such owner, Bruce Boswell, spends over $1,000 a year on his dog Sophie, for food, treats, toys and clothes. He takes her to a spa every three or four months.
"She's starting to smell a little bit like a dog, and spring is coming, so I want her to look pretty," said Boswell, explaining why he had brought Sophie to Tailspin Dog Spa in downtown Toronto. Sophie gets "the usual" — a bath, haircut and her nails clipped.
Tailspin proprietor Deidre Howard said that some people bring their pets in as frequently as once a week, spending around $70 per session. Some owners also use her daycare services, dropping their dogs off when they need to step out for groceries or other errands. Howard said her services are particularly useful to young couples and single pet owners who live in condos downtown.
"It's like dropping your child off at a daycare," said Howard, explaining that pet owners take a lot of trouble to build trust and find the right atmosphere for their dog's second home.
Howard said her business is booming, and she looks forward to opening branches at other locations in the future.