Americans own more pets than ever, and seem to care about them more passionately, too, as a recent article from BrandWeek, "It's Reigning Cats and Dogs (and Fish and Reptiles)," suggests. There are more pet than people in the U.S. today, and the money we spend on pet products has begun to outpace what we spend on toys and candy according to a"2003/2003 National Pet Owners Survey" from The American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn. (APPMA).

Everyone is getting in on the "pet spending spree," and the business's wooing pet crazy customers goes way beyond the food and toy industries.

* Hotels are adopting pet-friendly policies.
* Companies known for human products, such as Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley-Davidson and Old Navy, now offer lines of pet products.
* Products that recognize that pets are one of the family have hit store shelves, including diapers for puppies and edible greeting cards.
* Luxury products like faux furs for pets and rhinestone tiaras, and services like pet massages and liposuction have emerged for the socialite pet.
* And, new technology and innovation are making it easier to own and care for pets, including automatic feeders, self-cleaning trays and motion sickness aids for those pets on the go.

In all, the APPMA expects pet owners to spend approximately $31 billion in 2003 on their pets. It might sound a bit strange, but perhaps there's a way your business can profit from America's love affair with its pets.