By Sandy Robins
Pet owners are set to spend more than $52 billion dollars this year on everything from veterinary care and food to state-of-the-art gadgets and toys, according American Pet Products association. So whether you are looking for gifts that are functional or fashionable, or prefer to indulge your fur kids with something weird and wacky, here are some of the best (and wildest) trends from the 2012 Global Pet Expo, America’s largest pet industry showcase held in Orlando, Florida last week. (Note: Some products are not yet available.)
Your can turn your pooch into a Detroit Tiger or a Miami Dolphin by simply spraying the logo of your favorite team directly onto his fur. PetPaint comes in six specially formulated spray-on colors, are non-toxic and wash out with ease. And with Easter coming up, you can turn your dog into an Easter Bunny too ($9.99, petpaint.com).
Puppylocks are the canine version of human hair extensions made from colorfully dyed rooster feathers. They can be threaded into any length with a special bead, and because they are real feathers can be washed and left in for months. From colors that blend with natural shades of canine coats to snazzy brights, your doggie fashionista is bound to turn heads ($12, Puppylocks.com).
Pet Sonic Egg
If your neighbors’ barking dogs are driving you crazy, the Sunbeam Pets Sonic Egg will restore peace to the neighborhood. It automatically detects barking and quiets restless hounds by emitting a high-pitched ultrasonic sound that only dogs can hear. It is waterproof and can be hung in a tree or attached to a wall and has a range of 50 feet ($39.99, Petsmart.com).
Stop That! Spray
If your own dog is a yappy puppy, the latest pheromone product called Stop That! is backed by scientific research that indicates that pheromones from other species such as rabbits and boars will halt incessant barking, leash chewing and other inappropriate behaviors such begging, jumping scratching and digging ($10.99, Sergeants.com).
Still on the noise front, dogs love squeaky toys but the nonstop racket doesn’t offer the same enjoyment for pet parents. The latest plush toys called Hear Doggy emit squeaky sounds that only your dog can hear and will provide hours of active canine play while silence reigns supreme in the household. They are available in different sizes and also without stuffing ($10.99, QuakerPetGroup.com).
For dogs that enjoy the privacy of their own doghouse, the Climate Right air conditioner attaches directly to a kennel providing both heating and cooling and thus helps to keep Fido at a safe temperature guarding against extreme cold and heatstroke year round. It also acts as a dehumidifier ($599, ClimateRightAir.com).
Bio Bubble Terra
Whether you are looking for a stylish aquadome for your fish, a terrarium for your pet frog, a trendy loft apartment for your hamster or a high-tech birdcage for your lovebirds, the Bio Bubble Terra offers a hip environment for all these pets as it converts into any type of habitat. It comes outfitted with all the attachments and you can add more space with additional add-ons. The clear risers also offer pets a 360-degree view of its surroundings ($129, BioBubblePets.com).
Board games for your dog are so last year! The latest puzzle toy to offer lots of mental stimulation and playtime fun is the Orbee-Tuff Mazee, a pliable see-through ball that tosses out treats as it rolls around and is infused with mint to keep breath fresh. Ideal for dogs that have soccer-style skills and know how to dribble a ball before drooling over the treats ($16.95, PlanetDog.com).
The latest brainteaser for cats is the Kitty Dipper, made by the Kong Company and styled after their iconic doggie Kong toy. It comes with a tube of salmon flavored paste, which your favorite feline can paw out and lick with enjoyment. You can fill it with different treats too ($12.99, Petco.com).
Trixie Fun Board
For cats that like to hone their hunting skills and enjoy a mental challenge, the Trixie Fun Board is the feline version of snakes and ladders, tic tack toe and other games. The board contains five different challenges designed to pique curiosity and allows cats to use different combinations of their senses to succeed. It comes with a booklet of tips and tricks to help rev up the fun ($38.99, Amazon.com).
Get ready to impress your friends and your pets by preparing home cooked meals in a personalized Crockpot decorated with your pet’s favorite poses. Simply upload your pets’ photographs to Create-A-Crock™ Slow Cooker and the company will do the rest. ($49.99, Crock-pot.com).
If you dog attempts to break records for downing his dinner at every meal, the Bone Appétit is designed to slow him down so that he gets to taste what he’s eating and properly chew before swallowing. (Fast eating can lead to vomiting, choking and a condition called bloat which veterinarians say can be a major health problem.) This innovative slow feeder has a suction cup that attaches to any smooth surface bowl and works on ceramic, plastic and stainless steel so that you don't have to give up his favorite food bowl, and it’s dishwasher-safe ($7.99-$9.99, Lovingpetsproducts.com).
Celebrity Musical Pet
Now you can turn your dog’s toy box into a musical jukebox. Celebrity Musical Pet toys play tunes as they are tossed around. The different styles include a baseball slugger and a hound dog Elvis and offer a selection of songs that include "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "On the Road Again" ($18, CelebrityMuscialPetToys.com).
Sandy Robins is a pet lifestyle reporter and author of "Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat."