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Seattle area pet owners going all out for Halloween and beyond

A Dolly Parton wig and dress for dogs is a hot seller this Halloween, retailing for $19.95. (Ursula Reutin/KIRO Radio photo)

Halloween is here, and kids and adults aren’t the only ones dressing up. This year, Americans will spend $370 million on costumes for their pets.

The National Retail Federation says Halloween pet spending is up 19 percent from last year. Pumpkins are the most popular costumes.

And it’s not just Halloween. Even though the economy is still struggling, the pet industry is going to rake in a record $53 billion this year, a 42 percent increase in the last 10 years.

What are pet owners buying? Besides the food, supplies, and vet services, they’re also splurging on luxuries, like customized dog dens.

“It’s a beautiful piece of furniture. You won’t be able to see that it’s a place for your dog because it’s also an end table. The ugly dog bed is tucked inside and your dog is comfortable and happy,” says DenHaus founder Sarah Pierce.

She started her business on the Eastside in 2005 and it has grown steadily each year. The pieces range from $500 to $600, but Pierce says dog owners are willing to make that investment for an important member of the family.

“Research shows two out of three people think of their dogs as their best friend, and that they listen to them better than their husband does. That’s how strong the bond is,” Pierce says.

The latest figures show the cost of owning a dog is between $7,000 to nearly $13,000 over their lifetime. A cat is a little cheaper.

Dr. Cherri Trusheim is the veterinarian and owner of Urban Animal, which just opened on Capitol Hill. She says she’s also guilty of spoiling her dogs.

“We have two dogs at home that I know, any stuffed toy I buy, they will kill it. And they will do it quickly and de-stuff it and pull out the squeaker. But I’ll still come home with a $10 stuffy even though I know it will only last five minutes,” Trusheim says.

Vet bills are one of the reasons spending on pets is soaring but she says one of their goals at Urban Animal is to offer clients a range of services to meet their budget.

She thinks as society has become more “connected” with iPhones and Blackberries, we’ve become disconnected from people, and we’re putting more emotion, energy and money into our four-legged friends.

“It’s easier than having a human companion, in many ways, but we are starting to tip the scale a little bit because our dogs don’t understand that kind of relationship. They’re a dog and the happiest dogs are the ones that know they’re a dog,” she says.

The most recent census figures show that Seattle has about 140,000 dogs, compared with just over 93,000 kids.

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