Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Must Haves

by Kris Phillips
*Diana Beideman

*Diana Beideman

It is estimated that pet owners will spend around $60 Billion in 2015! That adds up to a whole lot of stuff. Looking around my home (or any pet home) its pretty clear that the furry ones have an abundance of belongings. But among all that stuff every pet family has a few must-haves. The few things that are serious essentials. Here’s a peak into my furever friends necessities. We use most of these on a daily basis.

0428Stainless Steel Bowls. If you ask Swota these are probably the most important thing in the whole place! Where the food comes from. There are a lot of bowls on the market but for our rambunctious bunch ceramic is just too fragile. Like most dogs, Swota get SUPER excited at dinner time, she jumps and spins and howls, and more often than not steps on the edge of her not-yet-filled bowl and sends it flying! We used plastic for a long time but found it chewed up and hard to clean. With so many years in the desert we used a big plastic auto-water bowl. Right up until Yukon developed a red, blistered nose and our vet suggested it could be related to his plastic bowls. So we switched to stainless steel. These bowls are sturdy, easy to clean, and chew resistant. Plus, they make a great dinner “gong” when Swota sends them flying across the kitchen.

Halti 7-in-1 Leash. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this leash! We do a lot of hiking and this leash lets me leashadjust from keeping the dogs in a proper heel on a wide trail, to staggering them in front of me on a narrow climb. Plus the d-rings & snaps allow me to wrap it around my waist and go hands free while jogging. There are a lot of these leashes out there, but this one is probably the best value, costing about as much as a regular leash. I snap on a couple small carabiners for added control.

Antlers & Kong Chews: When I raised my first husky 15 years ago I found out she would only play with toys that squeaked. But her powerful prey drive meant every stuffed squeaky toy met a quick and violent end. Enter the Kong Air, a tennis ball tough squeaky toy. Her first one lasted almost 5 years, until her little brother finally destroyed it. Yukon still has a kong air football we bought him when he was just two. Swota is just as tough on her chew toys and likes to switch between a traditional Kong and antler chews. Both of which hold up well to her intense chewing.

*this was our first outing with this pack, it needs a little adjusting so it doesn't slide

*this was our first outing with this pack, it needs a little adjusting so it doesn’t slide

Kong Back Pack: This is a MUST HAVE if you have a young, powerful dog. As a 4-yr old Mala-mutt Swota has an abundance of power and energy. Yukon, on the other hand, has over a decade behind him. So no matter how far we go she can out last Yukon (and me). And when we get home from a jog or hike, Yukon is exhausted and Swota still wants to play! Enter the blessing of the back pack. When we go hiking I toss a big water bottle on each side, it’s a nice reprieve for me to not have to haul everyones water. And when we go for a short jog? A pair of 3lb weights gives the pack a little heft to slow her down. And by the end of the adventure Swota’s as tired as Yukon. 6lbs of weight seems to compensate nicely for 6 years of age. For most young, healthy, adult dogs it is safe to load up to 25% of their ideal body weight. I have tried other packs in the past but they tended to slip, or not fit right. The Kong pack stays put as long as you keep the load balanced. So when our pack started to pull apart at the seam after just a couple months I was pretty bummed. But a quick email to Kong headquarters and they shipped a new one out the next day! I have loved Kong products since they came out with the Air Kong over 10 years ago! Their products are super tough and they stand behind them.

And Christmas before last Santa brought the fur-kids a pair of giant Kong beds. My past experience with dog beds is that within a few months the stuffing is squished flat and they are completely matted with hair. It’s been 17 months and not only do the dogs still love their beds but the beds are still fluffy. And whatever the fabric is, the hair vacuums right off. Our only complaint is the strip of canvas that runs down the middle of the bed. When we first got them, we had cover them with throw blankets before the dogs would lay down.

20150529_162947-1The Fur Buster. Twice a year shedding season leaves our living room looking like a sheep exploded! Just ten minutes after brushing & vacuuming there are new tufts littering our living space. And 12 hours later Yukon looks like he’s having the worst bad-hair day ever. The fur buster undercoat comb speeds the whole process. By pulling the loose undercoat out his shedding process takes just a couple weeks instead of a couple months. Of course I’m pretty sure he thinks we are stealing his fur. You can see how he pouts about it.

What awesome pet products can your pets not live without?


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