Americans love to splurge on their four-legged family members, as evidenced by the statistic that they spent more than $60 billion on their pets in 2015, reports the American Pet Products Association. Why shouldn't you spoil them? Pets not only give you unconditional love, but even help keep you in good health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pet product manufacturers are happy to capitalize on people's love and commitment to their furbabies by continuously coming up with top pet products that pet parents didn't know they couldn't live without.
Some new pet products just seem silly (like a discontinued device that let you stalk your dog by sending you a Tweet every time he barked, moved, or napped), but others are truly innovative and worthy of consideration. Read on for a sampling of some trending top pet products in 2016 to consider for your pampered pooch or favorite kitty!
Doggone it, you need these
GPS Tracking Collar
A GPS unit installed in a collar tracks the location of your pet at all times. Some are advanced enough to even send text alerts to your phone if your pet moves beyond your yard.
Why you should consider it: If your dog gets lost, this is another way (along with his ID tag and microchip) to find him quickly.
Automatic Ball Launcher
An automatic ball launcher gives your dog the freedom to play fetch as long as he wants. This cool new product allows your pooch to activate the launcher with just a simple press of a button to have a tennis ball shot across the room or yard. He then fetches, and drops the ball back in the machine and keeps going until he decides it's time to take a little nap.
Why you should consider it: You and your pooch probably have different ideas on how long is long enough to play fetch. Now he can chase balls to his heart's content! Also, it gives your dog an opportunity to play when you're not at home, rather than engaging in destructive behavior, like destroying your couch cushions. This will require some training on your end to help him learn how to activate the launcher on his own.
Slow Eater Dog Bowl
A slow eater dog bowl–sometimes called a puzzle feeder–keeps your dog from wolfing down his food. These fun little gadgets make your pup work for his food: moving, sliding and pushing little doors around on the box to open up compartments where you've placed small amounts of food.
Why you should consider it: Gulping food down too fast can cause bloating, vomiting, and indigestion in your pup. Larger barrel-chested breeds–such as Rottweilers and bulldogs–are especially susceptible to this issue. You'll want to monitor this at first to make sure he can still get access to all of his food to ensure he is getting the proper nutrition to keep him healthy. Also, make sure to empty it out each time so that he doesn't get access to any left over food that might be stale or spoiled if left over time.
A Doggie Camera
New cameras that connect to your smartphone let you watch and talk to your pup from anywhere. Similar to nanny cams, these cameras are set to track the movement of your pup so that you can always keep an eye on him.
Why you should consider it: Miss your dog? Want to know what he's doing? There are several pet cameras on the market with apps that let you take videos and pictures of your dog. The more advanced versions also let you talk to him and even dispense a treat; this way you can always let him know you care, or let him know you are watching when he tries to get into some mischief.
Step Counter (Pedometer)
You have one, so why shouldn't your dog? You can track your dog's exercise and sleep with a monitor similar to the one you wear.
Why you should consider it: If you have health concerns about your dog, such as obesity, this can be a way to track how much exercise your pup gets each day. It can also tell you if your dog is exercising or eating less than normal, a possible indication of an illness. These new wearables can sync up to smartphones, so the next time you visit the vet you can keep her informed on exactly how your dog is doing.
A New Kind of Invisible Fence
Instead of burying wires, you can now buy products that allow you to set your own boundaries for your dog using wireless technology.
Why you should consider it: It may be less expensive than a traditional invisible fence and allows you to adjust the boundaries as needed–plus less manual labor on your end!
Take the guesswork out of shopping for new pet products by letting a team of experts send you toys and gifts for your pup each month. These dog boxes can come to you regularly in the mail for a monthly subscription fee.
Why you should consider it: A subscription box gives you and your pampered pooch a chance to try different new pet products on a regular basis without having to visit a store. These boxes can include different toys, collars, sweaters and more.
Purrfect for Cats
Apps for Cats
App designers have created games for cats that involve fishing for trout, chasing dots, and even painting (by chasing a digital mouse).
Why you should consider it: It's simple entertainment for your furry feline friend–and you. Using a app-based tablet, you can load these apps and watch your cat try and paw at the different things that appear on screen for hours of entertainment. Caution: you may want to invest in a screen protector and case for your tablet if you plan on using this tablet for personal use–cats don't necessarily have the same affinity for protecting your personal property that you do.
The idea of a self-cleaning litter box isn't that new, but calling it a litter robot certainly elevates the least-loved chore to a futuristic level.
Why you should consider it: Because you'll have to clean the litter box by hand less often. Do you need another reason?
Interactive Cat Toys
High-tech toys–from an ingenious toy that automatically flicks out and then retracts a piece of string, to a device that emits light at fun intervals–make playtime more fun than ever.
Why you should consider it: You can leave high-tech toys turned on while you're gone, entertaining your cat when you're away. Sure nothing beats spending time playing with your cat, but if your feline friend taps into her nocturnal behavior you're not going to want to get out of bed to appease her need to play.
Give your pet a place to call her own with her very own cat hammock. The newest versions can be hung from the legs of a chair, ideal for cats that like to be hidden, or from a window, meant for cats that like an outdoor view.
Why you should consider it: Cats deserve to have a place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. So much so that you'll probably be a little jealous that you don't have a place to hang your own hammock in the house and lie around with her.
Litter That Changes ColorsThis
The fun hues aren't just for entertainment value. The change in color tells you if the litter detects anything abnormal in your cat's urine.
Why you should consider it: You can catch potential health issues quickly. Talk to your vet about this type of litter, especially if you have concerns about health issues going on in your cat. It is meant as a detection tool, not a self-diagnosis one.
Outdoor Cat Enclosure
Let your cat out into the yard to safely enjoy a nice day.
Why you should consider it: Cats that run free face all sorts of dangers–as do the songbirds that they hunt. But that doesn't mean your cat can never spend time outside. An outdoor cat enclosure allows your cat to get fresh air while still protecting her and the surrounding wildlife. Just make sure that if you invest in one of these fun little habitats for your cat that she is up-to-date on all of her flea and tick medicine, as these little parasites will be much more prevalent outdoors.
Solar-Powered Cat Toys
When placed in a sunny window, these toys come to life, proving irresistible fun for a curious cat.
Why you should consider it: Your cat can play, even when you've had enough of flicking the feathers on the end of a stick, and they're great activities for your cat while you're away at work.
From imaginative top pet products to designing creative new ways to keep your pets entertained and happy, there has never been a better time to be a pet–or a pet parent! But don't forget: Even with all the new top pet products that come on the market each year, the best thing you can give your pet is decidedly low-tech. Love your pet, and your pet is sure to reciprocate that 1,000 times over, each and every day.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer in Erie, Pa., with a goldendoodle named Maddie.