Welcome to our second article in the pet-based business series, addressing the topic of design and architectural trends in pet-based businesses. Your remodel or new build of a pet-based business can match or even exceed the innovative qualities of newer structures designed for other uses, from residential and retail to office buildings, universities, museums, or libraries. Part of this equation touches on sustainability and resiliency. Reducing your carbon pawprint, so to speak, while serving customers is easier than ever thanks to imaginative design; materials use; location; site orientation; and robust building systems such as HVAC, electrical, and solar, most of which will be covered in this comprehensive post.

Today, let’s go on a walk through new design and architectural trends in pet-based business, whether it be a veterinary hospital or clinic, pet spa/salon or grooming facility, or animal daycare/boarding entity.

Design Definition and Trends: Glass, Comfort, and Build It to Last

For those of you who are not architects, contractors, interior designers, or the like, we would like to share our primer on design and how it affects pet-oriented businesses, without getting too academic.

Design crosses many fields, or disciplines, from fashion to graphics and game design. It also encompasses many subfields of architecture such as landscape architecture or systems architecture. At its roots, design is a fascinating dichotomy: it is both verb and noun. “To design something” and “a design of/for something” both apply. In our recently inaugurated pet-based business series, we focus “design” on three different and distinct business types. As you’ll recall, these are:

  • Pet hospitals or clinics

  • Pet spas/salons or grooming facilities (chiefly, on-site, not mobile)

  • Animal daycare or boarding facilities.

At REspace, we adhere to the so-called rational model with regard to design. This model envisions design as a series of stages, not unlike the scientific method. Starting with an early brainstorming period known as programming, for example, can help you flesh out your vision for the facility. This preliminary thoughtwork will result in a clear path forward for remodeling or building new. An experienced architect or project manager will guide you through the multi-step design process, which involves not only programming, but also travels through schematic design, then onto design development (problem-solving), and then ultimately the production process, construction documentation with specifications.

Current Design Trends: Veterinary Clinic or Hospital

Now you know how we view design. Are you perhaps wondering how it applies to your specific situation and what are the anticipated trends in veterinary clinic design for 2019 and beyond? In effect, you might be asking, “What are my veterinary colleagues doing, in concert with their architectural/design or project management team, to create a hospital best suited for today and the future?”

  1. For a new project, don’t build too small. Of course, you want to serve your patients and their guardians with a “right-sized,” compassionate, and state-of-the-veterinary-art facility. Yet you should also strive to ensure that your building and location don’t become too small or cramped; too dark, out-of-date, or unusable; too far removed from your clients; and, thus, unsalable to the next veterinary owner.1 Future expansion is always a design consideration. Accurate assessment during the programming phase proves particularly valuable in avoiding this critical error.

  2. Transparency is very good. Adequate to stellar use of windows gives pet parents insight into “the back” of clinics or hospitals—to everyone’s benefit. Involved pet parents like to be incorporated into the fabric of all aspects of their pets’ lives, including their sickness and their health, accomplished via routine veterinary care. Whereas in the past, the treatment/examination rooms, surgical theater, radiology or rehabilitation rooms were generally off-limits to guardians, today’s practices allow these people a literal window into the pet’s—and the veterinary team’s—world.2

  3. Comfort rooms further inspire the idea that transparency and inclusivity are (p)awesome. Catch-all or multipurpose comfort rooms is a trend we’ve seen and a topic that veterinary resources such as DVM360 have explored many times, such as in the online article “Comfort Rooms are Cool.”3 Comfort rooms can accommodate not only nontraditional pets, but also large, scared, or elderly/ailing animals. In addition, for veterinary practices, comfort rooms offer an oyster in terms of design: skillful design-minded veterinary teams and/or architectural/design consultants wield a creative tool par excellence with regard to furniture treatments and décor (e.g., color palette,4 accessories), and even design features geared toward stress reduction, like fountains; soft, relaxing music; and either natural/solar or dimmable lighting. This is why comfort rooms, while being employed for exams or procedures such as acupuncture, can be purposed for families and the veterinary teams at moments of deep sorrow: during the euthanasia or dying process. To that end, comfort rooms often make full use of a separate exit so grieving families can leave without being confronted by a lobby/reception of other pets or people.

    We can even envision with indoor/outdoor comfort areas (especially for examination or rehabilitation purposes). One last thing: remember that ideal comfort rooms are 10 by 10, make full use of lighting, control acoustic infiltration, and provide other means to give clients a peaceful feeling.

Integrating these “hot” and steadily proven design ideas for your veterinary practice, whether your project is a remodel or an entirely different, new animal, so to speak, can put you at the forefront of compassionate and innovative veterinary customer care.

Current Design Trends: Pet Spa/Salon or Non-mobile Groomer

In terms of a groomer or pet spa–type business, we would like to depart briefly from the previous format and offer, instead, a couple short case studies of a new pet spa/salon that we think reflects the trends in design countrywide. Our first case study involves a pet salon nestled in an urban area (specifically Virginia Beach, Va., with a population around 450,000 and a median household income of $70,5005) surrounded by an even larger region called Hampton Roads. This pet salon is situated in a “strip mall” or small shopping center in a heavily trafficked area.

Salon Versace Dog Wash and Grooming, opened in mid-January 2019, hosts a variety of design trends. Not only, as the name implies, does this salon offer grooming, but it caters to do-it-yourself. Fiberglass walk-in spa tubs allow pet guardians to bathe their own dog(s). The Virginian-Pilot described the salon’s “glamorous décor [resembling] an upscale boutique.” The salon’s embellishments include crystal chandeliers, the aforementioned state-of-the-art tubs, an intricately tiled reception area, dual-color palette and even a retail space tucked therein.6

Other luxe aspects prevail in the newest pet spas or salons, mimicking somewhat their human counterparts. At Versace, for example, dogs can be utterly pampered, with full-service grooming utilizing specialty cuts and add-on services in an almost cafeteria-style environment. According to the salon’s web site, for example, they extend a range of optional add-ons of essential oil treatments, waxing, dipping for pets with skin conditions, and mani-pedi (manicures-pedicures). All this is not even to mention the “candy shop selection for dogs” (in The Pilot reporter’s words) and retail items like leashes, jewelry, and other tchotchkes.

Yes, that’s billions with a “B”: Pet guardians consistently reach for the best care available for their beloved kitty or other animal. In fact, in 2018, pet spending in the U.S. played to the tune of $72.56 billion, with $18.11 billion toward vet care and $6.11 billion for other services such as grooming, boarding, and training (American Pet Products Association data).

Another case study with respect to the subcategory of a pet groomer/salon is Los Angeles Veterinary Center in California. This multitasking center is readily ‘available’ online, and in the real world, it provides “customizable medical [and ancillary] options based on client comfort and patient needs” including internal medicine, surgery, dental services, and a “grooming team” (all quotes are from the center’s Web site). The center garners high ratings from clients, with a 4.5 Yelp rating from more than 100 users. The “trend” we want to identify here is the idea that pet guardians like to know that their furry children are in good hands. In that vein, many veterinarians are capitalizing on their medical expertise and business acumen to guide ancillary offerings for their human and pet clientele, including retail, grooming, and boarding services. As the LA Veterinary Center has it, “A clean pet is a happy pet.”7 And they have positioned themselves to provide a clean, healthy, and happy pet.

Another trend we are seeing in the pet business industry—across all three categories—is hybridization. That is, businesses are wholeheartedly catering to pets and people at the same time, without exactly falling squarely into any of our three categories of veterinary hospitals; groomers or salons; pet boarding or daycare. For instance, local to REspace in the bi-state Illinois-Missouri area, a pet-based boutique called Muttley and Me opened in Swansea, Illinois, in mid-February 2019 (https://muttleyme.com/). This business carries gifts for the pet lover, pet food, and everyday items (or “gifts”) for the pets themselves. In a word, RETAIL, no pun intended, is wagging the dog and swishing the cat’s tail in pet-based businesses these days. As more pet lovers look to monetize their passion, they build their dreams and the pet guardians and their animals will come around.

Luxury wedded with absolute comfort is a trend seen across both the pet salon/spa niche and the pet hotel/boarding one (less so in the veterinary niche, but it is evident in concerns such as enrichment, especially when vet clinics provide boarding or longer-term care), and it is mirrored both in the behaviors and processes seen in said locations as well as the design aspects such as murals, lighting, and décor (e.g., furniture choices; use of enrichment tools such as televisions tuned to animal-friendly fare; options for solitude or going outside, especially for dogs; and even mock picket fences, fire hydrants, and other “home-y” touches).8

In sum, luxury wedded with absolute comfort is a trend seen across both the pet salon/spa niche and the pet hotel/boarding one (less so in the veterinary niche, but it is seen in concerns such as enrichment, especially when vet clinics provide boarding or longer-term care), and it is mirrored both in the behaviors and processes seen in said locations as well as the design aspects such as décor (e.g., furniture choices, use of enrichment tools such as animal-tuned televisions and even mock picket fences and other “home-y” touches).

Current Design Trends: Pet Hotel, Daycare, or Boarding Facility

The luxury/comfort trend repeats in the pet hotel, daycare, and boarding-facility world, dovetailing well with the enrichment theme seen in pet hospitals. Consider first that a 2017 survey revealed that 46% of surveyed veterinary centers supplied pet boarding in some form, whether for injured or sick clients or for healthy ones. Ways that facilities that do boarding or daycare provide an enriched environment to their furry or feathered clientele extend to keeping their minds and bodies thinking and busy, respectively. Fifty-four percent of vet hospitals with boarding reported environmental enrichment, some of which impacts design elements and some of which does not, with adaptive examination rooms, hiding spaces (for cats), separate housing for cats and dogs (or other species), and the ability to go outside (for dogs especially) or interact with other animals (again, dogs in particular).

Some specific methods of enrichment and pet-owner engagement exist: for instance, some facilities feature sunshine roof panels, big views from reception and hallways, pet-themed murals, televisions tuned to animal-friendly channels, web cameras so owners can check in on their babies while they’re gone, the use of animal pheromones to foster calmness, and music or natural lighting (or both). All of these methods enhance customer service, transparency to the pet guardians, and the pet’s overall enjoyment. There’s a saying in the pet care industry, pertaining in particular to pet daycare, that a tired (dog) is a happy one. This mirrors in the options afforded to today’s pets.

Finally, a pet-boarding facility is often the “perfect” or natural place to introduce exercise options to pets and their guardians. Group sessions of “dog daycare,” where agreeable spayed/neutered and healthy dogs can interact with other canines, have been a trend for years. Dog playdates can alleviate guardians’ worries that their dogs are getting enough exercise, love, and attention. Along these lines, drop-off or drop-in dog agility or training facets are appearing in dog boarding settings. For instance, in a handful of micro case studies, we looked at several pet daycare/camp with regard to their amenities.

Great Neck Doggy Daycare (http://greatneckdoggiedaycare.com/): Water features for dogs

This pet-based business is nestled within a large metropolitan cluster of cities collectively dubbed Hampton Roads, including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake, Va. It boasts a “newly renovated” facility of some 10,000+ square feet. Indoor and outdoor play areas figure in this large facility’s pawprint, including an outdoor saltwater pool for water-loving pups. Their promotional Website also indicates that web cams are being installed and will be up and running soon.

LaBest Pet Resort & Spa (https://www.labestinc.net/): Daycare, boarding, and training

LaBest is located in a so-called college town, Edwardsville, Illinois, whose population is in the 25,000 to 30,000-person range, with its nearest large city being located approximately a half-hour away (St. Louis, Mo). According to their Web site, LaBest provides indoor and outdoor dog daycare, even boasting a pool in which dogs can relax and play. Also on-site, they train pets, which requires an expansive accommodation apart from the mere daycare or longer-term housing. Cat boarding is also an option for feline guardians.

Kennelwood Pet Resorts (https://www.kennelwood.com/): Long- and short-term care, plus training

Kennelwood is a chain of pet-based businesses that includes boarding, grooming, and pet training. They report that one of their most popular services is Day Camp, which they describe as “a group play session supervised by our Pet Activities Counselors. Your pet will be placed in a group with other dogs of his or her same size and temperament. It’s the ultimate exercise and fitness program for your pet . . .” Of course, such a program requires unique design and architectural requirements, particularly with regard to location and site orientation, two topics that will be discussed in a later post in this series.

With regard to longer-term boarding at Kennelwood, six options exist for canines, depending on guardian preferences and with differing price points, with a so-called private villa utilizing dog beds and webcams. Deluxe suites are 5 or 6 feet and feature dog beds and classical music for large-breed single pets or multi-pet families. Their kitty suites cater to feline guests, with private litter space, plenty of light, quiet hiding spots, and good views of a fish-filled aquarium.

Materials Use and Finishes: Sustainability and Resiliency

  • Materials: These are literally any substance or material used in constructing a building, whether they be naturally occurring materials (e.g., clay, stone, wood, sand) or synthetic (e.g., fired bricks, cement composites, concrete, glass, metal, foam).

  • Finishes: Architects apply this terminology “to describe a wide range of surface treatments to horizontal surfaces (floors and ceilings) and vertical surfaces (walls) fixed to the main structural elements of the building (floor and ceiling slabs, block walls or stud walls) to complete or enhance the aesthetic experience of interior and exterior parts of a building.”9


Veterinary clinics, pet salon/spa or groomer, and boarding facilities

Along with design aspects of pet-based businesses, there is the pressing topic of materials use. Now, we don’t expect any owner to be an expert on what materials are the most sustainable; that is our job as the architectural team. However, understanding the trends and best practices can help you to make better, more cost-effective decisions. Sustainable materials are also called renewable materials or recycled materials.

Here is a brief list of our best practices, derived from many architectural projects inside and outside the pet-based business “space”:

  • Nonporous materials are best.

  • All tile and grout must be sealed.

  • Because sealant installation is so key, we typically recommended a dedicated sealant sub-contractor.

  • Exposed concrete with varying finishes (burnished, polished, stained) can all be sealed.

  • Waterproof composites are typically specified to be used in all wet areas.

In terms of materials, the “gold standard” in veterinary clinic materials use—as in other building types, such as offices, governmental buildings, retail, schools, and so forth—has been ordinary Portland cement, or OPC. However, if your pet-based business is a new build and you’d like to focus on sustainability, then OPC might not be your go-to materials choice. More about that in a moment.

One way to maximize sustainability in your pet-based business is by utilizing an existing site. Veterinary architect Heather Lewis asserts that the most environmentally green building is one “that’s already there.”10 If, for whatever reason, you are not able to customize a build, you can look at the big picture of sustainability by hunting down a site that’s already in place.

In a custom build, you can employ the latest advancements in architecture and design, with regard to sustainability, long-term salability, and other issues.

With respect to materials use, one thing is evident: sustainability will continue to be a focus, for the sake of businesses’ profit potentials and for maintaining and preserving the planet and its resources. At REspace, in addition to sustainability, we feel that the regenerative opportunities of a building project should also be considered. Alternative energygenerating options are a standard part of our design process. The good news is that your pet-based business can take advantage of this philosophy to stand the test of time.


Finishes extend to the elements of floors, walls (including doors and windows), and ceilings. For these elements, finishes typically are materials or coatings.


In the veterinary space—and applicable to some elements in grooming or boarding facilities, too—some trends are pre-eminent. This, however, does not indicate that these elements will work for you, in your space; only planning in tandem with a construction and architectural team can help determine that.

That said, one rule of thumb for ceilings in pet-based businesses is that any material or finish used must be anti-microbial for the health and well-being of the pets and humans underneath them. Finishes can be applied that are mildew-resistant as well.

Where applicable, use “hard” ceilings such as drywall material or gypsum board toward the end-goal of a clean, microbe-free facility. Be aware, however, that some architects advise against their use in already loud areas such as dog kennels because of these elements’ tendencies to amplify sound in some cases.

Other ideas that might gain traction in the veterinary space in particular include the use of mineral wool ceilings. Architect Heather E. Lewis cites mineral wool ceilings. This material doesn’t shed, sag, grow mold, or absorb water and can be used in a standard grid. She says it also “can absorb up to 90 percent of reverberant noise with[in] tested frequency ranges.”11


A wealth of floor finishes and materials exist to improve the experience of an animal or human client or staff member in a pet-based business—and knowledge about these structures is evolving at a steady clip.

In Lewis’ “Top 10 materials” article, she advocates for any combination of the following in a veterinary clinic, although these surfaces can work well in all three pet-based businesses our post reviews:

  1. Large-format porcelain tile (not a new product), which is available in a plethora of styles and incorporates slip-resistant features for the safety of animal care teams and animals.

  2. Urethane-resin floors: They are better than epoxy because they don’t react poorly to thermal shock, don’t yellow over time, and don’t crack.

  3. Luxury vinyl tile: It’s inexpensive and sanitary (thanks in part to very small joints); she recommends considering it for all client spaces and occasionally treatment areas.

  4. Safety vinyl: This floor boasts a long list of pro’s: They are nonslip (have same friction coefficient wet or dry), don’t need waxing, and can be heat-welded like vinyl—and some seal well to floor drains.

  5. Non-wax vinyl: Some types have acoustic ratings, and newer types have a wider color palette.

  6. We recommend stained polished concrete: With this element, the cost of installation is good, and because it is both stained and sealed, it is resistant to spills, bodily fluids, etc.


Walls are a critical, if ubiquitous, structure in any building. So, too, in your pet-based business. And because you serve humans who appreciate a wide variety of décor aesthetics, walls are an easy way to cultivate a calm, pleasurable customer service experience, beyond the need for a surface that shields against bacteria and staining, is easy to clean, and dampens sound without tossing it unpleasantly or unpredictably around the room or into the room(s) next-door.

With regard to décor, Lewis points out that hexagons are cartwheeling into pet-based spaces, in patterns on walls (or on ceilings, floors, cabinetry, furnishings) or in murals or paintings. This geometric aesthetic is an eye-catcher and definitely a trend worth watching.

In a veterinary hospital of the year awardee for 2019, one sees the execution of sound-proofing via a sound wall, including “in-wall Roxul Mineral Wool Sound Insulation installed up to [the] roof deck,” used in the Coyne Veterinary Center in Crown Point, Indiana.12

The Coyne hospital, in a collaboration between internal veterinary staff and the design build team, also impressed judges. In particular, judges cited its wall signage choices—font, color, material. Piggybacked on the previous source, we found the useful tip that “the right fonts, the right colors, and the right plan for directing traffic through your hospital are things every pet owner and team member will appreciate.”

Doors (not hardware)

For the doors in the award-winning Coyne Veterinary Center, the architectural team selected aluminum doors with large frosted windows and a transom in the examination rooms, which conveyed both light and transparency to cater to the pet-owner connection and the benefit of staff as well. Transparency, you will recall, is a significant trend in the veterinary space—and it is reaching out, we have seen, into pet boarding or daycare facilities as well as grooming salons and pet spas. Such openness involves pet parents—and even invites potential future clientele who might be walking by said spaces—in the processes of caring for pets, so it is no longer a hidden, dark, or secretive process like it used to be.

Architect Heather Lewis (in her top 10 materials article) taps fiberglass doors as pricier but longer-lasting and chemical-resistant, which make good tools for dog kennel areas. They never rot or degrade, nor do they need painting due to chemical or body-fluid stains.

For our part, we have successfully used prefinished aluminum storefront doors with full glazing panels time and again inside pet-based businesses. The advantages of these doors reside in their durability, availability, and applicability to animals of large or small sizes. In addition, the fact that they allow multiple options for seals (a distinct advantage in kennel areas, which need materials and finishes resistant to bites, scratches, bodily fluids, chemicals, noise, and heat) only adds to their benefit.

Building Systems

“Building systems” is a term that pertains to all the interlocking systems that govern a facility to keep it running smoothly. With respect to the animal-related business space, several building systems are at play, namely:

  • Security measures/software

  • HVAC

  • Plumbing

  • Medical gas (for hospitals or clinics only)

  • Lighting

In human as well as animal facilities, building systems comprise a vital strut in the overall framework of constructing a viable space. Furthermore, many experts have asserted that it’s not enough for current systems to simply deliver efficient environmental controls. In an issue of Health Facilities Management magazine, author Neal Lorenzi notes, “They [building automation systems, or BAS, in human hospitals] are expected to analyze data, predict challenges, and respond to changing conditions as well as deliver reports in alignment with regulatory requirements.”13 We see some carryover from human hospital approaches in the veterinary space, which will continue to embrace technological advances in analytics, wireless systems, and the like to create the “smart veterinary hospital” (or clinic) of the future.

Join us for a brief tour through various building systems that drive one or more of our three types of pet-based business.

Security Measures/Software

Security concerns don’t just affect obvious industries such as banking, law enforcement, schools and colleges, or governmental institutions. Veterinary spaces, because of their need for controlled substances in anesthesia, euthanasia, and general treatment modalities, also require additional protections. Although animal shelters and humane societies are not a focus of our series, these locations also require enhanced security.

For securing a veterinary business, architect Wayne Usiak recommends a multi-pronged approach consisting of these measures: (1.) surveillance cameras and up-to-date software; (2.) exterior lighting to discourage theft, vandalism, or other crime; (3.) fencing, especially around employee parking, with or without a security gate and guard; (4.) vestibule entrances with double-doors, which is particularly important if the business serves clients after dark. Equally important is the arrangement of the doors or access control devices, because they must satisfy egress and accessibility requirements as well as security concerns. (5.) A dedicated “safe room” in the clinic with deadbolts and separate telephone access.14

In other pet-based businesses, you might like to integrate some of these methods, depending on the location, overall safety (with such data usually available from local police or sheriff’s departments), and services provided by your business.

HVAC Design

Building automation systems, or BAS, figure significantly in the pet-based business with respect to HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (which encompasses air circulation). In the companion animal or livestock hospital setting, “poor air quality and fluctuations in temperature can result in negative behavioral, physiologic, and morphologic changes in animals.”15 Most ventilation standards developed for the veterinary or animal shelter setting are rooted in odor control, because odor indicates the likely presence of airborne contaminants, which can increase the chances of disease in both animals and human staff.

In the draft about fear-free hospital design, Lewis phrases it this way: “The simplest method to improve air quality [in a veterinary setting] is to design HVAC systems that use more outside air than would be used in office spaces.” She continues: “In fact, it is a normal standard in both veterinary hospital design and animal laboratory design to use 100 percent exhaust in animal wards. This means that no air is recycled back into the system.” To that point, the rule of thumb is that dog and cat exam rooms, treatment areas, and sick wards/isolation must employ separate air exchanges.

Other recommendations, from the draft pamphlet by Lewis, are as follows, if your practice wants to achieve wholly fear-free design:

  1. Cat areas should be kept warmer for the creatures’ comforts; keep staff’s comfort in mind, too.

  2. Negatively pressurize ward spaces to squelch odor and contaminate spread.

  3. Ten to 15 air changes/hour are necessary in animal wards.

  4. Pheromone dispensers should be in every room.

  5. Individually ventilated cages are a necessity.

  6. Radiant heating should be located in/under patient-touching surfaces, not to replace building heating systems. But awake and alert animals should not be able to access radiant-heating pads, for their safety.


In “5 ways to keep costs down while building,” veterinary architect Dan Chapel relates that mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems comprise approximately two-thirds of the total cost of your hospital.16 Therefore, he suggests that if you’re looking to minimize costs, tap into the wealth that is your architect/project manager and engineer to determine whether less-expensive but still well-performing products can be used instead.

With regard to the plumbing part of the MEP equation:

  • The use of sloped floors and drains is a best practice that is difficult to get around in pet-based businesses where grooming and cleaning are required. They add expense, but we believe they are worth the cost thanks to improved operational efficiency.

  • Trap primers are recommended for all floor or trench drains.

  • Local mixing valves can be utilized to separate temperature regulation between public and private spaces.

  • Instant-heat water heaters can provide additional flexibility in the design.

  • For large locations or for those treating larger clientele such as equines, a recirculating pump system will improve operational efficiency.

For a remodel of a pet-based business, keep in mind that plumbing systems might need to be moved. Pro tip: former hair salons make good locations for pet-grooming and sometimes other pet businesses needing groom areas.

For a remodel or rebuild, you will want to have a budget for moving the plumbing; we have never been involved in a renovation for a pet business that did NOT require this to some degree. That being said, part of our job as the design team is to help you manage your budget, so we typically try to move plumbing as little as necessary.

In the case of a grooming business or pet salon, you can modify an already existing site to accommodate your plumbing or other building system requirements. Groomer to Groomer notes, “Although plumbing lines can be moved to accommodate needs, it is costly. Using the proximity of existing drain and plumbing lines is usually a bonus and will save you in build-out dollars. Spaces formerly occupied by hair salons make great makeover choices because they have abundant plumbing lines and drains, and usually the flooring is nonporous.”17

Medical Gas

The use of medical gas necessitates adhering to your jurisdiction’s medical gas codes, but it is more complex than simply following the NFPA 99, according to expert John Gregory.18 The same goes true for your local jurisdiction’s fire code—although many cities, he says, follow the IFC codes. Gregory bases his design around several questions, namely, “what types of gas will be used at the facility” and “what sedation will be performed and how.”

When a collaboration between veterinary personnel performing said procedures and an architectural and/or construction team exists, Gregory foresees an optimal outcome, where the engineer can “size your equipment and piping based on the anticipated flow rates for animals large and small.”

Lastly, with regard to the building systems, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that “pet-related businesses may require more stringent adherence to local regulations,” including zoning ordinances (Groomer to Groomer). So, it is critical to have a team of professionals—who can advise on the design of these building systems, from the early design phases; we do not recommend contractor-driven, design build solutions for these types of projects.


We hope that this long-form exploration of design and architectural trends across these three types of pet-based businesses will sate your appetite for more information about how architecture pertains to and affects the work you do every day in animal care. Whether you’re contemplating an upgrade to your existing pet-centered business or planning an entirely new location or building, the considerations are numerous. Knowledge is power, and we hope you now feel empowered going forward, whatever your dream.

Oh, and we’ll throw out another bone and sprinkle ’round more catnip in our next post, which tackles “mom and pop” pet-based businesses versus the so-called big-box or corporate establishments. Join us again soon!



1The January 2019 article “3 things to think about before building a hospital” discusses three qualities that will ensure a clinic’s longevity: transparency, not underbuilding, and listening to staff feedback on comfort, etc. when building, at http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/3-things-think-about-building-hospital

2In the January 2019 article “The push for transparency in the veterinary clinic,” architect Dave Gasser addresses, in print and video form, how transparency can be deployed to best benefit pet parents while not curbing veterinary staff efficiency. Available at http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/push-transparency-veterinary-clinic Also, as far back as 2014, architects such as Heather E. Lewis were comprehensively detailing how transparency could affect the veterinary world, “Building a transparent veterinary practice—with glass, open spaces and values” (at http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/building-transparent-veterinary-practice-with-glass-open-spaces-and-values).

3“Comfort rooms are cool” by architect Heather E. Lewis (http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/comfort-rooms-are-cool) points out several benefits of so-called comfort rooms, such as customer-service aspects like accommodating large families and providing a more stress-free environment for the animal patient, as well as the implications and pluses to veterinary team members, e.g., lengthy or even emergency consults can be easier.

4In the article “4 dead design fads in veterinary practice,” from the end of 2017, veterinary architect Ashley Shoults shares her veterinary design no-nos: the use of too much white in veterinary spaces (antiseptic, boring), kitchen cabinets (hard to disinfect), yellow/beige walls, and too much color or saturated tones (only a ‘pop’ of color here and there is needed, to her mind).

6“Business owner wants to pamper your pet at Salon Versace,” by Lee Belote, at https://pilotonline.com/news/local/article_0fd6d436-2572-11e9-9f7f-eb20b80f4789.html

7“Services” page of the Los Angeles (California) Veterinary Center, https://laveterinarycenter.com/services/

8“Batting around enrichment ideas in the veterinary hospital,” published Oct. 16, 2017, at http://veterinaryteam.dvm360.com/batting-around-enrichment-veterinary-hospital

9“Architectural Finishes – What are they and what purpose(s) do they serve?” by architect Lola Adeokun, available at https://www.johndesmond.com/blog/products/architectural-finishes-purposes-serve/

10“Turn Your Veterinary Practice Green,” by Hannah Wagle, at http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/turn-your-veterinary-practice-green

11“Top 10 materials update for veterinary hospitals,” from March 2019, available at http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/top-10-materials-update-veterinary-hospitals?pageID=4

12“Grand plans for a grand space,” by Maureen McKinney, available at http://veterinaryhospitaldesign.dvm360.com/grand-plans-grand-space?pageID=1

13“Building control systems keep hospitals in sync,” from November 2017, available at https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/3177-building-control-systems-keep-hospitals-in-sync

15From the “Fear-Free Hospital Design (Draft 2015)” by architect Heather E. Lewis, available at https://www.chicagovma.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Part-F-Mechanicals.pdf

17“The New Grooming Salon Part One: Choosing a Location,” published in February 2017 at https://www.groomertogroomer.com/tag/plumbing/

18“Veterinary Hospitals and Animal Research Facilities: Assessing medical gas requirements,” on PHCP Pros (Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, and Piping), at https://www.phcppros.com/articles/5193-veterinary-hospitals-and-animal-research-facilities