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Ridgeback approved recommendations

I’m frequently asked about the products I choose for my dogs. It seems to be that if a product can keep up with Penny it can keep up with nearly any pup! I heavily research all my purchases and I aim to find the best overall value. Sometimes that means purchasing cheap plush toys because the expensive “indestructible” ones don’t last. Sometimes that means biting the bullet for an pricey dog bed because it’s important my dogs have a comfortable and durable place to sleep.

After investigating and testing hundreds of products, there are a few I almost universally recommend. I decided to compile a master list here that I hope will be helpful for anyone looking to make a similar purchase. I don’t believe there is one best product in every category, but I hope this list provides a good place to start.

(Note: I am not directly affiliated with or sponsored by any of these brands.  I purchased all products below at retail price. However, if you do purchase one of the products via an Amazon link I will receive a referral fee.) 

Kyjen Slow Feed Bowl

Sometimes the best things in life are (almost) free! These bowls cost $10 but they’re priceless in my book. They significantly slow down speed eaters and they’re a great way to make mealtime an engaging, fun and safe experience.

Kong Zoom Groom

A cheap and awesome curry-comb style brush, excellent for dogs with short coats.

Squishy Face Flirt Pole

If you are DIY handy, there are a lot of guides to building your own flirt pole for cheap. But I found the squishy face on sale and it has given us years of  awesome use. Penny tested, Will approved!

Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo/Virbac Epi-Soothe Conditioner

There’s no universal “best” shampoo/conditioner, but after a lot of trial and error, I’ve found Virbac’s products are worth the premium price. In my experience, a little goes a long way to keep coats looking, feeling and smelling better for a significantly longer time.

Virbac Toothpaste

My dogs will literally wrestle each other for the opportunity to be the first one to get their teeth brushed with this stuff.

Zymox Pet Ear Treatment

It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way towards preventing/remedying ear infections. I still use the first bottle I ever bought and this product has literally saved me hundreds of dollars overs the years. Eko used to get terrible ear infections from his treasure hunting (see below) at the beach and we’d be back and forth to the vet for treatment. After trying countless ear products, this Zymox Otic was far and away the best way to maintain ear health/cleanliness.

Dremel Nail Grinder

I strongly advise using a rotary tool to grind your dog’s nails rather than using a traditional clipper. It takes practice , but it makes grooming safer and easier in the long run. I recommend avoiding any of the cordless grinding tools. What you gain in convenience you lose in power/consistency. Any Dremel will work, but this simple two-speed one serves us perfectly

Grizzly Salmon Oil

Does your pup have itchy/dry skin? Adding salmon oil helped heal Eko’s coat and skin during a particularly harsh winter. It’s also a drool-inducer – Penny goes crazy for the flavor.

Leather Leash/Collar

I like nylon leashes for running/traveling because of how light they are. But for day-to-day walks and for training in general, I prefer the heft of a leather leash and collars. It takes some time to break in, but the weight and feel of the leather helps give you and your pup a much stronger awareness of where each other are. I love our gear from Sexy Beast Dog Collars! (Best to just click on the link and not google that)

Iron Doggy SideKick running leash

If you run with your pup frequently, buying a dedicated hands-free running leash is well worth the investment.  If you’re like me and want to keep your pups close by your side, opt for the shorter sidekick version of the Iron Doggy leash. If you spend most of your time out on the trails then the longer “Runner’s choice” might be a better fit. Both are top notch. Use code RIDGEBACKS for 10% off


For a multitude of reasons I much prefer to give my dogs antlers over bones and other hard chews. I’ve found the freshest, best-priced antlers on ebay. There are tons of listings, just pick your desired size and toughness and voila, you will get your pup’s new favorite treat. No smell, no mess, just a healthy, teeth cleaning treat! (Of course, if you have a power chewer you need to be cautious. I recommend starting with a softer antler just to be safe.)

Simplehuman Storage Can

This storage can had a swift rise from “Why would I ever pay that much money for this?” to “Why didn’t I buy this sooner?” I live in an apartment so space is at a premium. There’s no hidden closet or cabinet for me to store dog food. This airtight can not only keeps food fresh and locked tight, it also looks nice in my kitchen. It’s repelled years of Rhodesian Ridgeback break-in attempts and still performs perfectly.

Anchor Grip Rug Pad

Genies and Ridgebacks both have the ability to send carpets flying. I finally discovered these thicker rug pads which do a much better job than any other pad of keeping rugs firmly attached to the ground.

Chilly Dogs Great White North Coat

A great winter-coat is a must for many dogs. And when it comes to winter, I trust the Canadians. Chilly Dogs coats are awesome performance quality gear that looks and performs incredibly. We’ve put our coats through some of the harshest conditions and they have come out unscathed. A very worthy investment, just make sure to measure and size your pup properly.

Midwest Life Stages Crate

A time tested and dependable staple for every puppy I’ve had.  The included divider lets the crate grow as your puppy does. For a Ridgeback, I recommend going with the largest size (48 inch). You can rest easy knowing your dog – and furniture – are safe and secure when you leave the house. As for any bedding you leave with your puppy? Well, no guarantees there…

iRobot Roomba 980

Guys,  I paid slightly more for my first car than I spent on this vacuum. I resisted getting a robot vacuum for a long time but the reviews were so overwhelmingly positive for this new model that I sucked it up and went for it. Couldn’t be happier with the purchase. Between the dogs and Lincoln we could really run a vacuum non stop. We run the 980 nearly daily and it’s awesome at sweeping up those fine Ridgeback hairs. Makes a big difference in how clean the apartment looks.

Big Barker Bed

I “saved” on dog beds by buying cheap foam beds that lost their shape and had to be replaced. Don’t make my mistake! Bite the bullet, and buy a high-quality bed the first time. It burns a hole in your wallet  but it will save you money in the long term. Plus, I sleep better knowing my dogs sleep on a supportive, comfortable bed. I have two Big Barkers and they both have proved a durable, worthy investment.