Why It's Hot

Dogs (and cats) have long been man's best friend, and these days, they're full-fledged members of the family. Pet owners dote on their feline and canine "children" with deluxe hotel suites, wading pools, and in-home grooming services. Forget about old-fashioned kennels; today, pet owners take their companions for massages and psychotherapy. And with 62 percent of U.S. households owning a pet (that's about 72.9 million homes), the American Pet Products Association estimates the pet care industry will rake in a staggering $52.87 billion in 2012.

The pet care industry is comprised of retail pet stores, groomers and boarders, and sales from online suppliers (we didn't include vet care, because we consider it to be a profession much like that of doctors and dentists). Surprisingly, the growth in this industry can't be attributed to increasing disposable incomes. According to industry research firm IBISWorld, consumers consider spending on their pets to be crucial. So pet owners are more likely to sacrifice nice cuts of meat for themselves, for a better bag of kibble.

Growth Potential

According to IBISWorld, the pet grooming and boarding sector has seen steady revenue growth over the past five years of 4.1 percent and is expected to see another five years of annualized growth of 5.4 percent. By the end of 2012, the APPA expects pet grooming and boarding to account for $4.11 billion in pet spending in the U.S.

Plenty of Competition

Over the past three years, 17,000 jobs have been added, with another 33,031 more jobs expected in the next three years, according to IBISWorld. The industry is expected to house 95,246 enterprises by the end of 2012. Pet groomers and boarders are expected to be the most profitable pet-related businesses in 2012, with average margins of about 7.9 percent.

Barriers to Entry

While the barriers to entry are rather standard, there are a few unique to the industry. If you want to start a grooming service, there are certification and licensing requirements that vary per state for groomers. Also, if you are running a boarding service, having a veternarian on staff isn't a bad idea either, but will likely be a costly asset.