Every year we come across a few dog-related items that make an immediate and/or lasting impact on our dogs or our dog-care regimen, and we feature them here. This year, we also asked our readers, via the Whole Dog Journal Facebook page, for their nominations for “Gear of the Year.” Some of the items here are their selections.
In our March 2011 issue, we introduced you to a very small sampling of some of the neat “assistive equipment” options that are available to help our canine companions who have limited mobility or other physical issues. We received such a great response that we thought we’d share with you a few more finds that can help make life easier for you and your dog, particularly if he or she is aging or has orthopedic or neurologic issues. Remember: the products mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous companies making innovative assistive products; what we’re hoping to do here is to get you thinking about some of the possibilities!
Do you have a dog recovering from orthopedic or neurologic surgery, one who has mobility issues, or a senior dog who has arthritis? If so, at some point, you have probably wished you could do something anything! to help make your dog's life (and your own) a little easier. I asked two veterinarians who specialize in canine rehabilitation to share some of their top picks for canine assistive/rehabilitative equipment. Laurie McCauley, DVM, CCRT, is founder and medical director of TOPS Veterinary Rehabilitation in Grayslake, Illinois, and is considered one of the pioneers in the field of veterinary rehabilitation. Evelyn Orenbuch, DVM, CAVCA, CCRT, recently opened Georgia Veterinary Rehabilitation, Fitness and Pain Management in Marietta, Georgia, and has focused on veterinary rehab medicine since 2003.
There are some things every caring, responsible dog owner needs. Whether you are a longtime dog owner, have just acquired your first canine companion, or are still in the planning process to adopt a dog, it’s important that you have the basic tools that make life with a canine family member run smoothly. Some seem obvious – a collar, leash, food dish – but even those aren’t always as simple as they appear. Here’s a comprehensive look at the right stuff to have on hand to help your dog-keeping go smoothly.
Are the classic plastic cones really all that bad? It depends on which dog you ask. Some dogs seem to accept the weight of the heavy plastic, the restricted visibility imposed by the opaque material, the need for increased clearances around the house, and even being gouged by the thick plastic tabs that are supposed to be belted by the dog's collar at the base of the cone. Today there are a number of alternatives to the classic Elizabethan collars to prevent a dog from licking a wound, aggravating a hot spot, tearing out his surgical stitches, or removing a bandage. The alternatives offer a dog greater comfort, better mobility, and improved visibility.
Whole Dog Journal frequently brings you reviews of products we have tested on real dogs and with real dog lovers. We’re always looking for new and particularly useful products to recommend to our readers (and to use for our own dogs!). We limit our attention to products that provide an actual service, that help owners keep their dogs healthy, happy, safe, and well-trained. As 2010 begins, here's looking forward to some of the year’s best bets.
Whole Dog Journal reviews a useful tick-removal tool, Premier’s Spill-Less Smart Bowl, Squeaker Kong, an awesome owners’ guide to veterinary care, and a rubber stick. Tick-removal tools are in constant use in our homes, because we spend a lot of time with our dogs in the woods. At last! An accurate, thorough canine health book by a vet who promotes the best of conventional veterinary medicine and is aware of its shortfalls, too. Dr. Nancy Kay, a veterinarian who practices in Sonoma County, California, explains the basics of responsible healthcare and what dog owners should know. Premier’s Spill-Less Smart Bowl isn’t spill-proof, but this product doesn’t need to be wrestled apart – it’s just one piece.
Walking with a dog in the dark can present a number of challenges for many dog owners. You may not be able to see well in the dark; this can make you take a hard step off a curb or trip on a rise in the sidewalk. Finding your dog's poop at night (so you can pick it up and dispose of it properly) is also a problem. Although definitely in the minority, some people walk their dogs off-leash at night. I've met a number of people at night who were walking off-leash dogs on the wide trail that tops the river levee that parallels my town's main street. If I wasn't a dog person, I would probably be unnerved by the fast approach of a strange dog in the dark. And as it is, if the dogs were mine, I'd be worried that one of them would wander off or get lost if I couldn't keep sight of them.
Well, I’ll start off by admitting that there is no single perfect dog coat. Or, I should say, if there is a perfect coat, I haven’t seen it. Fortunately, there are plenty of very good coats that can suit most of any dog owner’s selection criteria. We actually started our quest by looking for two different coat types: a super-warm coat, and a garment that would keep a dog dry in the hardest rainfall. We tried (but didn't think it would be possible) to find a coat that provided extraordinary insulation and the ability to keep a dog dry (and we were right; we did not find such a coat). Although we like all the coats that we feature in the following pages, we appreciate them for different reasons. Your dog and his special needs will have to inform your choice, based on the features of each coat. Each is ideally suited for a different climate, purpose, and type of dog.
There are millions of pet products being marketed to dog owners for direct use on, in, or around their dogs and puppies: foods, treats, supplements, toys, training tools, garments, medical supplies, grooming tools and unguents, beds, fences, and crates.
What’s the most environmentally responsible thing to do about dog poop? Home composting systems solve the problem at home; we reviewed one in June 2000, and still use it today. But when you’re out in the world with your dog, you have to use something to pick it up and carry it to a trash receptacle. (Of course, carrying the poop to a composting facility, rather than a trash can, is the most environmentally friendly thing to do; however, few people are motivated enough to do this.)
Our favorite dog care products from this year's reviews.