If you’re a first-time pet owner, browsing the aisles of the pet store can be downright overwhelming. With shelf after shelf of toys, treats, gadgets and tools, how do you know which stuff you actually need? The truth is that, like everything else in life, the pet care category is jam-packed with products that are useful and products that are gimmicks. In this list, we’ll go over 15 of the things you should buy to make life as a pet parent just a little bit easier.
Note: This list doesn’t include the basics. All pets need food bowls, food, treats, a leash, a collar, an ID tag, a bed, toys and litter boxes, if applicable. The below items are extras that we think make pet ownership easier and more enjoyable.
1. A Pet Hair Removal Tool — Every pet owner needs a pet hair remover tool that actually works. These help keep your clothes, furniture, curtains and carpets clean and tidy. The best pet hair removers have comfortable handles and cover a large surface area to make cleaning up after serious shedders a total breeze.
2. A Travel Water Bowl — If you like to take your pup out on adventures, you’ll want to make sure you have what you need to keep them happy and hydrated while you’re out and about. Make sure to bring a collapsible water bowl and a bottle of water.
3. A Good Set of Grooming Tools — Professional grooming is best for most pets, but there will always be times when you need to brush, bathe or clip the nails of your pet at home. In fact, many breeds of dogs need to be brushed weekly or even more often to maintain their thick or double coat and help keep shedding under control.
4. A GPS or Bluetooth Collar — This one is especially important for cats who venture outdoors, dogs who are prone to roaming or animals of all varieties who fancy themselves furry Houdinis. GPS collars are the best option because they will track your pet’s exact location regardless of where they are. A cheaper option is a Bluetooth device such as an AirTag or Tile tracker, but these are limited to tracking only within Bluetooth range, so about 15 to 30 feet away.
5. A Fanny Pack or Cross-Body Bag — Pockets and hands-free bags are a dog-walker or hiker’s best friend! When venturing out of the house, you’ll need to dedicate one hand to hold your pet’s leash, so you want to have plenty of room available for stashing your phone, keys, treats and more.
6. A Poop Bag Holder — Again, when walking your dog, you simply won’t have the luxury of carrying a bunch of extra cargo in your hands. Plus, it’s easy to forget everything you need to grab before heading out the door two or three times a day. A poop bag holder clips onto your leash to ensure that you never leave without bags.
7. An Adjustable Harness — A leash is essential, but a harness is a luxury. These are excellent for pups who are energetic or love to pull, as they help keep you in control without putting too much stress or pressure on your pet’s neck.
8. Raised Pet Bowls — Raised pet bowls can help your pet chow down a bit easier without putting undue strain on their joints or neck.
9. A Food Measuring Cup Scoop — If you feed your pet dry food or kibble, you need to be careful about how much you’re dishing out. It’s easy to overfeed when your pet’s food is not pre-measured, which can lead to weight gain. Overweight dogs have a higher risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more serious health problems, so you need to keep the measurements reasonable.
10. Health Supplements — Similarly, it’s easy to optimize your pet’s health through tasty supplements designed as treats tossed in their bowl of food. The type of supplement you choose will depend on your pet’s age, breed and specific needs, but it’s always good to provide treats that enhance fur and joint health.
11. A Car Seat Protector — If you plan on taking your pet out of the house, you’ll need to prepare the car by installing a car seat protector or tossing an old blanket over the backseat. Animals get muddy and some may become carsick, so it’s best to equip your car with a cover that’s easy to wash in the washing machine.
12. A Cat Carrier — If you have a cat, you need to make sure you put them in a carrier when taking them to and from appointments, the boarder, etc. Cats are prone to anxiety in the car, but a carrier can help keep them calm and contained so you get where you need to go safely.
13. A Dog Life Jacket — Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are born knowing how to swim, regardless of breed. If you live or spend time around water, you want to make sure your pup is safe by putting him in a comfortable, properly fitting life jacket.
14. A Dedicated Bed — Whether it’s a stack of folded blankets on a chair or a big, fluffy bed, you want to make sure your pet has somewhere to sleep that’s just for them. This prevents them from taking over your sofa or bed for themselves.
15. A Good Pet-Sitter — You shouldn’t consider getting a pup unless you’ve got a trustworthy pet-sitter or boarder in your circle. The reality is that, even if you don’t travel a lot, we all occasionally need time away from home, and nothing puts you more at ease than knowing your furry friend is well cared for!
The No. 1 thing any pet needs? Love! Truly, many pets don’t need a whole lot to feel happy, healthy and welcome in the home. But the above items will definitely make owning a pet a little bit easier for you every step of the way.