July 6, 2012 at 11:02 AM ET
Americans are set to spend more than $52 billion on their pets this year — that’s more than on toys, candy and jewelry combined, according to the American Pet Products Association. In doing so, pet owners are seeking out the best products that money can buy for their furry companions.
As part of our Made in America series, we are showcasing pet-centric companies that were born and bred in this country and remain fiercely territorial, ensuring their paw prints remained firmly entrenched on home turf.
Stylish accessories for pet fashionistas
In the pet world, bling and stylish accessories never go out of style. Around the Collar's custom-dyed and handmade leather collars with matching leashes and harnesses feature a wide variety of designs, from Swarovski-studded butterflies and flowers to spikes and studs with solid brass hardware to ensure they never fall off. Your cat and dogs can even have matching collars. The cat versions are manufactured with safety elastic.
“A good quality collar can last a lifetime. It’s like investing in a classic handbag. We believe that old-fashioned craftsmanship never goes out of style,” pet accessory designer Sharon Romero told TODAY.com. Her husband, Lalo, oversees everything at their workshop on Long Island, N.Y. ($50 to $200, www.Aroundthecollar.com).
Cat amusement playgrounds
All cats love boxes. Catty Stacks is the ultimate eco-friendly amusement center for felines made from industrial-strength, recycled, corrugated Ultraboard, which is colored with non-toxic vegetable-based inks. The boxes link to each other to form a stable structure and can be easily moved and rearranged, helping kitty stay interested. They are ideal for indoor cats that need both mental and physical stimulation. The boxes are available in five popular decorating colors to match the interior design of any room.
According to the company’s Chief Stacks Officer, Frank Callari, the product is made in California and the company employs Americans with disabilities. ($14.99 per box, www.CattyStacks.com).
Let’s play ball
To a dog, happiness is an indestructible ball to play endless games of fetch. Planet Dog's Orbee-Tuff™ Orbee Ball, made from a patented thermoplastic elastomer material, has won many awards and is manufactured in the company’s Massachusetts and New York factories. Further, all leftover materials from the manufacturing process are used to create new toys, namely the company’s Orbee-Tuff RecycleBALLs.
"We are proud to offer dog lovers durable, non-toxic, eco-friendly and 100 percent-guaranteed toys that are made in the USA," Stephanie Volo, Planet Dog's top dog, told TODAY.com. "We are an active participant in a number of consortiums working to strengthen the US manufacturing sector and provide more jobs for American workers.”
The company's Orbee-Tuff products, treats, all-natural groom line, and Shammy are made in the USA. Only their hemp products are sourced and produced in China, under strict supervision.
The company also donates 2 percent of every purchase to their nonprofit organization, the Planet Dog Foundation, to lend a paw to canine service programs across the country and help fund the training, placement and support of dogs helping people in need. (Available in different sizes from $6.96, www.Planetdog.com).
Cats in the wild love to climb trees and survey their world, so of course indoor kitties enjoy high places too! Consequently, tall kitty condos are an excellent way to reduce stress and give cats space and privacy, mimicking what they would enjoy in the wild.
Pet Tree Houses designed by Shelley and Joe DelRocco in Sanford, Florida are all hand-crafted in the USA, integrating all the platforms around one main, uncut trunk, allowing the "flex" in the trees to keep them from tipping over while in use. Pet trees can be custom-designed to complement the interior design of your home.
“It takes a great deal of skill and craftsmanship to produce a tree like ours, and we are keeping the knowhow proudly here in the USA,” said Joe DelRocco (starting at $249, www.pettreehouses.com).
Toss toys for critters
Guinea pigs, rabbits and other small critters also benefit from functional, interactive treat toys that keep them engaged. All the toys manufactured by the Greenfeather Bird Supply Company in West Hartford, Conn., are handmade from sustainable and renewable resources that are also certified organic and made in the USA. In keeping with the name, the company also makes a variety of toys for birds, too.
“Using local material means I have better quality control and peace of mind knowing that they are pesticide-free and offer small animals and birds something really healthy as well as fun,” said Dena Tucker, the company’s president and founder.
Typical materials used include organic apple wood chunks; natural pine cones filled with pine nuts; bamboo sticks, and hardwood beads. The toys are designed to encourage exploring and foraging and nesting. ($4.00 and up, www.smallcritterandrabbitenrichmenttoys.com).
Celebrate the dog days of summer
This is National Ice Cream month, and your pooch can celebrate this event with a healthy frozen treat. The Easy Freeze Treat kit from the Kong Company comprises a special Kong-shaped freezer tray and a bag of all-natural treat mix. Flavors include chicken soup, white cheddar cheese, juicy apple, and sweet potato and maple.
Kong was founded in 1976 in Golden, Colo., by Joe Markham, who was looking for an indestructible toy to prevent his dog Fritz from chewing on rocks. The result was the company’s classic Kong toy, which is currently exported to 63 countries and recommended to owners looking to keep their pets stimulated.
"We are committed to quality; everything we make is the absolute best it can be without any corners cut, ever,” said KD Frueh, president of Kong. “From the beginning we have enjoyed great support from around the USA, and it’s a chief priority of ours to give back to this community.”
The company also salutes military dogs serving overseas by sending them toy packages. (Available at Petco. Contact the company at www.KongCompany.com for information about other retailers nationwide. The kits are available in two sizes at $11.99 and the treat mix is also available separately).
Grill-icious and Barksters treats
Yes, dogs like to snack too, especially when they are curled up on the couch with you or enjoying family fun around the barbecue.
Grill-icious treats in turkey, chicken and beef flavors from Loving Pets are made in their New Jersey factory from 100 percent all-natural USA-sourced ingredients. With fun grill markings on them to look as if they are hot off the barbecue, they also contain antioxidant-rich sweet potato and are baked to sear in the all-natural flavor. They are soy-free, gluten-free and have no additives or preservatives.
Barksters are the doggie equivalent of chips. They are air-popped, gluten-free, and have only 11 calories per treat. Flavors include brown rice, sweet potato and alfalfa mixed with beef, chicken or liver.
“Calorie-conscious pet parents can nibble on them,” said president Eric Abbey. “We take pet health very seriously and what’s good for them is good for their pet parents too!” (Barksters start at $6.99, Grill-icious treats are available in different size packs starting with a 4-oz bag at $7.99, www.LovingPetsProducts.com)
Dinner is served
Evanger's, the only family-owned and operated pet food cannery in the United States, and is headquartered outside of Chicago. The company is committed to supporting local farmers, and 90 percent of their ingredients are sourced within a 50-mile radius of their plant. The ingredients are then transported to the factory with their own fleet or trucks and processed within 24 hours of being sourced.
The comprehensive range of cat and dog products do not contain any byproducts, soy, corn, or wheat. They are also gluten-free and kosher for Passover for Jewish pets. The canned foods are hand-packed into the cans at the factory and available in a variety of flavors along with a comprehensive range of dry foods. (prices vary according to size of bags and cans, www.evangersdogfood.com).
West Paw Design's dog and cat beds are manufactured from fabrics and filling created from recycled plastic bottles and hand-sewn in Bozeman, Mont.
“We are committed to helping grow our local economy by creating jobs and employing local talent to ensure every product is made with great attention to detail,” president Spencer Williams told TODAY.com.
The popular bumper bed design is available in a variety of fun styles and color combinations that can be mixed and matched to blend with any interior design color scheme. Spoil your pet and place them in different rooms in the home. (Available in different sizes and priced upwards from $66, www.westpawdesign.com).
First aid for pets
Pets, just like kids, often suffer minor cuts and scrapes around the home or when out and about. Dr. Emmo’s Pet First Aid is a range of products designed to take care of these everyday situations. Based on human technology to fight bacteria viruses and fungi pathogens, the products are developed by Nevoa Life Sciences and manufactured in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Wound Care Wash works in conjunction with the Wound Care Spray Gel, working to thoroughly rinse, remove and eliminate bacteria in all minor pet wounds. The Wound Care Gel continues to clean and protect the injury throughout the healing process. The antimicrobial Ear Care Rinse breaks down and removes wax, debris, and irritants from the ear canal and can help prevent ear infections and related problems. ($12.99, www.VetDepot.com).
Beauty done right
DERMagic Skin Care for Animals, based in Seattle, was founded by organic chemist Adelia Ritchie in 2006. The company proudly displays its American loyalty with a special paw-shaped logo on its products. Their shampoos, soap bars, salves and lotions are designed to treat hot spots, scaly skin, flea allergies, dermatitis, and dry skin.
“When we started our business, it was very tempting to produce products offshore because it was so much cheaper. However, by manufacturing in the USA we are reducing our carbon footprint, and it also allows us to stand by by our guarantee that if used correctly, our products do work," said Ritchie. (The Dermagic System is sold in kits starting at $34.95. Products are also sold separately, www.DERMagic.com).
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