An emerging “pet influencer” community on the photo-sharing app Instagram has led to the owners of dogs and cats earning up to US$16,000 from a single post.

Brands are clamouring to hire dogs and other pets for sponsored posts and adverts, according to the American monthly business magazine, Fast Company.

Loni Edwards, founder and CEO of The Dog Agency, a New York management company that facilitates business deals between brands and owners of pets with at least 50,000 Instagram followers, said demand for pets on social media was “expanding and growing”.

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Edwards said: “Pets are universally loved, they make people happy.

“And they’re safe. They’re not going to say politically charged things or get drunk at a party. So they have all the benefits of traditional, human influencers with all these extra plus factors.”

The Dog Agency’s website said it had paired its 160 pet influencers – which includes a few cats and monkeys – with a wide array of brands, from Purina and Dyson to Google and 20th Century Fox.

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Edwards’ average client has between 100,000 and 200,000 Instagram followers and earns “a couple thousand dollars per post, she said.

[I] once paid a dog US$32,000 for two Facebook posts, one Instagram post and one tweet. Probably took his owner all of three minutes to take the photos and write the captions
Brittany Hennessy, Hearst Digital Media

However, the big fees start to come in when influencers hit the one million-follower mark, from US$10,000 to US$16,000 per Instagram post.

This is more than the US$7,500 average rate for a human influencer with more than one million followers, according to Brittany Hennessy, senior director of influencer strategy and talent partnerships at Hearst Digital Media.

In fact, Hennessy has paid as much as US$32,000 for a dog influencer.

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In her book Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media, Hennessy wrote that she “once paid a dog US$32,000 for two Facebook posts, one Instagram post and one tweet.

“Probably took his owner all of three minutes to take the photos and write the captions.”

Hennessy also said that the influencer marketing industry was projected to be worth US$5 billion to US$10 billion by 2020.

She said “top” influencers were making “half a million dollars” a year from sponsored posts and campaigns with brands.

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That is why part of Edwards’ job is ensuring the pet owner is not just after the money.

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“[We have to] make sure that they’re in it for the right reasons, that they love their pet and they love that they’re able to spend this extra quality time with their pet,” Edwards said.

“It’s more prevalent now than when I started the agency, but now that people know that you can make money from this, there are people trying to force their pet into this.”

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This article originally appeared on  Business Insider .