My 5 Dog Owner Must-Haves (Also, Introducing: Dogster Reviews)
Editor's Note: Last year, we asked our readers if they wanted to review a doggie poop bag holder for Dogster, and the response was massive. A commenter named Ace's Mama stood out from the pack with her wit and charm, so we invited her to be our first ever reader reviewer. And now we've asked her (and her adorable Boston, Ace) to be our official Dogster Reviews columnist. We'll be talking about our favorite (and least favorite) pet products right here every Tuesday and we hope you'll come and hang out. -- Janine Kahn, EIC
Dogster readers, rejoice! Ace and I have been given the honor of writing regular product reviews for your education and enjoyment. You might recall our Christmas Eve review of the Fifth Paw, a dog poop holder. (We hope you received better gifts from Santa than our multitude of poop jokes.) The good people at Dogster were somehow impressed, and have invited us to unleash our discerning eyes and noses on the wide world of dog supplies and products. This article is the first in a series of weekly reviews.
Like many Internet-savvy dog lovers, I rely on online product reviews to help me choose the best products for Ace. It is important to me that they are objective, so be assured that the opinions expressed here are mine and Ace’s alone. Also, please leave your suggestions for future reviews in the comments below.
Now, here's our list of our current favorite dog products.
Ace is an active dog. Five days a week, she frolics at the beach while I’m chained inside a fluorescent-lit cubicle. I noticed her nylon collars took a beating in the salty, sandy environment, but even worse off were her dog tags. They quickly became corroded and illegible, which, in addition to being unattractive, compromised their very purpose of identifying Ace in the event she becomes lost.
Though I hesitated when I saw the price ($24.95), Silver Paw Pet Tags are absolutely worth the investment. They are made in the U.S.A. out of marine-grade stainless steel, and if you need to change your personal info they will re-engrave the tag for a small fee. Ace’s tag has held up beautifully. I recommend adding a tag silencer to your order.
My one criticism is that they have a limited number of designs available -- but according to the website, Silver Paw is coming out with additional designs soon!
When I decided to feed Ace a premium grain-free kibble, I wanted an equally high-quality storage container to keep her food fresh and accessible. I like the Vittles Vault for its simplicity, tight seal, and easy-to-clean design. They are made in the U.S.A. from food-grade plastic and come in a variety of sizes based on the approximate weight of kibble they hold.
The Vittles Vault 15 is a great size for me to lift comfortably on and off a shelf when it is full. The deep grooves in the sides make it even easier to lift. The best part is that Ace’s kibble stays as fresh as it was when I opened the bag.
I always enjoy supporting small companies who make fantastic products, but sometimes the big guys just get it right. This simple brush is fantastic for dogs like Ace who have short, smooth coats. While Ace fights me tooth and nail when I try to trim her nails or bathe, she views brushing as a treat.
The ZoomGroom is made of a rubber material similar to the famous KONG treat dispenser. The fat rubber bristles seem to remove hair through friction, rubbing the loose hairs out. I usually end up with enough hair to make a sweater.
The Gulpy is a pretty ingenious way to transport and supply water to your dog while out and about. A trough unfolds from the bottle, allowing you to squeeze water directly into the trough for your thirsty dog to lap up. It is a simple and convenient design, and it comes in 20- and 10-ounce sizes. The Gulpy is always a big hit at our favorite off-leash dog park or on urban hikes. We often end up with a crowd of dogs drinking from it all at once -– glad I bought the 20-ounce! The bottle is prone to leaking if you accidentally stow it upside-down, so I usually use the large clip on the side of the bottle to secure it to my bag.
Ace is hard on her toys: Fetch, tug, and chew, the squeakier the better. Though only 15 pounds and with barely any snout, she leaves a trail of stuffing in her wake. Out of all the toys she has dominated in nearly two years of having teeth, the Kyjen stuffed toys seemed to fare the best, often escaping total destruction with at least a limb or two intact.
Miraculously, this snake has survived Ace’s entire lifespan, including teething. While it lost its red felt tongue in an early scuffle, and one of its squeakers sounds more like the moan of a dying animal than the squeal of a wounded-but-alive animal, the snake perseveres. Recently we noticed a small hole near one of the squeakers, and I was genuinely surprised. I think its stuffing-less design makes such tears less of a problem because you can keep playing without worrying about the mess or choking hazard of all that fluff.
Now it's your turn, Dogster readers: What are your favorite things for dogs?
Also: What products would you like to see reviewed in this column? Any dog-related doohickey except food or treats is fair game.