Dog products. We’re passionate about them, and we’ve been writing about them, testing them and purchasing them for years. So, we’re really excited to bring back the Editors’ Choice awards that Dogster did for years (as Dog Fancy). With a trio of judges possessing more than 25 years of experience each, we’ve pawed and dug our way through more than 60 products in the categories of gear, toys, clothing, housewares, cleaning and tech to find the ones we believe are at the top of their game in originality, ease of use, attractiveness to both pet and human and usefulness. Here, in no particular order, are the winners.
Stumptown Jacket: The word “love” was thrown around by the judges when describing this dog jacket. Everyone was impressed with the design, durability, attractiveness, weight and the leash peephole for harnesses. It also includes a latch instead of a Velcro closure for a better fit. It’s water repellent, has a reflective trim, comes in two colors and six sizes. $64.95. Ruffwear; ruffwear.com
Restcyble Bed: The judges wagged about this sturdy dog bed that retains its shape and is made from recyclable materials — perfect for using in the house or outside on the porch. The remov- able, machine-washable, recycled micro-suede sleeping surface is soft and long-wearing with a built-in pillow topper. The foam is made from repurposed, post-manufac- turing closed cell foam. Comes in Cloudburst Gray or Huckleberry Blue. $99.95. Ruffwear; ruffwear.com
Impact Harness: The Impact Harness is built to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards created for child restraints. All the furry judges found the harness comfortable to wear, and their humans loved that it was crash tested and easily integrates into the cars’ seatbelt systems. Has four adjustment points and comes in S, M, L and XL. $84.99. Kurgo; kurgo.com
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect: A clever product that works great for feeding pets that need frequent meals, say our human judges. This automatic feeder works for both wet and dry food, has an LED guide to help you portion food correctly and removable parts for easy cleaning. Get the Hub ($62), so the feeder connects to the Sure Petcare app, where you can monitor when and how much your dog eats. $179.99. Sure Petcare; surepetcare.com
LickiMat Soother & LickiMat Buddy: “Easy to use,” “easy to clean,” “works great” are words the judges used to describe these two boredom busters. These mats promote calm behavior by distracting your pet during a stressful time. Just spread a tasty treat on them and let the repetitive licking soothe your dog, releasing calming endorphins. Freeze for cold treats on hot days. $6 to $10.99. Hyper Pet LLC.; hyper-pet.com
Baxter Dog Backpack: Our furry judges wore these backpacks hiking and at the beach. Easy to put on, good fit and right size were used to describe it, and one human found it nice to have her dog carry some of her own stuff. This durable saddlebag has eight adjustment points, ergonomic spine support and perfect balance. Also has a large handle on the back. Comes in three colors and two sizes: the Baxter and the Big Baxter. $57.99. Kurgo; kurgo.com
PupRug Faux Fur Orthopedic Dog Bed: All dogs loved it right away, agree the judges. It’s filled with
premium, long-lasting memory foam, and the soft faux fur cover is removable and washable. Has
a non-skid bottom. Comes in two styles — curve white and rectangle gray — and three sizes — S/M, L/XL and Giant. $119-$199. Paw.com; paw.com
Evercare Stickey Roller Pet Collection: “These sticky rollers work great — better than any other roller I have tried when it comes to removing pet hair,” says one judge. And, although the judges sat up and begged for the entire collection, their favorites were the Evercare Giant Extra Sticky T-Handle Roller (70 layer) and the Evercare Mega Extra Sticky Roller (25 layer). The Giant worked great on furniture, and the Mega’s roller with the long handle was perfect for rugs. The whole collection has extra sticky adhesive and each sheet is razorcut, so it’s easy to tear. Available at Target. $4.49/Giant and $12.99/ Mega. Evercare; evercare.cleanerhomeliving.com
Crazy Crew Toys: We tested both the Super Squeaking Deploraball and the Treat Dispensing Punky Ballster in this line of interactive and durable dog toys that roll, squeak, bounce and/or can be stuffed with goodies. Both received major tail wags from our judges — dogs and humans; the words “love them” and “tough” were used a lot. Available at amazon.com. $12.99/Punky Ballster and $6.99/Deploraball. Hyper Pet LLC; hyper-pet.com
Pet Driver’s License ID Tags: These customizable Pet ID tags look like real driver’s licenses. The collar tags are lightweight. The human judges thought they were fun and cute and great conversation starters about making sure your dog always has ID. Fill out the information and send in a photo, and the company sends you the license and three smaller versions for tags/keychains. Available for all U.S. states plus Canada. $19.95. MyPetDMV;mypetdmv.com
Car-Go Pop-Up Portable Kennel: Need comfortable, quick and safe containment in your home, car, hotel, RV or for waiting between dog events? You’ll love this popup kennel as much as the judges. It’s really easy to set up and take down. Just remove from the carrying case with its padded shoulder strap and give it a shake. Made to fit on the seats of most vehicles. Available in many sizes, shapes and a multitude of colors and prints. $110-$240. Sturdi Products Inc.; sturdiproducts.com
Everence Bracelet: What’s not to love about a handcrafted custom-beaded bracelet with semi-precious stones and sterling silver accents? And Everence takes it one step further — the bead is made from your pet’s DNA. Order the kit for your pet, and swab his mouth or order a kit to take DNA from your passed pet’s cremains. “I love the idea of carrying a little bit of my dog with me when I wear it,” says one judge. Customize the stones, bead colors and clasp styles. $129/one bead, $159/two beads and $199/three beads. Everence; everence.life
HPZ Pet Rover Prime Stroller & XL Stroller: Four paws up for these strollers. Great for daily use, plus they are wonderful for injured or senior dogs. Two of the judges had dogs with health issues and used the strollers so the dogs were still able to get outside for fresh air and mental stimulation. We loved the XL’s cup hold- er, expandable front and rear compart- ments, soft handles and how easy it is to put together. The Prime version has its own perk as a three-in-one product that also serves as a car seat and carrier. $196.86/XL and $209.86/Prime. HPZ; petroverusa.com
Petsafe Drinkwell 2-Gallon Pet Fountain: The judges loved how much fresh, flowing water the fountain held. All the dogs enjoyed it and, appar- ently, one of the cats, too! Another plus: There’s an adjustable flow control over the water stream where you can choose from nearly silent circulation on the lowest setting to a tranquil stream on the highest. $69.99. PetSafe; petsafe.com
Piddle Pads: Style, colors, usability, excellent, say our judges. Poured a whole glass
of water on it to see if it would go through. It didn’t. Washes perfectly. Great if you have a puppy, an older dog or just want to protect furniture from a little leakage. Eco-friendly, the soft microfleece has an absor- bent middle layer that wicks mois- ture. 29 x 29 inches in size. $14.95. Dr. Judy Morgan Naturally Healthy Pets; drjudymorgan.com
Klimb Dog Training Platform: “I love this for training, and the dogs love it, too,” says one of our judges. “They jump on it because they have so much fun getting trained.” This platform is crafted to be just large enough for a dog. To remain perched on it, a dog must have “quiet feet,” which requires a focused mind for effective training. It’s easy to put together and can be used to train a variety of things — just watch the video that walks you through it. $159.95. Blue-9 Pet Products; blue-9.com
Blaze Cross Dog Shoes: These are some protective dog shoes — made of water-resistant, tightly woven nylon mesh and breathable synthetic leather upper, plus a sole designed to mimic the structure of the dog’s pads. They have a great fit due to the double closure around the ankle. Judges found them well-made, easy to put on and perfect for hiking long distance in rugged terrain. Sizes XS to XL. $63.99/set of four. Kurgo; kurgo.com
Andis Cordless Nail Grinder: The Cordless Nail Grinder has six different speeds to take on your dog’s nail job, no matter the size. It runs for three hours on a single charge. Comfortable and easy to use, the judges like that it was cordless, not too loud and makes doing nails at home so much easier. $54.99. Andis Company; andis.com
Up Country Collars: Great colors, patterns and fit — all the judges agree that Up Country’s collars are something to bark out loud about. The judges tested the Funky Fish, Pink Madras and Evil Genius patterns. All ribbon collars come in a variety of lengths and in three widths. Stain and fray resistant; the collar ribbons are designed to last a lifetime. $23. Up Country; upcountryinc.com
Spina Organics All-Natural Grooming Products: While our human and furry judges enjoyed Spina Organics’ whole line of grooming products, these three in particular wowed. The Miracolo Oil Hot Spot Treatment works great, and the judges loved that it was organic. The Fur Detangler Leave-In Conditioner was amazing in how it left the fur so smooth and smelling great. The Daily Facial Cleanse really cleaned plus was easy to use. $17.50/9 ounce and $3/2.2 ounce for Daily Facial Cleanse; $16/9 ounce and $3/2.2 ounce for Fur Detangler Leave-In Conditioner; $25/1-ounce Miracolo Oil Hot Spot Treatment. Spina Organics; spinaorganics.com
Metro Balls: “Held up well with our chewer,” describes one of our human judges. “Tough with a good bounce … Holds up to his constant chomping,” says another. Made with nontoxic felt, these fun and bright dog balls contain no toxic gas. Size is 21⁄2 inches and available colors are pink, orange, black, seafoam and yellow. (Mini balls at 2 inches for smaller dogs are also available). $12.99/pack of three. Metro Paws; metropaws.com
Dog Med Laser: The only home-use certified Low Level Laser that can be used on dogs (and cats) suffering from osteoarthri- tis, hip and elbow dysplasia, spinal disk conditions and patellar luxation. This laser does not burn, does not generate heat and there are no risks to the eyes. “After reading and fol- lowing the directions carefully, the laser was easy to use and my dog seemed to really enjoy the soothing motion of the brush while using the laser,” says one of the judges. $499. Remedia Laser Systems Ltd.; dogmedlaser.com
Honorable mentions …
Two products we loved enough to give them a special mention.
Bergan by Coastal Backpack Style Carrier
Have you ever been on a long hike where your dog gets tired or perhaps he’s getting up in years and needs a little help? You’ve probably looked for a backpack just like this — with padded straps for comfortable carrying and mesh windows for your dog to look out and expandable pockets for all your pup’s stuff. Our judges liked it for its ease of portability and use, plus its soft, machine-washable base. Comes in one size and one color. $69.99. Coastal Pet Products, Inc.; coastalpet.com
The Pet Gazebo
Looking for something pretty different to a traditional crate or kennel solution? The portable Pet Gazebo can fit into a home, outdoor entertaining area or even go camping. It comes with a neutral Earth Taupe canopy (although five additional canopy styles are available) and four sizes (3, 4, 5 or 8 foot). The canopy is also available in a reversible weather-resistant canopy. Judges liked that it was sturdy, attractive, easy to use and tall enough to go in and clean. $129-$459. The Pet Gazebo; petgazebo.com
Meet This Year’s Editors’ Choice Judges
Jill Breitner, an animal advocate and dog body language expert/dog trainer, has been helping people help their dogs for over 40 years. The opportunity to test these products with her companions offered delight for her and for them. Their thrill couldn’t be contained. Enrichment abounded with each package. What fun!
Melissa L. Kauffman has worked in the pet world for more than 25 years in a variety of magazines and websites from Pet Product News, Aquarium Fish, Ferrets, Rabbits and Bird Talk to Catster and Dogster. Her dogs Justice and Tampa have been modeling for said magazines since they were puppies and are amazing, experienced pet-product testers. Also, let’s give a shout-out to Boston Terrier Boomer, Morkie Karma and Cockapoo Baby for lending a paw testing out products, too.
Audrey Pavia is a former managing editor of Dog Fancy magazine and former senior editor of the American Kennel Club Gazette. A member of Dog Writers Association of America, she has written hundreds of articles on dogs for a variety of publications and is the author of The Labrador Retriever Handbook (Barrons). Audrey lives in Norco, California, with her rescue dogs Candy and Mookie, who had a great time testing this year’s fun and innovative products.