Pet health care industry booms

Businesses stay busy

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  • | 9:05 a.m. October 19, 2011
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Hounds and Kitties pet health food market owners Andre and Kerry Elliott say health-conscious people are becoming health-conscious pet owners.
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Hounds and Kitties pet health food market owners Andre and Kerry Elliott say health-conscious people are becoming health-conscious pet owners.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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When push comes to shove and times are tough, people just want to do the best they can to be able to take care of their families, says Barbara Wetzler, president of the SPCA of Central Florida — it doesn’t matter whether the family members have two legs or four.

Hounds & Kitties

144 Lake Ave., Maitland


Pookie’s Pet Nutrition & Bow Wow Bakery

1980 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park


Woof Gang Bakery

918 Orange Ave., Winter Park

407-647-WOOF (9663)

Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health & Fitness Center

2826 Shader Road, Orlando


Hip Dog Canine Hydrotherapy & Fitness

4965 Palmetto Ave., Winter Park


Tails on the Avenue, a shopping and dining out fundraiser to help homeless pets sheltered at the SPCA of Central Florida, is the entire month of October at businesses along Park Avenue in Winter Park. Buy your $15 voucher at participating businesses or; then present the voucher to participating restaurants or businesses and enjoy fabulous discounts and promotions. View the entire list of specials being offered at or

The SPCA’s annual Wiggle Waggle Walk will be 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. For more information on the event, and other programs sponsored by the SPCA, visit

Candy's Cats, a not-for-profit, no-kill cat rescue will be having a “Wheelin' Dealin' Kittens” event on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Maitland Civic Center. The event will have food, wine tastings, raffle and silent auction items and casino games. For more information, visit

Animal Hospital at Baldwin Park’s Annual Halloween Party will be 2-4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at their office at 946 Lake Baldwin Lane. Enter your pet in the costume contest to win one of three prizes and the chance for your pet’s picture to be on next year’s flyer. There will be free exams. Visit

The 12th Annual Pet Costume Contest will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Doggie Door, 329 N. Park Ave., Winter Park. There will be a large pet costume contest at 11 a.m. and a small pet contest at 1 p.m. Pets can “trick or treat” from noon to 3 p.m. Also, there will be pet-related vendors, a caricature artist, a photographer and trainers. Call 407-644-2969.

University of Doglando hosts their third annual Doglympics Event in downtown Avalon Park from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 5-6. There will be dock diving, longest stay contest, Olympic ring toss, flyball tournament and much more. Register at

Whether it’s through feeding their pets organic or raw food diets, treating them to massages or acupuncture, or going the extra mile to make sure their dog is in shape by enrolling them in hydrotherapy fitness courses, some might argue these days the dog days aren’t so bad for our furry friends.

“People are willing to do almost anything to keep their pets happy and healthy,” Wetzler said. Whether that means splurging on unorthodox treatments or just scrounging by and seeking free or low-cost veterinary care from the SPCA, she said people want to take care of their pets, whatever the cost.

In order for the SPCA to continue to offer their services to those both human and animals in need, they’re holding their annual Wiggle Waggle Walk fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. Different local dog-friendly businesses will set up booths around the lake to help the SPCA.

“It’s like a party for dogs. They come and have the best time ever, and just happen to bring their people along,” Wetzler said.

Many local pet health care businesses have sprung up in recent years, all with the same core mission as the SPCA: improving and caring for Central Florida’s pets. From food to fitness, there’s likely a local business to care for any of your animal’s needs. And if not, Wetzler said the SPCA is always there to help.

Healthy from the inside out

Kerry Elliot, owner of Hounds & Kitties, a pet health food market located at 144 Lake Ave. in Maitland, said that as humans become more conscious of what they put in their bodies, they are also doing so for their pets.

The growing popularity of homeopathic treatments and conscientiously composed diets has had her two-year-old business hanging steady while others failed.

“There’s a huge community out there that really wants to do what’s best for their dogs and cats …. Most of our customers don’t make a distinction between their two-legged and four-legged children,” she said.

From antler and cow trachea “moo tube” chew toys to raw and all-natural pet food products and supplements composed of duck, venison or veal, Elliot said her store does business by offering products with the greatest health benefits for animals, whether they seem disconcerting to their human counterparts or not.

“It’s not about you,” she said, “it’s about them.”

She said her store also offers nearly anything you would find at an ordinary pet store, but without all the byproducts and chemicals.

Other businesses, such as Pookie’s Pet Nutrition & Bow Wow Bakery and Woof Gang Bakery, both in Winter Park, also focus on keeping pets healthy from the inside out offering natural pet food products.

“Our products don’t cost very much more but can have tremendous health benefits,” Elliot said. “If you spend a little more on food, you’ll end up spending less on vet bills.”

Staying in shape

Whether your dog is recovering from an operation or just needs focused exercise and training, businesses are popping up throughout the area catering to doggie fitness needs.

From bonding with your pet while doing the downward dog pose in a yoga class to treating them to a massage or an aromatherapy session, Sherri Cappabianca the owner of the new Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health & Fitness Center in Orlando, said her business focuses on keeping dogs healthy in many different facets of life.

“We look for ways the dog can bond with the owner,” she said. “People want their dogs to be happy and healthy and will do almost anything to keep them that way.”

Rocky’s Retreats’ primary business, Cappabianca said, is aqua therapy in their complex’s 4 1/2-foot-deep pools for both dogs recovering from injury and general fitness.

Hip Dog Canine Hydrotherapy & Fitness of Winter Park also concentrates on keeping dogs fit through water-based exercises and swimming classes.

“More and more people are realizing that hydrotherapy is really good for their dogs,” Hip Dog owner Beverly McCartt said. “We’ve been doing it for 10 years.”

She said her business slowed down slightly from the economy but that people keep coming back, and to encourage them to do so, she’s offered discounted rate and classes. “No dog is going to be denied,” she said.

“People sometimes take care of their dog’s quality of life before their own,” she said. “We have to be cognizant of what’s going on in their human families too.”