June 4, 2003 -- From bird diapers that let your bird fly freely without dropping any surprises, to umbrellas that keep your pooch dry on a rainy walk, there are dozens of new products to pamper your pet.
Pets need to express their genetic exuberance and break away from solitary confinement, said veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker. Hence the creation of the bird diaper, which comes in a variety of colors and designs, from tie-dye to red, white and blue images of Uncle Sam.
"Birds need to break free from the cage and fly to other parts of the house," Becker said. "The problem is that a bird defecates every 15 minutes. But with one of these diapers on, it's no longer a problem."
The bird diapers are officially named "flight suits" and resemble bib overalls that allow room for wings. There is a patented "poop pouch," which keeps the droppings away from other birds. The diaper, which sells for $19.99, is washable and reusable. Also new for birds: a sort of reverse backpack made of mesh that allows bird owners to carry their pets around outside.
A Water Bed for Fido
For dogs there is a new canine cooler, a thermo-regulating pet bed.
"Dogs like to lie on tile or on the basement floor where it's cool," Becker said. "This bed is like a combination tile floor and water bed rolled into one. There's a fluid in there that keeps cool in a well-ventilated area. It's soft and cool for your dog. No electricity is required, but remember to leave it out of direct sunlight."
The price ranges from $39.95 to $84.95, depending on size.
Another new product for dogs: specially designed pet beds, such as the elephant plush bed or the Stetson hat bed.
"These are pet beds you're not embarrassed to have people see," Becker said. "When company comes over, you won't want to get these out of the way. They are conversation pieces."
There is also a Petbrella to protect dogs from the sun.
"Dogs can only get rid of heat by panting. Sometimes people tie up their dogs in the back yard in the shade, but then the sun shifts and the dog is in trouble," Becker said. "The pet-brella is so wide and close to the ground that the sun would have to make a really big shift to keep your dog from losing shade. It also has a swivel stake, so if your pet goes around and around, it swivels with him."
This pooch parasol costs between $39.99 and $49.99.
Rainy Day Protection
There is also a pet umbrella for the rain. Set up about midway down on a leash, the umbrella is clear so that people can see their pets, Becker said. It protects dogs from rain and snow, and costs between $18 and $20.
A new pet chime can be placed outside the house so that a pet may press it when he wants to come in. It can also be placed inside so that the pet can press it when he needs to go out.
"Once your pet understands that every time he presses it, you get up, you can cancel your gym membership because he'll give you all the exercise you need," Becker said. "Some will press it when they get hungry."
The price is $32.99.
Fountains for Felines
For cats, there is a Fresh Flow Pet Fountain that allows kitties to stay hydrated with fresh water.
"Cats don't drink enough water, often because water left out becomes stagnant," Becker said.
Without enough water, though, cats run the risk of developing urinary tract disorders. The fountain encourages them to drink more water because it is constantly running, oxygenated and filtered. It costs between $39.99 and $43.72.
Another product for cats or small dogs: the Pet Stroller, which allows cat owners to get their felines out and about without the risk of them running off. The stroller includes a carrier that separates from the stroller, so it can also be used as a plastic carrier. It is good for smaller dogs in the summer, too, because hot pavement is not good for their claws. Price: $129.95
Indoor cats live 2 ½ times longer than outdoor cats, but a new "kittywalk" that allows indoor cats to get a taste of the outdoors in an enclosed area.
"He can feel the sunlight and grass on his feet, while being safe," Becker said.
The kittywalk expands to 10 feet long, but you can put more and more sections together to give him even more space. It costs $99.95.
Two more fun items for felines: Cat Bubbles, toys containing catnip, and a kitten mitten, a glove in which four of the fingers are 10 inches long and have balls and bells attached. Your cat can pounce on these long "fingers" without scratching you.
Summer is also a time to get pet vaccinations and take care of parasite control, so a visit to the vet is in order, Becker said. For more pet health information visit www.petparents.com.