an ever increasing number of pet products, deciding what is helpful and what
is excess can be a daunting task. Examining some basic pet needs along with
some unique products may help define which items to purchase first. Starting
with basics, a collar is usually a high priority item. For dogs, a standard
buckle or clip collar is usually adequate. However, dogs that pull frequently,
or dogs that are rambunctious and difficult to control may need a training
collar. A slip collar or a head collar can be effective choices. Prong collars
can be a useful training tool for large dogs. While they look harsh and extreme,
they are a safer choice than a choke chain because they pinch, but don’t
choke. Be careful if using a choke chain, improper use can injure your dog’s
throat and neck.
With cats, collars are a different story. For safety a cat should be able
to get out of their collar. Either a stretch collar or a release collar
is a good choice. This can be frustrating for owners of cats that don't
like to wear a collar, but it can be dangerous if a collar catches on something.
For cats that slip out of their collar there are alternative ways to provide
identification for your cat. Identification by microchip or tattoo may
be a better alternative.
There are also a number of options to consider when purchasing a food
or water a bowl; another basic pet item. For dogs in particular, while
many would be happy eating from a paper bag, bowls have added conveniences.
Ceramic crocks or stainless steel bowls, which come in many sizes, are
good choices because they are durable and easy to clean. A nice feature
for large dogs, older dogs, or dogs with hip or joint problems is an elevated
bowl. This helps reduce strain on the neck and back. Another feature that
dog owners often find helpful is a mat or skid guard on their bowl. This
can help reduce the mess of an overeager eater, a problem particularly
common with puppies. Some cats have ‘dish issues’ too. A frequent
cause is whiskers getting in the way; consequently some cats will tip their
dish over to keep their whiskers clean. A wider lower dish can be helpful
in this case. Cats may also have another issue with their water dish. It’s
not uncommon for a cat to not drink from its water dish in favor of a drink
from a puddle or the bathtub. Sometimes a ceramic dish will help, but other
times a cat may simply prefer puddle water. As long as they are getting
enough water it is okay.
Cat boxes are a common early purchase. A wide variety of styles are available.
Cat boxes now range from a simple plastic pan to an electric self-cleaning
litter box with sensors. While your choice may vary depending on your cat
and individual circumstance, a smart buy is covered litter box. This provides
a secure environment for the pet and will help reduce mess and odor. Other
pet suggestions will be detailed in future articles.