June 2, 2011 — -- More than 60 percent of U.S. households have a pet, and Americans could spend more than $50 billion on their animals this year.
So how do you know if the product that you're about to buy will make your pet happier -- and your life easier?
I tried a few of the latest gadgets on the market – products that were designed to reduce odor, make clean-up less messy – or act as a repellent.
The Dyson Groom
Hate brushing your dog? Vacuum maker Dyson now has a new attachment for its products, and the tool sucks up dog hair. I tried the product on several pooches at the Tony La Russa's animal shelter in Walnut Creek, Calif.
Did it work? "Yes!" But getting your dog used to the noise could take a while.
Cost/where to buy: $69.99. Visit Dyson to learn more.
For Cats Only: The Litter Robot
Does anybody like to clean cat litter? Enter the Litter Robot -- a litter box that cleans itself.
It works like this: A few minutes after the cat goes to the toilet, the box goes to work, pushing the waste into a tray at the bottom.
Lara Naaman and her cat, Jack Bauer, tested the Litter Robot. So, any issues?
"The problem is that he's a bit big. This litter box is recommended for cats that are about 5 to 15 pounds, he's 17, because he's big-boned, and when he exits the litter box he sprays litter everywhere, so it's less time actually scooping litter, but I make up for that time having to scoop up what he sprays outside the litter box," she said, adding, "It still smells!"
"I honestly would probably go back to his regular litter box," she added.
Bottom line? If you have the space and can handle the price tag, the Litter Robot makes cleanup easier and reduces the smell a little.
Cost/where to buy: $339.99. Visit Litter Robot to learn more.
I got a request on my Facebook page from Trish, a "GMA" viewer who asked about snake repellent.
Snake repellent? Really? Why does no one ask me to review nice cashmere sweaters or which massage technique is most relaxing?
Once there, a snake expert and I start with a little experiment. We put a bag of rice at one end of a tank and the Dr. T's Snake-A-Way at the other. The snake in the tank goes away from the Dr. T's at first, but comes back later to smell the granules. Our expert says that is not behavior of a snake repelled by a smell.
Then we put the Dr. T's granules in a hiding space. Snakes will always gravitate to a covered area where they can hide, but with the Dr. T's in the only available hide space, the snakes would not enter it and stayed out in open.
"Well it seems to me he doesn't love it … it's driving him away from a specific point where it is, but would it keep him away from a garden? I don't think so," our expert adds.
Bottom line? It might keep snakes out of hiding spaces, but in our very unscientific experiment, it didn't seem to create a barrier to keep these guys out.
We reached out to Woodstream, the company that owns Mr. T's Snake-A-Way and told them about our experiment and our mixed results. A company spokesperson said that "if customers read and follow the instructions as written on the product, Snake-A-Way should work."
Cost/where to buy: Prices vary depending on size. Visit Dr. T's to learn more.