It’s time to attack obesity again. This time with stuff. Because God knows we love pet stuff. So why relegate its acquisition it to the holiday gifting season? Yesthere’s always an excuse to shop and this time you’ve even got an excuse.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) in its never ending quest to whittle down our pets’ waistlineshas issued a press release on the merits of a few choice products that might just help jump-start your dog or cat’s weight loss regimen.
It might seem a little hokey to push products in the face of fatbut heckI’ll go for the goofiest kind of camp if it’ll get those pounds off. And stuff is just so attention gettingyou know?
Here’s the list detailing APOP's Top Pet Fitness and Weight Loss Products of 2009 (compiled by APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward and a team of pet weight loss "experts"):
"Easy Walk Harness and Leash – ECO
Earth-friendlyno-pull walking harness for your dog. Made of 100% recycled milk cartons and all of the packaging is recycled. “This is quite simply the best and most earth-friendly exercise product we’ve run across this year,” comments Gina Tomanregistered veterinary technician and one of the testers.
“For owners of pudgy felines who think they can’t take their cat for a walkthere’s a harness for you,” says Ward. With its innovativeeasy-to-use and secure designthe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Leash is a must for any overweight cat who needs exercise.
Every dog needs a go-toeveryday harness. Some harness systems require a book of instructions and an engineering degree—not this one. “Sporn has one of the easiest and most comfortable harnesses we’ve tested. On and off in a matter of secondsour users commented that this was the one harness they could take with them anywhere (and they did),” remarks Ward.
It’s pretty hard to improve on the standard dog leash: handleropeand clip. The secret to a better leash is the handle. EzyDog has basically taken a mini water-ski handle and attached it to a dog leash that results in a surprisingly comfortable walking leash. They also added a shock-absorbing stretch material that eases the arm and shoulder strain of abrupt pulls. “Even our most stubborn puller failed to cause dreaded “hand pinch” common with traditional leashes. Walkers with arthritis or other painful hand conditions will appreciate the EzyDog’s unparalleled cushion and comfort,” comments Ward.
The Dog Tornado is the perfect solution to entertaining your dog (or cat). This interactive food game has four layers with rotating discsand three of these layers have compartments for hiding dog snacks. When your dog rotates a layershe reveals a hidden snack. The game can be made more or less challenging by altering the layers. “The Dog Tornado provides a workout for the brain as well as a way for improving physical coordination. I recommend hiding sliced veggies for a healthy play period,” advises Toman.
“Many dogs love to play Frisbee. Trouble isafter a few outingsthe disc is trashed,” muses Ward. Dura Doggie Disc is an incredibly toughchew-resistant flying disc that doubles as a water bowl (how cool!). No more shredded palms or cut lips from frayed Frisbees.
“As a guythe thought of using anything other than my rocket arm to play fetch with seemed insulting,” laments Ward. “Howeverafter injuring my elbow and being unable to throw for several weeksI fell in love with my ChuckIt! Ball Launcher. In factmy dog loved it so much that even when I resumed my mere mortal ball tossing to hershe insisted on the ChuckIt.” Menwomenand children everywhere will find their play sessions more beneficial when using this easy-to-use and inexpensive ball launcher. Menprepare to be humbled. Dogsprepare to be thrilled.
“We had a hard time finding an interactive exercise toy that a majority of cats liked. This laser toy comes the closest to pleasing a wide variety of kitties,” states Toman. It couldn’t be easier to use: set upturn onand watch the fun! The FroliCat shines a laser dot in a seemingly random pattern your cat will chaseleapand pounce on for the 15 minute cycle. “If your cat chases the FroliCat twice a day for 15 minutesit will be well on its way to better health,” adds Dr. Ward.
Dogs love anything that makes noise. Dogtronics has designed a line of interactivetouch-activated toys our testers found irresistible. “Our favorite noisy toy was the Rumble Bumps. The test dogs liked the fact that the toy made a variety of sounds when it was batted and chewed and their owners appreciated the silence when it was still. We found it to be a great toy to keep your puppy engaged while home alone,” shares Toman.
“While this bowl was marketed as an aid to slow eatingwe found another use: less feeding guilt,” states Dr. Ward. The bowl has three columns in the middle that magically make that half-cup of diet food appear larger. It also takes a dog a little longer to eatthereby delaying any guilt. “We found it to be a great crutch for pet owners who feel the need to fill the bowl.”
Perhaps the most-used product is also the messiest. “We observed dogs that are what we term “enthusiastic eaters. These dogs tend to spill their food on the floorleading to owners adding additional food into the bowlthereby promoting weight gain,” explains Toman. The Neater Feeder solves most of your pet’s food and water messes with an innovative edge and drainage system. Our testers liked the different sizes and the ease of cleaning. Your floors will love the no-spill design.
“Quite simplythis product wowed everyone,” reports Ward. “While not technically a pet weight loss productthe Fitbit tracks your calories burnedsteps takendistance traveledand sleep quality. This is important because you can accurately measure how far you’ve walked your dog and at the same time you’re getting in better shape.” The tiny Fitbit uses the same type of controller used in Nintendo’s Wii system and fits easily into a pocket or on a belt or waistband. Your data is wirelessly transmitted to your computer where you can view your exercise and sleep patterns. For less than a hundred bucksthis is one weight loss tool every pet owner should have.
“We liked this product because it was smalleasy-to-useinexpensiveand a life-saving idea,” says Toman. During the cooler monthswe’re often forced to walk our dogs when it’s dark outside. Everyone’s key concern is visibility. Ruff Wear has created a tiny LED light that can be seen up to a half mile away. “Testers liked the three settingscontinuousslowand fast flashand that it was easy to clip on or off using the split ring or built-in clip.”
For the dog that has everything—except a good daily walk—you can’t beat a treadmill. “With straightforward controls and quiet operationthe DogTread from PetZen is one of our favorite dog treadmills,” reports Ward. For busy people or individuals with physical limitationsa dog treadmill is an excellent alternative to outdoor walking.
“Dog owners always ask me what the best treat is for pets. Crunchy vegetables are my favorite,” answers Ward. For owners desiring a commercial dog treatit’s hard to find a tasty dog treat with less than 1 calorie per piecebut somehow Liver Biscotti has done just that. “Dog owners need to remember it’s not the size of the reward that matters to dogs; getting a reward is what’s important,”advises Ward.
“Walking your dog is fun; handling your dog’s unexpected bathroom run is not,” muses Dr. Ward. Fortunatelythere’s an easier way to pick up where your dog left offthe Port-A-Poo. With two sizes to fit either on a standard or retractable leashthe Port-A-Poo is a hands-off solution to one of life’s messier problems.
“Okwe were skeptical when we first saw this dog walking belt (for people) from Down Under. I meando you really need it? Was this an Aussie gag?” jokes Ward. “Howeverafter just a few strollswe couldn’t walk our dog without it.” Its two quick-dispenser pockets for poop bags and hand wipes were enough but the Walkie also holds an mp3 playercell phonetreatswalletkeys and other small essentials. “The ability to stylishly hold all our stuff without dragging our walking shorts down was worth the price alone,” adds Ward. They also come in matching dog collar styles for all you fashionistas.
Surewe know there are tons of dog reflective vests available. This one caught our eye because it easily adjusted to a variety of dog shapesstayed in placewas lightweight enough for year-round wearand inexpensive. We also liked the fact that there was an opening on the top that allowed the use of certain walking harnesses. It’s true your dog may look like a road-side worker but because the VizVest uses the same materials used in human safety vests it just may save both your lives."
My take? More cat products next yearPLEASE! For my partI think I’ll invest in the Neater Feeder and the Brake Fast bowls. God knows Slumdog needs 'em with his wolfish feeding habits. How about you?