Walk in to any pet store, and you’re likely to be overwhelmed with the dizzying array of stuff available for sale. From toys to food to grooming implements to clothes to gadgets of all sorts, it’s no wonder that the pet industry is booming. Despite the overabundance of stuff on the shelves (and in my living room), I could probably do without a lot of it. Still, there are some really cool pet products that I absolutely love, to the point that I can’t believe there was a time I didn’t have them. Today I’m going to tell you about five such items.
1. Kongs (or other stuffables)
This one is kind of basic; many dog owners have a Kong or two. I own a dozen. Even though Maisy isn't really a chewer, hands down, I think the Kong is the best way to feed a dog her meals. I’m a huge fan of food-dispensing toys, but the thing I love about the Kong is that it isn’t limited to kibble like so many of the other toys are. Sure, you can stuff some moistened kibble (or kibble mixed with a bit of peanut butter) in there, but canned food and even raw meat is just as easy to shove in a Kong. And, hands down, a Kong filled with frozen raw chicken lasts longer than any other toy I own.
2. A pet water fountain
For a long time, I filled my pets’ need for fresh water with a bowl, but when my cat Nicky (at left) needed surgery to remove bladder stones, I knew that I needed to increase his water intake. After some research on the internet, I learned that fountains, with their constant circulation, can effectively tempt picky kitties to drink more. Well. All three of my pets seem to prefer the fountain, Maisy included. I have the PetMate FreshFlow, and it’s really easy to take apart and clean. Despite the copious amounts of pet hair in my life, the filter doesn’t clog very often, and after two years, it’s still going strong! I love it.
3. Pill Pockets
The first time I saw these in the store, I thought they were silly. Why not put the pill in a treat or use some peanut butter? Yeah, that was before Maisy started taking daily medication. Apparently paroxetine tastes yucky, because I struggled to get it in her. And I tried everything- regular treats, peanut butter, bits of cheese or ham, even canned cat food!- none of it worked for more than a few days.
The Pill Pockets do. I have no idea why. They’re really just a funny shaped treat, after all. Maybe it’s the consistency- something like marzipan or fondant, for any bakers out there- it’s incredibly moldable and completely wraps around the pill. I break them in half, wrap it around the pill, and then just toss it to her. She thinks it's a treat. I think it's amazing.
4. The Dog-Safe Hands-Free Leash
hands free leash at the Sarah Kalnajs seminar, and oh my gosh, I love it. I can’t tense up on the leash, thus inciting a reactive moment. I can carry items in the pet store more easily. If she lunges at something (or startles and runs), the leash can’t be accidentally pulled from my hands (Okay, it only happened once, but it was still scary!). And when I work with shelter dogs, it’s much easier to manage the treat and a clicker if I don’t need to hang on to the leash, too.
5. The Ruff Tough Kennel
Car safety has always been important to me; Maisy wore a seat belt in the car for years. But I was injured in a car accident last summer, and almost a year later, I still have pain directly related to injuries I sustained (one of which was from the seat belt). Considering Maisy’s regrettable shoulder structure and her back issues… well, I freaked out.
I freaked out so much, in fact, that I bought the sturdiest crate I could, the Ruff Tough Kennel. It’s molded out of one piece of plastic, and their very unscientific (but incredibly convincing) testing video sold me on it. I tied that sucker down with ratchet straps in the back of my car, padded the sides, and quit worrying so much.
These are my five favorite pet products. I purchased them all- even that seriously expensive kennel- with my own money. The companies involved have not solicited my opinion. I just love their products. But what about you guys? Which products do you find indispensable?