Whether you’re a minimalist when it comes to dog gear or someone who loves to shower your dog in new toys, treats, and beds on the regular, all of us can agree there are some items you simply can’t live without. Your list might vary a little bit from the next owner, but some items are dog essentials that every owner should have.
They might be items that make your life easier, toys your dog won’t lose interest in quickly, or the super basics, like a collar.
If you’re here, you want to know, what dog essentials do I need? Maybe you’ve recently brought home a puppy or adopted an adult dog and you’re ready to get your home stocked and ready.
Perhaps you’re a more veteran dog owner, but you want to know what’s out there, are you missing out on some great dog essentials for your pup?
Here we’ve compiled a list of must-haves for your pup and recommended some of our favorites in each category. For more puppy specific recommendations, check out our article on puppy starter kits.
Dog’s gotta eat, right? The right bowl, food, and other supplies make the task easier and can keep your dog healthier. When it comes to feeding supplies, here are some top tips and recommendations:
- Stainless steel bowls: this is the best material for your dog’s food and water bowls. Stainless steel is super durable and easy to clean. Better yet, it won’t leach toxins into your dog’s food and water like bowls made of plastic. Look for a bowl that has a rubber ring around the bottom to prevent the bowl from slipping and sliding all over the place
- Raised feeding tray: these are a great option for very large dogs and older dogs that suffer from neck pain and dog arthritis. When their food and water is elevated, your dog doesn’t need to strain their neck to eat and drink. This will keep your dog a lot more comfortable and may help to address potential eating issues in older dogs
- Measuring cup for scooping food: using a food scoop that is the exact amount your dog needs is the best way to keep your dog’s food intake in check. Using a large scoop with measured lines makes over and under-feeding very easy. A single measuring cup is one of the top tips when you are trying to help an overweight dog lose weight!
- A high-quality dog food: lastly, you want to make sure you give some thought into what you’re feeding your dog! Experts recommend feeding your dog the best food you can afford. In general, price dictates the quality of the protein and other ingredients in the food. Higher quality ingredients mean readily available nutrients that your dog can absorb. You can read more about selecting the right food for your dog to make an informed choice
Collar and leash(es)
For many owners, aside from the food and water bowl, the collar and leashes are their most used dog-essentials. Having proper identification on your dog is a must, and a high-quality leash makes walks so much more enjoyable! Here are our best tips for this category:
- Collars with nameplates: if jingly tags annoy your and Fido alike, treat your dog to a leather collar that has a nameplate or a fabric collar with their name and your phone number embroidered on. Both of these eliminate the need for pesky tags!
- 5 or 6 ft. clip-on leashes: in the case of leashes, I’m all about sticking to the basics. However, I do recommend choosing one with a handling loop close to your dog’s collar (like this one) for when you need to keep them real close for any reason while out leash walking
- Harnesses: many large breed dog owners consider harnesses to be an absolute essential for on-leash walking. It helps prevent the neck strain, spinal pressure, and choking that can occur with leash pulling in a regular collar. If you are doing activities like cart pulling or skijoring with your dog, then a harness is a must!
A variety of toys
We can’t forget the fun! Toys are a definite dog essential. They provide your dog with mental stimulation, promote expected behavior, are an opportunity for bonding and exercise. Toys allow your dog an outlet for chewing, can be used as rewards, and keep your dog happy.
Rotating toys will keep them fun and interesting, and opting for a few different kinds of toys will appeal to your dog in different ways. Here are some different types of dog toys that should be in every collection. You can pick and choose based on what style of play most interests your dog, but here’s a basic list of dog toy essentials:
- Retrieving toys: these are always a hit with my pack. Keep your games of fetch fresh by switching it up with balls, Frisbees, or a football shape for the irregular bounce.
- Tough chew toys: dogs have an inherent need to chew, set them up for success (and to avoid a ruined slipper) by getting them some tough chew toys! Natural rubber, like the toys here at Monster K9 are excellent, additionally, we recommend deer or elk antlers for tough chewers
- Toys to fill with a treat: when my dogs are wiggly and a walk just isn’t in the cards, filling a treat stick with peanut butter keeps them busy for a while! This is a great addition to every toy collection
- Squeaky toys: if you’ve got a dog that goes nuts for a squeak, make sure to have a few of these fun toys in the house! Just make sure to keep a close eye on them for dog toy safety
Dog bed and crate
Every dog deserves a space that’s their own, and if you want any shot at getting your pup off the couch (I’m losing that battle…) a comfortable dog bed will be important. While not every adult dog needs a crate, if your adult dog is new to your family or having behavior issues, crate training is a highly effective approach. Read more about crate training to get started.
- Memory foam dog bed: with three large breed dogs in our home, and a few others that have passed on over the years, we’ve had our fair share of dog beds. Investing in a good bed has made all the difference in actually getting our dogs to use them! This PetFusion dog bed (not sponsored!) is SUCH a hit with all three of our dogs. I can’t recommend it enough.
- A bed that’s easy to clean: whether you go with my recommendation or not, definitely opt for a bed with an easy to remove cover for washing
- Crib mattress protector: wait what? You read that right. If you have a dog that’s prone to accidents or just really dirty all the time (I have both), put a crib mattress protector and crib sheet over your dogs bed. It makes it so much easier to keep their bed clean. We keep two sets to rotate on each bed
- Crate with removable tray: Most crates have this, but definitely check! This makes cleaning your dog’s crate much easier. Bonus points for a collapsible crate if you travel often
Dog grooming must-haves
No matter what variety of dog you have, you need some grooming tools on hand. The first step is knowing what kind of coat your dog has and choosing the appropriate brush and tools for the job. Here’s a basic checklist of grooming dog essentials.
- The right brush for your dog: read about how to choose in this article all about dog shedding
- Pet clippers: even if your dog’s breed doesn’t require regular haircuts, a pair of buzzers are handy to have around if you need to shave away the hair around a hotspot or other injury
- A great vacuum: I’m going to include this here because, you know, dog hair. But seriously, a good vacuum for dog fur is a must for all dog owners!
- Dog specific shampoo: dogs shouldn’t be washed with human shampoo, get a gentle formula targeted for canines
All your dog essentials on one list
There ya have it! You’ve got a pretty good idea of what dog essentials to stock up on for your favorite furry friend. We’ve covered what you need in terms of feeding, grooming, walking, and playing so you’ll be totally set.
Do you have a favorite dog product or tip that didn’t make the list? Be sure to chime in below!