Puppies are prominent additions to holiday gift ads and on the wish lists of many children. If you've thought it through and are ready to give a puppy, or dog, you'll need to stock up on more than just kibble. We break down some pooch essentials that will not only keep your new Best Furry Friend happy and healthy for life, but also keep you a happy dog owner, because unlike these pet products, pets shouldn't have a return policy.
While your new bundle of fur may behave when you’re home, he might turn into a tornado of destruction when he’s alone. Dog experts such as Cesar Millan recommend crate training. Separation anxiety causes many dogs to go bonzo. Not only do crates help your pooch feel secure and keep them out of trouble, crate training is one of the fastest methods of housebreaking your puppy. Less mess all around, I say.
Pimp this pooch crib
A soft bed will keep that crate comfy—and keep your pooch from ruining your good night’s sleep, or worse, as he tries to snuggle in bed with you. Pet beds come in memory foam, down, and polyester fill, some are even made by mattress manufacturers, such as Simmons Deluxe Orthopedic Napper Pet Bed. Senior and arthritic dogs could benefit from heated pet beds. Machine-washable pet beds or pet bed covers help cut down on allergens for you and your pet. High-tech gadget store Brookstone.com offers dozens of pet beds, from the Simmons model to igloo-style and portable cots.
Scoop the poop
When you have a pup, poop happens. but accidents don’t have to. Don’t trust an old brown paper bag to pick up your dog’s remains. Small, plastic waste scoops that clamp shut, such as the OUT! One-Handed Dog Poop Scoop, keep you from bending too close to the nasty, or smelling it afterward. If that’s too much to carry, Earth Rated offers biodegradable, lavender-scented dog waste bags. Your nose will thank you for it.
Food for thought
Avoid gastrointestinal issues in the first place. Veterinarians and canine-diet experts recommend feeding your dog a high quality diet. Our latest dog food report highlights what ingredients to look for and what dog food to spend your money on. Top dog food ingredients to avoid: corn, wheat, and soy.
When it comes to your dog’s food bowl, think ergonomics and staying power. Elevated food and water bowls reduce neck strain and help with digestion of larger dogs. Some elevated models come with dry food storage underneath. While some, such as the Westcott Raised Pet Feeder, can match the décor of any high-end kitchen. Stainless steel bowls can take a beating and are easy to clean and disinfect. Lucky Pups offers personalized stainless steel bowls, with a bottom rubber rim that keeps them from sliding.
Chew this, not that
Chew toys aren’t just about avoiding a destroyed pair of Jimmy Choos. A top reason pooches end up in the E.R.: ingesting a foreign object, costing from $3,500 to $6,000 to fix the resulting internal damage, estimated veterinarian Amanda Duffy in a recent VetStreet.com article. But not all chew toys are safe, and the ASPCA’s position statement on chew toys recommends matching the type and size of the chew toy, with the chewing style and size of your dog. The Extreme Kong, Bristle Bone and Monkey’s Fist Knot Rope Toy made DogChannel.com’s list of 10 chew-resistant toys.
For those winter walks, invest in doggie outwear. Forget the ridiculous outfits that celebrities foist upon their canine companions. Dog coats serve an actual purpose, protecting your dog from the elements and freezing temperatures. Reflective patches make walking at night even safer. Pet stores such as Petco or Petsmart carry dog coats, but so do traditional clothing retailers. L.L. Bean makes a Field Coat for Dogs that looks like its iconic human version. Land’s End offers the Titletown dog sweater for the Green Bay Packer’s Fan, as well as a Reindeer-hooded Dog Sweater for the ho-ho holidays. PoshPuppyBoutique.com goes one paw further and makes doggie wear that looks like full-body pajamas.
Your canine’s canines
Just as in humans, a dog’s dental health affects her overall health. Dental pain can cause some dogs to stop eating. The American Veterinary Dental College recommends daily cleaning of your dog’s teeth, with a toothbrush or finger brush, using pet-formulated toothpastes, or dental wipes to remove the plaque and tartar that can lead to periodontal disease. Not only does it lead to bad breath, severe periodontal disease can damage your dog’s liver, kidneys, and heart muscle. Doctors Foster and Smith offers a complete dental care system. For those who love to smooch their pooch, there’s the aptly named KissAble! Dog Toothbrush at Bed Bath and Beyond.