I’m a person who’s whole existence is defined by my dog. He decides when I leave my apartment, where I go and how long I’m gone. He determines how much couch space I’m allowed (it’s always less than he gets). Finally, he influences my Christmas lists. Every year, most of what I’m given is for him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
All of this is to say, I’m something of an expert when it comes to gifts for people who just got a dog and love them more than anything else. If you’re shopping for someone like that, here are some things to consider and a few specific suggestions.
Proceed With Caution
Before I lay out example gifts, keep in mind that food and treats are presents that should be well-researched. That’s because, just like humans, dogs have likes, dislikes and dietary restrictions. For example, my dog has a poultry allergy, so if someone were to give him a chicken treat, he wouldn’t be able to eat it. Likewise, most dogs are on special diets, and changing their food requires tapering. Therefore, if you want to get an edible gift for someone’s dog, ask the owner what they can have. Then, I suggest getting them something fresh from a local dog bakery (or baking your own if you’re any good at that and make sure to research what dogs can and can’t eat).
This same sentiment goes for toys: Heavy chewers will wreck a stuffed animal in seconds, and weak chewers may damage their teeth if you get them something that’s too tough. KONG toys are some of the best out there, but make sure to buy the right size and material for your doggie recipient (here’s our guide for choosing safe dog toys).
With that out of the way, here are my personal gift recommendations for pups and their enthusiastic owners…
Cleaning Supplies and Cosmetics
Dogs are messy, and new pet parents in particular often forget to invest in their hygiene. It’s not only about keeping the dog clean, either — it’s about yourself and your surroundings, too. If you want to give a functional gift, these are some must-have cleaning supplies and cosmetics for dog owners:
- Car Hammocks: I’m a fan of the Active Pets back seat cover, which has saved my seats on endless occasions. This is especially useful for anyone who enjoys taking their pet on road trips or dusty hikes.
- Pet Wipes: These come in clutch whenever your dog decides to step in a puddle of mud. Just in case, I recommend buying hypoallergenic ones — Furbliss and Pogi’s are both popular brands.
- Portable Paw Washers: If your recipient is eco-conscious (or their dog is extra dirty), the Dexas MudBuster is a good alternative to wipes. It’s like a portable washing machine for dog paws.
- Lint Rollers: Any brand works, but the ChomChom roller is reusable, which is always nice.
- Shampoos: Like food and treats, shampoos are often specific to a dog’s needs. Still, they can be a good gift — just consider asking the owner about their dog’s skin and coat first.
- Lotions: For dogs with crusty noses, elbows or paws, Bio Balm is a lifesaver.
- Pet Vacuums: My Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a gift from god. Get one.
Any one of these items — or a basket filled with a few — would make a welcome gift for new and old dog owners alike. Truth is, you can never have too many cleaning supplies or cosmetics when you own a dog. Alternatively, consider grabbing a gift certificate from your local pet groomer. We dog owners could always use a break from washing our own pets.
Like kids, dogs hurt themselves every now and then, so it’s important to have a first aid kit handy. It might not be the most exciting gift, but it’s incredibly useful. Here are some good items to grab:
- Wound Creams: For small cuts, scrapes and irritations, Sulfodene ointment is fantastic.
- Bandages: Bandages that will stay put on fur are super handy.
- Styptic Powders: Dogswell styptic powder is a fan favorite. It’s especially important to keep on hand for people who trim their dog’s nails, since it’s easy to accidentally clip too far back.
If your recipient loves to go on outdoor adventures with their dog, check out my guide to road tripping with animals — there are loads of good gift ideas in there. If you don’t feel like clicking, here are some go-to options:
- Collapsible Bowls: Wilderdog makes great ones.
- LED Collars: Even if your recipient doesn’t take their dog on late-night hikes, these are great for walking around the block after sunset.
- Dog Boots: I’m a huge fan of our QUMY dog shoes, which keep my pup’s feet safe during the hot summer months. Just make sure to get the dog’s size right.
- Dog Backpacks: Not to put the dog into — for them to wear. These are super nice if your recipient likes to go on long hikes with their dog and needs extra storage.
So far, most of my suggestions have been utilitarian because, truthfully, that’s what most of us dog owners need more of (the number of poop bags we go through is truly astonishing) and feel safe having someone else buy for us. Like I already mentioned, other goodies like food, treats and toys often take considerable knowledge of the specific dog to get right. Also, we already have collars, leashes and dog beds (although, hey, maybe artisanal versions would make a good present).
That said, there are some fun, dog-friendly goods that could make decent gifts — for example:
- DOGTV: It’s a little gimmicky, but a subscription to DOGTV could be fun.
- Pet Cameras: If your recipient is as obsessed with their dog as I am with mine, they’ll love a pet camera. Some are surprisingly cheap, and others even let you give treats to your dog from afar.
- Dog Blankets: A person can never have too many waterproof dog blankets.
- Pillows With Their Dog’s Face on It: Yes, this is real. And yes, you should get it.