Acupuncture, spas, nutrition bars--if you can use it for better health and well-being, so can your dog or cat. Americans were expected to spend $28.5 billion on their pets in 2001, according to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association. And signs show much of that is being spent on alternative health: The American Veterinary Medical Association recently started encouraging its members to use herbs, chiropractic, homeopathy and other natural healing methods to treat chronic illness in all kinds of pets, from lizards to Labrador retrievers.
Don't limit yourself to treatments when considering this market. Other successful ideas include greeting cards for sick dogs, vibrating pagers for deaf and hard-of-hearing dogs, and natural pet food stores. Still skeptical about the market? Then consider that there are some 115 million pets nationwide--and many people treat them as family members. Pet entrepreneur Kristen Leigh Bell has a theory: "[Many people] are too busy with their careers to start a family, and pets become their children. That's how it is for me," says Bell, 31, an animal lover who is president of Aromaleigh Inc., a Rochester, New York, canine and feline aromatherapy company. Her catalog carries everything from Canine Calming Synergy Spritz to a moisturizer for cats. Even a shaky economy hasn't stopped parents from buying for their "babies," says Bell. --Geoff Williams
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This article was originally published in the January 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 3rd Annual Million-Dollar Ideas.
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