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Pet Project

In case you haven't noticed, Americans have a love affair with their pets. They cuddle them, care for them, worry about them and, most of all, buy for them. In fact, according to the American Pet Association, more than 136 million cats and dogs are beloved house pets in the United States. Just how devoted are we to our furry friends? About 65 million owners admit to buying Christmas gifts for their pets. That means everything from pet supply franchises to pet day-care centers are poised for big-time sales.

Pet franchises tap into an emotion-driven market. Owners want grooming centers and kennels for their pets in addition to health-care insurance and obedience schools. Or, if you prefer pets on the go, franchises like Aussie Pet Mobile (a mobile pet grooming business) or Whiskers & Paws Catering Inc. (a pet food delivery service) may suit your needs.

And since pet health is always a concern, "watch for pet franchises to keep teaming up with local vets," says Wilkerson, "creating affiliated franchises-like veterinary clinics with retail attitude."

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