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If you believe everything a pet owner could ever want or need has already been dreamed up, think again.

Americans shell out more than $40 billion a year to make their beloved pets happy. And if they can’t find just the right product to do the trick? Well, some entrepreneurial pet owners roll up their sleeves and create the product themselves.

The result is a crop of small businesses that has sprung up around these products, and others that have expanded their offerings to meet pet-related interests.

We asked the owners of innovative and quirky pet products about their inspiration, and the growing appeal of their products.

By Lisa Flam, special to CNBC.com
Posted 16 Feb 2012
Updated 17 Feb 2012

Photo: Lisa Mckelvie | Photolibrary | Getty Images