Dr. Mahaney’s Best Pet Products of 2016
I’m always interested in new and ingenious products that can help better the quality of life of my canine and feline patients.
Such as why I look forward to writing an annual post on products which I’ve become aware in the past year that can enhance the health and wellbeing of pets (and often their owners as an extension of the betterment of their animal companion).
Here are my top pics for 2016.
NoBowl Feeding System
How do you feed your cat (from a bowl, plate, or other)? Do you know how cats should eat in order to stimulate both their appetites and their brains? When it comes down to it, feeding cats in the conventional/commonly accepted manner of ingesting food from a bowl or plate isn’t really the best manner to match their biological needs. Having your feline friend hunt for his food engages normal predatory behavior in his brain.
To best suit those needs in the domesticated comfort of your own home my Penn Vet alumnus, Dr. Liz Bales, created the NoBowl Feeding System. Dry cat food or treats go into NoBowl’s fabric-covered, plastic mice which are then hidden around one’s home for the cat to prey upon and yield a food reward when suitably rolled.
I’m a big fan of using Honest Kitchen’s Smittens cat treats in the NoBowl to motivate my feline patients with a tasty, 1.1 calorie, 100% fish protein snack. Learn more about out Dr. Bales in my interview with her for Pet360.
Amber Crown Collar
As a holistic veterinarian, I’m always seeking ways to reduce my patients’ exposure to chemicals and toxins from the environment, food, and even prescription medications that could have detrimental health effects.
One of the aspects of canine and feline health promotion on which we veterinarians commonly have to consult with our clients is parasite prevention. Veterinary prescribed topical and oral products are generally proven to be effective and safe when appropriately used, but they don’t always fall into alignment to the beliefs of owners not wanting to apply neurotoxins to their pets. Pests like fleas, ticks, heartworm, intestinal and skin parasites, and others are highly susceptible to such neurotoxins while mammals (cats, dogs, people, etc.) are not. Yet, the long-term effects of such products cause concern for some pet owners and veterinarians alike.
My client Nicole Ellis recently introduced me to a safe, all-natural product that her exceptionally trained dog Maggie (one of my favorite patients) has successfully used to deter fleas and ticks from biting her sensitive skin. The Amber Crown Collar is not only fashionable for your dog or cat but it’s 100% chemical-free, insecticide-free, and even safe for kittens, puppies, and pets that are pregnant or nursing.
I’m currently demoing Amber Crown Collars with some of my patients and look forward to seeing if they can be used to reduce the frequency of application of oral or topical antiparasitics.
As our pets age or incur illness or injury it’s common for their movement to suffer, which ultimately has negative effects their quality of life. Arthritis, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), surgery, degenerative neurologic conditions, cancer, and others all can contribute to dogs and cats not being able to stand and walk as well as during their healthier days. Additionally, our own homes are some of the greatest contributors to mobility problems, as owners fail to place traction-enhancing coverings over slippery floors, block off stairs with gaits, use stairs or ramps to aid access on and off elevated surfaces, etc.
When faced with mobility problems, owners often strive to enhance their pet’s traction on slippery surfaces with some form of foot covers. Although grip-augmenting booties, shoes, and socks help some pets, there can be negative correlations with such devices, such as having a tourniquet effect that restricts blood supply to the foot, permitting moisture to accumulate on the skin’s surface which causes irritation and promotes the growth of bacteria and yeast, and generally being awkward or uncomfortable.
Fortunately, another forward-thinking veterinarian, Dr. Julie Buzby, created ToeGrips, which are natural rubber latex composite rings that slide over a dog’s nail to provide traction on the underside of the nail where the ToeGrip touches the ground. I’ve seen many of my patients safely benefit from ToeGrips and have never witnessed a negative consequence of their use like I have with foot covers. ToeGrips are relatively simple to apply when appropriately sized and can even be put on by an owner having gentle technique and sufficient pet restraint.
For dogs having proprioceptive deficits, which means they are not as aware of where the limb is in space and are therefore unable to properly place the foot and commonly stand with the top side of the paw touching the ground or drag their toes, ToeGrips provide proprioceptive stimulus and can enhance their ability to stand and walk.
Way to go Dr. Buzby and thank you for creating a product that has helped so many of my patients!
Do you recall the health crisis involving pet jerky treats made in China which garnered so much attention in 2012? According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Report Regarding Jerky Pet Treats and Illnesses thousands of dogs and cats have been sickened and hundreds have died. Fast forward four years and despite the FDA’s extensive work there is still yet to be a confirmed cause connecting the treats to the ailments they claimed to have brought about. As a result, the same treats that sickened pets are still available for purchase despite the irreversible impact on the health of many pets and their families.
The ingredients in the jerky treats were simple and seemingly innocuous, including chicken or duck and natural flavors. No specific toxic mechanism could be isolated in these ingredients, so my recommendation for my patients is to only consume jerky treats that are made in the U.S. and lack natural flavors (in moderation, of course). This is where Honest Kitchen’s new line of Joyful Jerky fits in great as a stocking stuffer or anytime treat for your pet.
U.S. made Joyful Jerky contains human-grade beef and chicken and is naturally preserved with salt and dehydrated celery powder. So, not only are Joyful Jerky made with a higher-quality protein source than that included in most commercially available pet treats (i.e. human-grade vs. feed-grade…see Human Grade Pet Food) but they only contain two simple, non-processed, natural ingredients that facilitate food preservation.
I love giving Joyful Jerky samples to my clients to replace the seemingly endless options of commercially-available, faux-meat treats containing chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and various ingredients that don’t exist in nature and should never enter our pet’s mouths.
Anyone who handles pets or works in the realm of caring for our canine, feline, and companion animals of other species are aware that the potential to be injured by a bite is a realistic hazard that can have serious, irreversible, and even life-threatening consequences. Such is why it’s always crucial to read and understand a pet’s body language, approach with confidence, and use appropriate restraint with a variety of tools designed to safely facilitate restraint and minimize potential harm that can occur in the restraining process.
When needed, I’m an advocate of the use of muzzles for both my canine and feline patients. Besides protecting the veterinarian and assistant, a muzzle puts pressure on the top of the patient’s snout and neck behind the ears and can have a calming effect along with providing a hand hold for the assistant to better restrain for a blood draw, physical exam, or procedure aimed at ultimately helping the pet.
My veterinary radiologist associate at the Veterinary Cancer Group, Dr. Jarred Lyons, created the EZ Muzzle to help animal-care professionals quickly and safely attain a level of restraint. The EZ Muzzle “has a unique semi-rigid strap allows you to suspend the EZ Muzzle in front of the dog’s snout and maximize the distance between your hands and the dog’s mouth” and a novel “quick-release buckle allows for simple and easy placement and removal.”
I purchased three sizes of the EZ Muzzle to fit my small, medium, and large canine patients and look forward to incorporating their use into my practice.
So, those are the top picks from my veterinary perspective for the best pet products of 2016. Have you experienced any of the above products for your canine or feline companion and have something to share about your perspective? Feel free to do so in the comment section.