The Most Pet-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

The pandemic pet adoption surge was one of the pandemic’s few silver linings—if you didn’t personally adopt a pet during the pandemic, I bet you know someone who did. However, as people resume their pre-pandemic lives, pet owners and their dogs are struggling with separation anxiety as they try to get through the day without each other’s constant presence. For pets, it’s mainly loneliness and confusion about their new routine; for pet parents, they’re more likely feeling guilty about living their fur baby home all day.

As twisted as it might sound, the money for retailers here lies within pet owners’ guilt, as pet owners demanding more pet care services—such as dog walking, training or day care services. If a store owner can offer their customers some form of pet care service, they’ll build rapport with their clientele and increase profits.

It’s not even in the services themselves where the real profit potential resides—it’s in the impact on product sales. A day care or dog walking service requires the pet owners to come in the store, creating a perfect opportunity for retailers to creatively display their latest treat or toy offering.

To encourage the use of services, retailers can offer complementary incentives, such as a treat bag when a dog completes training, or a collapsible bowl when returning from a walk. These offerings won’t be anything that will break the bank and, where applicable, products branded with a store’s name will act as a free(ish) form of advertising.  Of course, retailers that provide satisfactory services will generate positive word-of-mouth referrals.

I’ll be realistic—retailers who don’t already offer services could potentially be grappling with lofty investment depending what they implement. While dog walking services require minimal overhead and virtually no investment to get off the ground, an expansion into day care services or pet training will be hefty.

However, as long as pet parents are happy with the services they receive and, more importantly, their pets love it, incorporating or expanding service operations will be a worthwhile investment.

According to figures from the American Pet Products Association, the U.S. pet market generated $103.6 billion in 2020, compared to $97.1 billion in 2019. At the time of publishing, the pet care market in 2021 is predicted to net $109.6 billion. While incorporating or expanding services can be expensive to get off the ground, these offerings will ultimately prove lucrative—and the lives of pets will inevitably get better.