Because North Americans are so willing to put their money where their hearts are, a pet business can be a very profitable small business.
Canadian households, for instance, spent $6.5-billion on them in 2012, a figure that’s been rising steadily annually, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada - and 59% of Canadians say the bond they share with their pet is as strong as or stronger than the bonds they share with family and friends (GDSourcing).
Meantime, over the border, Americans spent $55.72 billion on their pets in 2013 and it's estimated that they will spend $58.51 billion in 2014 (American Pet Products Association (APPA)).
The pet services segment, including grooming, boarding, pet hotels, pet sitting, day care and other services, has been the fastest-growing category; Americans spent $4.41 billion on pet services in 2013 and the APPA projects that they will spend $4.73 billion on pet services in 2014.
Perhaps even more startling is the fact that 68% of U.S. households now own at least one pet, according to the 2013-2014 APPA National Pet Owners Survey - equating to 45.3 million cats, 56.7 million dogs and 14.3 million freshwater fish (the three largest categories of pets).
So how might you get into the pet business? This article presents eighteen ways that might appeal to you.
The ideas below range from pet-based products through providing pet services that involve working with animals, but you won't find any pet business ideas on the list that involve the retail breeding and selling of animals. As a long-time Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supporter, this is something I'm vehemently opposed to.
Pet Business Ideas
1) Pet Sitting
Pet sitting make the top of my list because a) there's an almost universal need for it and b) it's a very flexible business. For instance, if you live in a suitable place out of town, you can run a pet sitting business as a kennel operation with people bringing their pets to you and dropping them off.
But that doesn't have to be the case; you can also go to people’s homes and look after their pets' needs. Or, you can combine a pet sitting business with a house sitting business and look after people's homes as well when they're away.
2) Pet Boarding
This is a riff on the pet sitting business idea, where you have a facility set up where dogs and /or cats can be dropped off and looked after while their owners are gone. The main problem with this idea, as I allude to in my discussion of a pet sitting business, is zoning. You may simply not be able to do it where you are.
3) Doggie Daycare
Another pet business idea on the same theme, the Doggie Daycare has very similar pros and cons. There is an increasing need for this kind of pet service as more working people are discovering that dogs left alone day after day while the owner works can bark and be destructive. On the con side, though, you may find this a difficult business to locate because of zoning regulations and municipal bylaws.
4) Dog Training/Obedience
If you can actually do this and do it well, you can probably write your own ticket. There are an awful lot of people out there who don't have enough time or skill or both to train a dog properly - but for some reason, have bought one anyway and now need someone to train it. Venue is not necessarily a problem; facilities to run dog training classes can be rented.
Learn more about How to Start a Dog Training Business.
5) Pet Training
If you're a really skilled animal trainer, and have an interest in media, maybe a pet business specializing in training animals for film and TV is for you. Remember Morris the cat? Lobo? Moose, the Jack Russell terrier on the TV show Frasier? Some animals become huge stars. Hollywood Paws (based in Los Angeles) is an example of a business that trains animals and their owners to work in the entertainment industry.
6) Pet Finding Business
Are you the kind of person who enjoys solving puzzles? Maybe you've even thought of being a detective at some point. If so, you might put your sleuthing skills to work running a Pet Finding business. You can help distraught pet owners get their loved ones back and make money too. Tracker dogs join growing industry to help owners find lost pets (Steve Hendrix, Washington Post) profiles one such business, Pure Gold Pet Trackers, that uses the tracking skills of a golden retriever named Sasha to find people's lost pets.
7) Dog Walking
Another dog-related service that busy pet owners need is to have their dogs walked regularly. The key to success with this pet business idea, I would think, would be time management. You'd definitely want to have enough clients so you could take x number of dogs out for a walk at a time, rather than just walking one and then returning it to its owner.
Dog grooming is a very popular pet business as walking is one of those chores related to dog ownership that many people would rather pay someone else to do rather than do themselves. Another reason for its popularity is that, like pet sitting, it's quite a flexible business idea. You could operate a dog grooming business as a mobile service or run it out of a retail shop, for example.
9) Pooper Scooper
While we're on the subject of chores related to dog ownership that many people would rather pay someone else to do rather than do themselves, don't forget poop scooping. This involves visiting customers' properties on a weekly or monthly basis and collecting and disposing of dog feces.
Yes, it's dirty, messy work but so are lots of things that people do to make money. On the pro side, there's no special training or equipment needed and you can easily operate this business from home.
Continue on to the next page to read nine more pet business ideas...