Americans spend a lot of money on their pets. In fact, the American Pet Products Association predicts that we'll spend over $60 billion this year on products.With so many choices, how do we know what we need? How do we keep from spending $60 billion ourselves?
I've compiled a list of products that dog parents must have:
1) Bed:This is one of the first things we bought Coco, but one of the first things I replaced. There are many types of beds. It'll be helpful to pay attention to how your dog sleeps before you buy a bed, so you can match your dog's sleeping style to the appropriate bed style. For example, if your dog sleeps out-stretched, make sure that the bed you buy is big enough to get comfy. You might also want to look into purchasing a dog bed cover as well to keep your dog's bed from the usual wear and tear.
2) Collar:This is an everyday product and can potentially save your dog's life. Like beds, there are many types of collars; the one you buy depends on your need. Coco backs out of her collar, so we bought her a martingale. If you have a puller, you'll need something else. If the collar isn't right for your dog, it could be dangerous. Our favorite collars come from Sirius Republic.
3) Toys:I can't imagine the chaos in our house without tons of toys. I make sure that Coco has a rotation of toys that keeps her busy. My favorites are from West Paw. West Paw toys are top quality and are environmentally friendly. And Coco loves them! It's important to know how your dog plays and buy appropriate toys.
4) Poop Bags:When we first got Coco I used plastic grocery bags to pick up poop. After all, they were free and we were reaching our $60 billion limit. Then I was introduced to Earth Rated bags. Pet parents know that picking up after our dogs isn't only good for our neighbors, it's essential for disease control. I like Earth Rated's lavender scented handle bags. They are easier to carry than bulky grocery bags, and the lavender makes picking up after Coco a little less stinky.
5) Treat Dispensing ToysToys that dispense treats or food provide mental stimulation that's so important. My ultra-hyper Coco needs the extra stimulation that these toys provide. My favorite is the Treatstik because it's durable, washable, and easy to load.
6) Treats:It's natural to want to treat our pets. While many of the treats we give Coco are human (apples, cheese, carrots), often we give her quality dog treats when training or walking. Knowing what to look for in treats is a matter of doing your research.
7) Travel Bowl:When Coco and I are out at the dog park, playing at grandma's, or going to obedience class, I always have a travel bowl of water with me. I never know if there's going to be fresh water available, so I make sure to have it. Travel bowls are products that make life easier.
8) Identification Tag:On the off chance that your dog gets lost, an ID tag is a way (just one) of reuniting you. There are many companies that make ID tags. You can personalize these as much as you want. Pinterest is a great place to look for the right one for your dog.
9) Food:Picking the right dog food seemed like the most important decision I've made. The good news is that there's a lot of information available. The bad news is that the information can be overwhelming. Knowing which source to trust is crucial. The Whole Dog Journal and Dog Food Advisor are the two sources I used to help me make my dog food decisions.
10) Cleansing Wipes:Dogs can get dirty. Since it isn't always a good idea to bathe Coco as frequently as I'd like, I keep wipes to clean her coat as needed. It is inevitable that the day after a bath Coco will splash through a puddle or run into the pond. Sometimes the grooming wipes are her pass into the house! It can be a daunting task to weed through the products aimed at us, but knowing your dog's needs will guarantee a good purchase and a happy pup.
Brandi Elliott Brandi Elliott is the mommy to an endlessly affectionate, utterly destructive, ridiculously snuggly chocolate lab mix. She writes about the adventures of pet parenthood on her blog http://deathbychocolatelab.blogspot.com/