Preposterous Pet Store Products

December 28, 2021

When I say preposterous, I mean preposterous. I was recently at a few different pet supply stores, and saw several products which seemed preposterously unnecessary and a downright waste of funds. I frequent pet stores, because that’s where I stock up on kitty litter, cat food, toys and treats for my cat and dog. There are lots of great products available for sale at your friendly neighborhood pet supply store. These five products do not fall into that category!

IMG_5416It’s really difficult for me to accept that there is widespread need for an “Anti-Mating” spray, to the point where it is sold on the shelf of my local pet store. As a vocal spay and neuter advocate, I am dumfounded that a product like this even exists in the year 2015. I have an excellent alternative and permanent solution for this product: SPAY YOUR DOG! And put that $7.99 in a savings account for your dog’s health care fund. If, for some reason, you are unable to spay your dog (and there are really no compelling reasons to avoid doing so), then a more logical solution than this product would be to keep your dog isolated from other dogs until she is no longer in heat.


Easy Peesy TeaThis next product looks “natural” and “holistic”, two terms that are buzzy catchphrases in the pet industry right now. If something is a supplement, then it must be healthy, right? As we all know, supplements such as this are not regulated by the FDA. Supplement manufacturers do not have to prove that their product meets the claims on the label, as long as the label is worded the correct way. (For example, “Helps maintain urinary tract health” is an acceptable label; “Prevents urinary tract disease” is not, but it’s easy to see how a well-meaning consumer could misinterpret A for B.)

How exactly does one serve a cat or dog tea? With a saucer and teacup? With crumpets? Never mind; I don’t want to know the answer.

What concerns me most about this product is the fine print on the reverse side: “Easy Peesy Tea is not recommended for use in animals with kidney stones…Easy Peesy Tea should not be used with animals taking the medication Lasix, a furosemide.” There are so many frightening things about this small print!

Easy Peesy TeaFirst, how would the average pet owner even know if their animal had kidney stones? Kidney stones are fairly uncommon in cats and dogs (unlike in people), but bladder stones are very common and a frequent contributor to urinary tract symptoms in my patients. If a product is not to be used in an animal with kidney stones, we can extrapolate that it is also unsafe to be used in animals with bladder stones- and these are the very same animals for whom owners are seeking “urinary tract” products!

Second, Lasix is not “a furosemide”. Lasix is the brand name and furosemide is the generic name of a diuretic used frequently in animals with congestive heart failure. This leads me to believe that Easy Peesy Tea may also have diuretic properties, which could be dangerous for animals with underlying kidney, cardiac or liver disease. If your pet is having urinary tract symptoms of any sort, a trip to the veterinarian and a urinalysis are in order. The diagnosis may be simple, or it may be complicated, but either way your vet can help get to the root of the problem (much more so than “marshmallow root” ever could!)

Dental sauceI saw this “dental care” product over the weekend. There are so many things that disturb me about this item. What exactly is a “dental sauce”? I hope (pray?) that reasonable pet owners won’t fall for the idea that a sauce provides adequate dental care for their dog. Even more disturbing is the flavor: sweet potato. Why on earth would any pet owners choose to have their dog’s mouth smell like sweet potatoes? The back label on this product also states that the sauce is “better than brushing”! To me, dental products are the area where most clients’ money is wasted. Truly, absolutely nothing replaces the efficacy of once-daily tooth brushing as the best means to prevent dental disease. There are a small number of dental products that have received the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (a group of board-certified veterinary dentists who went out and actually studied a number of dental products; they only gave their approval to a small number of items that have been proven to improve your pet’s dental health.) Any dental product without the VOHC seal is a waste of money! Take those hard-earned dollars and again put them in a savings account for the appropriate, thorough dental care Fido needs as provided by your veterinarian.

CataCareFrequently pets are presented to their veterinarian since the owner has noted a “cloudy eye”. Cloudy eyes in senior cats and dogs are often a result of a benign aging change called nuclear sclerosis; this can be mistaken for a cataract but does not cause vision loss like a cataract can. Sometimes a cloudy eye is associated with cataracts, but sometimes there is a more concerning process at work (like uveitis, glaucoma, or a corneal ulcer- all of which are opthalmic emergencies!) Most pet owners know that cataracts are a common aging change in dogs and cats (humans, too!) In people, surgery called phacoemulsification is performed to dissolve the cataracts, and an artificial lens is implanted, restoring vision. This type of surgery is also available for pets; many pet owners, due to the cost associated with the surgery, decline to have it performed. Cats and dogs can function quite well, even with cataracts; I joke with clients that since Fluffy doesn’t need to read and Fido doesn’t need to drive a car, mild to moderate decreases in visual acuity don’t impact our pets as dramatically as they do us. While cataracts can affect vision and depth perception, they are not known to be painful or uncomfortable in any way. Thus, a product like “CataCare” is entirely unnecessary. What concerns me most about products like this is that clients may be inappropriately treating what they perceive as a benign cataract, when in fact their pet might have much more serious opthalmic disease! There is a mantra here: when in doubt about your pet’s health, don’t self-diagnose; see your veterinarian for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

PetAlive Parvo-KThis final product, PetAlive Parvo-K, is by far the most egregious found in the pet store. (I am using stock photos since my own weren’t clear enough!) Canine parvovirus is a life-threatening, highly contagious, often fatal illness common in unvaccinated puppies. It causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and immunosuppression; there is no specific treatment other than aggressive supportive care, requiring hospitalization, intravenous fluids, anti-emetics and sometimes antibiotics to prevent sepsis. Fortunately, an extremely effective and safe parvo vaccine has been on the market for decades, and this has reduced the incidence of paroviral infection in dogs dramatically. Puppies typically receive their first parvovirus vaccine at 7-8 weeks of age (in a combination vaccine with distemper, hepatitis, and parainfluenza, abbreviated DHPP), with boosters at 12 and 16 weeks of age. If vaccinated according to schedule, the risk of parvoviral infection in puppies is virtually eliminated. Not only is the vaccine incredibly effective and safe, it is also cost-effective!

This product, which contains a mixture of herbs (some of which, the best that I can tell, have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat male impotence and ward off witchcraft) is a sham. It also costs $29, which is more than the cost of the parvo vaccine which can safely and effectively prevent the disease in the first place. If your dog is unlucky enough to be diagnosed with parvovirus, with very aggressive care he can survive. I can almost guarantee that if the only treatment Fido receives for parvovirus is “PetAlive Parvo-K”, he will not in fact, be an alive pet any longer.