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January 30, 2011

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Home » Feature » Animal Planet

Crystals, 'angels' for pets

AS India booms economically and incomes surge, pet lovers are driving the growth of a whole range of new trends, from organic pet toys to crystal healing and even claw painting for cats.

The pet care market in India has expanded from US$31 million in 2003 to US$64 million last year, as millions of people moved into the middle class and disposable incomes grew, according to pet care magazine Creature Companion. It cited figures from Euromonitor International.

Pet care services such as grooming, pet-sitting and boarding are hugely popular, while popularity of the Internet has promoted virtual stores and digital networking platforms to such an extent that the market is projected to double yet again, to US$144 million, by 2015.

At the recent India International Pet Fair in New Delhi, some of the most popular exhibits catered to pet owners seeking advice on dealing with aging and grumpy pets.

Over two days of the three-day fair, more than 3,000 people visited a stall devoted to "crystal therapy," or using gems and stones for healing.

"My 6-year old St Bernard has been troublesome with his unfriendly and obnoxious behavior over the past year, though he used to be very affectionate and friendly with everyone at home," said Christina Paul.

She took him to a veterinarian who recommended a change in diet but the dog remained hostile. "I am very exciting to learn about this stone therapy," Paul said.

Madhu Kotiya, who began "healing" pets with crystals five years ago, offers packages of crystals and stones to treat anger and aggression, accidents and emergency. Price range from US$10-12 in a country where average per capita income was US$945 in fiscal 2010.

"Apart from crystals, we use energy healing called 'angel communication healing,' which helps people find their lost dogs," Kotiya added.

But others at the fair sniffed at the idea of New Age care, preferring old-fashioned methods such as lavishing pets with quality time.

"It's not easy to keep a pet. They require love, training and hygiene, which many pet owners can provide," said one exhibitor.

The fair, now in its fifth year, began as a trade show but now is a bit of a free-for-all.

Dogs accompanied their owners, lazed around and placed with other dogs. At one stall, cats' claws were painted bright colors. There was a dog obedience show and fancy dress competition.

Of all the offerings for companion animals, toys were the favorites of man and beast. Rubber play stations, play bones, cuts of flavored natural rubber "meat" and bells were especially popular.


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