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Category Archives: Cool New Products

Screamin’ hot products from the trade journals, trade shows and other industry sources.

Product Review: ThunderLeash

ThunderLeash is a leash that can be used as either a regular leash or modified as a no-pull harness. Using its unique buckle, you can wrap part of the leash around your dog’s ribcage so that if he pulls, gentle pressure is applied around his body. This pressure calms and reassures the dog, and encourages him not to pull.

I tested this leash on a 10-year-old Irish Setter. We did not hand-raise this dog; we adopted him at approximately age 5 and it appears from his habits and behavior that he spent most of his life until that time living in a back yard with little or no interaction. He really pulls on the leash, so badly that I couldn’t let my children walk him; I had to do it. He’s eager to go, and ever since he’s been on a raw meat diet, he’s bulked up a bit so that he’s stronger now than when he was an itchy, flaky bag of ribs.

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We went for a walk and my oldest, age 7 (and petite for her age) asked if she could walk Finnegan. I know that Finnegan doesn’t go in the road, and he’s easily distracted by sniffing places where other dogs have marked. So, knowing that if he got away from her, I could catch him again, I said, “yes.” I fastened the ThunderLeash around Finney’s ribs and gave her the leash.

The dog was still eager and strong but he did not pull the leash away from my daughter, nor did he pull her around. Most of the time, the leash had a little slack in it. The picture you see at left was taken by me, from across the street, so I was not able to control the dog for her. And you can see that she’s not walking very fast. He’s behaving like a perfect gentleman. We even went past some yards with barking dogs in them (see picture below). He’s not normally aggressive about other dogs, but he’s always interested. But with the ThunderLeash, my daughter was able to keep him on the sidewalk.

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Now, my five-, six- and seven-year-olds can walk an energetic dog who outweighs them.

Our Irish Setter is 70-75 pounds, and there was plenty of room in the leash for a bigger dog, so if your dog is 100 lbs. or more, you should be able to use the leash with no problem.

The leash is blue and black, and the heavy-duty, nickel-plated hardware is well-made. The leash itself is soft, thick nylon, and the handle is doubled for padding and durability. After nearly four months of use, it shows no signs of fraying or breaking.

I really like that you can switch back and forth between a regular leash and a no-pull leash so quickly with the ThunderLeash. Harnesses can be a hassle to put on, and once you’ve got it on, that’s what you’re using for the duration of your outing or walk, unless you unfasten your leash from the harness and fasten it to the collar. But then, you’ve got a few seconds where your dog is not on a leash. With the ThunderLeash, you can switch back and forth without ever taking your dog off-leash.

If your dog begins to walk properly on a normal collar and leash configuration, you can use it as a leash. If he needs a reminder, you can switch to no-pull mode.

Sizes: Small (12-25 lbs.) and Large (25 pounds plus)

Price: $29.95

Available at: Thundershirt.com

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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Cool New Products

 

A Luxury Vacation for Two – plus your dog — in L.A.

Our friends at http://www.DogVacay.com are giving one lucky winner a luxury vacation for two – plus the dog – in Los Angeles to meet the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan.

You and your dog will attend a meet-and-greet with Cesar Millan at his Dog Psychology Center. Then, your dog will stay for up to three nights for a fun-filled vacay with the Dog Psychology Center staff and guests while you a guest enjoy up to three nights at a luxury resort in nearby Santa Monica. The giveaway includes airfare for two and your dog, accommodations, rental car and a $400 VISA gift card for meals and incidentals.

Enter here by August 31, 2013 for your chance to win.

 

And hey, while you’e on the site, check out the great service that www.DogVacay.com offers.

Next time you need to board your dog, try boarding with a pre-screened, selected and insured host home instead of a boarding kennel.

Your dog will have individualized attention, play time with other dogs, and the care of a responsible dog owner like you (not a 13-year-old neighbor kid).You get 24-hour customer service, boarding insurance, daily photos from the host family, and rates start at $15 per night. Hosts are motivated to take good care of your dog because they want to earn extra money with additional doggies guests (great accountability). You can email the host before taking your dog over, if you have any questions. Your dog loves it because it’s personalized, in-home, cage-free boarding. You might even meet some new friends!

I’m going to check it out and try this next time I leave town. (Maybe I can find a host family with a pool.)

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Cool New Products

 

How Young is Too Young to Neuter?

Since the mid-20th century, pet overpopulation concerns have given rise to a message prevalent in public service announcements, veterinary education and rescue/shelter philosophies. That message is “Spay and neuter, the earlier the better.” However, in recent years, a controversy surrounding health risks of spaying and neutering at an early age has been increasing. New studies show uneven bone growth (certain bones growing longer than their counterparts), infectious diseases, adverse reaction to vaccines, cancer, and other problems being documented at statistically significant rates, even when adjusting for genetic, lifestyle and other factors.

spay neuter dogs too early health problemsLike most body systems, the endocrine system – which produces hormones – affects more than just the reproductive system. Sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, stimulate the closure of growth plates at puberty. And they do a lot more, too.

EARLIER, MORE FREQUENT CANCER IN EARLY SPAY/NEUTER DOGS

A Veterinary Medical Database search of the years 1982 to 1995 revealed that in dogs with tumors of the heart, the relative risk for spayed females was over four times that of intact females.

In addition to cardiac tumors, this and other studies have found that early spay/neuter practices contribute to a higher incidence of bone cancer, prostate cancer, and other types of cancer.

KNEE AND HIP PROBLEMS IN EARLY SPAY/NEUTER DOGS 

A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 found that animals spayed and neutered at less then a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more then a year.  Because of the absence of sex hormones that signal a slowdown in growth rates after puberty, early spayed/neutered dogs have longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrower chests and narrower skulls.

A study  by Dr. Kathy Linn and Dr. Felix Duerr showed that females spayed prior to seven month of age have a significantly greater tibial plateau angle.  This is because the tibial growth plate stays open longer then it is supposed to and the tibia continues to grow longer relative to the femur in “fixed” animals as opposed to those animals who are intact.  It is widely known and accepted that animals with a greater tibial plateau angle are at a much higher risk for ACL rupture.

Rob Foley, of South Bellmore Veterinary Group, examined ten years of patient data from his practice. “A summary of the data shows that while 2.1% of our spayed and neutered patients had to undergo knee surgery for an ACL rupture, only 0.3% of the intact animals had to have the surgery,” he says. This represents a seven fold increase for animals that have been spayed and neutered before the age of 6 months.

Other orthopedic abnormalities like osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia have also been correlated with early spay and neuter.  In addition, spayed and neutered animals tend to gain weight, are more likely to develop obesity, and have decreased lean muscle mass.  Obesity itself is a major risk factor for orthopedic abnormalities and injury.

WHY DO WE SPAY/NEUTER SO EARLY?

More and more veterinarians are recommending waiting until 18-24 months before spaying, or until the dog reaches full maturity (which can vary from breed to breed and individual to individual).

For most of us, spaying and neutering early is just something everyone knows. We hear it so often, from so many sources, that it becomes tradition to spay/neuter early. But few of us examine the reasons or evidence given.  It is commonly believed that neutering male dogs early can prevent prostate cancer. But a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan found that it has no affect on the rate of prostate cancer incidence. It is also believed, but not proven, that “fixing” a dog will solve behavioral problems. However, new research shows that this is unproven.

Many of the early spay/neuter messages aimed at the public come from activist groups. However, remember that their objective is ONLY to prevent litters while there are dogs needing homes. The thinking is that the only way to be sure to prevent a dog from reproducing is to spay/neuter before it can. This message serves their agenda, but I don’t see any discussion on their blogs, message boards or public service campaigns about the health hazards of pediatric spaying and neutering.

Many spay/rescue organizations spay and neuter as early as six weeks. However, they may be hampered by state laws that require shelter dogs to be spayed or neutered prior to being adopted. When someone adopts a puppy from a shelter, it’s not realistic to leave the pup at the shelter until it’s finished growing. One shelter solves the early spay/neuter problem with a higher adoption fee for intact puppies, a contractual obligation to spay/neuter and a portion of the adoption fee refunded with proof of spay/neuter when the puppy is older. And they do follow up.

Why do so many vets recommend early spay/neuter? Partly because of social messaging from spay/neuter activists, and partly because of two studies done in the ’60s and ’70s that concluded that spay/neuter solves behavioral problems. Those studies gained momentum and have been quoted so often that they’ve become part of the zeitgeist without anyone ever actually examining the data. The studies were not scientifically rigorous, because there were no control groups (groups of dogs that were intact to compare to the groups of dogs who were spayed/neutered). And the behavioral findings were not evaluated by canine behaviorists.

SHOULD I WAIT?

when should i spay neuter my dog age

The recent research suggests it’s best and healthiest for your dog to wait until he or she achieves maturity before you spay or neuter. Does this mean you should? It depends on how much you’re willing to take on in order to give your dog the implied health benefits of waiting. You can’t leave your dog in the back yard while no one is home. You can’t let your male dog off leash unless you’re in an enclosed area (or get distracted by conversation when you are). You have to be ready to intervene if he begins to exhibit sexual behavior with a female.

I’ve seen intact males at our dog park plenty of times, and they’ve all been relaxed, playful, well-mannered dogs. This attests to their training and supervision. It can be done, until it’s time to neuter.

For a female dog, waiting means providing the extra care needed if she goes through her first heat cycle before you spay. She’ll go into her first heat cycle at 6-12 months old (although if she’s not around intact males, she may not go into heat for two years or more). Once she’s had her first heat cycle, she’ll go into heat about every six months. Outdoor pens and back-yard fences don’t keep male dogs out when a female is in heat, so you’ll have to keep her primarily indoors, except for walks. Here’s a good article on how to care for a dog in heat.

Waiting is extra work, there’s no doubt. But it is possible. You have already taken on the responsibility for the health and safety of your dog. You already buy food, take your dog to the vet, provide fresh water, exercise him or her … these are thing you go out of your way to do for the health of your dog. If you’re not breeding your dog to keep exceptional genes and traits in the gene pool to improve the breed, it is best to spay. But choose for yourself the best age and time to do it. Remember, your dog relies on you — no one else — to make decisions that are best for him or her.

Thanks to AngryVet.com, CanineSports.com, HealthyPets.com, National Institutes of Health, Laura J. Sanborn

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Cool New Products

 

Rinse That Dog Off!

At $50 billion, the pet industry is huge, and growing. One of the fun things about being a part of it is discovering cool entrepreneurs who are finding ingenious ways to help us care for and have fun with our dogs. One of these people is Chris Crawford from Carlsbad, CA. An avid outdoorsman, Chris has invented the RinseKit, a portable, high-pressure mini-shower for washing off your stuff, your dog, your feet … anything, before getting into your car, tent or home.

How many times have you come back to the car from the dog park, lake, or a walk through the woods with your dog, only to look down in dismay at those muddy feet, that drenched fur, that smelly coat? I know I have. And what I’ve done is just bite the bullet. That’s life with dogs, right? You wait for the mud to dry and then take the car to a car wash with a vacuum. But what if you could quickly shower off the dog (or his feet at least) before letting him into the car?  

The RinseKit stores not only water, but water pressure. So when you squeeze the hose attachment, you actually have water pressure to spray off mud, leaves, sand … even ants.

Yes, ants.

I live in the land of fire ants and my big dumb 50-pound puppy stood (not stepped, STOOD) in an ant hill a month or two back. Her front paws were COVERED in biting ants. My little water bottle was pathetic, and with her fur, there was no brushing them off with our hands. Fortunately, we were at the lake, so my quick-thinking 7 year old snapped the leash on her and ran her down to stand in the lake. What if we hadn’t been right on the shore? I would have loved having this thing to get those ants off her quickly.

This bad boy can clean off whatever your dog tracks in. It’s so much better than trying to clean up with a dinky water bottle. That is, if you have any water left in it. And the little paw towels that you can buy at the pet supply store? Those are great when the mess isn’t very … messy. But I have tried using towels for mud, and maybe it’s me, but they just don’t work.

Having grown up in New England, I could see using it to get rid of those awful ice balls that form on dogs’ fur when they’ve been playing in the snow. You know, those days when it’s above freezing, but still cold enough for snow, and your dog is dying to go play in it. My long-haired Dachshund used to come back to the car with dozens — nay, hundreds — of ice balls in his coat. For some reason, ice balls take forever to melt. And when they do, they leave tons of water in your car. Wouldn’t you love to just spray them off, then quick-dry your dog’s legs and paws before hoisting him up into the car? He’s dry in minutes, his feet are clean, and he doesn’t have to spend the entire drive home sitting on what feels like four dozen quail eggs (not to mention the big ice balls that form between his toes).

What about those times when your dog steps in … well, you know. I’ve spent my fair share of time trying to dig it out of my dogs’ toes with whatever probe I could find, wiping it off with wet wipes or towels (then where do you put THOSE?), and generally cussing out people who don’t clean up after their dog. If I had a pressurized spray shower, I could blast the offending bits off my dog’s feet (or my own) and be on my way.

The RinseKit is catching on with campers, surfers, fishing enthusiasts, parents, and dog owners. A strong rinse, when ever you need it, is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, the orders are coming in faster than Chris can make them. So he’s gone to crowdfunding to ramp up the manufacture. The first 200 people to contribute $50 or more get a RinseKit later this year. The project ends July 15, so don’t delay.

Get more info at http://www.rinsekit.com or be a part of it by backing this project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/165845490/breakthrough-portable-shower-system

Disclosure: I have no connection with Chris Crawford or his company, have received no payment for this article, and only found out about the RinseKit a couple of weeks ago. I just think it’s neat, and I thought you would, too.

 
 

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PuppyFlix: for the Dog Video Junkie

PuppyFlix_LogoI just can’t resist a photo or video of a cute dog or puppy. I mean really, who can? Well, now there’s PuppyFlix, the great new website with nothing but great dog videos. This is so great, I may have to start packing a lunch so I can look at these during my lunch hour.

The site was developed after receiving a lot of positive feedback from fans on the company’s first website, KittyFlix. Soon after the dog-friendly team decided that they had to make PuppyFlix, the site became very popular. Here’s what some of the site’s visitors are saying:

“I have now looked through almost every slide show on the site and am in love! What could be better than looking through hilarious and cute pictures of dogs all day, while learning a little something about them?”

“This is a great page! It’s nice to see pictures of dogs with different animals makes me laugh and smile…THANK YOU”

boudin2“‘I love KittyFlix and am sooo glad you made PuppyFlix!”

“Our goal is to build a community by educating, entertaining, and connecting fans through articles, videos and pictures,” says PuppyFlix’s John Logue, who invites our blog readers to send in their dog videos (which you can do here.)  When your JOB is cute and funny dog videos, how do you pick a favorite? We asked John, and here’s the link he sent. Check it out: http://puppyflix.com/videos/beagle-pup-learns-to-howl/

After each video plays, the site serves up three more videos you might like (YouTube-style). They also put them into categories such as “Sleepy,” “Grumpy,” “Clumsy,” and others, so you can find more like the ones you love. Once you start watching and laughing and saying “Awwwww” and re-tweeting, it could be a while before you come up for air.

My favorite? This one.

Note: do not go to PuppyFlix while you’re browing ground beef. Just saying.

Visit http://www.PuppyFlix.com often, and get your daily dose of cute.

 
 

Best Dog Coupon Sites

Hey! Saving money and shopping for your dog, what could be better? Some of the best dog supplies coupon sites are big coupon machines, and some are lesser-known sites and blogs. Here’s a sampling of the best sites for dog products coupons that I’ve found, in no particular order.

Now THAT’s something to smile about!

  • Crittercoupons.com – A U.K. site, this big player offers pet coupons good in the USA as well. Coupons are divided up by type of pet, so it’s easy to clear out the distractions of cat and bird deals if you only have dogs. They’re very user-friendly; they give you the coupon code, the expiration date, and a link to the sponsoring company’s website so you can start shopping without having to create an account first. 
  • RetailMeNot.com – This site also breaks down coupons by type of pet. Plus, they also have information on how many of their followers have used the coupon successfully. I love this feature, but it’s so frustrating to find a coupon code and then not be able to get it to work.
  • CouponCabin.com – This site divides the coupon codes up so you can really zone in on what you’re looking for. Try Pet Supplies, Dog Food or Pet Toys.
  • Coupons.com – This site has mobile coupons (no printing – yay!), social sales and more. Coupons are free to use (no membership required) and once you click for the coupon code, they redirect you to the site so you can start shopping. They also include store loyalty program coupons, if you have a loyalty program card/membership. Plus (and this is only important if you’re a digital geek) they’ve got the best, most inviting design of all of the coupon sites. And they have a killer blog.
  • DoggyLoot.com – Okay, you do have to create an account with this one and fork over your email address, but if you do (and tell them how big your dogs are), they’ll send you emails with deals to fit your dogs. It’s a Groupon-style layout and concept. They tell you which deals are ending soon. And it’s all doggy stuff — no fish, fowl or feline coupons. Check the deals, though. One deal was for $12 (regularly $17). But I carry that product on my website and my ordinary, everyday price was $11.99 with the normal markup. There are tons of other offers that were incredible markdowns, but on these types of offers, it’s safer to shop around to make sure the “deal” is a deal.
  • Tjoos.com – These guys try the coupon codes to make sure they work. If you have a favorite retailers, you can find it alphabetically and see how many coupons they have. They have some of the better-known online retailers, plus a few smaller guys. I discovered a new store called PetMountain.com that I’d never seen before. Cool.

Coupon sites to avoid:

  • MyPetSavings.com – Most pages redirect to a request for your email address, or that you sign up for the RSS feed. Only one deal is shown above this persistent request. Not sure from the layout if it’s a blog or a regular coupon site. Wasn’t able to tell the difference between “My Pet Savings” and “Modern Pet Savings” or why those should be two different navigation tabs. Outdated home pages shows a graphic for an overstock sale from two months ago. Hmmmm … 
  • DogFoodCoupons.com – The left-hand rail is jam-packed with keywork-stuffed text that’s meaningless and distracting to shoppers (and doesn’t fool Google’s bots one bit). Coupons can be vaguely phrased. For example, one coupon said a certain brand of dog food was “on sale.” I clicked the link and found three coupons from the same store: $5 off, 10% off and On Sale. Unremarkable savings, junky layout and confusing navigation. Skip it.

Please note that not all pages or coupons may still be active by the time you read this list.

What are your favorite coupon sites? Give ’em a shout out (and share the love with other dog owners) in the comments below.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Cool New Products

 

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The Next Big Thing

Think about the cool new products that have taken the retail market by storm. Most of them have one thing in common: They were started by consumers just like you and me who saw a need and stepped in to develop a product to meet that need. They took a risk, they worked diligently on a solution, they tirelessly marketed the final product, and soon, momentum increased.

Just ask Marie Moody, founder of Stella & Chewy’s, or Pasha Cook, founder of All-Natural Pet Delivery, or Tabitha Washington, inventor of the Treatstik. These people and others have taken a rock-star idea and made it happen. And with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever before.

Websites like indiegogo.com allow people with great ideas to get funding for them. Sean Kelly, founder of Redogulous Labs, has a very cool idea for a dog collar that uses wireless technology (and a bunch of other cutting edge tech) to let your dog communicate with you during the day via your smartphone. You can track how long your dog sleeps (or barks at the window) while you’re at work, how much he chases the cat, how many calories he burns on his daily walks with you, and much more.

Love the idea? Contribute your feedback and — more important — your dollars here. Even $5 can help a great idea get off the ground.

Got a great idea of your own? Get started today, and remember, necessity is the mother of invention (and financing is the father)! If you like, tell us an idea that you think would make a great  product for dogs.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Cool New Products

 

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