BUILDERS OFTEN LOOK AT trend experts with skepticism, but this time we may have to throw them a bone. Trend watchers suggest that the next big thing in house design could be pet-friendly features, such as doggie showers in the laundry room and built-in niches for dinner dishes and litter boxes.

“Families and animals go together,” says Kathleen Cecilian, a New Jersey–based consultant who specializes in the marketing of master planned communities. “It's something we can't look away from. ... There are lots of ideas for proper feeding locations, outdoor constant waterers, and sleeping areas. The bottom line is our customer will pay for it in an option or upgrade.”

Portland, Ore.–based architect Alan Mascord says it's fairly common for his clients with pets to consider them as they build a house. “It does enter into the design process for a lot of people,” he says.

PART OF THE FAMILY: Architect Alan Mascord included this dog grooming station in his design for a Street of Dreams house in Portland, Ore.
Photo by Bob Greenspan PART OF THE FAMILY: Architect Alan Mascord included this dog grooming station in his design for a Street of Dreams house in Portland, Ore.

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reports that 63 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet, and the association predicts that spending on pets will reach nearly $36 billion in 2005.

A 2004 survey from the American Animal Hospital Association reported that 56 percent of pet owners surveyed were “very likely” to risk their own lives to save their pet, and if they were stranded on a desert island and could have only one companion, 40 percent would pick their dog.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PET-FRIENDLY HOUSE DESIGN AND PET OWNERS' ATTITUDES AND SPENDING, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT WWW.BUILDERONLINE.COM, CLICK ON “THE MAGAZINES” TAB, AND THEN CLICK ON “BUILDER ARTICLE LINKS.”