THE MULTIBILLION-dollar pet industry keeps coming up with ways to make our lives with animals better. Here are some new products that I think are winners.
* KittyKaddy Double Diner and Torus Ceramic Diner. As I age it becomes harder to bend over. That's when devices like this, which let you fill and clean pet food and water bowls without bending over, catch your eye. A long, detachable handle allows you to pick up the bowls easily.
* Zen Clipper. Most nail clippers either crush part of the nail when cutting or make it too easy to cut too close and hit a blood vessel or nerve. Ouch! The Zen Clipper slices the nail 360 degrees at once while preventing you from trimming too much.
* Tidy Cats LightWeight. Do you feel like you get a workout every time you pick up a container of cat litter? The folks who originated cat litter 50 years ago have developed a new litter that is lighter and more absorbent.
* Muffin's Halo. I have a blind 14-year-old golden retriever, Shakira, who looks a little funny running around in angel wings and a halo, but the halo protects her face and eyes the same way a face guard does on a football helmet. Now I don't have to worry that she'll hurt herself running into things.
* Ultra Fel-O-Vax. Cats are small and vaccine volumes seem big, especially as they're being injected. Ultra Fel-O-Vax has only half the volume of normal vaccines, making for a more comfortable vaccine experience. That's what I call state-of-the-art technology with state-of-the-heart comfort.
* Galaxy Wands. Older cats seem to become kittens again when they play with these wands that mimic the movements of prey. I like the collapsible handles, which make storage easy - assuming your cat lets you put it away.
* Ultra Duramune and Bronchi-Shield Oral. These vaccines for dogs improve comfort level in two ways. Ultra Duramune has only half the volume of normal vaccines, so the injection doesn't last as long, and Bronchi-Shield Oral slides down the throat, preventing gagging that often occurs during intranasal canine cough vaccines.
* Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Mazee. Talk about a brainteaser! This twist on a puzzle toy engages a dog's senses of sight, hearing and smell as he works to release the treats inside.
* Apoquel. There's almost nothing worse than an itchy dog. This anti-itch medication is so powerful that the misery some dogs have endured for years is gone after the first dose. (Tip: Always read the label with your veterinarian to make sure a particular medication is appropriate for your dog.)
* Chuckit! Max Glow Kick Fetch. Nobody wants to come in from playing just because it's dark, and that includes dogs. This ball not only glows in the dark, it has a special grooved design that makes it easy to pick up. Play on!
* Bissell PowerGlide Pet Vacuum. Everybody needs a vacuum cleaner, but this one has special features for pet owners: It picks up more dirt and hair, swivels around your furniture (where pet hair often collects), and has a filtration system to help reduce allergens. Plus $10 from each purchase ($20 in December) goes to the Bissell Pet Foundation to help homeless pets. That's a win-win.