LOS ANGELES — Upstairs, the master bathroom has a spa built for him and her modeled after a five-star resort, with dual showers and porcelain tile. Downstairs, there’s another spa, but this one is strictly for paws and fur.
Each floor plan for the new homes being built in Brea, Calif., in a development known as Avignon at Blackstone, includes an optional 170-square-foot “pet suite.” The suite includes a tiled washing station with leash tie-downs and a hand-held sprayer, a pet dryer, a cabinet with built-in bedding, a stackable washer/dryer combo, a flat-screen TV and a patio door that opens to a dog run.
The developer, Irvine, Calif.-based Standard Pacific Homes, says it’s building homes with the lap dog of luxury in mind.
“It comes back to enhancing the lives of our homeowners who are pet owners,” said Danielle Tocco, a spokeswoman for Standard Pacific.
Pet-friendly residential design is gaining popularity as owners become more sensitive to their pets’ needs, said Jennifer Wolch, dean of the College of Environmental Design at Unversity of California at Berkeley.
“Such inclusive designs range from apartment complexes with dog-washing facilities, cat-friendly interior design, dog runs, trails and parks, and entire communities oriented toward living with companion and other animals,” Wolch said.
But Michael Bianchi, managing broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, said that after polling his network of 150 agents about the pet suites, he thinks Standard Pacific has taken pet-friendly offerings to a new level.
“Standard Pacific is the only builder offering it as a package,” Bianchi said. “The reality is, the amount of money people are spending on their pets is going through the roof. So why wouldn’t they?”
The home builder is just one of many responding to a surge in pet ownership — nearly 70 percent of American households have pets — and spending, according to a pet industry survey. The companies are also capitalizing on a trend that experts call “pet humanization.” Owners have begun to redefine what they consider necessary supplies, services and treatments, economists and pet industry experts say.
Wealthy pet owners have long splurged on high-end offerings that in many ways mirror what’s available for humans — hotel-style kennel accommodations, fitness programs, expensive veterinary treatments and organic foods, some even prepared by private chefs.
Dogs at D Pet Hotels in Hollywood are boarded in “suites,” including some outfitted like human bedrooms. Grooming options include full-body massages and detoxifying thermal wraps, and a chauffeur service will pick up lucky dogs in a Bentley, Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini Gallardo.
But now even those who aren’t millionaires are pampering their pets.
America’s pet spending is up across the board, not just among the jet set, and is expected to reach about $60 billion in 2014, according to some estimates. That’s an increase of 70 percent over what it was a decade ago.
More than half the pet market — about $31 billion — is made up of owners who earn more than $70,000 a year, said Michael Dillon, president of Dillon Media, which publishes an annual report on the pet industry. But pet spending is skewing toward even higher income levels, he said.
“The long-term trends show consumers, households making over $100,000 a year have really ramped up spending,” Dillon said.
“She’s a part of the family,” Dean said. “Everybody else has a room — so does she.”