HAMMONTON - One need not look to this week's Boardwalk Kennel Club All-Breed Dog Show in Wildwood to see the attention pet owners give to their dogs.
Across the U.S., grooming is a $5 billion slice of a $55 billion pet industry, according to one industry group.
Adrienne Murphy, owner of Hollywood Dog Salon on 12th Street in Hammonton, said there is plenty of competition in this industry, and it is competition she embraces.
"I think it's good, and I think it helps," said Murphy, 51, who has owned the grooming business since 2011. "My friend always said there are thousands of dogs that need good groomers. Why not be one of them?"
Murphy, a mother of three who lives in Williamstown, Gloucester County, was not always in the grooming business.
She worked at Campbell Soup Co. for 15 years as an administrative assistant in government regulations before being laid off years ago.
A dog lover, she spent some time as a stay-at-home mom before helping out a friend who ran a grooming business.
"I've always had a love for animals. Over the last 13 years, I've learned more and more about their ins and outs, their personalities," she said. "All dogs are different, just like people are different.
"When I came down here to open this business, I didn't want to just be a groomer," she said. "I wanted to get to know the dogs personally and their parents personally. I want to know them when they're here. When they have questions, I want to find the answers for them."
Just as the pets' personalities differ, so do the assortment of products used to clean them.
Some products are used for certain conditions, such as oatmeal shampoos for dogs with dry skin, she said.
U.S. pet-industry spending surpassed $55 billion in 2013, according to an estimate by the American Pet Products Association, a Greenwich, Conn.-based trade group for pet industry manufacturers and suppliers.
Spending steadily has grown since 1994, when it was about $17 billion. The industry group says nearly 57 million U.S. households own a dog and about 45 million own a cat.
The majority of businesses in the pet grooming and boarding industry are small, often made up of only one or two employees, according to research firm IBISWorld. Industry demand is expected to increase as the economy improves.
At Hollywood, a grooming includes a check of the pet's coat and skin to determine the right shampoo; a massage with the bath; brush and comb; nail trim and polish; ear cleaning; and conditioning fragrance.
Extra services include de-shedding treatments; dematting; flea bath; oatmeal bath; toothbrushing; and re-moisturizing treatments.
Murphy said the economy has affected her business, causing more customers to wait longer between grooming sessions for their pets. Some who would come in every four weeks wait a few extra weeks.
"They're stretching it out a little longer," she said.
Contact Brian Ianieri:
Hollywood Dog Salon
Location: 20 12th St., Hammonton
Owner: Adrienne Murphy, 51, of Williamstown
Started: 2011 under current ownership
Employees: Owner operated