Dog Essentials Shopping List

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Many first-time owners are turning to shelters and rescue organizations to find their new canine companion, which is great!

These dogs are often excited and anxious, just like you!

Leaving to their new forever home can be an intimidating process, so having all of the essentials before bringing them to your place is crucial for starting your relationship on the right foot.

This article is here to assist you in having all of the things you need for your new pooch. Don’t worry about writing anything down, this list of the essentials will be exactly what you need for your shopping.

By Allison Salonko.

Allison is a Veterinary Technician in the state of Indiana. She graduated from International Business College and Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with a degree in Animal Science and Technology in 2011.

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What To Bring Home

It may seem like a lot of things, but really this is just the initial splurge that you have to do when first getting a dog. You have all the normal stuff like food and water bowls, collar, leash and of course the food.

But there are a few more things that your dog needs to be happy and entertained.

I’ll make it easy though and include the most important items first!

Collar And Leash

I know, I know. It’s a given, but still, it needs to be on the list.

Working at a veterinary hospital for 10 years, you’d be surprised how many dogs don’t have collars or leashes.

Which to me, is a little weird, but it’s fine.

There can be some debate about collars, I personally think that a standard collar or a martingale collar such as Petsafe Martingale Collar are the only kind you need.

The metal chain and pinch collars are just not effective for 95% of the dogs that wear them and owners almost never size them properly.

If you have a dog that pulls, please invest in an Easy Walk Harness that clips in the front or a Gentle Leader.

Trust me… they work!

Leashes, leashes, leashes.

While this also seems silly and easy to remedy, there is one kind of leash that I personally cannot stand.

And I am sure I am speaking for all my veterinary colleagues when I say this but, Flexi-leashes are the WORST! Please, stop getting them. Especially for big dogs.

Honestly a good old fashioned leash is fine. A dog’s leash doesn’t need to extend to 50 feet and wrap up the entire community with it when your dog uses the bathroom.

Food And Water Bowls

Another easy, no brainer item. True.

But, there can be different types of bowls that different dogs may need.

Do you have a giant dog that needs their bowls elevated or do you have a voracious eater who gets sick from inhaling their food too quickly?

There are several types of bowls that you can purchase for your doggo, you just need to know which one is best for you and your new pooch.

I don’t usually mention a preference for metal vs plastic bowls. I think you can’t go wrong with either unless you think you are having a sanitation issue. In that case, choosing a less porous material such as metal would be easier to keep clean.

Elevated bowls such as this one are great for tall or giant dogs and dogs that have neck or back issues and can’t bend down well.

I honestly recommend these elevated bowls for all of those reasons.

Giant breed dogs can bloat more easily if their bowls are low to the ground.

Dogs with neck or back issues need them lifted so that they don’t cause pain or injury when eating.

Then there’s the food gobblers.

The inhalers of kibble, the messiest of messy eaters.

You know if you have one of those dogs! I always recommend owners of voracious eaters to get the Busy Bowls or some other kind of busy feeder. There are so many out there to choose from, so I listed a few of my favorites below.

Favorite Busy Feeders:

All three of these options are great at keeping that excited eater from choking on their food or puking it up right away.

Now only that, but slowing down their eating can also decrease the chances for bloating and aid in digestion.

Dog Food

Choosing a dog food, especially as a first-time owner, can be overwhelming!

The first thing you will notice when you walk into a pet store is that there is an abundance of food choices.

Almost too many options, if you ask me.

I always recommend keeping it simple when it comes to dog food.

You don’t have to go and break the bank on your dog’s diet either.

There are plenty that are nutritionally complete and healthy for your dog without it being some kind of fancy, trendy food that has decent commercials and advertisements.

If you are like most owners and feel anxious when looking at all the different food options then just stick to the main 4 that I like to suggest.

I am not saying that other brands of dog food are less superior.

This is just what I prefer to recommend for dogs that are otherwise healthy and doing well with a normal diet.

For those dogs that need something special or prescription strength, then I always suggest calling or consulting with your veterinarian first.

Dog Crate

Crate training your dog is a crucial part of having one.

While there are plenty of owners that don’t use them, or only did when their dog was young, they are still the safest place for your pet to be when they are home alone.

There are many different crate designs, ranging from the standard wire cages that many think of, to all plastic crates or even some high impact crates that are meant for the craziest of kennel chewers.

You can find more about small dog crates here.

Most owners don’t need to go all out and get something that can withstand a hurricane.

Usually a simple wire crate will do, and your dog will have plenty of visibility and room.

Many wire crates such as this one by Diggs come with a section that can be inserted to make the kennel smaller while they are a puppy, making it easy to upgrade as they grow up without having to buy multiple different cages.

Plus most of them collapse too.

Overall, wire crates are the way to go, in my opinion.

Dog Bed

I feel like dog beds can be a little pricey sometimes but they are well worth the money. Especially if you have a big dog that takes up a lot of room on your bed or couch.

While it is nice to cuddle with your canine companion and watch TV together, sometimes it’s nice not having to share your space with them all the time.

I enjoy recommending getting orthopedic dog beds, or at least a bed with a foam core for extra comfort.

If you are adopting an older dog, this is especially important on their aging and achy joints.

Top 3 dog bed suggestions are:

These beds were chosen for their comfort level as well as their convenience for owners.

Many dog beds on the market do not have waterproof liners or washable covers, which I find very important when you have a pet.

They are prone to messes after all!

Grooming Supplies

There are many dogs that don’t require much grooming because of their hair coat and breed.

But then there are several dogs that need plenty of appointments at the doggy salon if they want to keep up their good looks and avoid becoming matted.

Dog Brush or a Furminator

No matter the hair coat that your new dog has, I always recommend having a dog brush.

You can go with a traditional wire brush or use a Furminator such as this one if your dog sheds a lot.

Tooth Brush

Another important grooming supply many people don’t think of is the tooth brush.

Sure, it may be a failure and your dog will not be amenable to it, but it is pretty cheap and always worth a shot.

Doing routine teeth brushing and maintenance will most likely not eliminate the need for yearly dental cleanings with your dog, but it will help keep down plaque and tartar in the meantime.

Ear Cleaner and Nail Clipper

Ear cleaner like this one and nail clippers are other essential items every dog owner should have.

Regularly cleaning your dog’s ear, whether or not they seem to be bothering them or dirty is truly important.

It can keep away and hopefully prevent nasty ear infection in the future, especially if your dog is already prone to them.

Nail clipping at home is also important.

Many dogs don’t enjoy it but having it performed at home where they are most comfortable is much less scary and cost effective than taking them to the vet or groomer for their pedicure.

Shampoo is one that you can usually just purchase a standard dog shampoo, usually one with oatmeal is a pleasant choice.

dog nail clippers are one of essentials for dogs

Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention

No one wants fleas or ticks in their home. And especially no one wants worms growing in their dog’s heart.

So, that’s why preventing these issues is the way to go!

I always suggest going to your veterinarian for suggestions on what flea, tick and heartworm prevention you should use for your dog.

There are way too many products out there on the market, and most of them don’t work! If you go with a cheap brand, you can almost always expect to see issues.

When it comes to flea and tick prevention, you WILL get what you pay for!

Using a reputable brand is important, and ensuring that it is not counterfeit is also crucial to your pet’s safety.

Top 3 recommended brands of flea and tick prevention:

  • Bravecto: My favorite flea and tick prevention. This is what I use with my own dog, it works great and has very few reported side effects. (Also, my dog has epilepsy and it DOES NOT cause her to have seizure flare ups!)
  • Frontline Gold: Not just the old school Frontline. Fleas have developed a resistance to the original formula.
  • Advantage Multi: Another great and trustworthy brand that has been well-established for years.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm prevention is one that I always strive to educate owners on.

Heartworm disease is scary and life-threatening.

While the prevention may be a cost that some owners are turned off by, it is absolutely crucial in your pet ownership responsibilities to protect your canine companion from these nasty parasites.

Heartworm disease is contracted through the bite of a heartworm positive mosquito, which then causes worms to grow in their heart. It is not an intestinal parasite and can only be found with specific blood tests.

There are several types of heartworm prevention on the market, but one important thing to remember is, if it doesn’t require a veterinarian prescription to purchase it, then don’t get it!

These products are something that REQUIRE a prescription via a doctor, so anyone not asking for one is probably selling counterfeit products.

Please stay informed on where you purchase your products online.

Top 3 heartworm preventions:

  • Proheart 6 or 12: This is something you can only receive from your veterinarian as it is an injection that they must give there. It lasts for 6 or 12 months depending on which option you choose. This is what I use for my dog.
  • Heartgard: Many owners are familiar with this brand just because of the name. It is the oldest oral monthly heartworm prevention product on the market today. It is a reputable brand and is well recommended for those of us that can remember to do it every 30 days.
  • Simparica Trio: A relatively new product but a very respectable one. This product does flea, tick and heartworm prevention monthly. Many owners love the convenience of this all-in-one product.

Toys And Treats

There are again, hundreds of options online and at stores for dog toys and treats.

My main recommendation for toys is whatever your dog enjoys, plus whatever is safe for their level of chewing.

Some dogs are avid chewers and can destroy many toys in a flash, so finding one durable enough for a pooch like that would be important.

As a veterinary professional, I am always concerned about dogs ingesting their toys and creating foreign bodies or intestinal obstructions.

So find toys that are appropriate for their size and remove any small pieces that they may ingest and cause problems.

Kong toys are my typical recommendation as they are durable, bouncy and easy to hide food in.

First Aid

When it comes to doggy first aid, you will want to always have a veterinarian that you can call in an emergency.

If it is simple and something that you can wait on and just need a quick fix, then using a minor first aid kit can be helpful.

When it comes to stocking up for potential pooch emergencies, I always suggest having a “pet first aid kit”.

You can find these online or at pet stores and they usually come fully prepared with different types of gauze, antiseptics and other types of wound dressings, plus thermometer and tick remover device.

These complete kits make it easy to have exactly what you need in case of a minor injury.

Your First Dog: Having The Essentials

Having your first dog can be stressful when trying to figure out and understand exactly what you need for them.

Of course, you want to make sure that their first experience with you at home is a great one, and that you are prepared for all of their needs.

Hopefully this list helped you find all of the essentials before you bring home your new and beloved canine companion.

Photos by Samson and Ivan.