It used to be that an occasional bone was the hallmark of good pet care. Today, as pets become more like family members, we’re spoiling them like never before, and businesses are lining up to help us.
In 2012, Americans spent $53.33 billion on their animals, according to the American Pet Products Association. That’s more than double what we spent on pets just 14 years ago, when registers rang up $23 million. Where’s that money going? Fido is fetching spa treatments (blueberry facial, anyone?), commitment ceremonies, surfing lessons and more. In fact, some hotels even offer a “pet relations” department run by our four-legged friends.
Here’s a rundown of some of our favorite services offered across the country.
I Woof You Forever
If you want to turn puppy love into wedded bliss, The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas is “Spot” on when it comes to canine nuptials. The popular resort has a pop-up wedding chapel offering pet weddings/commitment ceremonies (they offer real and faux weddings for human-types, too). But if you’re looking to put a leash on love for your pup, you better hurry. The chapel will be wrapping up its summer services at the end of July.
If you’ve already booked your dog wedding at The Cosmopolitan, don’t forget the wedding cake! Barkn Belly Bakery, which distributes its wares through multiple stores across the country, creates the kinds of cakes that puppy princesses dream of, complete with dog-safe fondant and made from natural, local, organic ingredients (when possible). If the pup isn’t quite ready for its commitment ceremony, the bakery also makes lavish cupcakes (some of which are topped with bacon), birthday cakes, and everyday treats.
Let’s be clear: Shaggy Chic, located in Las Vegas, is not a groomer. It’s an all-out salon for pets, aimed at providing pampering services that your animal will relish. Treatments include blueberry facials, paw pad massages, and “pawdicures” (paw pad massage and nail polish), along with more traditional services, such as bath, blow out, and nail trim. All of the products the salon uses (and sells separately) are human-grade, natural, made in the United States and tested on humans, not animals. While you’re there, check out their toy selection, which includes the salon’s own signature “Guilty Pleasures” toy line, complete with a stinky sock that smells like the feet of teenaged boys and something called “yesterday’s panties.”
Great Dog Hotels (also for Humans)
The ever pet-friendly Kimpton Hotels take the canine cake when it comes to services. Upon your arrival, you may be greeted by one of their many directors of pet relations (at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco in Chicago, Illinois it’s a Lhasa Apso named Oliver, at Hotel Monaco Alexandria in the Washington, D.C. area it’s a Bichon Frise named Charlie and in Kimpton’s Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, California it’s a boxer/lab mix named Riley Nubular Wilhide). Plus, many of the resorts offer pet-friendly patios and “yappy hours.” And for fans of the fur-free variety, Kimpton’s “Guppy Love” program loans guests a bowl of goldfish to keep them company during their stay.
Topnotch Resort & Spas in Stowe Vermont doesn’t just pamper its two-legged guests, it also gives the royal treatment to dogs. Guests can stay in deluxe rooms equipped with dog beds and dog bowls, and the pups can enjoy a doggie turndown service. The resort sits on more than 100 acres, offering hiking opportunities and endless exploration. And if Fido overdoes it, you can book an appointment for a “Rover Reiki Massage” at the resort’s spa.
Surf’s up for dogs at Loews Coronado Bay Hotel in San Diego, where dogs and their owners can participate in surf lessons and even compete in the annual “Surf Dog Competition.” Plus, hounds are invited to savor gourmet meals prepared by a chef, receive specialized bedding, leashes, and rawhide bones, and indulge in pet-walking/pet-sitting services.
Want something more hands on? Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Florida, employs a professional canine massage therapist who can tailor treatments to your dog’s needs.
Want to see your dog leap from a dock, flopping into the water? Check out your local chapter of DockDogs. DockDogs has grown rapidly in recent years as owners realize that dogs, water and jumping make a remarkable combination. The sport is open to any dog that likes water. Simply bring along your pup’s favorite toy, throw it into the clear blue yonder and watch Fifi follow.
There’s an App for That
Pet lovers, rejoice, because now you can translate, entertain and annoy your dog with the touch of a button. Animal-centric apps abound. Here are the ones that caught our eye: Petcentric fills you in on the pet-friendly businesses and dog parks that are nearby; Squeaker! makes dog toy noises that will have your pup on high alert; Tagg the Pet Tracker allows the owners of wanderlust woofers to track them on their smart phone via GPS (requires additional hardware); Pet First Aid cues you in on how to handle a wide range of maladies, from breathing issues to poisoning and more.
This is the Dog that Never Ends
If a diamond is a girl’s best friend, and a dog is man’s best friend, what does that make a diamond made from a dog’s remains? Yes, they say “diamonds are forever,” and with DNA2Diamonds, so is Spot. This service transforms your beloved pet’s cremated remains (or hair) into a jewel. If you’re willing to pony up the $750 to nearly $20,000 price tag for the diamond (that doesn’t count the setting), you can choose among rings, earrings, cufflinks or pendants and ensure that your dog is your constant companion until you, too, head to that big dog park in the sky.