If the number of new travel-related pet products that debuted at the Global Pet Expo in San Diego last week is anything to go by, patent attorneys will be chasing their tails to get patents in place to prevent copycats from pawing at some very innovative ideas.
The pet industry calendar is filled with trade shows throughout the year — so many, in fact, that one might think everything that could be invented already has been. However, many industry insiders were amazed at the number of unique ideas that were showcased and won approval from both local and international buyers who were busy with their checkbooks throughout the three-day event.
While there were dozens of original products, it was astounding to note how many were specifically geared for pets on the go, a testament to the fact our pets are no longer stay-at-home creatures.
Global Positioning Systems are helping pet owners keep track of their pets, dramatically reducing the number that get lost or stray.
The Zoombak Dog Locator sends a text message or an e-mail if the pet leaves the radius of a specific location, allowing the owner to quickly plot the pet on a computer map or call the customer care center and instantly locate the runaway pooch.
“The locator is lightweight and waterproof and has a long life battery,” says Frank Cefalo the company’s business development manager. “Our current locator is ideal for pets that weigh more than 15 pounds, and we are working on technology for smaller dogs that will be suitable for cats too.”
Increasingly, people are more responsible about making sure their pets have current identification tags on their collars. But this information is useless if the owner can not be contacted. Pet owners often worry that no one will take care of their beloved animals if they are in an accident, hospitalized or worse.
“Pets have been known to die because no one has been alerted to their existence at the person’s home,” explains Michele Hayden president of Alapet Pet Alert Bracelet and Response System, a Tarzana, Calif., company that manufactures emergency pet alert bracelets.
“If you land up in hospital or even tragically die in an accident, our database holds the relevant information about whom to contact to take care of your pets, as well as detailing the dietary and medication needs of individual pets.”
As for mobility, the K-9 coil leash is designed to give your dog six feet of freedom from your side and doesn’t tangle around your legs when you try and bring him to heel.
“It’s inspired by a surf leash,” explains inventor and avid surfer Jeanna LaCross. “The coil also absorbs any shock reducing neck strain if your dog is pulling to get ahead of you.”
Whether you’re on a casual Sunday stroll or a sightseeing trip with your dog, the Alpha Pac is a harness system that allows humans to handle multiple animals — hands-free.
For pets that enjoy the great outdoors, the Kool Collar can be filled with ice or frozen gel packs to keep dogs cool in the hot sun.
“It’s designed to prevent heatstroke and other heat related issues,” explained inventor Chad Watson. It can be used recreationally and for search and rescue work too.”
A bone-shaped resealable water pouch that allows pets to drink at any location is another patented invention that will soon be available around the country. The uniquely designed pouch transforms into a bowl allowing pets of all sizes to drink with ease. The original water is vitamin enriched and there’s a canine sports drink in the works.
For dogs that love rolling in the sand and swimming, the Brush Buddy is an all-in-one double mitt and towel that has several different textures in the design to dry a wet coat, brush out sand, clean off muddy feet and give Fido a massage.
Disposable booties are ideal for travelers to keep muddy paws out of hotel rooms, while a special designer throw — complete with aluminum coating on one side — is an ideal spot for pets who lounge on hotel furniture or that special couch at home.
For pets on the go, a revolutionary new feeding system may be on the way to replacing kibble and cans of dog food. The patented WholeMeals system offers bowl-free eating for dogs. Developed by canine nutritionists and veterinarians, the “meal” is bone-shaped allowing dogs take time to savor the flavors instead of wolfing it down. The bones are available in various sizes, offering Jenny Craig-styled portion control and there is no messy or fatty residue to stain that brocade couch or silk rug.
And if you’re traveling but want to give your pets controlled access to outside areas of your home, the Catwalk and Dogwalk Pet Doors have taken remote-controlled garage door technology inside the home. A miniature remote control unit that fits onto the collar can be specially programmed to give individual pets different curfews to outside areas. The door slides horizontally upwards and stops if the pet is in its path.
The codes can be set to accommodate multiple pets. Currently, if Fido is allowed out to play all day and Fluffy isn’t, there’s nothing to stop a second pet from queuing behind and sneaking out. But the New Zealand based company is working on it!
Sandy Robins is an award-winning pet lifestyle writer. She is the recent recipient of the Humane Society of the United States' Pets for Life Award. Her work appears in many national and international publications.