Human Pet Products

By Lenore Skenazy

January 16, 2009 5 min read


Why should our furry friends get all the good stuff?

Lenore Skenazy

Creators News Service

Pet owners, I know your animals are cherished members of the family. But what they aren't, thank God, are neurotic 21st-century Americans. For instance, they do not need Fortifido fortified doggy water.

Humans don't need fortified water, either, but that's another story. Nonetheless, Cott Corp. has just introduced the "first-ever fortified water for pets with real functional benefits," in flavors ranging from spearmint to peanut butter to parsley.

Would you introduce fortified water for humans in pork, beef or pizza-from-the-garbage flavor? No. So lay off the parsley flavor for dogs. They don't do garnishes.

Dogs also don't do the whole weight thing. That's why their tails always are wagging. You never hear a dog saying, "Woof, I hate my thighs." And yet one of the pet food companies recently started distributing doggy body mass index kits to vets. Using it, vets can determine whether a dog is officially, provably fat. Then they get to bring up this point to the probably provably fat owner.

I'm sure vets are thrilled at the prospect.

"We know that trends in the pet category quickly follow trends in the human category," Cott's director of innovation for North America, Charles Calise, told Advertising Age magazine. But that's just the problem. There are designer clothes for dogs now -- and gourmet dinners and videos -- when what they really need is less stuff and more time outside, playing.

Just like kids.

Dogs (and kids) are getting the short end of the stick, when they should just be getting the stick, period. But here's the big surprise. There is huge potential on the flip side: marketing doggy products to humans.

I took a little stroll around Petco and dug up some ideas:

CHEW TOYS FOR THE REST OF US: Dogs have a heap of toys to gnaw on. Us? Zero.

Why not? We love beef jerky. We love gum. Why doesn't someone combine them already? A nice beefy-tasting chew toy would curb our meat cravings, last a long time and probably not even have very many calories. Sell it as a diet aid! I've even got a name for it: the Human-Chu (rhymes with Fu Manchu).

OK. So work on a name.

SNACKS THAT BRUSH OUR TEETH: "Tartar Treats" are just one of the many hard biscuits a la Milk-Bones that clean dogs' teeth while they eat. A bunch of the brands are even shaped like toothbrushes. So why not make these for kids? "Go eat your biscuit!" sure beats "Go brush your teeth!"

FLEA AND TICK COLLARS: Everyone's terrified of Lyme disease, but only pets get to wear protection. That's dumb. We humans need flea and tick anklets. Our naked ankles are catnip (so to speak) to ticks anyway. Why should we spend our summers spraying on Off when we could just wear a couple of these collar things?

ROASTED BEEF FLAVOR SAUCE: Pour this Iams sauce on your dog's food, and suddenly it all tastes like roast beef. Think what it could do for tofu.

BATH-IN-A-WIPE: International Veterinary Science makes disposable wipes that clean and shampoo dogs that are "difficult to bathe." Not only does that sound like pretty much every dog but it sounds like pretty much every child. Imagine a no-rinse wipe that you could rub all over your young'uns that even cleans their hair. Saves time! Water! Tears! Sanity!

NAME TAGS: Dogs wear these; people don't. Big mistake. Dogs don't have to greet each other by name; we do. If we all wore our names on easy-to-read charms, think how much easier all social interactions would become. "This is Jim and his lovely wife … uh … Spanky!"

See? Great things await. And we all could use some more walks and head pats, too.

Lenore Skenazy is a columnist at Advertising Age. To find out more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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