25 Pet Care Brands to Watch in 2017
25 Pet Care Brands to Watch in 2017

Keep an eye out for these breakout concepts expected to do big things in 2017.

Pets hold a special place in our hearts – and nothing conveys that better than our estimated expenditure of nearly $63 billion in the pet industry.

According to Dawn Abbamondi, Director of Marketing & Brand Development at SMB Franchise Advisors, the pet industry is in the top five, if not the top three, hottest segments for 2017 as it has been for the last several years.

“People really love their pets and treat them as family,” said Abbamondi. “Pet owners want their animals to be treated as many would care for their children. My friends who have dogs are no exception, and from day care to food and medical care to toys and training – they spare no expense!”

The founders of various pet care brands quickly realized these trends and have created various opportunities to join and invest in the industry. According to Jason Parker, co-founder and co-CEO of K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel, 65 percent of households have pets, and the industry has been recession resistant.

“With dual income families as a norm, quality pet care demand is increasing,” said Parker. “If the trends continue in the industry, we would not be surprised if it isn’t well over a $75 billion industry by 2020, which rivals the very well-known restaurant industry as an investment worth considering.”

Here are the top 25 pet service companies to keep an eye on in 2017:

K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel
K-9 Resorts is an award winning, number 1 rated pet care facility based in New Jersey. With an increased focus on the comfort, health and care of man’s best friend, K-9 Resorts has partnered with private equity firm Navigator Partners, LLC for a multi-million dollar investment to fuel the brand’s expansion this year. The brand’s founders plan to open 80 new locations over the next five years, happily housing hundreds of thousands of happy dogs.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $915,655-$1,292,859
Number of Units: 9

Fetch! Pet Care
Fetch! Pet Care offers professional, reliable and loving dog walking, pet sitting, cat visits, boarding and other pet care services. The demand for professional pet sitting and dog walking services is at an all-time high. Pet ownership is rising, and pet owners are working longer hours and traveling more for business and personal reasons than ever before, making alternatives to traditional pet boarding like Fetch! Pet Care more attractive.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $37,000-$44,300
Number of Units: 102

The Seattle-based startup has been deemed the Airbnb for dog sitting by connecting pet owners with dog lovers who, for one night or many, will watch a family’s dog for a fee. Greg Gottesman and Philip Kimmey founded Rover.com in 2011, raising more than $50 million with investors like Menlo Ventures and Petco. Rover has since expanded into more than 10,000 cities nationwide. The company recently announced another round of funding this year and are now at more than $90 million in funds 

Wild Birds Unlimited
Wild Birds Unlimited is soaring to even higher heights. By providing quality products, first-class customer service and unmatched franchisee support, the nature-focused franchise is looking to establish itself as the best backyard bird feeding business in the world. Currently, there are nearly 300 locations in the U.S. and Canada, and according to Paul Pickett, that’s only the start of something bigger for the franchise concept.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $125,978
Number of Units: 303

Ben’s Barketplace
Ben's Barketplace, Inc. is a premium pet food store based in Roseville, California. The company recently announced franchise opportunities in the western part of the United States and attended the The West Coast Franchise Expo for the first time in November. Owned by a retired State Trooper K9 officer/departmental K9 trainer, Ben's Barketplace is offering entrepreneurs a way to make money and a healthy difference. Set to lengthen pets' lives in the western states, the health food store for dogs and cats is one to keep an eye on as it launches the first franchised locations.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $189,800-$352,050
Number of Units: 1

Pet Wants
When the Cincinnati-based, all-natural, slow-cooked, fresh pet food company opened its first franchise in October of 2015, the brand quickly realized they could build lucrative and meaningful businesses by offering pet parents nutritious, fresh pet food that was conveniently delivered to their homes and didn't break the bank. With a work-from-home or storefront business model, a powerful food formula packed with nutrition and a mobile delivery system, the brand recently announced that the company has already sold 50 units throughout the United States, from Portland, Oregon, to Palm Beach, Florida, and Annapolis, Maryland, to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $50,230-$176,900
Number of Units: 42

The leading online and mobile pet-sitting community that connects busy pet parents with experienced local hosts, DogVacay, just raised $25 million, bringing its total venture funding to $47 million, Fortune reports. DogVacay has booked millions of nights to date and will book millions more this year with its community of 30,000 hosts across the U.S. and Canada.

When a former Air Force pilot shared food with her pooch on a ski trip, she felt concerned for his health. So, Kristina Guerrero returned and created an all-natural power bar for dogs. She won $100,000 earlier this year on ABC's Shark Tank to expand the business.

Another “Uber for dog walking” brand connects NYC dog owners with vetted, college educated, experienced, insured, professional dog walkers. The app sends clients a text at the start and the end of a walk and tracks the walk on a live map of Manhattan. The startup, founded by Penina First, raised $2.5 million from Benchmark Capital.

Vet on Demand
As the first pet tele-health app to hit the market, Vet on Demand offers live consultations with licensed veterinarians. Curt and Mason Revelette created the service after their dog became ill and they had trouble getting remote veterinary advice.

Has your pet called you lately? For pet parents who can't stand being away from their furry friends, PetChatz offers a Skype-like solution. The two-way camera lets you see and hear your pet, dispense a treat and discharge a soothing scent. The company launched in August 2016 and is expected to sell rapidly through 2017.

D Pets Hotel
Spoil your dog rotten with a stay at D Pet Hotels based in Hollywood. They'll be picked up in a luxury car and treated to spa services, a fitness center, and homemade meals. The franchise is owned by Kerry Brown, a former marketing staffer at Lululemon.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $172,100-$734,000
Number of Units: 5

Operating with the tag line "Play time, any time," Kittyo has gotten plenty of media buzz this year. The Kittyo device allows pet owners to interact with cats when they're not at home: You can move around a laser, dispense treats and even record and share videos of them remotely, all through the corresponding iOs or Android app. Kittyo has quite the crowdfunding success story: It launched a Kickstarter campaign in May of this year, and reached its goal of $30,000 within 36 minutes – a testament to the public's serious interest in cat-related merchandise. Ultimately, by the end of the month, Kittyo had raised $271,154 with 2,425 total backers.

BarkBox operates along a similar business model to Birchbox and Blue Apron – but for puppies. It delivers monthly packages containing food and treats for your pooch, and its new, New York City headquarters is reportedly a "dog lover's paradise," complete with playpens, built-in hooks on desks for leashes, and a dash of that minimalist Scandinavian design that you may have gushed over in several of Inc.'s World's Coolest Offices. Founded in 2011, the company added about 40 new people to the team this year, and in the fourth quarter, Bark & Co launched its affiliated e-commerce store, BarkShop. It will be interesting to see where this one goes.

After recently completing its most recent round of funding, PetHub has raised $3.6 million total since it was created in 2010. Its product: Scannable ID tags that can locate lost pups. PetHub has helped more than 400 animals return home over the last three years, or almost three pets per week. Of that number, roughly 97 percent returned home in less than a day, and some before the owner even knew they were missing. PetHub just launched its new, Bluetooth-enabled Signal Tag. The tag connects to users' smartphones, complete with a motion tracking sensor and range finder.

This Naperville, Illinois-based rescue app aims to connect prospective pet owners with dogs and cats in need of adoption at local shelters. Since the release of the app last November, it has seen 18,000 downloads across the United States and Canada, and it's starting to have a real impact on the puppy mill problem.

Paws Platoon
This veteran-owned and employed dog walking and running business puts your dog in the care of the most responsible and reliable hands around. Working with Paws Platoon also helps empower local veterans and connect them with the community.

Doggyloot is an online marketplace for the industry’s best toys, treats and other doggy gear. It was founded in 2010 and has managed to secure $2.5 million in funding since its inception.

FetchFind is using technology to solve one of the pet industry’s biggest pain points: finding talent. With FetchFind, pet-centered companies have an online hub where they can post jobs and look for top candidates; and pet professionals can browse the site to find their next career opportunity too.

Fresh Patch
Fresh Patch is a dirt-free box of living grass that absorbs liquids and controls odors. It’s a convenient option for dog owners who work long hours, have an old or injured dog or wish to avoid going outside on cold, stormy days.

Pet Check
Pet Check Technology provides both dog walking companies and their customers with 100 percent transparency of when and where their dogs are walked.  It is the first and only business management solution combining mobile barcode technology, email alerts, GPS tracking, online scheduling and automated billing options for the dog walking business owner.

Sit Means Sit Dog Training
Sit Means Sit Dog Training is the largest U.S.-based dog training company with locations worldwide. They provide training techniques for dogs that will persist through the years as well as a variety of training options including 1-on-1 classes and group classes. Sit Means Sit also offers boarding and training which allows dogs to stay at the facilities and experience on-going behavior classes and doggy boot camps.

Initial Franchisee Investment: $50,675-&123,850
Number of Units: 121

Wagfield Academy
Online courses offer unprecedented convenience and access for an array of students — and they’re now available to help address behavioral problems in dogs too. Wagfield Academy offers a range of e-learning solutions for pet owners.

Your Perfect Puppy
Finding the right dog for your family can be a complicated process. Your Perfect Puppy is a comprehensive dog concierge service to help you navigate the process successfully.

PetPartner CRM
A mobile solution for veterinary clinics, PetPartner CRM allows users to request appointments, get reminders, track medications, manage pet insurance, and buy food and medications through an app. Your Perfect Puppy is a veteran-owned business that supports charities that help both dog and vets including The Warrior Dog Foundation and SaveAVet.org.