Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Las Vegas is known for its conventions for computer geeks, fashion designers, porn stars and cowboys.
This week, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center is going to the dogs. And cats. And horses, lizards and parrots.
SuperZoo, a pet industry convention that has been in Las Vegas since 2004, staged a three-day run there that ends Thursday.
More than 850 exhibitors brought stuff to sell: leashes, pooper scoopers, aquariums, food, hay, beds, toys, clothing — even urns.
The pet industry seems recession proof, with many pet owners forgoing their own luxuries to provide for their furry friends — to the tune of $53 billion this year.
And that’s why there’s always something new to buy your pet.
A cat lover and a dog aficionado perused the aisles of SuperZoo looking for the most innovative and interesting new products. Here’s what they found:
Scoop poop, guilt free.
Flush Puppies doodie bags are biodegradable, meaning you can flush them down a toilet without causing a clog or throw them in a trash bin knowing they won’t sit in a landfill for the next 1,000 years. In fact, under hot water, they disintegrate almost immediately.
“No matter which way you dispose of them, they are better environmentally than plastic bags or newspaper bags,” inventor Josh Spoont said. “And they are two times as thick as normal plastic bags, so you feel the bag, not the poop.”
In the six years since he founded his company while a law student in Florida, Spoont has sold 3 million bags. Flush Puppies are now available nationwide.
A bone dispenser with 20 doodie bags sells for $5.49; three wallet packs designed to fit in your back pocket sell for $8.99.
Let’s face it: Most feline abodes are more country-kitchen than modern and sleek. But not all cat owners fit the old “cat lady” stereotype.
Kittypod designs by Elizabeth Paige Smith aim to create cohabitation solutions for “harmonious living between person and pet,” said Anndrea Nelson, the designer’s assistant.
The modern-looking line of cat habitats, furniture and accessories features products made from materials like hemp and recyclable cardboard.
“We’re really eco-friendly, responsible designs,” Nelson said.
Basic scratching posts and habitats retail for $20 to $40. Premium furniture starts at $76.
A new kind of cone
Dogs no longer need to wear the “cone of shame” to prevent them from licking or otherwise irritating their coats, especially if they are recovering from surgery or suffering from so-called hot spots.
The Boo Boo Loon is an inflatable neck collar that pets can wear more comfortably than traditional hard cones.
“No dog is crazy. They get crazy because you stuff a cone on them,” Manager of Sales Renae Rose said. “The distortion makes them that way. Their sound and vision is blocked.”
The inflatable cones allow pets to turn their heads, eat, drink and sleep but not lick their wounds.
Five sizes are available and sell for between $18 and $35.
It’s no secret the dog toy section is always significantly longer than the cat part of the aisle.
Cosmic Catnip’s Shooting Star Bubble Blaster, however, might ease the indignity. The watergun-like toy ($5.99) shoots a catnip oil mixture in the air, giving cats an irresistible good time.
The toy features catnip produced from three types of grass, increasing the likelihood it will affect a cat, said Gabriella Desintis, senior director of marketing for OurPet’s, the creator of the Cosmic Catnip line.
Feisty Fidos can show off their sassy spirit with “attitude tees.”
The dog shirts come printed with edgy phrases such as “Your dog doesn’t know sit,” “It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone” and “I like big mutts and I cannot lie.”
“Everyone is looking for attitude tees,” National Account Manager Amy Kerr said. “A tutu might sit there (on a store shelf), but these will sell in any store. It brings a bit of character to a dog.”
The shirts retail for between $9.99 and $19.99.
Cat litter box
Throw away that pooper scooper. A new kitty-litter contraption, the Litter Spinner, by Smart Choice Pet Products does the reconnaissance work for you.
The circular, upright-standing litter box traps unsavory gifts with a simple spin, allowing a sifter to separate clumps of waste from the sand for easy disposal. The creators say the power-free design is ideal for any cat owner wishing to save time, but it’s especially helpful for owners who have limited mobility or sight.
The Litter Spinner retails for $79 to $99. It’s available for purchase through Petco or Amazon.
Rubit! Dog Tag Clips make a fashionable pooch’s life easy (or at least their owner’s).
The mini carabineer-like clips allow owners to easily attach and remove pet ID tags from collars or leashes.
“A lot of women with toy breeds were breaking nails switching them out,” company owner Zach Kane said. “Or people were getting woken up at night by the tags making noise.”
The tags sell for between $5.50 and $6.50 (rhinestone-decorated ones cost $9 to $12) and are sold in 1,200 stores worldwide.
Call it the cure for feline anxiety. Or a state-of-the-art fashion statement.
The Thundershirt — a gray ensemble available in small, medium and large sizes — is touted as a drug-free solution for cat anxiety. Its patent-pending design applies gentle, constant pressure to a cat’s torso, alleviating symptoms of feline nerves, according to a product brochure.
“It’s really great for vet visits, riding in the car,” Corey Mohan, sales manager for Thundershirt, said.
The product retails for $39.95.
Boring balls and sticks are chew things of the past. Cool, modern pups impress their friends with the Humunga Tongue.
Attached to a rubber ball, the Humunga Tongue is exactly what it sounds like: a humongous (and fake) tongue. When a dog holds the ball in its mouth just right, only the long protruding rubber tongue is visible, looking as if it belongs to the dog.
Manufacturer Moody Pet Inc. also sells Humunga Stache, a mustache, and the new Humunga Lips, which look like large red wax lips.
“The dogs think you are laughing with them so they have fun with these,” inventor Michele Levan said.
The Humunga line comes in different sizes to fit different dogs’ mouths and retails for $12.
A laser is to a cat what a bone is to a dog — an instant distractor.
The FroliCat Dart Duo by Brilliant Pet eliminates the need for handheld laser pointers. The plastic rotating device, which sits on the floor like a small pedestal, casts laser beams in opposite directions, with adjustable speeds and timer settings that create 16 engaging play combinations, an almost-sure bet to entice constant pouncing.
The device retails for $40 to $50.
Help for handicapped pets
When toy poodle Muffin Bordeaux turned 12, he went blind from cataracts. His owner, Silvie Bordeaux, watched helplessly as he fell down stairs and bumped into walls.
So Bordeaux invented Muffin’s Halo, a hat of sorts to help Muffin and other blind dogs navigate the world.
The halo is a silver hoop that sits around the dog’s head to protect it from walls and other objects. The hoop is attached to white angel wings that rest on the pup’s shoulders.
“It’s a safeguard for them,” Bordeaux said. “Muffin went from shaking and scared back to confident. A lot of owners put their blind dogs down. There’s no need for that.”
Muffin’s Halo, which Bordeaux launched at SuperZoo, sells for $89.95.
Hair grooming might be a cat’s worst enemy, aside from baths. The Silent Pet Grooming Kit by Scaredy Cut aims to cut down on the whining and hissing (of cats, not owners).
The kit equips good, old-fashioned scissors with attachment guide combs, replacing noisy electric clippers that vibrate and drive cats bonkers.
Matthew Michel, the inventor and company owner, said the kit is ideal for owners who wish to groom their nervous felines at home. There’s also a dog version.
The kit retails for $31.95.
Even dogs can hit the gym.
Dog Tread has designed five models of dog treadmills to fit dogs of every size. The mini, the company’s newest product, is small enough to exercise an iguana (true story — there’s a YouTube video of it) while the extra large treadmill can handle the biggest of breeds.
Owner Krista Wickens spent two years researching dog strides and fitness to design the product.
“Most people think a walk is a stroll around the park sniffing and peeing,” Wickens said. “Dogs have a primal instinct to move every day, and if they don’t, it comes out in their behavior.”
The company recently added workout vests to its line. Owners can add weights to increase dogs’ core training or ice packs to soothe their sore muscles.
The treadmills sell for between $399 and $1,399, depending on size.
A cat product list wouldn’t be complete without at least one food item. Enter Meowstard, a cat food condiment.
The condiment lures picky felines into eating their dry food while providing vitamins and minerals. The turkey-flavored concoction also can help owners deliver medication to cats, said Toni Anderson, the company’s co-founder.
The Colorado-based company is named after its original pet condiment, Petchup, a beef-flavored spread for dogs.
The condiment’s wholesale price is $2.95 per bottle.