Draft your pet shopping list with us to welcome your fur baby with the best of must-have items. Image Credit: Unsplash/FLOUFFY

Every pet parent is always on the lookout for the next best item for their fur babies. Equipping your home with the right tools can help ensure the comfort and safety of your pet, keeping them happy even when you’re away.

“Most pet parents treat their pets like their own children, and they’re ready to take that extra step to make sure the pets are active, while investing in essentials that are needed to keep them safe and engaged for their health and happiness,” said Meenakshi Chauhan, who runs Unleash Dubai – an all-in-one domestic facility that offers boarding, daycare and grooming services for cats and dogs – alongside her equally pet-smitten husband.

“But, do remember that safety equipment and recreational toys are just there to help you bond with your pets – you need to engage with them first-hand,” Chauhan added.

If you’ve just added a new member to the family and don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled an essentials list for first-time pet owners. Experienced pet parents might also find an item or two for an upgrade here. From buying the right grooming kit to choosing interactive toys, find out what an avid animal lover, grown on a generational love for house pets, recommends.

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1. Best Storage for Dry Food: Vumdua Cat and Dog Food Storage Container

Your pet’s kibbles might retain their crunch for a few days, but the key to keeping the entire bag fresh is to store the contents in a separate container. Chauhan says dry food should be transferred into air-tight storage boxes to extend their shelf life. Try the Vumuda cat and dog food storage container, made from food-safe, powder-coated galvanised steel. The bin can hold up to six pounds (2.7kgs) of biscuits, treats or kibbles, all keeping fresh with the rubber seal airtight lid, which reviewers attest to. They also love the matching serving scoop that hangs on the side of the container for quick transfers. For cat owners, check out the kitten version here.

2. Best Water Fountain: NPET Cat Dog Water Fountain

Consider flowing water over a basic water-in-bowl setup. If it’s a feat to get your pet to lap up some water daily, then all the more reason to switch to a water fountain. “Instead of keeping water stagnant in the bowl, where it can get mucky over time, get a water fountain to keep the water fresh and flowing,” advised Chauhan. The NPET fountain comes with a smart sensor – once your cat or dog approaches for a sip, it automatically turns on, helping you conserve energy. It’s a clear cubic container with a capacity for three litres of water. The fountain goes ahead and softens hard water for your pet, too, using three built-in filters. Tried-and-tested reviews mention that the fountain is an easy clean-up, keeps the water fresh longer than others, and pumps quietly.

3. Best Toys for Engagement: All For Paws Interactives Treat Maze Cat Toy

Chauhan says toys are very pet-specific – the choice of plaything will depend on the breed, age and your pet’s personal preference. “Toys keep your pet engaged when they’re alone, and since this is a recreational activity for them, they won't be seeking you out for attention all the time,” she added. Another word of advice is to avoid human toys, since these seldom withstand rough play, and broken parts could endanger the animal. Chauhan suggests dog and cat toys by trusted brands like Aussie Dog, Armitage and All For Paws. Our pick is an interactive treat maze for feline friends that keeps them guessing at every level of difficulty. Reviewers say the maze can be reconstructed in several different ways to challenge their cats.

4. Best Toy for Anxious Pets: All for Paws Dog Anxiety Relief Plush Toy

Besides fun, interactive gameplay, toys can also induce a calming effect to relieve young pets, especially puppies, of anxiety. All For Paws offers a bear plush toy that carries a battery-operated heartbeat simulator and a microwavable heat pack to mimic your warmth. Tuck it into your pet’s bed and go about your day; soon enough, the soft toy will become a bedtime staple, as reviews report. Some say the seams have braved brilliantly against their pup’s rough play.

5. Best Calming Kit: Pet Remedy Natural De-stress & Calming Kit

Another great way to help pets de-stress is to use sprays or diffusers with essential oils. Chauhan swears by Pet Remedy’s wide range of calming products: “If dogs are aggressive and have separation anxiety, then we use items like essential oils to calm the pet down”. The best part about this calming kit is that it’s suitable for dogs, cats, rabbits and even birds. In it, you’ll find a plug diffuser, two calming sprays and 12 calming wipes, all infused with Valerian oil with hints of vetiver, basil sweet and clary sage essential oils.

6. Best Dog Harness: Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness, Dog Harness

If you’ve decided to bring home a dog, then a harness and a leash should be high up on your shopping list. “Every dog owner should have a sturdy harness and leash. Walks are an essential part of a pet’s life, and when you take them out on walks daily, pet safety should come first and foremost,” said Chauhan. The right fit depends on your dog’s temperament, size and breed. “Make sure the harness always has a municipality tag with your contact number and dog’s name on it,” she added. Chauhan recommends Julius-K9’s strong harnesses for bigger breeds, and Pickles’ stylish and colourful harnesses for smaller builds. Our Julius-K9 pick fits any dog weighing 23 to 30kgs, and it also doubles as a reflective vest for night walks. Often opted for by professional trainers and security personnel, the harness is made of breathable and skin-friendly material, complete with heavy-duty buckles.

7. Best Dog Leash: Alcott Adventure Retractable Leash

As for leashes, Chauhan highlights Alcott Adventure. This retractable leash supports large dogs up to 110 pounds (49.8kgs) and stretches up to 16 feet (4.8 metres). The nylon belt is neon green with reflective stitching, so that your pet can safely roam about to sniff and explore the outdoors. Dog owners with smaller breeds can pick the best cord length from the sizes available.

8. Best Pet Tracker: Apple AirTag (4 Pack)

Speaking of walks, there’s no better way to locate your pet at all times than by tagging them with a tracker. Chauhan says pet trackers are a good investment “if you have a dog or a cat that gets out easily or is a runner”. She said: “Air tags by Apple work very well as trackers, and since so many of us use iPhones, it’s easier to set it up, too”. In this pack, you get four coin-sized trackers that link to your Find My app. By harnessing the power of nearby Apple devices, the app points you in the direction of your pet, even when you’re outside the Bluetooth range. It’s splash-, water- and dust-resistant and only weighs 11 grams.

9. Best Grooming Kit: Mikki Bamboo Puppy & Kitten Grooming Kit

It’s important to run a brush through your fur baby’s coat every other day. For one, it prevents their hairs from matting, and two, the detangling process is going to go over much smoother than at the groomer’s. Chauhan says your kit doesn’t have to be fancy – a de-matting brush will do, depending on the thickness of your pet’s coat. She suggests Mikki for grooming products, and its bamboo line is the best pick for new pet parents with pups and kittens. The bristle palm brush and fine-tooth comb provide a gentle introduction to grooming for young pets. Not only does the brush remove loose hairs, but it also distributes natural oils through the coat for a healthy shine. The steel comb, in contrast, helps to trap fleas, eggs and dirt.

10. Best First Aid Kit: ARCA PET Cat and Dog First Aid Kit

It’s quite common for outdoor pets to sustain a scuff or a scratch from rough play, which is why a first aid kit is always useful to have around. Chauhan says to look for a box with antiseptic medicine and bandages. Our pick is the Arca Pet comprehensive first aid kit that fits a surprising number of emergency supplies. From a digital thermometer and pet medicine feeder to antibiotic ointment and sting relief pads, you’ll find everything you need to take care of your fur companion in here. The included pet first aid book will guide pet owners through some basic know-how.

11. Best Lidded Litter Box: All for Paws Go Fresh No Mess Cat Litter Box

A cat litter of good quality makes all the difference, but so does an enclosed litter box. Chauhan says the No Mess litter box by All For Paws has a deep tray with an opening in the lid, so that the cat can jump in and out, without lifting the cover. Excess litter clinging to their fur will fall through small holes, when they’re climbing back out. “Besides, cats are comfortable with enclosures, so they get used to it quickly,” she added.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.