It is estimated that there are currently around 12.5 million dogs in the UK and that one in three households owns at least one of them. Just as dog ownership has increased over the last few years, it seems that businesses targeting dog owners have too.
Whether you’re an experienced owner or a relatively new one, shopping for dog-related products often falls into two categories. Either you can’t find exactly what you want, or there’s so much choice you don’t know which to buy.
Here we take an in-depth look at the must-have jumper for anyone obsessed with their pet; the leather dog collars made right here in Devon; the new pet wash from luxury hair care brand Watermans; and some food and treats from Burns Pet Nutrition. Hopefully, at least one of them will get you thinking: “That’s just what I was looking for!”
Readmore:RSPCA advice on caring for your dog during hot weather
Knitwise customized pet sweater
Are you one of those dog owners who buys any product they come across that features their favorite breed, or do you know one? American tech start-up knitwise can offer something even better than your favorite breed on a sweater – it can offer your very own dog on a unique sweater.
I tried it out with my puppy, Harvey. He’s an unusual crossbreed, a Havamalt – half Havanese, half Maltese – so I don’t see products featuring dogs just like him anywhere. I uploaded a photo and Knitwise emailed me within a day or two with the digital artwork, which can have up to four colours. If I’d wanted something changed, I could have asked for it, but I loved the design so I gave the go-ahead.
I chose the template (I could have included Harvey’s name if I had wished), color and size. There was a detailed sizing guide and it was lucky I referred to this, because although I usually fit small or medium women’s clothes, in this instance I needed a large size.
Sweaters are usually delivered four to five weeks after an order is placed. It arrived faster than I expected, although I was so excited to see it, I could hardly wait. I have found the quality of some customized products a little disappointing in the past, such as these socks with Harvey’s face on them, but the sweater was really good – not very thick, but ideal for summer. I was delighted with how well the design came out. It’s such a good likeness of Harvey.
A pet custom sweater (it doesn’t have to be a dog) costs from $98 (£78) and shipping is another $15 (£12), but for a totally one-of-a-kind, good quality jumper, this is reasonable value. It would make a wonderful gift for the pet owner who “has it all.” Knitwise is expanding its product range beyond the crewneck classic fit sweater. Products launching this year include blankets, new sweater styles such as V-necks, pet sweaters and knit bags.
LG Leatherworks dog collar
Louise Gelson makes bespoke hand-stitched luxury leather goods from her shepherd’s hut workshop on the edge of Dartmoor. I had an idea in my mind of the collar I wanted for my pup, but I’d been unable to find it anywhere – until I looked at Louise’s website.
Her leather dog collars cost £28 to £32. I thought this was good value considering my pup’s collar was really well made, durable and should last him for the rest of his life.
As Harvey’s collar was made especially for him, the smallest notch fits him perfectly now, and the remaining notches will ensure the collar continues to fit as he grows to his full size. I was able to select the width too, and I love the color which suits Harvey really well.
It felt good to be supporting a local business, and I appreciated the unexpected extra touch you only get from small businesses – a handwritten thank you note. You can also find Louise on Etsy here.
Burns Pet Nutrition dog food and treats
Burns Pet Nutrition was developed by vet surgeon John Burns in 1993. It offers a range of food and treats, some of which is available from Pets at Home here.
Harvey, who is five months old, tried the Puppy Original Chicken and Rice first. Independent dog food advice website All About Dog Food gives this food a nutritional rating of 70% and it ticks the boxes of being natural, with a high meat content, hypoallergenic, clearly labeled and certified nutritionally complete. The price per day is given as 95p, though of course the amount of food you need to feed your dog will vary based on factors such as breed and age.
The bag of food isn’t resealable, which is one way this product could be improved. However, Harvey enjoyed it. He’s only little so he wouldn’t eat each bit in one go – it would break up into smaller bits, so the Puppy Mini Chicken and Rice was more suitable for him. It is “smaller kibble for smaller mouths” and suitable for toy and small breed puppies and juniors (aged up to nine months).
I expected this food to have the same rating on All About Dog Food, but it has a nutritional rating of 66%. It ticks all the boxes except for being high in meat content. Again, Harvey ate it straight away and seemed to enjoy it. It was a better size for him as he ate each bit without dropping any crumbs.
The Carrot Bites weren’t what I was expecting, looking more like vegetable crisps from a health food shop than dog treats. They were thin shavings, and 100% carrot. They aren’t as crunchy as raw carrot, but have the advantage of lasting much longer.
Harvey was suspicious of it at first, and then toyed with it for a while before trying to eat it. He ate it and went back for more, again playing with it first, so it’s fair to say he got a lot of pleasure out of every single bit.
The Oatie Bites, with apple and chamomile, are made with 52% oats. I expected them to be vegetarian but a close look at the ingredients told me they contained only 2% dried apple and 17% chicken meal. They also contain brown rice, to which my old dog was allergic.
They are suitable for dogs of all ages and breeds and are a lighter way to treat your dog. They are thinner than similar dog biscuits Harvey has had from another brand, therefore preferable to use as treats as he can have more of them. Again, Harvey tossed it around for a bit before eating it, but now the novelty has worn off, he eats them straight away. They are neither Harvey’s favorite nor least favorite treats, and they make a nice change.
Waterman’s Pet Wash
Luxury hair care brand Waterman’s, which was founded in 2014, branched into skincare and has now introduced a pet wash, which is made in the UK and not tested on animals. It’s a shampoo for dogs, cats and horses, enriched with healthy oils and complemented with a bubble gum scent.
The bubble gum scent is probably the most divisive thing about it. I’m sure some people will love the scent, but it smelled a bit too artificial for my preference. At least Harvey smelled fresher than he did after his walk through farmland and before his bath. Also, his fur was noticeably much softer and slightly shinier afterwards.
Watermans claims that the pet wash will help prevent fleas, although in Harvey’s case that is taken care of by other means. It contains ingredients such as Black Seed Oil, Neem and Sea Buckthorn, and is designed to cleanse and hydrate. It combines anti-bacterial and anti-yeast properties to help prevent dry, flaky, and itchy skin, and it will moisturize and improve fur strength.
It is a luxury product, available for £9.99 from Amazon here.