For information on some basic doggie ‘essential items’, please click on the right for Basic Products for Dogs. If you are contemplating having a dog, or are have just welcomed a new dog into your home, there’s also advice on avoiding distressing pitfalls on the On Buying A Puppy page, in the Advice section.
For ‘advanced users’, here’s a pick of some newer pet supplies products & ideas. There are thousands upon thousands of products out there, so the round up here has targeted a few new ideas for doggie wellbeing and saftey.
Safety Release Collars
Traditional collars are potentially dangerous – because they have a buckle, they will not undo if the collar becomes caught on something and cause strangulation injuries… New safety release design collars are finally available for dogs now, featuring buckles which ‘snap open’ if the collar is caught on anything. This design of collar is already a hit with cat owners. We think they’re probably a good idea because dogs may go missing – without you around, your dog could get its collar snapped on a wire fence, branch, etc – away from people who could rescue him or her.
Anti Choke Collars
Another traditional product is ‘choke chains’, which pressurise the dog’s neck they try to pull forward. Although a staple product for many years in pet supply stores, the products can sometimes cause health problems and dogs may cough, gag or, well, choke. The next generation of products to replace them are anti choke harnesses. These designs avoid pressurising the dog’s neck. The pressure from traditional choke chains may aggravate glaucoma. Smaller dogs are particularly prone to collapsed tracheas due to the pressure from traditional choke chains. The newer designs are more like harnesses, which fit around the front legs and avoid the neck altogether. We think this is a brilliant idea, providing the design should not exert any pressure onto the chest or airways.
Collars are also available which exert pressure on the nose instead of the neck. Manufacturers claim this is more effective than traditional choke collars, as well as being kinder and gentler to the dog.
Electronic collar devices
- Tracking collars
Use various technologies to send a signal from the dogs collar to a hand held device that homes in on the dog – should be ideal if the dog is lost – or has zoomed off on walkies. In the USA, The American Kennel Club (1) works in collaboration with the Positioning Animals Worldwide Company who makes the Spotlight GPS Pet Locator. There are a variety of other products to choose from, from cheaper devices that use radio frequencies but the range will be more limited so not as useful. Not surprisingly none of these products are cheap. We’ve seen them from $80 / £50 with a range of 400 feet / 122 metres, around $200-$250 plus $8-15 monthly service fees for the Spotlight device, or more for other GPS tracking systems. No doubt worth a go to try to buy peace of mind, but also all devices attached to collars will remain on the collar if using a safety snap-open collar. Nothing, as they say, is perfect.
- ‘Anti Bark’ collars
We do not think these are suitable for home use at all – and they are illegal in many Australian states. The ASPCA does not generally endorse their use and states the use of collars on young dogs can traumatise (2). Training is a more humane option. Persistent barking is a behavioural issue – resources from the ASPCA may help (3) and a good training expert.
Dog Teeth Cleaning
This should be done 1 – 2 times weekly and must use a soft toothbrush. Many stores sell dog rubber teethbrushes. Do not use human toothpaste. Do buy dog toothpaste - ask your vet for suitable brands. Dogs need specialised tooth paste to break down plaque. One other tip, from the ASPCA (4) is to use of piece of nylon tights (USA: pantyhose) stretched over your fingers – although we think for dogs who are less in favour of having their teeth brushed, a rubber toothbrush could be safer for your fingers? Whatever you use, use gentle circular motions, with the word gently key here.
‘Dental’ dog food/drink products
Claim to clean the dog’s teeth by using the action of dry foods rubbing against the teeth or as and additive for water. Should not be used a substitute for teeth cleaning. These products range from sticks and chews & water additives to complete diets. See ‘Useful Information’ for a link to list of products approved by the USA’s Vetinary Oral Health Council (5). Their ‘Seal of Approval Scheme’ is endorsed by the British Vetinary Dental Association (6) and the European Vetinary Dental Association (7).
(copyright Jenny Rollo)
Pooper-scooper dispensers for your belt
Around a while, they clip onto your belt and hold poop-scoop bags so that you can more or less deal with the operation hands free, without having to handle the doc lead in one hand whilst trying to grovel through your pockets with the other as people look on in the high street… Poop scoop bags now come in ‘antibacterial’ and you can also get packs of antibacterial wipes for you hands.
There are a million cute dog coats and ‘jumpers’ out there but we like the idea of fluorescent dog coats / vests. They act just like cyclists day-glo jackets – they make the dog visible for traffic and people. You can also buy battery powered lights that clip onto leads or you for walking in the dark. There are also collars that reflect light and/or have battery powered lights built in – and some come in the new safety release designs.
We just had to quickly mention these: did you know you can even buy a lifejacket for your dog these days? Brilliant safety idea for anyone taking to the water!
Dog car harnesses
Aim to stop the dog cavorting about whilst you’re trying to drive, prevent it from doing the classic hanging the head out of the window (not good in traffic) and act as a doggie-seat belt in accidents. The UK’s RAC make on and claim it lessens the chance of the dog hitting the windscreen or the driver/passengers in an accident. Some types of anti choke harnesses double up as car harnesses.
You can now get products for dogs (and other animals) that you give orally to calm them down – when travelling to the vets, during firework season, when moving home… There are homeopathic drops for oral administration & coats which use body pressure points to help calm anxious and frightened dogs.
The Association of British Vetinary Acupuncturists also lists stress-related conditions as one of those treatable by its members (8).
There is also a German Veterinary Acupuncture Society e.V. (9) and the Samenwerkende Nederlandse Vetinaire Acupncturisten for Dutch dog lovers (10). For the rest of Europe, The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society may be able to help (11).
In the USA, the American Academy of Vetinary Acupucnture website has a search facility to find a vetinary acupuncturist (12), or the American Holistic vetinary Medical Association may be able to help (13).
In Canada, there is the Association of Vetinary Acupuncurists of Canada (14).
Website links to all of these organisations is at the end of the page. (Please note, we do not have any agreement with / do not receive any payment to advertise any of these societies and also unfortuanely cannot give any reviews of their services, we simply provide their details for information and hope you find them useful!)
There are far too many products to list individually – so here’s just a taster of some of ideas you might like:
Anti-tangle sprays – for dogs with longer hairs – spray before grooming
Anti-shedding shampoos – to minimise moulting & keep the coat healthy
Tick ‘pickers’ – plastic tools to remove ticks. Why? Because ticks bury their jaws into skin and then ‘lock on’, remaining in place to suck the animals blood. Simply taking hold of a tick and ppulling it out is a no no – parts of the tics jaws and head can remain embedded in the skin, leading to nasty infections. The pickers aim to safely remove all of the tick, after which the area should be cleaned with disinfection. Tics shouldn’t be left to ‘drop off naturally ‘ – they carry bacteria and can therefore cause infections. If you can’t handle the gross factor, take your dog to the vet and have them do it while you look away. Your vet can also sell you tic repellent spray which you can use to prevent them.
Tea tree cream – help soothe itchy skin conditions (if you vet gives it the thumbs up)
Posted by Norma De Bloom
Photo Credits – please note these are copyright but you can contact the artists using the links:
Dog in anti choke harness http://www.sxc.hu/profile/clix Saftey release collars http://www.sxc.hu/profile/verzerk Old style colllar on fence http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bethan No founling – (copyright Jenny Rollo) http://www.sxc.hu/profile/buzzybee Dog swimming with lifejacket http://www.sxc.hu/profile/superelvis
1. American Kennel Club. Spotlight Is Here. [online] American Kennel Club.
2. ASPCA. Bark Collars. [online]. ASPCA.
3. ASPCA. Barking. [online]. ASPCA.
4. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. General Dog Care. [online]. ASPCA.
5. Vetinary Oral Health Council. Products Currently Awarded the VOHC Seal. [online] VOHC.
6. British Vetinary Dental Association. Association.
7. European Vetinary Dental Association
8. Association of British Vetinary Acupuncturists. Treatable conditions. [online]. ABVA.
9. German Veterinary Acupuncture Society e.V. (GERVAS)
10. Samenwerkende Nederlandse Vetinaire Acupncturisten
11. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.
12. American Holistic Vetinary Medical Association
13. American Academy of Vetinary Acupucnture
14. Association of Vetinary Acupuncurists of Canada
If you are contemplating having a cat, or are a relatively new owner, there is a section just for you with Basic Cat Products. Click on it on the right hand side.
For ‘advanced users’, here’s a few quick considerations on some of the latest gadgets and gizmos:
Cat Collars – new snap opens designs
Although still a everyday product in pet supply stores, cat care organisations (1) advise traditional collars can be dangerous. Collars featuring elastic straps can stretch and move to under the cat’s ‘armpit’ or around the jaw, causing injury. New safety release designs are available – plastic ‘snap open’ fastenings that do just that if the collar becomes caught on anything. Bells and tags on collars are also not a great idea – they can become caught on objects, or the cat can get its claws stuck in them. You can now buy collars that have your contact details printed into the collar, and any instructions (e.g. “Special Diet Do Not Feed”, etc). All collars must be free of sharp edges, anything sharp that could becomes dislodged, with good quality stitching.
Synthetic Feline Pheromones
We have to admit it, initially, sounds like a load of old marketing – pheromones bring to mind dodgy ‘perfumes’ designed to turn us all into ‘love gods’ & ‘goddesses’.- but your local vet may indeed recommend one of these products!
Synthetic Feline Pheromone diffusers: these look more like a ‘plug in’ style air freshener. The diffused liquid should be odourless & undetectable to all except Monsieur or Madame Moggie. It’s designed to mimic naturally occurring facial pheromones, the chemical ‘scents’ cats use to denote their territory with. The idea is to help your kitty relax in now very familiar-feeling surroundings. Cats, believe it or not, can suffer from stress in some situations – in a multi-cat household, when travelling in a carrier box, when moving into a new home or even if you’re moving furniture around redecorating (basic motto: familiar is good, unfamiliar not so good).
Synthetic Feline Pheromone sprays: again, not so much ‘Eau De Tom Cat’ as ‘Oh ok, my house is cool now’. Can be used to spray furniture aiming to deter urine marking, scratching; to make travelling more comfortable and to ‘anoint’ the floor of a cattery or friend’s house that kitty will be staying in while you are on holidays.
[We personally rate these products, as our cat clearly becomes more relaxed when the diffuser device is plugged in. When we first tried it, the effect was fairly comical. Within 3 days, as our cat went from “Oh my gosh, new house, quick, hide under the sofa” to lying helpfully in the bedroom doorway, stretched out as though on a beach in a nice Hawaiian shirt and aviator shades].
Synthetic Feline Pheromone collars – claim to help keep cats calm but check out the collar overall design carefully – the good news is, we have seen these for sale online with saftey release designs. Some brands also claim to have been clinically proven to calm behaviour, like the sprays and diffusers.
The Feline Advisory Bureau advises brushing longhaired cats daily and shorthaireds once a week. For longhaired cats, its vital to avoid tangled fur become too matted – as this means a trip to the vet to have the fur removed. It may also help ‘shedding’, where you’ll find your home covered in long hairs as the cat sheds old hair! We also suggest upgrading to a powerful vacuum for your home to maintain good hygiene and from experience of being temporarily knee deep in cat hair when our old vacuum couldn’t cope and our kitty was having none of teh dreaded brushie, not even the nice softie one wiv added treats. (That’s what happens if you don’t get them used to it while they’re young kittys, we’re guessing – brush-o-phobia rears its head in later life ?) Check back soon for a whole section of the progress on that one!
There seems to have been an explosion in cat toys since we were young cat peeps.
- Boingy string toys – feature a ‘wand’ for you to hold, a length of elastic and something for the cat to chase. Get one with soft elastic that won’t snap back and hurt your kitty, and watch out for small bits that kitty could pose a choking risk – cats may destroy their ‘catch’ over time. [We know a happy cat who regularly trashes his toys].
- Catnip toys – (Nepeta cataria) herb contains aromatic oil nepetalactone which cats react to for several minutes – often looking like they’re in cat heaven, rolling blissfully around.
- Not all cats respond, some seem to be genetically predisposed immune to effects
- Some cats may exhibit aggressive behaviour = not a good toy for them (2)
- Cat Valerian toys – pieces of dried root of this herb act as a ‘nervine’ for cats and may help cats to relax. Now marketed often alongside more traditional catnip toys.
- Cat Tunnels – fabric tubes held open by rings, which make excellent places for cats to hide in, ‘hunt’ the boing string toys in, hang out in and, um, roll around in. They come in crinkly, plush, felt, with or without mobiles, with or without a hole to ‘hunt’ through, hidden ‘rustling’ foils…
Various battery powered designs: generally featuring moving string and/or something for kitty to catch. Check for saftey, and do not leave unattended – could be popular but not a ‘kitty babysitter’!
Wind-up or battery powered ‘mousies’: again good fun but beware of chewing (never leave unattended) – or anywhere you can trip over, especialy first thing in the morning (from our experience…)
- Cat gyms – usually multi-level and covered in carpet fabric or similar, can feature sisal (rope sometimes used in cat scratching posts). Aim to encourage exercise, play and possibly non-destructive scratching. Literally hundreds of designs out there.
- Laser toys – you hold and move it around to spin a laser light around for kitties to chase. Most products carry warnings to not shine directly in the eyes as this can cause permanent damage. Hmm.
One top tip:
Don’t leave your cat unattended with anything with a string on it in case a playful cat becomes painfully/dangerously tangled up in it while you’re out and can’t rescue them. Cat proof your home to avoid anything similarly dangly. While this may not apply to all cats, probably best to take no chances!
Now in a mind boggling array of designs – cat sofas, cat ‘sleeping bag’ style, triangular foam designs… Keep clean by vacuuming and washing to guard against parasites. One way to thin about it is you would always want a clean bed yourself, his or her cat bed should also always be kept clean.
IMPORTANT: yep, you guessed it – this is the bit where we respectfully advise:
No information here can ever be a substitute for vetinary advice – all animal health and living needs issues should be taken to the vet. We regret we therefore cannot answer any individual queries on cat care.
Posted by Joe De Bloom
White cat http://www.sxc.hu/profile/cynthiab Rolling happy cat! http://www.sxc.hu/profile/gabrielsya Kitten with orange mousie http://www.sxc.hu/profile/pascal79
1. Feline Advisory Bureau. Cats and Collars. [online] Feline Advisory Bureau.
2. Feline Advisory Bureau. What Is Catnip? [online] Feline Advisory Bureau
Rabbits are an ever popular pet, especially with parents. Here’s some ideas for rabbit products, with a special section for newer owners at the end (and some useful websites for care information).
VERY IMPORTANT: This article is for general educational purposes only – NO information here can ever be used a substitute for professional vetinary advice! PLEASE ASK YOUR VET FOR ABOUT YOUR RABBIT’S HEALTHCARE AND LIVING NEEDS. We therefore respectfully advise we are unable to answer any questions on animal care.
Within the rabbit’s home, you can place mini rabbit ‘houses’ made of wood or plastic, to give them somewhere that feels secure to sleep in. Take care to make sure it’s big enough – many products are sold for ‘small animals’ – with rabbits, obviously at the larger end of the scale.
Anti flystrike products
Flystrike is a horrible condition where summer time flies lay eggs around the rabbits bottom, which hatch in hours into maggots. The maggots then feed by literally eating into the skin on the poor rabbit and release disease causing toxins. Flystrike is a particular problem for rabbits which needs immediate vetinary attention, as afflicted rabbits can become very ill and even die.
Disinfectant cleaning sprays: Specially designed rabbit-safe sprays are available for when you’re doing the weekly hutch/house cleaning. These aim to prevent bacterial & viral infections and for rabbits, check they also guard against flystrike.
Fly repellants : Hang a fly strip near the hutch and use a pet-safe fly repellent spray. Ask your vet to recommend one of the anti flystrike products for the rabbit – there are natural oil products, and chemical based products which claim to protect the rabbits bottom area against the flies.
You can now buy many toys – aim to keep your rabbit’s mind stimulated and his teeth in good shape. There are tiny rabbit ‘tents’, connecting tunnels, and bunny beds a little bit like mini-hooded-dog beds for them to play in. Lots of toys feature chewing, which is good for the rabbit, as they need to gnaw down their teeth to avoid severe dental problems. Some gnawing toys have spaces you can hide tasty rabbit treats in, again to keep them mentally stimulated. Tunnels made of plastic or wood ‘logs’ can also help with boredom and give them somewhere to behave more naturally in. Check the wood ones are suitable for chewing, as this potential double feature is too good to miss if you’re going to spend all that money on the first place.
Thinking about getting a rabbit or just got one? Essential starter items
If you’re thinking about getting a rabbit, there are some great fact sheets on keeping rabbits that we really advise you check out:-
The UK’s RSPCA on rabbit care at http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=RabbitsPetCare
The USA’s ASPCA on rabbit care at:
Basic items that need to be organised for rabbit care include:
- A good vet for vaccinations, neutering, advice and all healthcare needs
- A carrier for trips to the vet, moving home, etc.
- A nice, BIG weatherproof home off the ground, out of direct sunlight – and it should be indoors, according to the ASPCA. Make sure it’s BIG – rabbits require space and beware of smaller houses or hutches sold in some pets stores. It’s probably going to be costly, but hey, that’s rabbits for you!
- Each bunny needs a separate sleeping space
- Clean wood shavings on the floor
- Soft, special hay sold for small animal hay (so it doesn’t poke delicate eyes or otherwise hurt the rabbit)
- A drip-feed water bottle or metal or ceramic water bowl – they need to be able to drink fresh clean water anytime
- Some where grassy and enclosed to run every day (a ‘rabbit run’). We’re talking metres here, not a square foot or so that they will fit into – they really need to be able to exercise. Sink it into the ground, as they will burrow their way out otherwise! Needs to also be safe from other animals or birds getting in to eat the rabbit.
- Daily food – see factsheets for suitable foods
- A ‘gnawing block’ for healthy teeth – this one you can’t skip, their teeth carry own growing otherwise
- A digging box to encourage natural behaviour
- A purpose designed rabbit brush fore long haired rabbits, to brush them daily
- ‘Helpers’ for you – to look after the rabbit if you are on holiday or can’t take care of him or her for any other reason
- Humans or other rabbits to be with every day – they are not solitary animals and need company
The RSPCA also rehomes small animals to suitable homes, having given them vetinary checks to ensure they’re happy and healthy – a good way to welcome a furry friend to your home.
Posted by Norma & Joe De Bloom
Top rabbit (named Snuffle) http://www.sxc.hu/profile/marnixbras Fly http://www.sxc.hu/profile/juliajorn