More than 62 percent of all U.S. households include a pet, up from 56 percent in 1988, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. Owners will spend nearly $30 billion this year on their pets -- or about twice the gross domestic product of Costa Rica -- compared with $17 billion in 1994.
All-natural gourmet food, heated dog beds in designer fabrics, infant-style chest carriers for puppies, car seats, pet massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, herbal flea collars, water bowls with built-in purifiers and "Take Your Dog to Work Day" are all part of the pet-owning culture these days.
The pet fashion industry alone -- Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci leashes, cashmere sweaters, fleece jackets, handmade ceramic Italian food dishes -- rings up about $500 million a year, according to marketer Euro RSCG Worldwide. La Petite Maison, a custom builder of children's playhouses in California, whips up doghouses that can resemble mansions or mini French chateaux or whatever le chien might desire. Price: $4,500 and up.