In Feature Stories, June 2022 by Melissa HowsamLeave a Comment

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The recent popularity of pets—propelled by the pandemic—looks to be here to stay.

Curbing any question that millennials are unequivocally driving our economy—and trends—in specific and significant sectors, take a look at the market share (and #popularity) of such recently booming passions and pastimes as plants and brunch—and pets. 

Swapping an interest in Jimmy Choos for Jimmy Chew, millennials now lead the pack in the U.S. as pet parents (with those born between 1981 and 1996 making up roughly a third of pet owners). And with that feel-good furry fun, they earn a driving force in the market. Read: Beyond a booming pet industry, their interests inside that sector (eco, tech, raw food, CBD, supplements, etc.) are also booming—if not exploding. 

And, not to be left out, Gen Z is expected to sustain the pet parenthood movement through 2030—as the trend for two-legged children also declines in 20-somethings, with 30 being the new official median age for childbirth, as reported in May. But, as with having human children, pet parenthood comes with a price. Ergo from pet food and products to self-cleaning litter boxes and smart bones to the vet bills, spa seshes and more, the portion of household income you spend for Lick Jagger to have all the best comforts and trappings equates to a direct boost to the U.S. economy—to the tune of a now $261 billion global pet market value (projected to reach roughly $350 billion by 2027). 

It’s no secret that, like plants, pet popularity proliferated in the pandemic—period. Even President Biden got in on it, welcoming pup Commander. Adoption rates soared as people pivoted to working from home, and caring for little Chew Barka not only became easier, but served a purpose—a pooch to pamper (or feline or fish to feed, etc.). Shelters all but emptied as 1 in 5 American households (aka 23 million) took in pets—meaning some 70% of homes now house at least one fur child.

And, while there were some reports of these “pandemic pets” being returned to shelters for myriad reasons as we climbed out of quarantine (financial security, returning to the office, freedom to travel, etc.), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals national database doesn’t support a spike in surrenders. In fact, per ASPCA data, upward of 90% of dogs and cats acquired during COVID remain with their pandemic pet parents.

To wit, the pet industry is now saturated and inundated with new (and existing) pet parents in need of everything from doctors to dog walkers to groomers—forcing services from coast to coast to roll to waitlists or up hires to handle the surge. And just like that “Morgan Treeman” plant or resting brunch face you perfected midpanemic, it isn’t a passing fad—and industry vets (pun intended) are starting to adjust to the growth. So, whether you go all in on Rover stock or decide to add a pup to your pack, looks like it really is a dog-eat-dog world after all.

Pooch Pampering Problems

Besides hard-to-come-by vet appointments, boarding slots, pet sitters and the like, adding to our long list of pandemic problems has been a groomer shortage—I shih tzu you not. If you have a pet that requires pampering, you’ve no doubt run into long waitlists to get Daisy her ’do—or if you’ve brought home a new fur child, you likely struggled to find a groomer at all. 

As part of the pandemic-spawned Great Resignation (aka Big Quit), groomers suffering from job dissatisfaction, phones ringing off the hook, anxious customers and CVS-receipt-long backlogs after being forced to shutter for a time, called it quits—adding to that problem a nationwide (and local) dearth of doggie (and kittie) ’do doers, and, thus, a supply/demand crisis, as overworked and underpaid groomers decided to cut and run.

Beyond simply finding a groomer, every family has diff prefs and needs. From boutique pet spas to more traditional groomers, services, styles and situations vary (think bakeries, boutiques, cage-free services—the latter of which may be important for your pound puppy’s psyche). Some take daytime drop-offs, while others have boutique appointment slots—and some even double as doggie daycares and boarding services; while mobiles will come straight to your home. 

If you’re looking to get Mary Puppins’ pampered or Coop’s coif tended, here’s the local lay of the land.

City Pet Grooming

DTR, taking new pets, book 6 weeks out, appts. run 3–4 hours, pet boutique. Tue.–Sat.,  

Woofgang Bakery & Grooming

Five locations (Village District, Gateway Plaza, Brennan Station, Cary, Apex), taking new pets at  all locations, book 6–8 weeks out, appts. run 2.4–3 hours, cage-free, walk-in services available (nail/feet/face/sanitary trims, anal gland expression, ear cleaning, teeth brushing,), walk-in self-wash option, pet boutique and bakery. Daily,

The Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique

North Raleigh, taking new clients, book online at url listed, early drop-off/late pickup & doggy valet on request, extended hours, full-service grooming + unlimited bath and brush service, pet boutique. Tue.–Sat.,

Dog Diggity

NW Raleigh, taking new pets, book 4–6 weeks out, morning dropoff, daycare/boarding services available. Tue.–Sat.,

Dunk’n Dogs Mobile Pet Grooming

Mobile pet grooming for pets under 40 lbs, servicing North and NW Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex and Holly Springs, taking new pets (fill out online questionnaire), book 4 weeks out, has portal for scheduling, accepts Venmo. Mon.–Fri.,


North Raleigh, waitlist, opening schedule up to 8 weeks at a time, appts. run ~2 hours, self-service and we-wash dog options (reserve online), pet boutique. Tue.–Sat.,

The Pawty

West Raleigh, online waitlist, cage-free, book 3 months out. Sun.–Wed.,

These uber-popular pet spas currently take existing clients only (as of press time), but keep checking back to see when you can get your Bark Ruffalo a spot.

Planet Poochie
North Raleigh, not taking new clients at the moment, but appts available soon, book in advance, appts. run 3–4 hours. Tue.–Sat.,

North Raleigh, not taking new clients at the moment, but appts may be available soon, book in advance, daycare/boarding services available. Mon.–Fri.,

Top Notch Pet Spa
NW Raleigh, standing clientele only, book in advance, express services available, plus grooming for cats, ferrets, guinea pigs and other small animals. Mon.–Sat., topnotchpetspa.comBark Pet Grooming
NW Raleigh, standing clientele only, book in advance, appts. run 1–2 hours, cage-free. Mon.–Fri.,

Most pupular to punniest pet names

  • Luna
  • Bella
  • Charlie
  • Cooper
  • Daisy
  • Arf Vader
  • Bark Obama
  • Kanye Westie 
  • Bark Ruffalo
  • Mutt Damon 
  • Harry Pawter
  • Doja Cat 
  • Bowie 
  • Elvis 
  • Sarah Jessica Barker

Fostering + Volunteering

If you don’t already have a pup and want to help, consider fostering a dog until it can be adopted into a forever home. 

With an MO of building a better world for at-risk dogs, Perfectly Imperfect Pups founder and director Nicole Kincaid points to lack of foster homes as a real issue right now. “We are having to say no to shelters and owner surrenders more than ever because we don’t have the foster homes open,” she says.

Fostering just one dog, she adds, opens up the space at the shelter for the next dog coming in—“so you are actually saving two dogs’ lives!” To help you help the pups, PIPs, for example, will pay for medical expenses and supplies, support you on your foster journey, and promote the pups on social media to help them get adopted—all you have to do is provide the heart and home to help the pup transition to a forever home. 

If you’re unable to foster or adopt, sharing posts from local rescues, donating or volunteering your time at an adoption shelter are all viable ways to lend a hand—er, paw—to all the little fur babies in need of a forever home.

Finding Your Furchild

Ready to rescue and not sure where to start? There’s an app for that. Petfinder’s super-user-friendly app (and website) is basically like for dogs. Search however you like—by specific rescues or breeds, or even just dogs by radius. Filter sex, age, size, coat, color, behavior and more—and even view resources on finding the best dog for you and your family. 

Raleigh ranks in the top 30 pet cities in the nation! Peep our gallery of local paw-fect pets here.

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