Editor’s Picks: The Best and Worst Things We Saw at SuperZoo 2014

We make our annual pilgrimage to one of the largest pet product expos in the world -- here be the highlights (and lowlights) from Las Vegas.

Janine Kahn  |  Aug 8th 2014

Ah, SuperZoo. Imagine the space of more than three American football fields brimming over with pet products, and you might be able to better appreciate how overwhelming it can be to stand on the floor of this expo with the task of finding the best things to highlight. More than 900 pet businesses attended this year’s spectacle, and Dogster’s Managing Editor Vicky Walker, Community Manager Lori Malm, and I were among the 22,987 expo visitors.

We started at the booth of our new parent company, I-5 Publishing, and it was a trip to see our name on their materials right next to our now-sister publication, Dog Fancy. We thought it was fitting to kick off the three-day affair by lounging with our booth babes a.k.a. the adoptable pups from Marley’s Mutts, who helped promote I-5’s latest pet pub, Rescue Me. From there, we made our way through the seemingly endless aisles, getting lost just as often as we found ourselves enthralled (or weirded out) by the items on display.

SuperZoo gives out its own “best of” awards at the end of the conference — top marks went to the iFetch, Dexas’ Snack-DuO and West Paw Design’s new Zogoflex treat toy — all great products, but here are the things that caught our attention:

Best Trend to Watch: Yak Treats

“Yak butter is the new coconut oil [of dog treats],” Lori remarked as we approached the Himalayan Dog Chew stand. A lot of products at the show had yak elements, but the most interesting was Yaky Charms, a bag of treats you microwave like popcorn for a minute and a half (and then cool before presenting to your dog). We only regret we didn’t snatch a sample to try at home.

Also interesting is the RuffRoots dog chew you see below, also found at the Himalayan Dog Chew booth. I don’t know if my dog will enjoy gnawing on wood, but some are using it as a rawhide alternative. Thoughts?

Best Tote with Attitude: Dog Is Good

For those of us who have four-pawed kids, Dog Is Good has some fabulous totes. The one below is my favorite, though this one is a close second. We’re longtime fans of the brand and its charitable nature, and also its mission: To deliver “Dogvergnügen,” which is “the joy you feel in the presence of Dog.”

Best “Wait, What?” Gimmick: Candy Bark by Innovation Pet

It’s chocolate! For dogs! Only it’s not chocolate, and for dogs. But it looks like chocolate, is packaged like chocolate … so perhaps it will suffice for pups who are unfortunately drawn to chocolate. (You know who you are!) This assumes they can be fooled by the taste of carob. We won’t be surprised if Innovation Pet‘s Candy Bark is a stocking stuffer favorite in December.

The Most “Vegas” Thing at the Conference: Elvis Outfit by Hollywood Poochie

We at Dogster HQ have so many mixed feelings about Hollywood Poochie. The brand is an offshoot of Shirley of Hollywood, because somebody thought that making lingerie for dogs was the next logical step after producing it for ladies since 1948. And yet, everything is just so well made down to the last stick on each corset harness (yep). You have to admire that kind of dedication.

We were roaming the floor looking for the most Vegas item we could find, and Hollywood Poochie won that distinction hands-down with this perfect little Elvis outfit:

Best Pet Product for a Cause: Lindy & Co.

This one really tugged at our heartstrings. There were many gourmet dog treat options on the SuperZoo floor, but only Lindy & Co. has the goal of making treat production a tool to help get homeless kids off the street. Lindy was created by Daybreak, an Ohio-based nonprofit group that provides shelter and support for homeless youth. You can support it by purchasing treats online.

Best Consistently Awesome Brand: Sleepypod

For years I’ve lamented the fact that my dog is too large for the original Sleepypod, and while that’s still the case, I still appreciate good design when I see it. This year, the brand debuted a smart new seatbelt system for dogs, and it showed off the Sleepypod in this year’s color, a pretty robin’s egg blue. (Which makes me even sadder that my dog can’t fit in it, but hey, I have this fancy new foster rabbit who can probably use one, right?)

The Most “Liz Acosta” Thing We Could Find

We love our Social Media Manager, Liz, and her unapologetic princess attitude about everything. Most things pink remind us of her, and we were sad this didn’t come in her size:

But enough of the best things, let’s move on to the eyebrow raisers.

The Most “Dog Toy or Sex Toy?!” Item: Kong Safestix

It’s amazing how many dog toys look like sex toys by accident (or some weirdo’s plan to make all things multifunctional). I mean, even the name on this one — the “Safestix” from Kong — makes you wonder. My own pup isn’t a big fan of plastic toys, so this won’t make it into our collection. Will you add it to yours?

The Worst: When Politics Invade Dog Toys

“How cute,” we said when we saw this booth littered with zombie dog chewies. Then we turned the corner and noticed they had a special version of the little guy holding the placard you see below. Just … really? We’ll take our dog toys sans the politics, whatever they may be, thanks! (We’re not sure who make these, but they do live online here if you liked them better than we did.)

The Worst Marketing Copy: Canine Cuisine

Um, let’s present this one without commentary:

More SuperZoo Coverage:

About the Author: Janine is your typical annoying Aries overachiever with nine human siblings and a soft spot for sighthounds. She is a tattoo collector, tea drinker, and unabashedly into marshmallows and cheesy musicals. Janine believes responsible breeders exist — her dog is from one. She runs the show as editor-in-chief of Dogster and Catster.

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