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I spent two days last week at Global Pet Expo 2012 — the industry's biggest annual trade show — getting to know what’s new and cool in the world of pet products. As a veterinarian, the experience was kind of odd. Let me explain: The expo is mostly a venue where pet product manufacturers and retailers come together to interact for the good of all petkind — and for their products’ good, of course.
This brings me to the rationale behind my post: great pet products that promise to solve many of our problems. Although they won’t bring us anything as cataclysmically significant as world peace, they can make our pet-addled lives more livable.
With that noble goal in mind, I offer you my top 9 solutions-oriented products from this year’s event. (And click here to see other product roundups from the pet show.)
I’ve loved these booties for years now. For dogs who frequently get their paws muddy, catch snow between their toes, risk cuts or electrocution on city streets or require a nonslip surface to stay balanced and upright, these 100 percent biodegradable rubber booties are the bomb.
I recommend them daily for dogs with arthritis or nerve damage who can slip on slick floors. I find that they’re easier for pups to get used to than other boots, and they're more cost-effective. At about $15 to $20 for a 12-pack, the reusable booties are a steal.
A new generation of “smart tags” is currently making the rounds at trade shows like these. The IDTAG ($5 to $10) features a bright, blinking light for nighttime visibility and an identifying number that you can input online to get information about the pet you’ve just found. It’s a little heavy for a cat, but I do love that mine allows me to find my Slumdog in the dark yard at night.
The upscale PetHub smart tag goes one step further with a scanable barcode-like symbol that sends the identification information immediately to your smartphone — for only $13 to $26, depending on the kind of collar and tag.
Smart tags like these are probably great for pets whose medical histories make medications a super-pertinent issue should they go missing, but they don't achieve the permanence that a microchip does. After all, collars and tags are easily lost.
Unassuming as it was, I almost missed this booth. It’s a good thing that I didn’t, seeing as it offered one of the most interesting safety products I’ve come across in years.
This device works either wirelessly or through your telephone line to alert you whenever a probe detects that the apparent temperature in any given area drops or climbs to dangerous levels. It can be used for monitoring outdoor dog kennels, dog houses, heat-prone rooms or — get this — even while flying with your pets in cargo.
The wireless version is appropriate for the latter function since it doesn’t even have to call your cell (something they won’t let you do on a plane). The probe directs the information wirelessly to the device’s monitoring base, which fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. You might have to turn it off during takeoff and landing, but it should be fine otherwise, according to a sales rep. For $50 to $100, the device seems way worth it.
The Comfy Cone is just another Elizabethan collar — except that it’s not. At least this one isn’t made with the kind of hard plastic that bruises your shins and dings your walls. And it’s not all soft and floppy, like the heavy-duty paper variety. This one is stiff but spongy. Goldilocks would love it.
They retail for between $15 and $50, depending on the size. And it comes with the option of disposable liners for those who know their dogs will slobber, bleed or otherwise befoul their cones.
I love these! One of my cats is especially ridiculous about peeing on everything in his little space, yet still adores all kinds of cubbies, so these rugged, connectable cardboard boxes and tubes provide awesome play spaces. And at only $15 to $20 a box, they’re easily replaceable should he decide to anoint one with his unappetizing aromatics.
At only $5, I could sell 20 of these a week if our hospital sold general pet supplies. My suburbanite clients just hate removing ticks. Not that I blame them. Ticks are just plain gross! With this item, you just scoop and pull. No touching necessary. And less tricky than tweezers. Sure, it’s still disgusting work, but at least there’s less stress associated with leaving tick parts in the skin — along with less mess.
This is a cool solution for dogs who require rehabilitation and for whom a fun, at-home tool might make a big difference in recovery speed. The donut shape — a concession to our dogs’ four-leggedness — makes it way better for balancing than a simple, inflatable exercise ball. It goes for about $60, and it can be paired with some fun accessories that will up your outlay. (Beware: These items are high-end and addictive.)
I couldn’t resist. These are the best example of a kitty exercise-slash-enrichment tool. Inexpensive and thoroughly entertaining, these were first designed as a kid’s toy and later got picked up as a cat plaything. The best part is that it not only hops enticingly out of your hand for hours of kitty play, but it also turns into a stubbier cylinder for batting at on the floor. At a buck a pop, they’re so worth it!
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