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Whether you think so or not, a lot happened while we were quarantined at home because of Covid. We took up new hobbies, learned new skills and maybe even worked on some self-care. And, according to some people, a bunch of us became new pet owners too.
“Dog Adoption was what was trending during the pandemic,” says Melissa Bacelar, founder of Wagmor Pets and owner of The Wagmor, a luxury pet hotel and spa in Los Angeles. “People were lining up at 2am to adopt a dog from us!”
For Bacelar, who has been running her dog rescue and pet hotel for almost 16 years, what started out as an average of 20-30 adoptions a month quickly ballooned to well over 130 dogs. “Busy months were 150 dogs,” she shares, adding that “The increase [from before the pandemic] was well over 100%.”
Bacelar says the rise in dog adoptions over the last year wasn’t that surprising to her. “The reason I hear most for people not getting a dog is that they don’t have time, or that they are not home enough [but] the great thing about quarantine (for rescue animals) was that people had nothing but time and were home exclusively,” she says. “Also, people were lonely, people were going stir crazy; they needed companionship, love and someone to talk to,” she adds, “and what better way to feel love than by having a furry friend 24 hours a day?”
But as more and more people head back into an office — and start heading out for dinner or traveling again — pet experts say it’s important to make sure your dogs and cats receive the same attention and care that they were getting while you were home.
“The first question we asked people when they were adopting was, ‘What happens to the dog when life goes back to normal?'” Bacelar says. “Pet owners need to think about the fact that these dogs and cats have not been left alone for more than a couple of hours in over a year. Most haven’t seen a lot of other people or even interacted with a lot of dogs. So we will need to expect things like separation anxiety, leash aggression, timid behavior.”
“Dogs are so adjustable and generally want to please,” Bacelar continues. “So as these things come up, we will need to work on them and work on training and socializing. I know,” she adds with a laugh, “that a lot of humans will need to work on this too!”
What Are the Best Pet Products?
Whether you’re looking to keep an eye on your pet while you’re gone, or keep them calm and comfortable when you can’t be by their side, companies have introduced pet products that help with everything from home monitoring to pet-sized entertainment.
The best pet products these days span (smart) cat litter, sofa-style doggy beds and even pet-safe CBD that promises to keep them calm and chill when you’re out of the house. Here’s what to pick up online.
1. Furbo Dog Camera
One of the most popular pet products is the Furbo Dog Camera. Designed as a security cam and feeder in one, the Furbo delivers a crisp 1080p full HD camera that lets you get a live look at your space. There’s no need to awkwardly position it somewhere either – place it on your floor and get a 160-degree, wide-angle view. The Furbo even comes with night vision to let you see your four-legged friends when the lights are off.
Download the Furbo app on your phone and you can talk to your pet even when you’re out of the house. It’ll send a “barking alert” too, so you can quickly log into the system to see what’s distracting your pet.
The best part, the Furbo unit lets you store bite-sized treats inside, so you can toss Fido or Fritz a treat, either to keep them occupied or as a reward for waiting patiently at home for you. Set-up is as easy as plugging in a power cord and connecting the camera to WiFi.
Don’t just take our word for it. Dog owners consistently rate the Furbo Dog Camera as one of the best pet products online, with an average 4.6-star review (out of five) from almost 23,000 reviewers online.
2. ThunderShirt Dog Anxiety Jacket
One of the most pressing issues for your pets post-pandemic, Bacelar explains, will be “separation anxiety.” With most of the country under quarantine for much of 2020, pets were able to have their humans by their side 24/7. But as we start to leave our houses again, it’s important to keep your pets calm and relaxed. That’s where an anxiety jacket comes in.
ThunderShirt is one of the top-rated brands for dog anxiety jackets, with a cozy and fitted design that applies gentle, constant pressure around your dog to help “calm anxiety, fear and over excitement.”
The comfy jacket works a bit like a weighted blanket, using light pressure to help your dog stay calm during fireworks, thunderstorms, vet visits and when they’re at home alone.
3. Furhaven Pet Bed
Not all pet beds are created equal. While there are no shortage of brands making decent beds and crates for your pet, we like Furhaven’s orthopedic pet beds, which provide a more ergonomic place for your dog or cat to rest.
Designed to mimic a couch or daybed, the sofa-style design provides a thick, plush surface to sleep on, plus supportive “bolsters” at the side to keep your pet snuggled in securely and comfortably. Furhaven says its egg crate foam base helps to cushion pressure points, while the railings help support the neck, back, hips, and joints.
The velvet fabric is super soft and gentle, yet durable enough to withstand long-term use. A bonus: the cover is completely machine-washable.
4. Pet Parents Pawtect Blanket
Our cat loves the sherpa-like feel of this pet blanket, which is 100% waterproof and fully machine-washable for easy care. Designed to be ultra plush and cozy, Pet Parents says its “Sherpup” fabric features an impermeable barrier that is slobber, water and urine-proof.
The “Pawtect” blanket is great to throw over your couch or bed when you want to keep your furniture drool and fur-free, but it’s also great to toss into your pet’s bed (see above) or crate, to keep them warm and cozy. The faux fur material is easy to care for, and lightweight enough to take with you when traveling, or just moving from room to room.
5. CBD for Pets
Much has been written about CBD’s effectiveness in helping you get better sleep, or be less anxious, and now the same benefits of CBD can be applied to your pets. Cornbread Hemp is one of our favorite CBD brands, for their certified USDA organic products made from full-spectrum hemp. Now, the company has applied the same science behind their CBD oils for humans, to a great CBD oil for pets.
Safe for all dogs and cats, Cornbread says its CBD oil can help your pet relax, relieve discomfort or mellow out (say, after they’ve been overactive at the park or if they’ve had a rough day and need to calm down). Start with a few drops into your pet’s food or water bowl — the corn dog flavor instantly gets their attention and is easy to chow down. Up the dosage as necessary, or if you have a larger pet. The general rule for CBD for pets is 2mg pet 10 pounds of body weight.
Another great brand making CBD for pets: CBDfx just launched a limited-edition “Search Dog Fundraising Bundle,” with 100% of profits going to Search Dog Foundation, a California-based nonprofit that partners rescue dogs with first responders to find people during natural disasters. The special bundle includes a bacon-flavored vegan CBD oil, two vegan CBD Pet Treats sample packs and a collapsible bowl with carabiner clip.
As your days and weeks get busier again — on the account of work, rekindled relationships, travel, etc. — sites like Chewy.com have become lifesavers for pet owners like us. Think of Chewy as the Amazon.com for pets, without having to scroll through endless pages of stuff you don’t really need. Chewy organizes everything so it’s super clear and easy to find: sort by pet (cat, dog, birds, even reptiles and farm animals) or sort by what you’re looking for. The site has food and treats, along with pet furniture and accessories, and even a pharmacy section that stocks over-the-counter treatments for common pet ailments (think: anxiety, allergies, fleas and ticks).
Don’t know what to get? Start with one of Chewy’s “Goody Boxes,” which has everything you need to keep your pets well-fed, entertained and well-taken care of while you’re gone.
7. Pretty Litter
One of the most popular pet brands for cats right now is Pretty Litter, the social media-famous, color-changing cat litter. Unlike regular cat litter, Pretty Litter actively monitors your cat’s urine, and changes color if your cat has a potential health issue. A blue color could signal a urinary tract infection, for example, while the color red could mean bladder inflammation or bladder stones. It’s an easy way to get ahead of a potentially dangerous situation with your cat.
Of course, PrettyLitter does a great job as kitty litter too, trapping odor instantly and also eliminating excess moisture, so you’ll never smell your cat’s dirty business again.
8. Petco Pet Grooming
Don’t have time to bathe and groom your pup? Petco now has an easy online booking service that lets you set up an appointment for a range of services, from baths to haircuts to nail clipping to dental care. What we like: unless some one-size-fits-all sites, Petco lets you book by breed, so that each experience is customized to your dog’s size, breed and temperment.
One of the best sites for pet care online continues to be Rover. The site lets you book everything from dog walking to doggy day care to long-term boarding, if you can’t be near your pup or cat. Making sure your pet gets some IRL time with someone during the day can go a long way towards boosting their mood and energy levels. Rover lets you choose the type of service you want, duration and location, all from an easy-to-use site and app.
Of course, all of these products may keep your pets occupied for a few hours, but they won’t completely replace human interaction and time spent with them. At the end of the day, Bacelar says, “Pet ownership is for the life of the dog, not a week or a year. These little beings did not ask to become part of your family. But once they are made a part they should be there to stay.”
“I have had dogs for the last 20 years and as my life changes I learn to adjust things accordingly so my animals are safe and happy,” she continues. “You just need to come up with a plan that benefits all members of the household.”