The Washington Post

Will dog owners spend any amount on their pets? Probably.

There are mobile dog spas and doggie daycares, now the newest thing to hit the canine market is a gym just for man's best friend. A husband-and-wife team based in Alexandria, Va., opened the first canine sports club – complete with treadmills, box jumps and showers. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

When a gym for dogs officially opened Thursday in Alexandria, billing itself as the region’s first, it produced two main reactions: “No way!”  and “They are going to make a fortune.”

Both are fair. As appalled as non-dog people will be, consumer experts say there seems to be no limit to the desire of owners to pamper their pets. Recent spending trends bode well for the idea of doggy gyms, especially in a region well known as doggy indulgent.

“This is D.C., nothing is held back when it comes to dogs,” said Cassandra Reed, an Alexandria dog groomer who moved here from Ohio in part to take advantage of the region’s reputation for big spending on pets. Reed started Pinnacle Pet Spa last year, and she plans to add on groomers to help her keep up with the demand for fur cuts, nail trimming and mud packs.

Two decades ago, Americans spent $17 billion on their pets. That outlay has steadily marched upward, at an average of more than 12 percent a year, through good times and bad. This year, the amount is expected to approach $60 billion.

The ASPCA recently put the minimum average cost of owning a dog at $875 for such basics as food, routine veterinarian care and treats. But that leaves out whole categories of spending now available to devoted dog owners. There is a huge range of prices for pet services, but here are a few samples from Washington area businesses:

Dog gym membership                    $50 a month

Professional dog walkers:             $25 a day

Doggy day care:                               $35 a day

Teeth cleaning:                                $30

Full grooming                                   $55 (for a medium-sized dog)

(trim, shampoo blow dry, etc.)

Organic dog food                            $60 for 25-pound bag

Hand baked dog treats                  $2 each

Collar (PetSmart)                           $12

Collar (Neiman Marcus)                $36

Canine Potomac cruise                  $15 (for the dog’s human)


Steve Hendrix came to The Post more than ten years ago from the world of magazine freelancing and has written for just about every page of the paper: Travel, Style, the Magazine, Book World, Foreign, National and, most recently, the Metro section’s Enterprise Team.



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