With summer underway, families are dreaming of the beaches, lakes and campgrounds they’ll soon visit. For many, these ultimate vacations wouldn’t be complete without the family pet in tow.
Pet travel is on the rise in the U.S., where nearly 30 million people have brought their four-legged companions on trips over the last three years, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. While summer is the most popular time of year for family getaways, vacations pose several challenges for pet parents. Can they leave their dog alone in the lake cabin? What gear should they pack to keep pets happy and healthy?
New technologies in pet care and play toys help ease the travel burden and allow the whole family (Fido included) to enjoy the warm weather and time together. Here are a few examples of the latest gadgets that will help pet parents keep themselves and their furry friends happy this summer.
Automatic Ball Launcher
Image via iFetch.
As much as parents want to play with their dogs all day, they also don’t want to throw out their backs over one too many rounds of fetch. Automatic ball launchers, such as the iFetch, catapult tennis balls for endless (well, up to 30 hours of) play. Dogs drop the tennis balls back in the receiver, and the device continues to propel them for as long as Baxter wants to fetch. The benefits of keeping dogs active are well documented and include reducing behavior problems, helping with digestion and maintaining a healthy weight. Automatic ball launchers let pets exercise even when parents have to be away from home more than they’d like.
Image via Flickr/Robert Tadlock.
Want to have a dog’s eye view of the hike you and Baxter took? Or the aerial footage of his epic leap for a Frisbee? Kurgo makes harnesses that let owners mount their GoPro cameras to their dog’s chest or back. With the opportunity for action footage, outdoor enthusiasts have even more motivation to bond with their dogs over healthy activities.
Self-filling Water Bowl
Image via Amazon.com.
On hot summer days, few things are as important as staying hydrated. Without enough water, dogs’ circulation and digestion suffers, and they’re likely to feel lethargic and even depressed. Self-filling water bowls, like the PetSafe Healthy Pet Water Station, refill bowls with fresh water from a flow-controlled valve. When parents are away, they can rest easy knowing that their pets won’t be thirsty.
L.E.D. Balls and Frisbees
Image via Nite Ize.
Even though the days are longer, some pets and their owners can’t stay outdoors late enough. For night owls, L.E.D. toys let them play well past sunset. Nite Ize makes L.E.D. battery-powered balls and discs that have warm summer night written all over them.
Boat Ladder for Dogs
Image via Paws Aboard.
Dogs may want to jump overboard, but getting back on the boat is another story. To help water-loving dogs get out of the lake, and to spare owners the wet-dog smell from pulling their pets aboard, PetGadgets offers the Doggy Boat Ladder. It mounts to a standard boat ladder and provides a ramp for dogs to walk right back into the boat. Dogs’ knees undergo constant stress, just like humans’ joints. It’s especially important to protect older dogs’ joints to avoid ACL surgeries, which can cost around $3,000 and involve a lengthy recovery.
Image via Petcube.
If pets aren’t allowed on the family vacation, parents can still play from afar via Petcube. The 4-inch box lets users interact with their furry loved ones via a mobile app. The Wi-Fi-enabled cube has a wide-angle camera, speakers, microphone and low-intensity laser that users control from their phones to engage pets in play. Parents can talk to their pets, keep them active and maintain their close bond even when they have to be apart.
Smart Toy Boxes
Image via Tidy Dog.
Parents teach their children to put toys away, and now they can do the same for their dogs. A smart toy box from The Tidy Dog dispenses a treat when dogs put their gear inside. It trains dogs of all sizes to clean up after they’ve had their fun. Vets recommend that parents give older dogs new toys to keep their brains sharp, and smart boxes make it easier to store those shiny new playthings.
With technology that takes the hassle out of summer play, families can kick back, soak up the sun and spend more time having fun together.