04/16/2012 02:12 pm ET

Pet-Hospice Industry Booming In Spite Of The Struggling Economy

Not even a struggling economy can come between man and his best friend.

That's right, weak recovery and all, the pet hospice industry is booming, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, thanks to advances in medical technology and an increase in the number of pets living longer lives.

Pet hospices work very similarly to their counterparts for humans; they aim to keep their clients, who are suffering from chronic illnesses, comfortable in their homes as they live out the final period of their lives.

But Americans aren't only shelling out money for the dog's end-of-life care; the human hospice sector has also seen a recent bump. Indeed, the number of Medicare patients using hospice services doubled between 2000 and 2009, according to Bloomberg. With that boost in patients, the industry has become a $14 billion market.

It may seem counterintuitive that a sector focused on keeping pets alive is flourishing in time when Americans are having trouble finding enough money for more basic goods, but pet owners have actually continued to shell out for their furry friends even during a struggling economy. Pet owners spent $50 billion on food, toys and the like in 2011 -- a record high -- according to CNN. Spending on pet insurance spiked 22 percent over that same period, according to a local NBC affiliate.

The boom in pet spending, which predates the recession, has spawned an accompanying boom in couture pet products and services. They range from $919 testicular implants for neutered animals to $225 trench coats, according to a 2007 Businessweek report. In addition, pets are more medicated than ever; 77 percent of dogs and 52 percent of cats were medicated in 2007, a boost of 20 percentage points since 1996.