Creature Comforts

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2008

Americans are predicted to pamper their pets to the tune of $43 billion by year’s end. Where are all the bucks spent? At groomers, doggie day centers, pet spas and hotels—even on companies that empty your cat’s litter and scoop dog poop from yards.

Natural Foods for Natural Pets

Downtown Sarasota’s hip pet boutique, Petropolis, has a new mission, say owners Ina and John Schielke. After the premature death of their beloved dachshund, they discovered the hard-to-stomach truth about most pet food. “People are unaware of what they feed their four-legged friends,” says John. “It’s poor-quality food from an unregulated industry.” Their alternative? “We offer the best, all-natural pet foods on the market,” says Ina. That includes 15 brands of packaged and raw foods, with more to come in the future. “We want to educate people so they don’t they lose their best friends, too.”


1407 First St.,

(941) 955-5015

Animal Magnetism

Holistic medicine treats the whole person, or the whole animal. Sarasota’s IntegrativeMedicalCenter for Animals offers Eastern and Western therapies for critters, including acupuncture, massage, dietary consultation, homeopathy and Chinese medicine. Founder Dr. Cinthia Juday has a doctorate in veterinary medicine and advanced training in these other modalities. “We assist the animal's own energies in attaining physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness,” she says. “Instead of dealing with fragmented symptoms, we help the entire body heal by re-establishing harmony in all areas.”

Integrative MedicalCenter for Animals

3646 Birky St., Sarasota

(941) 954-4771

Go Fetch

Does Fido or Puss-Puss need a pet sitter, a place to stay or a good walk? FETCH! Pet Care of Sarasota offers boarding, daycare, overnight sitting, daily visits—even a pet fitness program. Jeff Plunkett, the Sarasota franchise owner, says most of his clients are cats and dogs—but rabbits, hamsters and other small pets are welcome. Daily visits are $15 to $18 for 30 minutes; overnight boarding runs $40 to $60. In-home services provide mail and newspaper pick-up, and plant watering for no extra charge.

FETCH! Pet Care of Sarasota

(941) 256-0437

Here’s the Scoop

If you love your pet but hate the clean-up, Pet Butler’s Jeff Wood will come to your home as many times a week as you need him to rid your yard of all the icky pet poop, and even clean litter boxes. Fees are based on number of pets and amounts of visits. Rates start at $12 a week.

Pet Butler

(941) 256-5861

Pooch Pawtique

Max's Dog Bakery and Shaggy Chic Boutique has fed and outfitted dogs since 1999. Its CEO (chief eating officer) Boomer, a Wheaton Scottish terrier, and CFO (chief fun officer) Pippin, a Brindle Scottish terrier, run the place with their human helper, Beth Ealing. Max’s offers healthy munchies (birthday cakes, “Bone Baskets,” and famously delicious cookies), and a “pawtique” with doggie gear, toys, beds, carriers and car seats. “Our executive officers spend most of their time guarding the bakery,” admits Ealing. 

Max's Dog Bakery and Shaggy Chic Boutique

1375 Main St., Sarasota

941 330-0330

Posh Pet Digs

Ace Pet Resort offers swanky single suites, luxe bedding, satellite TV and soothing tunes. The near-tranquil canine wings each accommodate 10 dogs or fewer. All doggie guests are treated to three daily “stretch and go” sessions; feline guests (in “kitty condos”) get to watch nature videos all day. Sound tempting? Owner Jennifer Hummel doesn’t board humans, though she has been asked. The facility also boards hamsters, rabbits, birds and guinea pigs. Feline suites range from $15 to $24 per day; canine suites from $22 to $48 per day.

Ace Pet Resort

7950 S.R. 72, Sarasota

(941) 921-4355

Privileged Pups

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s spa isn’t just for privileged humans. Posh dogs under 20 pounds and cats can also indulge in five-star luxury. The Ritz recently introduced its pet massage program, offering Swedish, sports and “senior” treatments for pets with arthritis. Each 60-minute session is $130. The hotel charges a $125 “maintenance and restoration” fee per pet per stay.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota

(941) 309-2000

Who You Gonna Call?

Having trouble communicating with Rover? When you do, Lori Michel, founder of Psychic to the Pets, is here to help. With her love for animals and “talent for intuitively assessing your animal’s health,” she can “communicate with any animal—as well as four-legged companions who have crossed over the rainbow bridge. A reading with me will answer any questions and concerns you have about your pets.”

Psychic to the Pets

(941) 284-5490

Every Dog Has His Beach Day

Paw Park at SouthBrohardBeach in Venice is the spot where your pooch can romp in the sand and splash in the glistening Gulf sans leash. This one-acre, fenced-in park offers human amenities, too, including picnic tables, benches, showers, and drinking fountains. Open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk.

Paw Park

1600 Harbor Drive S., Venice

Portraits of Love

Is your favorite creature as pretty as a picture? Wet Noses on

St. Armands Circle
will immortalize your pet in true-to-life pastels or oils created by portrait artists Mary Detweiler, Colleen Cassidy Berns and Dustin Beres, or photographs by award-winning photographer Betty Lupacchino. Wet Noses will happily transfer your pet portrait to T-shirts, note cards and a host of other items. Mother and daughter co-owners Carol Angelotti and Kim McLeod say these arty images are the perfect gifts for horse, dog and cat lovers. Paintings and photos are $100 and up.

Wet Noses

472 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

(941) 388-3647

Some area pet-friendly hotels and inns

Turtle Beach Resort,

9049 Midnight Pass Road
, Siesta Key, 941-349-4554,

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