10 Essential Products Every Dog Owner Needs

iStock.com/blanscape
iStock.com/blanscape

Every dog parent wants to spoil their beloved pooch, and there are infinite pet products out there designed to help you do so. Here are 10 essentials every dog owner needs, whether you just brought home a new puppy or are just looking to add to your loyal friend’s collection of pet accessories.

1. Nite Ize Nite Dawg Dog Collar

A Golden Retriever wears a light-up collar while walking through a field.

Nite Ize, Amazon

Keep your pooch safe at all hours with a reflective, light-up collar that will make them visible from any angle at distances of up to 1000 feet. The LED lights on the battery-powered Night Ize Night Dawg collar feature flashing and glow modes for maximum visibility. The collar is also water-resistant for rainy days (or pond-loving dogs) and is designed to run for 100 hours before you need to change its batteries. It comes in four different sizes that will fit pups of all shapes, sizes, and breeds.

Buy it on Amazon starting at $15, at Chewy starting at $12, or at the retailers below:

2. Chase ’n Chomp Amazing Squeaker Ball

A Chase 'n Chomp squeaker ball

Chase 'n Chomp, Amazon

We’ve written about the amazing staying power of Chase ’n Chomp’s squeaker ball before, because according to pet owners, it’s virtually indestructible. Amazon reviewers swear their dogs love it: One even says her German Shepherd’s relationship with her squeaker ball is “like Golem with his magic ring—it’s that serious!”—which is about the highest praise we can imagine. The squeaker will outlast even the most intense chewing, and in case your dog is a swimmer, it floats, too.

Buy it on Amazon for $8.

3. Pooch Selfie Camera Attachment

The Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment is the easiest way to make sure the camera loves your pup as much as you do. The mount allows you to affix a tennis ball on top of your phone, giving your dog something enticing to look at so that you can capture the perfect photo of the two of you. It comes with a squeaky ball designed to get your dog’s attention, but any standard tennis ball will work. The clasp will fit on most smartphones and smartphone cases.

Buy it on The Grommet for $10.

4. Pogi’s Eco-Friendly Pee Pads

A package of puppy pee pads

Pogi's Pet Supplies, Amazon

House-training accidents are unavoidable, but you don’t need to worry about your furry friend ruining your floors. Pogi’s absorbent pee pads are made with plant-based, renewable materials so that you don’t have to feel guilty about hurting the environment for the sake of convenience. Better yet, the adhesive backing won’t slide around on hard floors, and the quilted core stops odors and leaks in their tracks. They also contain a dog attractant designed to make sure your pooch goes on the pad, not your floor. And they’re not just for puppies—pee pads are an excellent choice for older dogs or any pup that has trouble holding it in between walks. And if you just can’t convince your dog to stop marking its territory, dog diapers and wraps are a good option. (Mental Floss’s resident office dog, Simba, looks adorable in his.)

Buy them on Amazon for $12.

5. KONG Stuff-a-Ball Dog Toy

A KONG Stuff-a-Ball toy

KONG, Amazon

Unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars on dental cleanings and tooth extractions later in your dog’s life, you probably want to take care of their teeth. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting up in their molars with a toothbrush. There are plenty of dental chews and tooth-friendly toys, including this one from beloved pet toy brand KONG. The puzzle toy one can be stuffed with treats or peanut butter, and as your dog chews at it to extract its contents, the exterior ridges will clean their teeth. It comes in three different sizes and is designed to withstand even the toughest chewers.

Buy it on Amazon for $13 and up or at Chewy for $11 and up.

6. iFetch Automatic Ball Launcher

Your dog’s stamina for playing fetch probably far outweighs your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for saying no to those begging puppy-dog eyes. You can now outsource your playtime to a robot. The iFetch automatic ball launcher is made to play with your dog when you cannot. The interactive gadget can be programmed to throw balls 10, 20, or 30 feet, depending on the size of your home and your dog’s stamina, and comes with miniature balls designed for smaller dogs. (The company also makes a version that can launch a standard tennis ball up to 40 feet, called the iFetch Too.)

Buy it on Amazon for $110 or on Chewy for $106.

7. Burt’s Bees for Dogs Oatmeal Shampoo

A bottle of Burt's Bees dog shampoo

Burt's Bees, Amazon

No matter the breed, size, or hair type, your dog is bound to get stinky at some point. And while you’ll want to bathe them, you don’t want to irritate their skin. This colloidal oatmeal shampoo from Burt’s Bees promises to clean, soothe, and soften your dog’s dry skin and fur and reduce itching. It’s pH balanced, tear-free, and perfect for sensitive skin.

Buy it on Amazon or Chewy for $5.

8. Aikiou Interactive Dog Bowl

A dog eats out of a puzzle bowl shaped like an oversized paw.

Aikiou, Chewy

Challenge your dog’s mind while keeping their body trim with an interactive puzzle feeder that forces them to work for their dinner. Aikiou’s interactive bowl provides more of a challenge than most slow-feeding puzzle bowls, forcing your dog to nose through each of the “toe caps” on the paw-shaped bowl to reveal the kibble beneath—similar to the foraging behavior your pup would use in the wild. “In addition to slowing down his food intake to help prevent bloat and maintain a healthy weight, the mental stimulation also reduces boredom and anxiety while increasing physical activity and problem-solving skills,” the company promises.

Buy it on Chewy for $20.

9. Furbo Dog Camera

Furbo’s dog cam allows you to do more than just check in on your dog while you’re at work. You can view your pup on the high-definition, wide-angle livestream 24/7 with night vision capabilities. You can fill the robot with treats and use your phone to direct it to through treats for your pup. And you can calm an anxious dog with the bark-alert feature, which allows the Furbo to detect when your dog is barking so that you can see what’s going on and talk to them through the associated app. It can also detect a flurry of movement, such as if your dog is jumping on the couch, chewing cords, or pacing anxiously. Several users say these alerts have proved key in an emergency, detecting them to house fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and dogs tearing through massive bags of chocolate.

Buy it from Furbo or on Amazon for $199.

10. BarkBox

If you can’t choose what to buy your pup, let BarkBox choose for you. Each monthly subscription box comes with at least two toys, two bags of treats, and a chew around a specific theme, like “Knights of the Hound Table” and “Chewrassic Park.” You can choose to receive small, medium, or large toys; specify if your dog has food allergies; and decide between a one-month, six-month, or 12-month subscription. If your dog is a particularly enthusiastic chewer, the company also offers a Super Chewer box that comes with extra-durable toys.

Buy it on BarkBox starting at $22 a box.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Golden Girls Prayer Candles Are a Great Way to Say 'Thank You for Being a Friend'

Amazon
Amazon

Golden Girls fans have a new piece of kitschy memorabilia to add to their collections. These prayer candles, featuring all four of the leading ladies, make the perfect gift for devoted followers of the show.

The set comes with four candles depicting each of the Girls: Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia. Standing 8 inches tall, they come with enough wax to burn for 100 hours. The pack of four is available for a total price of $60 on Amazon.

Shopping for the Golden Girls fan in your life should be easy this holiday season. If pop culture prayer candles aren't their thing, you could buy them Golden Girls Monopoly, socks, or even Funko Pops inspired by the beloved sitcom. And if they'd appreciate something even more offbeat, this Halloween-themed "Golden Ghouls" shirt should do the trick.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Quirky Books for Imaginative Kids

Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster

Though childhood classics like A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are never truly go out of style, each year brings a new cache of funny and fantastical books that will feed the expanding imaginations of young readers everywhere. From a self-conscious sewer monster who wants to make friends to a gluttonous dinosaur who gobbled up Christmas, this guide has the perfect quirky story for every kind of kid on your holiday gift list.

1. Rumple Buttercup // Matthew Gray Gubler ($9)

This whimsical tale about a self-conscious sewer monster is written and illustrated by Criminal Minds star, and king of quirk, Matthew Gray Gubler. While cute characters and a simple message about embracing your individuality make it a great gift for very young kids, its absurdist humor makes it a laugh-out-loud read for older kids and adults, too.

Buy it: Amazon

2. President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath // Mac Barnett ($8)

president taft is stuck in the bath
Candlewick/Amazon

Mac Barnett’s good-natured retelling of William Howard Taft’s infamous (though unconfirmed) bathtub blunder teaches children two things. One, history is far from a tedious list of names, dates, laws, and battles. And two, even the most stately world leaders have embarrassing moments.

Buy it: Amazon

3. It’s Only Stanley // Jon Agee ($15)

it's only stanley book
Dial Books/Amazon

When strange noises wake the Wimbledon family at night, they assume their dog Stanley is cleaning or fixing something; in reality, Stanley is transforming their house into a rocket ship that will carry them to an alien-inhabited planet. Fans of The Secret Life of Pets and Phineas and Ferb’s Perry the Platypus will love this rhyming read-aloud (and surely wonder what their own pet is up to when they’re not around).

Buy it: Amazon

4. Frankie Sparks and the Big Sled Challenge // Megan Frazer Blakemore ($6)

frankie sparks and the big sled challenge
Aladdin/Amazon

Third-grade inventor Frankie Sparks is back for the third book in her STEM-inspired series, and this time, she’s about to learn that the hardest part about creating a competition-winning sled is less about sled-building and more about team-building. Great for elementary school kids who love to create anything—be it art or architecture—as well as anyone who’s ever had to work on a group project.

Buy it: Amazon

5. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! // Mo Willems ($10)

the pigeon has to go to school
Hyperion Books/Amazon

Mo Willems’s original pigeon book was Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, a thoroughly riotous, award-winning tale about a pigeon trying to convince readers to let it drive the bus when the bus driver asked them not to. In the latest story, the headstrong pigeon pivots to something it very much does not want to do—go to school. It sends a message about the value of doing things you don’t want to do, but, most importantly, it’s also really funny.

Buy it: Amazon

6. The Glass Town Game // Catherynne M. Valente ($11)

the glass town game
Simon & Schuster/Amazon

Catherynne M. Valente spins a riveting fictional tale from the true story of Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell Brontë’s childhood in a Yorkshire parsonage, where they passed the time dreaming up an intricate fantasy land populated with toy soldiers. In Valente’s novel, the fantasy land comes to life, complete with whale-sized flies, Champagne flutes that play music, and fire-breathing porcelain roosters, and the siblings must use all their wit and imagination to figure out how to get home. It’s a little like Alice in Wonderland meets The Chronicles of Narnia, and perfect for fans of both.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Lambslide // Ann Patchett ($13)

lambslide
HarperCollins/Amazon

The internationally bestselling author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth is just as clever when it comes to writing for kids. In Lambslide, a group of lambs mistakenly hear lambslide instead of landslide and begin a farm-wide campaign for an actual slide for lambs. With quaint illustrations, endearing characters, and an engaging plot, this is the type of book that ends up in the family for generations.

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Book With No Pictures // B.J. Novak ($9)

The Office alum B.J. Novak turns storytime into a full-fledged comedic performance with The Book With No Pictures, a book filled with nonsense words and phrases like blork and blaggity blaggity, which the reader has to read aloud. For parents, it’s a blueprint for embracing their silly side. For kids, it’s a chance to see their parents not seem so parental.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Spencer’s New Pet // Jessie Sima ($14)

spencer's new pet
Simon & Schuster/Amazon

The author of Not Quite Narwhal returns with another adorable story, this time about a boy who must avoid sharp objects in order to protect his balloon-animal pet dog. The mostly black-and-white illustrations (except for the dog, which is red) give Spencer’s New Pet a refreshingly old-fashioned feel, and the tale itself is sweet, evenly paced, and timeless.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Serafina and the Black Cloak // Robert Beatty ($8)

serafina and the black cloak
Disney-Hyperion/Amazon

When children begin disappearing from the Biltmore Estate, Serafina, who secretly lives in the basement, knows the culprit is a mysterious man in a black cloak who prowls the corridors at night. This novel has everything a quality middle-grade fantasy needs, including secret passageways, a forbidden forest, unknown magic, and a scrappy heroine. And the chills and thrills don’t stop at the end—it’s the first in a series of four (so far).

Buy it: Amazon

11. The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas // Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter ($18)

the dinosaur that pooped christmas
Aladdin/Amazon

This jolly, strange story about a ravenous pet dinosaur who gobbles up all of Christmas is hilarious enough on its own—and perhaps even more so when you consider that it was written by British punk rockers Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter from the band McFly.

Buy it: Amazon

12. This Is a Taco! // Andrew Cangelose ($16)

this is a taco
Lion Forge/Amazon

A high-spirited, unique squirrel named Taco provides color commentary on regular squirrel facts in This Is a Taco!, a book that is much more than a factual guide to squirrels. In it, Taco embellishes, acts out, and sometimes completely changes the facts to be truer to his personal experience as a squirrel, which involves being opinionated and eating lots of tacos.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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