Discovering the Best New Pet Products of 2014

Have you ever heard of SuperZoo? For those who work in the pet industry, it’s a must stop to find new foods, treats, toys, nutraceuticals (i.e., supplements), leashes, beds, and other pet products hitting the market. As a practicing veterinarian, I’m always intrigued with the latest and seemingly greatest options available to consumers.

I attended SuperZoo 2014 on behalf of The Honest Kitchen to help educate consumers about the health benefits I see in my canine and feline patients that eat whole-food diets instead of commercially-available, processed foods (kibble and many canned varieties).

SuperZoo is held in (Fabulous) Las Vegas, NV right in the middle of summer. Such made for an interesting time getting from my hotel to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center without sweating through my dress shirt. Once inside the vendor area, attendees are treated to seemingly countless aisles of products catering to the needs of our canine, feline, and more exotic-species companions.

In between my responsibilities to The Honest Kitchen I perused SuperZoo’s endless “neighborhoods,” each featuring a diverse array of offerings, including:

Having last been to SuperZoo in 2011, I was pleased to see that the general trend in foods and treats is more focused on containing ingredients that are whole-food based and minimally processed. Seemingly, the pet food and treat industry has come a long way in the past three years.

Here are the products that most intrigued my veterinary sensibilities:

ActivPhy — As the majority of my patients are geriatric dogs having some degree of the mobility compromise, I am often called into the patient-care fold to consult and provide pain relief. The goal is always to reduce reliance on prescription drugs potentially having mild to severe side effects, so the use of nutraceuticals is very common in my veterinary practice.

I was very intrigued by the ingredients in ActivPhy, especially the patented blue-green algae extract which has been scientifically proven to interfere with involvement of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme in the cascade of chemical transmission that promotes inflammation associated with arthritis pain.

MagicLatch — Safety is a topic I'm passionate about and which I often include as subject material in my petMD Daily Vet articles. MagicLatch is a magnetic device that allows the dog owner to easily attach a leash to a collar. This is great for senior citizens or for any person having challenge using their hands.

The K9 Fitvest Exercise Sport Vest and Cool Vest make your dog’s exercise sessions appropriately more challenging, or provide cooling during the warmer months. 

Since greater than 50 percent of pets in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), I'm interested in promoting canine and feline fitness whenever possible.

The Cool Vest seems to be an asset to performance dogs or those undergoing physical rehabilitation, as it serves to both cool the body in hot climates and provide a cooling effect to muscles post-workout.

Of course, the use of any product placed on a pet that has a “weighting-down” effect should always be overseen by the dog’s veterinarian to ensure that exercise is performed as safely as possible.

Cycle Dog Ecolast Toys — I am a big fan of recycling and repurposing materials for better use, so I must give accolades to pet-product companies that strive to do so. Ecolast Toys are “made from a blend of High Durability rubber and post-consumer recycled rubber from bicycle inner tubes. Cycle Dog Ecolast toys are the first molded pet toys made from post-consumer recycled materials. The toys are nontoxic, durable and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.”

The non-toxic aspect of the Ecolast Toys is especially appealing to me, as any dog or cat toy could be made with materials that could cause mild to severe illness if ingested by our canine or feline friends.

Dog Fashion Spa Essential Oils for Dog Relaxation — I'm always looking for alternative means by which dog owners can calm their anxious or stressed pooches instead of simply relying on sedatives or anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) drugs. So I was pleased to see the Essential Oils for Dog Relaxation and will try them out on Cardiff during our next flight.

Pet owners should just make sure this product is only used externally on dogs, and not at all on cats, as felines are more prone to toxicity from essential oils (especially Tea Tree Oil) owing to their proficiency with self-grooming.

That’s all for my report from SuperZoo 2014! I hope to return in 2015 to see more of the latest pet products to hit the market.

Dr. Mahaney, center, with his fellow representatives for Honest Kitchen

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Erik Lam / Shutterstock