4 bedrooms, 3 baths ... and a pet suite?

4 bedrooms, 3 baths ... and a pet suite?

In some homes, being “in the dog house” isn't necessarily a bad thing.

From puppy showers to chip-activated pet doors to beds and food dishes built right into cabinetry, designers and home builders are offering new options that cater to Fido. And the pet amenities really do have Fido in mind, not Fluffy the cat: Most of these features are for the dogs. (Click here or on an image for a slideshow of pet amenities.)

Such investments might seem surprising -- until you consider that more than two-thirds of American households own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. And the pet industry now totals an estimated $58.5 billion a year, having risen steadily at about 5 percent a year over the past two decades.

At California-based Standard Pacific Homes, spokeswoman Danielle Tocco says the company's livability studies emphasize that "pets are an important part of the family, so we decided to focus on dedicating space for just pets."

Its custom-built pet suites range from 50 square feet to 170 square feet—and $8,000 to $35,000.

“The pet suites help enhance the lives of homeowners through organization and by making pet maintenance more convenient,” Tocco says.

The pet suites include such features as cabinetry for treats and toys, a puppy wash station, built-in beds and French doors that open onto the yard. The wash station—complete with a handheld sprayer and bench—has been a particularly big hit, Tocco says. (Click here or on an image for a slideshow of pet amenities.)

Pet amenities have become so popular that they're now part of Florida designer Phil Kean's initial meeting list with a client. His company, Phil Kean Design Group, offers a custom kennel suite in a garage, closed-off litter box areas to control smells, and separate pet rooms to house animals when guests are over.

Another feature popular with pet owners is anti-microbial artificial turf, which doesn't grow bacteria, Kean says. “It makes it easy for homeowners to keep their yard clean. Turf is also an easy and smart solution to avoid your grass turning brown.”

Dog bowls were built right into this kitchen island.
Dog bowls were built right into this kitchen island.

Halfway across the country in Houston, Ted Cummins of Morning Star Builders says he’s also seen pet amenities become more common in newly built homes. Some of the more common requests include retractable dog dishes built into base cabinets, pet showers and mechanized doggie doors, he says.

The dog door is a great amenity for those who work during the day and can't let the dog out, Cummins says.

“The electric dog door is operated through an electric panel, and the dog wears a form of a magnet on its collar,” Cummins says. “It’s a guillotine-style door that lets the animal in and out—and the owner can control when the dog can go outside.”

While the pet designs are usually built to look subtle or part of the home’s design, Cummins says making the feature multifunctional is best when it comes to resale value.

“The little cut-off shower in the laundry room is multipurpose,” Cummins says. “Someone might use it for a dog, someone else might use it as a drying rack for laundry. That’s one of the more universal designs.”

Of course, these designs might also appeal to the right buyer: another animal lover who feels passionately that nothing is too good for Fido.

Click here or on an image for a slideshow of pet amenities.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.