Big Dog Chains can’t keep its celebrity-endorsed haute couture dog collars in stock. Especially since the Montreal-company appeared on the CBC TV show Dragon’s Den in March, it has been selling out of its blinged-out, diamond-encrusted, solid gold collars that have been snapped up by celebrities such as Drake and Jennifer Lopez.
“We are mostly doing custom creations,” says Big Dog Chains’ founder Miguel Del Moral, a jeweller by training.
Many of his customers, often millennials with no kids and large disposable incomes, buy gold or powder-coated collars through his website. If they also spring for the leash, they generally spend around $1,000. The collars come with a lifetime warranty and can be resized if your pooch puts on some weight.
But it’s the celebrities that fork over the big money. Del Moral’s signature piece is a platinum $1-million collar with diamonds totalling over 100 carats.
“People love their dogs,” he says. “They are spoiling their pets a lot more.”
Canadians are lavish spenders when it comes to their pets. And there’s no shortage of suppliers to meet the demand from doggy gourmet treats and designer outfits to pet spas and vacations at indoor resorts.
The Canadian pet business, which includes pet food, pet products and supplies is worth around $9.2-billion, based on 2014 projections from Packaged Facts, a market research firm. Across the border, The American Pet Products Association says Americans spent US$75.6-billion on their cats and dogs last year, up from US$69.5-billion a year earlier.
Heading to the park in high style
Pet accessories, in general, are popular for the more well-off pet owner. At Vancouver’s Barking Babies, for instance, shoppers can pick up the 360 camo jacket for $148, the stretch tux for $170 or the Metro Couture Carrier, a dog-carrying purse, for $495.
At Old Faithful Shop, also in Vancouver, the stylish Find My Animal leash is made of marine-grade rope, hand-twisted with solid brass hardware. It sells for $89.95 and is often sold out.
“Accessories are doing really well,” says Meghan Billingsley, owner of Bone & Biscuit Co. in Vaughan, Ont., where high-end dog beds are top sellers.
“The lens people are coming in with is that they want pieces that will fit in with their aesthetic. Quality is also a big deal,” she says.
And as nutrition becomes increasingly important to humans, they’re also shifting that same focus on their pets.
Ms. Billingsley has noticed a trend towards canine gut health, with more dog owners purchasing health supplements to help treat stomach issues. An example is Adored Beast Apothecary’s homeopathic Leaky Gut Protocol, which promises to improve digestive health for US$139.99. Fido’s Flora, which aims to heighten a dig’s immune response, retails for US$55.99 for a 40-gram bottle.
There’s also the raw food craze, where dog owners are buying up frozen or freeze-dried raw food items, shelling out $22.99 on a chicken dinner that’s 70-per-cent meat, 10-per-cent organs, 10-per-cent ground bone and 10-per-cent vegetables, says Ms. Billingsley. In comparison, top-of-the-line kibble costs about $100 for a 25-pound bag.
A ‘pawdicure’ and other spa treatments for pampered pets
Pets are also getting the royal treatment when their owners are away. Forget being left with the neighbour or at a traditional kennel, more dogs and cats are staying at high-end spots such as the Royal Pet Hotel and Spa in Barrie, Ont. They also arrive in style – and sometimes with a bit of celebrity chase.
“We will collect the pet via taxi,” says Jenn Dahinten, the hotel and spa’s general manager. “It’s a lovely van with a leather interior. If it’s a cat we’re picking up, nine times out of 10, our service includes catching the cat.”
Once the pet guests arrive, they are put up in a luxurious private room with amenities that can include a four-poster bed or scratching post as well as laundry service. Unlike a kennel, each climate-controlled room is not open to other rooms and has a window with a view of the countryside. As classical music soothes the animals, pets can relax on their private porch replete with artificial turf with access to an outdoor exercise area. Rates for dogs start at $53.90 a night for a single; queens or kings are $73.90 a night.
The hotel and spa also features special programming, whether that’s a doggie massage ($37 for 25 minutes) with a registered massage therapist, a “pawdicure” or an enrichment program ($460) that teaches dogs manners and commands.
All this pampering will set a client back $700-to-$1,500 per week – a fee that many wealthy people have no problem spending to ensure their furry best friends get the luxury treatment they deserve.