50 unique gifts for dogs lovers and their canine companions

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dash express dog treat maker is one of best gifts for dog lovers
Treat your favorite chef to a dog treat maker from Dash.

  • We rounded up the most unique and thoughtful gifts for dog lovers and their canine companions.
  • Here are 50 useful, entertaining, and adorable gifts dogs and their humans will love.
  • For more gift ideas for everyone in your life, check out all of Insider Reviews gift guides.

To a dog lover, the best gift of all is, well, a dog. But second best? Anything made for or reminiscent of the canine companion that stole their heart.

In this list, we’ve curated 50 of our favorites, including a ground-breaking book about dogs who talk, a stylish dog crate and a self-cooling bed for hot summer days. Whether you want a sweet token of canine kind, an exciting toy to keep your pup busy, or design-forward doggy decor, you’ll find what you’re looking among these unique gifts for dogs and their humans.

Here are 50 of the best gifts for dogs lovers and their dogs:

A mind-blowing book about a dog who ‘talks’

how stella learned to talk book

“How Stella Learned to Talk by Christina Hunger,” available at Amazon and Target, $17.49

In this fascinating book, speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger chronicles her journey teaching her dog Stella to communicate using programmable buttons. This book not only details Stella’s education but breaks down Hunger’s techniques so that you, too, can teach your dog to “talk.”

A cool bed to beat the heat

golden retriever lying on the arf pets cooling dog mat

Arf Pets Dog Self Cooling Mat, available at Petco and Chewy, from $29.99

When the weather warms up, so does your dog’s body temperature, especially if you have a flat-nosed pup. Give them some relief on summer days with this tried and true cooling mat. Its interior gel stays chilly for up to three hours and requires no battery, refrigeration, or electricity to recharge.

A bright, bold chair patterned in regal dogs

dog dining chair

Kendra Dandy Muse Tamsin Dining Chair, available at Anthropologie, $148

Make a canine statement with designer Kendra Dandy’s Muse Tasmin Dining Chair. The front and back of the modern yellow rubberwood seat is covered in more than a dozen gray sighthounds, each doing their own best “sit.” The chair is lightweight and its wooden legs are removable.

A pack of doggy chip clips

six chip clips with dog faces

Kikkerland Doggie Bag Clips, available at World Market and Amazon $5

Reseal your goodie bags with an assortment of canine faces. This posse of chip clips includes a corgi, Boston terrier, bulldog, collie, dalmatian, and shiba inu, each of whom are very good dogs. The clips are made from extra-strong plastic with steel springs.

A handsome dog crate to dress up your decor

diggs revol dog crate

Diggs Revol Dog Crate, available at Diggs and Amazon, $245

Down with ugly dog crates that mess up your decor! Diggs Revol isn’t just stylishly designed, it folds flat in seconds and has wheels for rolling out of sight. The crate is available in three colors and comes with a puppy divider and removable, easy-to-clean floor.

Fresh pet food to fill their dog’s belly

just food for dogs turkey macaroni

Just Food for Dogs, available at Just Food for Dogs, from $5.95

Just Food for Dogs uses fresh, human-grade meats and veggies to produce nutritious canine meals across six different recipes. The food is flash frozen and delivered right to their door. Read more about the best fresh dog food in our buying guide.

A food puzzle to work the canine brain

Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Dog Puzzle under $25

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Dog Puzzle, available at Chewy, Petco and Amazon, from $12.50

For smarty pants dogs that need a job to do, these food puzzles are a great way to both entertain and work the brain. Pop treats or kibble into the compartments and tap into their dog’s under-utilized scavenging instincts. 

A book to decode your dog’s star sign

dog astrology book

“Dog Astrology” by Stella Andromeda, available at Amazon and Urban Outfitters, $14.99

The astrological sun sign under which your dog was born matters, according to this playful book by Stella Andromeda. Find out what an Aries or Leo looks like among the canine set, your dog’s luckiest days ,and whether you and your pup are a match written in the stars.

Puppy throw pillows to dress up their decor

dog face pillow

Dog Face Pillow, available at Uncommon Goods, $25

Accent their home with the friendly faces of adorable dogs. Hook-sewn by hand in the form of three different breeds — golden retriever, pug and Boston terrier — these 8-by-12-inch wool pillows will never shed, drool, or leave muddy paw prints on their sofa.

A pack of dogs to keep them dry in rainy weather

reed evins art dog umbrella

Reed Evins Art Umbrella, available at AKC.org and Reed Evins Art, $30

Artist Reed Evins hand-cuts paper to create spot on collage portraits of his canine clients. He’s selected a couple dozen of his favorites — droopy eared basset hounds, friendly schnauzers, and half-smiling fluffs among them — for his wind-resistant 42-inch umbrella. The water-blocking parasol has a black rubber handle with an automatic opener and comes with a dog-patterned sleeve for storage.

A pair of icy bulldogs to keep their highball cool

bulldog ice mold

Novelty Bulldog Ice Molds, available at Williams Sonoma, $19.95

Bring a little canine class to their next cocktail with Williams Sonoma’s bulldog-shaped ice cubes. Made from flexible silicone, just fill the two molds with water, freeze, then run under warm water to release the hounds. The long-lasting cubes will keep their shape sip after sip.

A pet camera that lets them interact with their pup

furbo dog camera

Furbo Treat-Tossing Dog Camera, available at Chewy, Furbo, and Amazon, $169

For those who can’t stand to be away from their dog, it’s the Furbo dog camera to the rescue. With the free Furbo app, they can monitor their pet from afar with a 160-degree wide-angle view, speak to them through voice chat, and toss them a treat anytime they want. 

Rubber boots to wear when it’s raining cats and dogs

joules dog rain boots

Joules Raining Cats and Dogs Rain Boot, available at Zappos and Joules, from $29.95

Puddles are no match for these rubber wellies by Joules. Covered in hand-drawn pups, umbrellas, and a couple water-loving cats, the mid-calf rain boots have an adjustable side buckle, a dog bone-patterned interior, and thick grippy soles for traversing slippery sidewalks.

A pair of Bernie’s viral mittens to squeak and tug

bernies paw warmers

Bernie’s Paw Warmers, available at Bark Shop, $10

Bernie Sanders’ mittens, one of the standout stars of the 2021 presidential inauguration, are now available in doggy form. Even if they have no upcoming political events to attend, playtime with these wooly squeakers on a rope will warm up your pup with practical, no-nonsense Vermont style. All proceeds go to the state’s PAWsitive Pantry, which provides families in need with food for their beloved pets.

A way to finally remember if the dog actually got fed

Did Feed The Dog Under $10

The Original “Did You Feed The Dog?” available at Chewy and Amazon, $9.95

Did you feed the dog? Can’t quite remember, can you? But this simple little device, it knows. Just move the button at feeding time and they’ll never get taken by their pup’s second-dinner-desiring hungry eyes again.

Sweet long johns for a winter full of pajama parties

Toy Story dog pajamas

Toy Story “To Infinity and Beyond” Dog & Cat Jersey PJs, available at Chewy, from $15.76

Dress up their pup for the world’s cutest pajama party in these “Toy Story” themed PJ’s from Chewy’s Disney collection. The outfit comes in six sizes so that even the big boys can let their snuggle flag fly.

A homemade dog treat maker

dash_express_dog_treat_maker Target

Dash Express Dog Treat Maker, available at Amazon and Target, $27.99

Treat your favorite chef to a pup-approved kitchen addition. Fill the waffle iron-like Dash with one of the recipes from the included cookbook (think: peanut butter pumpkin or cheddar bacon) for fresh bone-shaped treats hot out of the oven. 

A squeezable dog water bottle for instant hydration

Dog Bowl Water Bottle under $25

Dog Bowl Water Bottle, available at Chewy, $14.99

Offer the dog a drink single-handedly with this unique dog water bottle. Just squeeze the leak-proof canister to fill the attached dish with water. When they’ve had their fill, the leftover liquid drains back into the bottle for the next time they’re thirsty.

A hoodie with a kangaroo pouch to keep their pup close

roodie dog hoodie

Roodie Pet Pouch Hoodie, available at Amazon, $99

Cuddly pups and the humans who love them never have to be apart with this soft cotton-polyester hoodie. The zip-up 14-inch by 9-inch by 4-inch pocket supports pets up to 15 pounds and comes in six colors.

A ball launcher for supercharged games of fetch

Dog lovers gifts ChuckIt

Chuckit! Launcher, available at Chewy and Amazon, $7.02

It’s almost impossible to tire out a fetch-loving high-energy dog before tiring out your throwing arm, that is, unless you have the Chuckit! With just a flick of the wrist, this simple plastic launcher sends the ball farther than puny human muscles alone and is guaranteed not to quit halfway through the game.

A matching bandana and face mask for twinning with their dog

dog_bandana_face_mask Goodboy

Goodboy x Sock Fancy Bandana & Mask, available at Goodboy, $24

Social distance in style with this dog bandana and face mask duo. The pair comes in four machine-washable custom cotton prints and the triple-layer mask has adjustable ear loops and a 3D chin design.

A pair of fur-sonalized silver cufflinks

Custom Pet Portrait Cufflinks

Custom Pet Portrait Cufflinks, available at Uncommon Goods, $260

They’ll wear their heart on their sleeve with these pet portrait cufflinks by designer Erin Harris. The engraved sterling silver accessories arrive with a bonus gift, too: a rubber stamp of their dog to use on anything that needs a bit of puppy love.

A collar for tracking their dog’s location and activity

Fi_Smart_Collar Chewy

Fi Series 2 GPS Tracker Smart Dog Collar, available at Chewy, $149

Like a FitBit for the canine set, this smart collar will not only help them keep tabs on their dog’s daily activity (and compare it to other pups in the neighborhood) but on their location, too. Using GPS tracking technology, this little device sends alerts anytime a door-dashing escape artist is on the move.

Their dog in sock form

tribe_socks Chewy

Tribe Socks Personalized Pet Face Socks, available at Tribe Socks, $24

Wrap their barking dogs in puppy love with a pair of customizable socks. Chewy will pattern a pair with the face of their furry friend using just a photo. Choose from four styles: holiday, tie-dye, mosaic, and dog paw.

The one toy every dog needs

Kong Classic under $25

Kong Classic, available at Chewy, from $7.49

Whether they’ve got a puppy who’s learning the ropes, an adult dog who loves a good game, or a slow-moving senior, the Kong Classic is a must for busting boredom and tapping into a dog’s scavenging instincts. Just pack the heavy-duty rubber cone with treats, kibble, or peanut butter (among other things) and that big, slobbery tongue will do the rest.

An elevated bed to keep their dog cool in the heat

k&h_raised_dog_bed

K&H Products Elevated Dog Bed, available at Chewy, from $35.99

Make the dog days of summer a little more bearable for their pooch with this elevated cot. Made from waterproof nylon with a mesh center, the raised design promotes airflow that helps keep dogs from overheating when the mercury rises.

A sleepy puppy hamper to snuggle their dirty clothes

Fankang Dog Hamper under $25

Fankang Dog Hamper, available at Amazon, $10.99

Add a dose of cute to laundry day with this dog hamper. The folding, pop-up basket made of waterproof-coated cotton fabric with handles for ears also makes a great storage bin for toys, whether they belong to a dog or to a dog-loving kid.

A dog sticker that’s (almost) as cute as the real thing

Dog lover gifts Etsy Dog Sticker

Premier Pups Custom Dog Stickers, available at Etsy, $15

Give the gift of sticky immortality with these customizable pet stickers. Just send in a photo of their dog and they will create a spot-on illustrated version made from premium waterproof paper they can affix to anything that needs a puppy pick-me-up.

A dog DNA test

embark dna test

Embark Breed Identification Dog DNA Kit, available at Chewy and Embark, $129

Embark Breed and Health Dog DNA Kit, available at Chewy and Embark, $149

The Embark Dog DNA test is for any rescue parent who’s ever struggled to answer the question “What kind of dog is that?” From a simple cheek swab, this kit designed in partnership with Cornell University scientists can identify a dog’s breed heritage and even locate their living relatives. The breed and health kit also provides information about genetic health conditions and traits. 

A bucket list activity journal for dog lovers and their canine compatriots

chew this journal Amazon under $10

“Chew This Journal” by Sassafras Lowrey, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $13.99

Drawing from 20 years of experience, certified trick dog trainer and doggy writer extraordinaire Sassafras Lowrey’s “Chew This Journal” is jam-packed with fun activities for both dog and human. From urban agility and tips on setting training goals to dog-friendly crafts like DIY treat puzzles and tug-toy-making, this book will encourage them to never stop seeking out new adventures.

A bag of delicious treats with a minimal carbon paw print

jiminys cricket dog treats Chewy under $10

Jiminy’s Chewy Cricket Treats, available at Chewy and Amazon, from $9.75

Maybe dog treats can’t save the world, but Jiminy’s cricket treats are doing their part to help our pups live more sustainably. These tasty morsels are hypoallergenic, probiotic, and produce 740% fewer greenhouse gasses than those made with beef. Choose from two chewy flavors, sweet potato and peas or pumpkin and carrot, or crunchy peanut butter and blueberry cookies.

A people-approved mattress made just for dogs

casper dog bed

Dog Mattress, available at Casper, from $116

Mattress company Casper takes dog bed comfort next level with a memory foam model that rivals those they make for humans. The result of 110 prototypes and 460 hours of lab testing, with this dog bed they’ll rest assured their best friend will be getting a good night’s sleep

A dog-splattered dish towel that really sees them

Dog_Tea_Towel Paper Source

Dogs Tea Towel, available at Blue Q, $12.99

Anyone who’s ever loved a dog knows the best people are the fluffy, four-legged kind. And this canine-covered tea towel, it’s not afraid to speak the truth. Short-haired, curly-haired, little-legged, and big, they’ll be ready to go anytime a dish needs drying. 

A custom cookie cutter for making edible puppy portraits

custom dog cookie cutter

Custom Pet Portrait Cookie Cutter, available at Etsy, from $30

If they think their dog couldn’t get any sweeter, Bakers Street Cutters begs to differ. Send in a photo and they’ll 3D print a custom cookie cutter that makes a perfect impression of their pup every time.

A blueprint of their favorite breed’s best qualities

dog_blueprint Etsy

Dog Blueprints, available at Etsy, $29.99

These vintage-inspired blueprints by canine architects Wet Nose Wiggly Butts break down the characteristics that make different dog breeds unique. Each 16-by-20-inch print features picture-perfect representations of 54 of the most popular pups, from chihuahuas to Newfoundlands. Choose to add their dog’s name to the drawing for a personalized touch.

A yoga mat covered in stretching Frenchies

dog yoga mat

Huebucket Frenchie Yoga Mat, available at Society6, $33

Flexible Frenchies show off their yoga skills on this adorable yoga mat. Their favorite pose? Downward-facing dog, of course.

An honest mug that works as hard as they do

I work hard so my dog can have a better life mug

“I work hard so my dog can have a better life” mug, available at Etsy, from $17

For anyone with lingering doubts about where a dog parent’s disposable income goes, this fully customizable mug spells it out in plain English. No one needs to know that dogs work hard to keep us happy, too. Sloppy kisses and dog hair may not pay the bills but they’re worth their weight in gold.

A lickable mat for anxiety-reducing enrichment

Gifts for dog lovers Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat

Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat 2-pack, available at Chewy and Amazon, $14.95

Licking a flavor-filled surface doesn’t just release calming endorphins in a dog’s brain, it gives them something to focus on when their stress levels become elevated. Spread these dishwasher-safe rubber mats with a soft-and-creamy favorite like yogurt, pumpkin, or peanut butter for a snack that will last and last. Read our full review of the Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mats.

A flirt pole for tough tugging thrills

Outward Hound's Tail Teaser Dog Flirt Pole under $25

Outward Hound Tail Teaser, available at Chewy and Amazon, $16.99

Release the hounds — or their energy, at least — with a doggy flirt pole. Like a beefed-up cat wand, this canine version features a squeaking, rattling faux-fur tail strung with durable nylon cord to a long, flexible pole that can be swung around for a high-speed game of chase, jump, and tug. 

A collar from a company that supports and empowers Kenyan artisans

ubuntu_life_dog_collars Ubuntu_Life

Triangle Dog Collar in lavender, pink, or cobalt blue, available at Ubuntu Life, $59

Yes, this fashion-forward collar produced by Maasai women in Kenya’s Ngong Hills looks good, but it does good, too. Ubuntu Life is a public benefit corporation that provides sustainable employment, education, and healthcare to its workers and artisans, as well as pediatric health and special needs education throughout the region. The carefully crafted, highly resilient collar is made from leather and glass beads and comes in three sizes and four colors.

A playful seat cover to brighten up the car

molly_mutt_dog_seat_cover Chewy

Molly Mutt Multi-Use Seat Cover, available at Chewy and Amazon, $59

Protect their car from doggy dirt and slobber with a fun toile-like dog patterned seat cover. The versatile cotton canvas can be draped over the back seat (the design features seatbelt slots, nonskid backing and adjustable headrest straps), converted into a car hammock or layered over the cargo hold.

A 2-in-1 tool to make bath time less stressful

Gifts for dog lovers Aquapaw

Aquapaw Pet Bathing Tool, available at Amazon, $24.95

Speed up bath time with this flexible water sprayer and massaging scrubber. The tool slips over the palm, leaving their fingers free to reassure their pup or toggle the built-in on-and-off switch.

A smiling bouncy ball that doubles as a puzzle toy

Gifts for dog lovers Rogz Grinz Treat Ball

Rogz Grinz Treat Ball, available at Amazon, from $10.95

This durable ball will put a maniacal grin on their pup’s face. Bounce it on the ground, float it in the water, or fill it with treats or kibble for extended play. It comes in four bright, impossible to lose colors and three sizes.

A vet play set to inspire young animal lovers

Gifts for dog lovers Melissa & Doug Vet Play Set

Melissa & Doug Pet Vet Play Set, available at Amazon, $24.97

Encourage the little animal lover in your life with a play set that lets them practice pet care and the empathy and compassion that comes along with it. This kit comes packed with all they’ll need to make a house call, including a stethoscope, syringe, bandages, and a cone of shame, as well as two plush pets to practice on.

A gallery-worthy portrait of their beloved pet

pet_portraits West_&_Willow

Custom Pet Portrait, available at West & Willow, from $60

Immortalize their fur baby with a custom portrait they’ll cherish for years to come. Choose from a handful of backgrounds and hardwood frames. Each gallery-quality image can include up to three pets.

A cashmere turtleneck for cold weather walks

fido_turtleneck The_Barkers

Fido Turtleneck, available at The Barkers, $89

The beatnik vibes are on point with this cable-knit turtleneck from The Barkers. Made from 100% cashmere, this luxurious dog sweater will have them wishing for a human-sized version all their own.

A pack of dogs who love a relaxing bath

dog shower curtain

Dog Shower Curtain, available at Society 6, $51.99

Add a touch of canine couture to their bathroom with a dog print shower curtain patterned in artistically arranged pups. The polyester 71-by-74-inch curtain comes with 12 buttonholes for easy hanging.

A combination backpack and airline approved carrier for versatile adventures

sherpa pet carrier Petco

Sherpa 2-in-1 Travel Backpack, available at Petco, $52.99

Up in the air or on the trail, their dog can go anywhere they do with Sherpa’s 2-in-1 travel backpack. The cozy, well-ventilated go bag has removable straps that convert it from a backpack to a traditional airline approved pet carrier that fits under the seat in the cabin.

A boho bed cover to rest their weary head

dog_bed The_Foggy_Dog

Amani Sea Dog Bed, available at The Foggy Dog, from $65

Upgrade their naps with a mud-cloth inspired, upholstery-grade cotton bed cover. The durable, zip-up doggy duvet can be fitted over an old bed, pillow, or pile of blankets, or you can purchase a new memory foam or “Sustainafill” insert for maximum comfort. It’s machine washable and sold in three colors.

A book for youngsters about a dog’s most valuable superpower

what the dog knows book Amazon under $25

“What the Dog Knows Young Readers Edition” by Cat Warren, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, $7.99

In the young readers edition of the New York Times bestseller “What the Dog Knows,” Cat Warren uncovers the science behind the amazing canine nose. If you know a kiddo with a love of dogs, this book full of photos and illustrations is sure to intrigue, surprise, and delight.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mark Zuckerberg got roasted in one of Facebook’s most notoriously strict groups for breaking its golden rule

beast dog mark zuckerberg
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been roasted by members of the popular group Dogspotting Society.
  • They criticized him for not including a picture of his dog, a Puli named Beast, when making a post.
  • Some jokingly said to ban Zuckerberg, as the group’s golden rule is to put a dog photo in each post.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mark Zuckerberg got roasted by members of one of Facebook’s most popular groups after he violated its golden rule.

The Facebook CEO recently posted in the public group Dogspotting Society about a new feature that lets admins of a group designate members experts.

“Admins can collaborate with group experts to host Q&As, share perspectives, and respond to questions,” he wrote in the post. “I’m excited for you to try these updates, so I wanted to do a Q&A on something I may be a bit of an expert at: owning a Puli!”

Noticeably missing from his post was a picture of a dog. The group’s practice is that all posts should include a dog photo, a practice some members refer to as “paying the dog tax.”

Members were quick to point out Zuckerberg’s mistake.

several Facebook comments about Mark Zuckerberg not posting a picture of his dog

“You should know better than anyone posts with a photo get the most traction here. SHOW THE DOG ZUCKERBERG,” one member commented. “He shouldn’t be exempt from paying dog tax,” another added. A third commenter chimed in, “You think you can just come in here without posting a photo of your dog? SHOW US THE DOG.”

It seems they got through to Zuckerberg. After answering questions about his dog, a Puli named Beast, in his group Q&A, Zuckerberg paid the required dog tax.

His latest post in Dogspotting Society includes several photos of his dog.

Mark Zuckerberg's dog, Beast, mid-jump

“This is a great group — keep up the dog spotting!” he wrote.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best dog collars in 2021, according to a professional dog trainer

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best dog collars are durable, comfortable, and will keep their looks over time.
  • A harness is a safer option for walking a dog, but a collar is important for attaching ID tags.
  • We tested and researched a variety of dog collars, including nylon, leather, and martingale collars.

The primary function of a collar is not to walk your dog but to keep them safe. In an emergency situation, the ID tags on your dog’s collar are the quickest and easiest way for someone to get your dog back to you.

The best dog collars are those that are comfortable enough for everyday wear but durable enough to stand up to your dog’s biggest adventures. For those who prefer not to use a harness for walks, the collar must also have strong hardware and fit well without chafing when attached to a leash. A dog’s physical safety is a crucial consideration as well – at the end of this guide, we discuss the risks of using prong and choke collars, which we do not recommend.

To choose the best dog collars on the market, I’ve combined what I’ve learned over a decade of experience with dozens of collars as a certified professional dog trainer with the advice of Melissa Bain, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist and professor of clinical animal behavior at UC Davis, and Carlo Siracusa, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist and associate professor of clinical behavior medicine at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

These are the best dog collars in 2021

The best dog collar overall

French bulldog wearing the Lupine Eco best dog collar overall

Featuring a lifetime guarantee and eco-friendly materials, the Lupine Pet Eco Dog Collar stands out for both its durability and sustainability.

Pros: High-quality hardware, comes in three widths, sizes cover necks from 8 to 28 inches, nine colors, made of recycled materials, lifetime warranty even in the case of chewing, affordable

Cons: Lacks padding and reflective materials

In the collar department, most dogs need nothing more than an attractive, functional collar made with high-quality materials. The Lupine Pet Eco Dog Collar has that in spades, and that’s not all: This collar is also made from recycled plastic bottles and comes with a warranty that protects your investment for life.

From its look and feel, you’d never know that the Lupine Pet Eco Dog Collar was made out of plastic waste. I like that it is both soft and strong while remaining attractive, with a two-tone woven texture available in nine colors. This collar comes in three widths (1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and 1 inch) and two sizes, appropriate for necks from 8 to 28 inches in circumference.

The Lupine Pet Eco Dog Collar is constructed with premium hardware and the custom-designed buckle made by YKK, the world’s largest zipper manufacturer, remains easy to buckle and unbuckle over time. The welded steel D-ring for holding tags, and clipping a leash if needed, is sewn firmly into the material. The collar comes with a lifetime guarantee, but chances are you won’t need it unless your dog turns it into a chew toy.

LupinePet Eco Dog Collar doesn’t get fancy with extras. It doesn’t have padding, lacks reflective materials, and there’s no way to have your dog’s name and phone number stitched into the strap. But for a basic dog collar that will last you a lifetime, you can’t go wrong with this product.

The best budget dog collar

small dog wearing budget-friendly blueberry pet dog collar

The Blueberry Pet Classic Nylon Dog Collar is an attractive, well-designed collar available in a range of colors and sizes.

Pros: Made from nylon with high-density webbing, buckles made from eco-friendly plastic, available in many colors and styles, metal D-ring is chrome-plated

Cons: May not withstand heavy chewing, the material may fray over time, may hold odors

If all you need is a basic, attractive collar that will hold up to everyday wear, the Blueberry Pet Classic Nylon Dog Collar fits the bill. Blueberry’s Classic Collar is made from durable nylon with high-density webbing, strong buckles made of eco-friendly plastic, and a metal D-ring coated in chrome. 

Though it won’t last forever the way our top pick will, this is a well-constructed collar. The company claims they’ve done over 600 laboratory tests to ensure the quality of their collars, and I haven’t found mine to stretch out over time, though some people have experienced fraying over time. 

The Blueberry Classic Nylon Dog Collar comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, from bright pink to subdued green and flowers to plaids. Matching leashes are also available. The Blueberry Classic can also be embroidered with your pet’s name and phone number for an additional four dollars.

This is a great choice for dog guardians on a budget who want their pup’s gear to look great.

The best leather dog collar

feminine looking person and a corgi wearing Perri's Padded Leather Dog Collar

Perri’s Padded Leather Dog Collar combines style and function for a comfortable, handsome collar.

Pros: Handmade, genuine leather and padded lambskin lining for comfort, durable stainless steel or solid brass hardware, resistant to wear and tear, available in a wide variety of colors and five sizes

Cons: Buckle and D-ring may be too close together on some collars, requires leather care

Leather collars offer a level of durability that nylon can’t provide. A good leather collar just gets softer and more supple with use. As long as your dog doesn’t turn it into a chew toy, a well-made one like Perri’s Padded Leather Dog Collars could last a pretty long time.

Perri’s leather collars are handmade by Amish craftspeople and lined with lambskin padding. I love that they look like luxury items, without the price tag. Even with extra padding, the collar doesn’t feel overly stiff, which is always a concern with leather products.

Perri’s collars are also surprisingly one-of-a-kind. They come in 42 different color combinations, including black or brown on the outside lined with bright, metallic, or patterned padding. The hardware on Perri’s Padded Leather Dog Collars is made of solid brass or stainless steel. Because it’s a handmade product, Perri’s collars occasionally have flaws, namely the buckle and D-ring being placed too close together to easily attach a leash if needed. You can return the collar for a replacement, however. Sizing can also run smaller or larger than advertised. 

Like any leather item, without semi-regular cleaning with a leather-care product, Perri’s collars will show some cracking and wear. But if you take care of this collar, it will take care of your dog, giving them years of comfort.

The best martingale dog collar

german shepherd wearing best martingale collar from If It Barks

Made with heavy-duty materials, the well-made If It Barks Martingale keeps dogs from escaping their collar.

Pros: Nonslip design prevents dogs from escaping, handmade in the US, made with extra durable nylon, the hardware is nickel-plated steel, size can be customized, available in two widths and up to 12 colors, can add a buckle for easy removal

Cons: May not withstand heavy chewing, the width may be too large for very small dogs

The If It Barks Martingale Collar is a well-made martingale constructed with heavy-duty materials. The brand has sewn its collar out of two layers of extra durable nylon webbing and added nickel-plated steel hardware to stand up to daily use. One of my favorite things about If It Barks is that if your pup has a neck too small or too large to fit into their standard sizes (small, medium, and large), they’ll customize a collar for them. 

I’ve found If It Barks Martingales to be much sturdier than the average martingale without feeling too stiff or inflexible. Unlike some collars of this kind, you can opt to add a buckle to this collar so that you don’t need to slip it over the head of a sensitive or hand-shy dog. However, it may not withstand heavy chewing and may also be overpowering for more petite dogs.

A martingale collar, or limited-slip collar, prevents dogs from escaping by tightening enough to keep the head from fitting through the loop of the collar. Unlike a choke collar, a martingale will never tighten more than a couple of inches and should not cause discomfort. On a dog that pulls frequently, a martingale, like any collar, could put dangerous pressure on the trachea and neck, according to Siracusa.

And, if you have a skittish, noise-sensitive, or Houdini dog, there’s always a risk that they will escape their collar. Some dogs, especially those with narrow heads like greyhounds and whippets, or with big, muscular necks, can lose their collars without even trying. “For dogs with relatively little difference between the head and neck diameter, a martingale is a good choice,” Bain added.

The best headcollar

person walking a dog wearing PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar

With a padded noseband, the Petsafe Gentle Leader helps to curb pulling without using a body harness or causing pain.

Pros: Padded noseband, sold in five sizes and eight colors

Cons: Dangerous for over-aroused dogs, dog must be desensitized to headcollar before use

A headcollar isn’t so much a collar as it is a harness for a dog’s head. Designed on the same principle as a halter for a horse, headcollars help to alleviate pulling in dogs by putting a walker’s control at the front of their pet instead of at their strongest point at their back.

One of the biggest problems with a headcollar is that chafing on the nose can occur, even in dogs that walk calmly. That’s one of the reasons we selected the Petsafe Gentle Leader Headcollar, which has a noseband padded with a layer of neoprene. It’s also our top pick for the best no-pull headcollar in our guide to the best harnesses for dogs.

Headcollars have their limitations. Bain advises against using a headcollar for a dog who is difficult to control and lunges on walks. For calmer dogs, however, Bain says headcollars “are very effective in helping to control dogs that pull, and can be the foot-in-the-door to help train dogs to walk nicely on leash.”

Bain prefers the affordable Gentle Leader “for its ease in fitting and use.” Indeed, this headcollar has only two straps, one around the nose and one around the ears, the latter of which is adjustable. The noseband attaches to the leash with a slip-loop to naturally size to your dog’s snout.

The Gentle Leader comes in five sizes and eight colors, and your dog will require desensitization before they are comfortable wearing it. But if you’re looking for an alternative to a harness for a dog that pulls on a leash, this headcollar is a good option for dogs that are not easily over-aroused.

What else we considered

a dog wearing the Coastal Pet New Earth Eco Friendly Soy Dog Collar
  • Coastal Pet New Earth Eco-Friendly Soy Dog Collar: This has been one of my personal favorites in the budget category for years for its softness, pliability, and durability. Made from soy fibers, the Coastal Pet New Earth Collar doesn’t retain smells and washes easily in the laundry. It was narrowly nudged out of our top budget spot due to the relative lack of colors, only 12 muted tones compared to the Blueberry Classic Dog Collar’s 22 (plus all the patterned options), and because pricing goes up for some sizes and shades. But if you’re looking for a good option for under $5, this may be the one for you.
  • The Company of Animals Halti Head Collar: The thing I like best about the Halti Head Collar is its additional safety tether, which connects the halter to your dog’s collar and will help you maintain control if a strap breaks or your dog worms out of the device. Like the Gentle Leader, the Halti also has a padded noseband and additional straps on the side of the snout to help balance out the halter and keep it in place.

Safety considerations for dog collars

Collars that add pressure or pain to your dog’s neck on walks, usually to prevent them from pulling away, should be avoided. “I do not recommend owners use prong or pinch collars on their dogs,” said Bain.

Even martingale-style collars can be dangerous for dogs that pull frequently because of the pressure they put on the neck. “It can cause problems to the trachea, it can cause problems to the bone structure of the neck, and then it can cause problems to the circulation that goes and comes from the brain,” Siracusa explained. 

Because of their design, some collars can also be dangerous when left on a dog without supervision. The martingale collar, for example, which has an extra loop of material that can get caught on things, should be removed after the walk is over, according to Whole Dog Journal. The head collar, too, should only be worn for walks. “Flat collars should be worn by dogs to hang their ID tags,” said Bain. She added they are relatively safe to keep on 24/7 as well.

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The 5 best flea and tick treatments for dogs in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Flea and tick medicines for dogs include topical spot-on treatments, oral preventives, and collars.
  • The best flea medicine for dogs is Advantage Multi, which treats and prevents more parasites than other topical products.
  • Before starting your dog or puppy on any flea control medicine, consult your veterinarian.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

There are many safe and effective flea control products for dogs, either available with a veterinarian’s prescription or sold over the counter. Many products kill and prevent other parasites, too, including ticks, heartworms, intestinal parasites, mites, and biting flies.

Choosing a safe and effective flea and tick medicine for dogs can be complicated. There are many products available and they’re all a little different. My background taught me a lot about parasite prevention and the various flea control products available today. I spent eight years working as a veterinary assistant in animal hospitals followed by two more decades as an editor for magazines in the pet and veterinary fields. Over the years, I’ve treated countless dogs for fleas, including my own dogs.

For this guide, I used the quick product reference guide published by the independent, nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council to research products. I selected products based on safety, the number of parasites targeted, products’ ease of use, and the minimum age the product can be used. Jump to the end of this guide to read more about our selection criteria. For additional guidance about treating and preventing fleas on dogs, I consulted with two veterinarians.

Before choosing a flea preventive for your dog, talk to your veterinarian who can advise you on what type of product might be best depending on your dog’s temperament and lifestyle, and what parasites are most prevalent in your location.

These are the best flea and tick medicines for dogs in 2021

The best topical flea preventive overall

Advantage multi for dogs best spot-on flea medicine overall

With just one easy monthly application, Advantage Multi for Dogs treats, controls, and prevents more parasites than any other topical product. 

Pros: Kills and prevents six types of parasites including heartworm, once-monthly treatment, easy to administer, safe for use in puppies 7 weeks and older and weighing at least 3 pounds

Cons: Does not kill ticks, not labeled for use in puppies younger than 7 weeks or breeding, pregnant, or nursing dogs

No preventive covers every single parasite that could harm your dog, but Advantage Multi for Dogs comes close. Advantage Multi is a topical spot-on product that contains the active ingredients imidacloprid and moxidectin to prevent flea infestations by killing adult fleas before they can lay eggs. It also prevents heartworm, mange mites, and three intestinal parasites: roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. As with all medications that prevent heartworm, your dog needs a heartworm test prior starting Advantage Multi and annually thereafter.

Advantage Multi is easy to use: Just apply every 30 days to the dog’s skin at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. The liquid medication is absorbed and dries within hours. Unlike with some of the other topical preventives, you do not need to wear gloves to apply Advantage Multi. If you get the product on your hands, simply wash with soap and water. For the first 30 minutes after application, keep dogs from licking the application site, either on themselves or other treated dogs in the house. Children should not touch the application site for two hours after application.

Advantage Multi does not prevent ticks. If ticks are a concern and you wish to use a topical, consider another product like Frontline Plus for Dogs, Bravecto Topical for Dogs, or K9 Advantix II.

The best OTC topical flea preventive

Frontline plus for dogs is best OTC flea medicine

Available without a prescription, Frontline Plus for Dogs kills adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, ticks, and chewing lice on contact.

Pros: Kills adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, all life stages of ticks and chewing lice for one month; safe for use in dogs and puppies at least 8 weeks of age that weigh at least 5 pounds; safe for use in breeding, pregnant and nursing dogs; fleas don’t have to bite for it to work

Cons: Not recommended for puppies younger than 8 weeks of age; does not prevent any parasites other than fleas, ticks, and chewing lice

Frontline Plus is our top nonprescription recommendation because it kills ticks and fleas, controls flea infestations, and kills chewing lice, all with one easy application. When used primarily for flea control, each dose of Frontline Plus lasts up to three months. If ticks or biting lice are a concern, apply it monthly.

Frontline Plus been used and trusted by pet owners for more than two decades. Parasites die on contact — they do not have to bite your dog for Frontline Plus to work. Its active ingredients, fipronil and S-methoprene, work together to kill parasites and break the flea life cycle. Fipronil kills adult fleas and ticks. S-methoprene prevents flea eggs, larvae, and pupae from developing. Completely breaking the flea life cycle can sometimes take up to a month of consistent use, especially if your dog is heavily infested, because flea eggs can be in your home but not on your dog.

Frontline Plus is easy to use. Squeeze the entire contents of the tube onto one spot to your dog’s skin between the shoulder blades. The liquid medication spreads across your dog’s skin, then is stored in the oil glands. It distributes itself continuously via the hair follicles.

The best oral flea control product

simparica trio is the best dog flea pill

Simparica TRIO treats, controls, and prevents more parasites than any other oral product, offering a full month of protection with one easy-to-give flavored pill. 

Pros: Protects against more parasites than any other oral product, once-monthly treatment, safe for dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age and older weighing at least 2.8 pounds, easy to administer alone or in food

Cons: Not labeled for use in puppies younger than 8 weeks or breeding, pregnant, or nursing dogs

Our pick for best oral flea control product for dogs is Simparica TRIO, a chewable tablet that is fast-acting and kills more parasites than any other oral product. Simparica TRIO starts to work within four hours and kills 100% of adult fleas on dogs within eight hours.

Choosing between an oral or topical flea control product is tough for some dog owners. There are pros and cons to each type of product. In some cases, an oral preventive is a better choice. For instance, some dogs with sensitive skin can’t tolerate a spot-on. 

“Oral products have the benefit of broad coverage to reach every spot of skin without the chance of the product being washed off,” Crumley said. “Rarely, a pet will have mild intestinal upset with any oral product. If that occurs then that pet will do better with one of the system-absorbed topical choices.”

The liver-flavored flavored chewable tablets can be given with or without food once a month. In addition to providing a full month of protection against the most parasites of any other oral product, Simparica TRIO is also labeled for use in some of the youngest and smallest puppies and dogs.

Simparica TRIO contains three ingredients: sarolaner, moxidectin, and pyrantel. It requires a prescription from your veterinarian, as well as a current negative heartworm test. Simparica TRIO should be used with caution in dogs with a history of neurologic disorders such as seizures.

The best flea control product for young puppies

Capstar is the best flea treatment for puppies

Capstar for Dogs is safe for puppies as young as 4 weeks old and starts killing fleas within 30 minutes.

Pros: Safe for puppies 4 weeks of age and older weighing at least 2 pounds, safe for pregnant and nursing dogs, fast-acting treatment starts killing adult fleas within 30 minutes, easy to administer alone or in food, can be used with other flea control products, available without a prescription

Cons: Does not offer long-term protection, does not kill flea larvae or flea eggs, does not prevent any parasites other than fleas

Available without a prescription, Capstar for Dogs is the only flea control product safe for puppies as young as 4 weeks and weighing at least 2 pounds. With other topical and oral flea control product, puppies must be at least 8 weeks old and sometimes older. 

Fleas should be eliminated as quickly as possible for heavily infested dogs, especially young puppies. The active ingredient in Capstar, nitenpyram, works within 30 minutes and kills greater than 90% of adult fleas on dogs in as little as four hours.

Capstar’s protection against fleas lasts only 24 hours, but it is safe to give daily if necessary. This is helpful for young puppies that might not be old enough to use an oral or spot-on product that offers long-term protection. Owners should follow up with a flea control product that offers a month or more of protection once the puppy is old enough.  

The best flea collar

best flea collar for dogs: seresto

The Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs offers eight months of protection against fleas and ticks in all life stages.

A March 2021 investigation by USA Today reported 1,700 animal deaths and other adverse reactions linked to Seresto flea collars. It’s unknown if the EPA-approved pesticides used in the collar caused these incidents and this story is still developing. Always speak to your veterinarian if you have concerns before using a product and only purchase Seresto collars from authorized retailers.

Pros: 8 months of continuous protection against adult fleas, flea larvae, four species of ticks, chewing lice, and mange mites; lightweight and easy to wear; adjustable for dogs of all sizes; parasites don’t have to bite for it to work; safe for puppies 7 weeks of age and older

Cons: Not recommended for puppies younger than 7 weeks of age, children should not play with the collar, adjusting size can be tricky

Flea collars were once prevailing options for flea control, but most traditional flea collars don’t offer the same level of protection as topical and oral preventives. One noteworthy flea collar is the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs, which uses sustained-release technology to provide eight months of continuous protection against adult fleas, flea larvae, four species of ticks, chewing lice, and mange mites.

In general, topical spot-on preventives and oral preventives are the easiest and most effective form of flea control for dogs, but the Seresto collar might be a good option in certain situations.

Lay said that traditional flea and tick collars are generally not very effective, and she has even seen allergic reactions and other issues with some of them. However, she has found the Seresto collar to be both safe and effective.

“I personally used a Seresto collar with my dog for years when we lived in Chattanooga—hiking in the mountains and camping amongst the ticks,” Dr. Lay said. “I often recommend it to clients who have pets that don’t tolerate topical or oral flea/tick preventives.”

The collar is nongreasy, odor-free, lightweight, and adjustable for dogs of all sizes. It can be worn alongside your dog’s regular collar and has a two-step safety system to ensure your dog will not be harmed if the collar gets caught on something.

The Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs contains imidacloprid and flumethrin, which are released in low concentrations over your dog’s skin and coat to kill fleas and ticks on contact — parasites do not need to bite your dog for the collar to work. It kills 100% of fleas within 24 hours of placing the collar on your dog. The collar is water-resistant and can stay on the dog even during swimming or bathing.

What else we considered

nexgard, bravecto, revolution, and k9 advantage ii flea prevention for dogs
  • Bravecto Chews for Dogs: Unlike most oral preventives, which must be given monthly, one dose of prescription-only Bravecto kills fleas for three months and ticks for up to two months. Bravetco doesn’t kill any parasites other than fleas and ticks. It cannot be used in puppies younger than 6 months old and should be used with caution in dogs with a history of neurologic disorders such as seizures.
  • Bravecto Topical for Dogs: With one application, this topical product kills fleas for three months and ticks for up to two months. Bravetco doesn’t kill any other parasites and cannot be used in puppies younger than 6 months old. It requires a prescription from your veterinarian and should be used with caution in dogs with a history of neurologic disorders such as seizures.
  • Comfortis: Comfortis is an oral product that kills adult fleas and prevents flea infestations for one month. It doesn’t kill any parasites other than fleas and cannot be used in puppies younger than 14 weeks old. Comfortis requires a prescription from your veterinarian.
  • Credelio: Credelio is an oral product that kills adult fleas and ticks and prevent flea and tick infestations for one month. It doesn’t kill any other parasites and requires a prescription from your veterinarian. It should be used with caution in dogs with a history of seizures.
  • K9 Advantix II: This is a topical spot-on product that repels and kills fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, ticks, mosquitoes, and lice for one month. It also repels biting flies. We gave Frontline Plus for Dogs a slight edge over K9 Advantix II because it is effective against fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs for up to three months (though if ticks are an issue, monthly application is required). Additionally, you must seek the advice of a veterinarian before using K9 Advantix II for breeding, pregnant, and nursing dogs.
  • NexGard Chewables for Dogs: NexGard is an oral product that kills adult fleas and ticks and prevents flea infestations for one month. It requires a prescription from your veterinarian and should be used with caution in dogs with a history of seizures.
  • Revolution for Dogs: Revolution is a monthly topical product that kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching. It also prevents heartworm, treats and controls ears mites, and kills American dog tick, but it does not prevent any intestinal parasites, unlike Advantage Multi for Dogs. However, Advantage Multi does not kill ticks. Revolution requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Trifexis: Trifexis is a monthly oral product that kills adult fleas, prevents flea infestations and heartworm, and treats and controls hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. We gave Simparica TRIO a slight edge over Trifexis because it also kills ticks, mange mites, and chewing lice — though it does not kill whipworms. Trifexis requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a negative heartworm test and should be used with caution in dogs with a history of seizures.

How we selected products

We consulted with two veterinarians for advice regarding the treatment and prevention of fleas and other parasites in dogs. Although this information guided us in our product selection, our veterinary experts did not endorse any of the products included in this guide unless explicitly mentioned in direct quotes.

We also conducted research using the quick product reference guide published by the independent, nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council. This helpful reference, which includes all FDA and EPA-approved parasite control products for small animals, lists each product’s active ingredients, how the product is used, and which parasites it controls.

Here are the main attributes we looked for:

Safety and efficacy: Only FDA- or EPA-approved products were considered for this guide.

Number of parasites treated: In general, the more parasites a preventive product covers, the higher it was rated. “Parasites cause skin disease just by their presence and they carry diseases, too,” said Crumley. “Small puppies can actually become anemic from the amount of blood these parasites steal from their growing bodies.”

The exceptions are Capstar, which is the only treatment available for puppies younger than 6 weeks and our over-the-counter pick, Frontline Plus, which treats fleas, ticks, and lice. Products that treat heartworm always require a prescription.

Ease of use: Products were rated lower if they were more complicated to use than a similar product. For instance, products ranked lower if the pet owner must wear gloves to apply the product or if children and pets need to be kept away from the treated animal for a specified amount of time.

Minimum age and weight: When comparing similar products, higher ratings went to preventives that can be used in younger animals (for instance, puppies 7 weeks of age instead of 12 weeks of age).

Types of flea control products

person applying topical flea treatment to dog

Here are the most common flea control products for dogs and how they work:

  • Topical preventives: Also called spot-on products, topical preventives are great for killing fleas and preventing flea infestations. As they dry, they spread across the entire body or may be absorbed through the skin into the pet’s system, leaving no residue behind. They are usually applied to the skin in one spot on the back of the neck once a month, although a few last longer than 30 days. “Some dogs with sensitive skin may react to a topical product,” Crumley said. “Dogs who swim frequently or are bathed frequently will lose the benefit of the topical product that stays on the surface of the skin.”
  • Oral flea control: Oral flea control products, or “flea pills,” are given to your dog by mouth to kill fleas. Some oral flea control products kill fleas for up to a month or longer; others must be given more frequently to continue killing fleas, as often as once a day.
  • Flea collars: These are worn around the neck, where they deliver flea preventive medication to your dog’s skin and coat. Some flea collars deliver preventive medication for a longer period than topical applications, making them a good choice for dog owners who don’t want to have to apply something every month.
  • Flea shampoos: These kill fleas that are currently on your dog. We do not recommend flea shampoos in place of other preventives since topical spot-ons and oral products are easier to use and more effective.
  • Flea spray: These are applied to the skin and coat. We do not recommend flea sprays since topical spot-ons and oral products are easier to use and more effective.

What you should know about fleas in dogs

If your dog has fleas, you want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Dogs can pick up fleas anywhere, including your yard, local parks, the groomer, veterinary clinic, and boarding facilities, but even dogs that spend a lot of time indoors can get fleas if they hitchhike indoors on your clothes or shoes. Dogs that hike, camp, and explore wilderness areas can pick up both fleas and ticks.

What are the health risks to your dog?

Fleas are more than just a nuisance. These parasites can pose a threat to your dog’s health. A severe flea infestation can seriously damage your dog’s skin, induce an allergic reaction, or cause them to become anemic from blood loss. Fleas are also responsible for transmitting parasites like tapeworms.

“Regardless of where you live in the country, I promise there’s a flea or tick disease out there,” Lay said. “Fleas and ticks can really make a pet sick and what’s worse, they often carry other bad guys along with them.” These parasites can transmit things like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, cat scratch fever, and even the plague.

How to check a dog for fleas

Signs of fleas in dogs include scratching, skin irritation, and the presence of dark red or black specks on your dog’s skin, fur, bedding, or furniture. These specks, about the size of grains of black pepper, are called “flea dirt” and are flea feces, or digested blood.

Back when I worked in the veterinary hospital, I learned a handy trick to help find out if those little specks are regular dirt or flea dirt. Scoop some onto a damp paper towel. If the paper towel turns red, it’s flea dirt.

To check your dog for fleas or flea dirt, run a flea comb (a small, very fine-toothed comb) through your dog’s coat or part the hair with your fingers to examine the skin. If you find any live or dead fleas or flea dirt, your dog has a flea infestation.

What to consider when purchasing flea control products

Prescription vs. over-the-counter flea prevention and control

Some flea control products are sold over the counter. Other products require your veterinarian to write a prescription. You can purchase prescription products directly from your veterinarian or from online pet pharmacies and certain pet supply stores like Chewy, Petco, and Petsmart.

Prescription flea control products cost more than OTC products because they protect against more parasites, most importantly, deadly heartworms. Dogs must test negative for heartworms before starting a heartworm prevention product. Giving a heartworm-positive dog a prevention medication can cause rare but potentially very serious and sometimes fatal complications. You also want to know if your dog has adult heartworms because the preventive medication will not kill them — it only kills the larval stages of the heartworm.

Use parasite preventives year-round.

You might be tempted to only use parasite preventives in spring and summer, but don’t underestimate the resilience of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites. Veterinarians recommend that all dogs stay on broad-spectrum parasite preventives all 12 months of the year.

Heartworm treatment is long, costly, and dangerous. Dogs with adult heartworms can die even if treatment is initiated. This is why veterinarians recommend using a year-round heartworm preventive for all dogs, regardless of what part of the country they live in. Veterinarians also recommend year-round intestinal parasite prevention for all dogs.

Flea shampoos are usually unnecessary.

Decades ago, people might have just used a flea shampoo containing pesticides to kill fleas, but flea shampoos are no longer the gold standard. Veterinarian-recommended topical and oral flea control products are far more effective than flea shampoos.

“Most flea and tick shampoos are harsh to the skin and only remove the parasites present at the time of the bath,” Crumley said. “Most of them are not effective at treating ticks, either. The residual effect might last 24 or 48 hours at most, and then the nasties will be back.”

Lay notes that some pet owners want to use flea shampoos instead of veterinarian-approved oral or topical preventives because shampoos cost less. However, this approach could backfire.

“Besides not really preventing and being as effective at breaking the infestation/cycle, they can also sometimes cause additional reactions and allergies,” Lay said. “They are not meant to take the place of preventive options, so consult with your veterinarian on when and how to use them.”

Be wary of natural flea control products.

Both veterinarians we consulted do not recommend natural products in place of veterinarian-recommended topical and oral flea control products. While they can deter fleas and ticks, they won’t eliminate an infestation.

“If you use them, be prepared to apply them at least daily before your pet goes outside for the best chance of keeping the hitchhikers from latching on,” said Crumley.

If you also have cats at home, avoid natural flea control products containing essential oils as some of them can be toxic to cats.

Some flea products are dangerous to cats.

If you have cats as well as dogs, it’s important to understand that any product labeled for use in only dogs should never be used on a cat. Some ingredients that are well-tolerated by dogs can be toxic to cats. Any dog-only flea product can be harmful to cats, but they are especially sensitive to pyrethrins. If you’re looking for a product that’s safe for felines, read our guide to the best flea control products for cats.

Our sources

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The 5 best dog shampoos in 2021, according to a veterinarian

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Bathing your dog helps keep their skin and coat clean, healthy, and moisturized.
  • Dog shampoos are gentle on a dog’s sensitive skin and can be used to manage skin conditions, such as allergies.
  • Our top pick for the best dog shampoo is Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, an organic, all-natural shampoo.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, DVM, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Bathing your dog is a key aspect of responsible dog ownership. A good bath with a high-quality dog shampoo helps keep a dog’s skin and coat clean, healthy, and moisturized. Whether a dog bath is fun or feels like a chore to you, the dog shampoo you use plays a big part in maintaining optimal skin and coat health.

As a veterinarian, I understand that a dog’s skin and coat are windows into a dog’s health. Many factors, such as environmental allergies, can make a dog’s skin itchy, dry, and irritated. Likewise, systemic health conditions like malnutrition can cause a dog’s hair to become dry, brittle, and possibly fall out. Regular bathing, along with a healthy diet and routine preventive care, plays an important factor in a dog’s overall health and well-being.

Dog shampoos are not one-size-fits-all, though. For example, there are whitening shampoos for dogs with white fur. There are also dog shampoos that are formulated to kill fleas and ticks, as well as shampoos that cater specifically to a puppy’s sensitive skin.

With so many types of dog shampoos, it can be challenging to decide which one is best for your dog. To help you narrow down your choices, I researched 14 dog shampoos and evaluated them using multiple criteria, including ingredients, ease of use, and purpose (e.g, flea and tick prevention).

For additional insight on dog shampoos, I interviewed Karen Todd-Jenkins, a relief veterinarian in Trenton, New Jersey, and Cherese Sullivan, a relief veterinarian in Houston, Texas.

Individual dogs can have specific bathing needs, so work with your veterinarian to determine how often you should bathe your dog and what type of shampoo you can use to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.

Here are the best dog shampoos in 2021

The best dog shampoo overall

earthbath oatmeal and aloe shampoo bottle

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo is an organic, all-natural, hypoallergenic shampoo that soothes and moisturizes the skin without causing any additional irritation.

Pros: All-natural and organic ingredients, soothes and moisturizes the skin, does not wash away topical flea and tick treatments, lathers well and rinses easily, free of soap and synthetic fragrances, 100% biodegradable, safe for puppies at least 6 weeks of age

Cons: Might not be effective if a lot of dirt is present

The ideal dog shampoo will do more than just clean your dog and make them smell good; it will also restore moisture to their skin and leave their fur feeling soft. Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo does all of these things, while also being gently formulated and safe for puppies at least 6 weeks of age, making it our top overall choice.

The shampoo is especially useful for dogs with sensitive skin. Skin conditions like environmental allergies to dust and pollen can make a dog’s skin itchy and extra-sensitive. Other substances, such as synthetic fragrances, can also irritate a dog’s skin and cause persistent itchiness. Dogs with sensitive skin need a shampoo that is hypoallergenic, meaning it is free of ingredients that could irritate the skin.

The colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera in this shampoo relieve itchiness and restore the skin’s moisture. It is free of ingredients like soap and synthetic fragrances that could cause further skin irritation or allergy flare-ups. Its fragrance is from natural vanilla and almond oils.

The shampoo is 100% biodegradable, cruelty-free, and will not wash off topical flea and tick treatments.

The best flea and tick shampoo for dogs

image of a bottle of sentry flea tick shampoo for dogs

Sentry Flea and Tick Shampoo with Oatmeal for Dogs and Puppies works quickly to kill fleas and ticks for up to 10 days.

Pros: Free of pyrethrin, kills fleas quickly, soothes irritated skin, lathers well, safe for puppies at least 12 weeks of age

Cons: May stop working sooner than expected, scent may fade quickly

Flea and tick prevention comes with the territory of dog ownership. Although flea and tick preventives, such as topical spot-on treatments, are the primary and most effective form of prevention, flea and tick shampoos can provide additional protection from these tiny pests.

Sentry Flea and Tick Shampoo with Oatmeal for Dogs and Puppies earned the top spot for flea and tick shampoos. Importantly, it is free of pyrethrin, a synthetic insecticide that is commonly found in flea and tick shampoos. “Pyrethrin-based flea shampoos should be avoided because pyrethrin can be toxic to puppies and small dogs,” says Sullivan.

Instead of pyrethrin, this shampoo has the synthetic insecticide permethrin, which quickly and effectively kills fleas and ticks, including deer ticks. It also contains piperonyl butoxide, which enhances permethrin’s flea- and tick-killing abilities.

This formula includes oatmeal to soothe skin that’s become red and irritated from the near-constant scratching from flea and tick bites. It is safe for puppies at least 12 weeks of age.

The shampoo should be left on for at least five minutes to work most effectively. It lathers well, so a little goes a long way.

Flea and tick shampoos are medicated shampoos and should be used only when directed by a veterinarian. Skin conditions often have similar symptoms, like irritated skin. So, what looks like a flea problem might be something else, such as a yeast infection. “I normally discourage using a medicated shampoo unless we know what we’re treating,” says Todd-Jenkins.

The best waterless shampoo for dogs

a dog being sprayed with begleys waterless dog shampoo

Begley’s Natural No-Rinse Waterless Pet Shampoo provides a thorough waterless clean with natural ingredients.

Pros: Natural ingredients, distributes quickly across the skin and coat, does not leave a residue, 100% biodegradable, cruelty-free

Cons: Sprayer may break, scent is short-lived

There are times when a full dog bath isn’t convenient or practical. Begley’s Natural No-Rinse Waterless Pet Shampoo is an easy-to-apply, lightly scented shampoo that cleans and deodorizes without drying the skin.

This shampoo for puppies and adult dogs contains a proprietary natural enzyme blend that provides a deep clean by removing the residues of protein, fat, and starch from a dog’s fur and skin. It also contains naturally occurring biosurfactants, which are produced by microbes and give an extra boost to the shampoo’s cleaning power.

It is available in four different natural, essential oil-based fragrances: lavender, citrus, oatmeal mango, and tea tree. The ingredients are biodegradable, making it a safe choice for dogs and the environment.

The shampoo distributes quickly and easily across a dog’s skin and coat and doesn’t leave any product residue after it’s wiped off with a towel. For the face, the manufacturer recommends spraying the shampoo on a damp cloth first and then gently rubbing the face, being careful to avoid a dog’s eyes.

“Waterless shampoos are often helpful in specific situations, such as after surgery when a dog’s incision site has to stay dry,” says Sullivan. Dogs that suffer from incontinence or don’t like being bathed can also benefit from the quick cleans that a waterless shampoo provides. Waterless shampoos are a good solution when there’s a long time between grooming appointments.

Be mindful that waterless shampoos might not provide the same level of cleaning that a bath can provide. Bathing a dog with water and shampoo does a superior job of mechanically removing dirt and debris from the fur, says Todd-Jenkins.

The best shampoo for puppies

earthbath ultra mild puppy shampoo bottle

Earthbath Ultra-Mild Puppy Shampoo is a gentle, tear-free shampoo that contains natural and organic ingredients for cleaning puppies and detangling their coats.

Pros: Tear-free formula, natural and organic ingredients, does not wash away topical flea and tick treatments, free of soap, lathers and rinses well, safe for puppies at least 6 weeks of age

Cons: Cherry scent may be off-putting

Unlike other puppy shampoos that we considered that contained synthetic ingredients, Earthbath Ultra-Mild Puppy Shampoo uses natural and organic ingredients to clean, condition, and detangle, making it our top choice for puppy shampoos.

A puppy’s skin is more sensitive than an adult dog’s skin. Because of this, puppy shampoos are formulated to be extra-gentle while still being effective at cleaning and moisturizing the skin and coat. This shampoo contains ingredients such as aloe vera and various vitamins to moisturize and nourish a puppy’s skin and coat.

The shampoo is safe for puppies at least 6 weeks of age and does not wash off topical flea and tick treatments. For the first few weeks of life, puppies have trouble regulating their body temperature, so they can get cold easily. Because of this, it is recommended that puppies not be bathed until they are at least 6 to 8 weeks old, after they’re better at regulating their body temperature.

Earthbath Ultra-Mild Puppy Shampoo lathers well and rinses easily, which helps if you have a squirmy puppy that doesn’t like to hold still for a long bath. The gentle, tear-free formula will not sting a puppy’s eyes, but it’s a good idea to take extra care to avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth when bathing a dog.

The best whitening shampoo for dogs

chris christensen white on white dog shampoo bottle

Chris Christensen White on White Shampoo for Pets is gently formulated to whiten and brighten a dog’s coat.

Pros: Free of bleaching ingredients, gentle formula does not irritate the skin, lathers and rinses easily, light scent, can be used on all coat colors, lasts up to 4 weeks

Cons: May leave a purple tint on the fur if not used properly, puppies may not sit still for the 10 minutes that the product must stay on

Dogs with white fur need more than just a regular shampoo. They need a shampoo that also removes discoloring stains (e.g., urine and food stains) that are more obvious on white coats.

Chris Christensen White on White Shampoo for Pets whitens and brightens a dog’s fur for four weeks without relying on harsh chemicals like bleaching agents. It also removes yellow stains and provides a deep clean. As a bonus, the shampoo can be used on dogs with any coat color to increase the fur’s luster.

Whitening shampoos are primarily classified as bluing, enzymatic, or clarifying. Bluing shampoos, also called optical brighteners, contain blue or purple color enhancers that absorb and reflect light to hide stains. Enzymatic shampoos break down proteins that cause discoloration. Clarifying shampoos strip dirt from the hair cuticles.

This shampoo has a purple color that provides the optical brightening effect. It should be left on for up to 10 minutes; if left on for longer, it may leave a slight purple tint on the fur.

Although the shampoo’s formula is gentle, the manufacturer recommends testing the shampoo in a small skin area if a dog has allergies. It is safe for use in puppies at least 16 weeks of age and adult dogs.

How we selected dog shampoos

We consulted with two veterinarians to learn more about dog shampoos. They did not provide specific product recommendations but did lend their clinical expertise regarding how dog shampoos can be used for different purposes, such as soothing itchy skin or whitening the fur.

We also researched how dog shampoos work. For example, we studied the common insecticides — permethrin and pyrethrin — found in flea and tick dog shampoos.

Here are the selection criteria that we used to evaluate shampoos:

  • Ingredients: We analyzed the ingredients list of each shampoo to identify natural and synthetic ingredients. Preference was given to shampoos that contained 100%, or nearly 100%, natural ingredients.
  • Age: Except for puppy shampoos, shampoos were rated higher if they were safe for puppies and adult dogs. They were rated lower if they were for use only in adult dogs or did not specify an age group or life stage on the product label.
  • Ease of use: We read customer reviews to determine how convenient the shampoos were to use. For example, more preference was given to shampoos that lathered and rinsed out well than those that lathered poorly.
  • Scent: Shampoos with light, long-lasting scents were rated more highly than shampoos with an off-putting or short-lived scent.
  • Purpose: Shampoos that delivered on their claims, according to customer reviews, were rated more highly than those that were not as effective as promised.
  • Safety for puppies: Preference was given to shampoos that were safe for use in puppies over those that were either only for adult dogs or did not indicate safety for puppies on the product label.

What else we considered

  • Oster Oatmeal Essentials 4-in-1 Dog Shampoo: Oster Oatmeal Essentials 4-in-1 Dog Shampoo contains natural oatmeal, vitamin B5, and coconut-based cleansers to clean, condition, soothe, and detangle. We liked that this shampoo is multipurpose. However, the product label did not indicate whether it was safe for puppies, earning the shampoo a lower ranking.
  • Natural Chemistry Natural Flea and Tick Shampoo for Dogs: Natural Chemistry’s Flea and Tick Shampoo is free of pyrethrin and contains natural botanical extracts, such as cedar oil, to repel fleas and ticks. It also targets other pests, such as mites and mosquitoes. However, natural flea and tick repellents are less effective than synthetic insecticides. “By the time an owner spends weeks or months trying to use a natural product to control fleas, their house (and all their pets) might be infested,” says Todd-Jenkins.
  • Greenbone Lavender and Chamomile Dog Shampoo: Greenbone Lavender and Chamomile Dog Shampoo uses natural ingredients to repel fleas and ticks. It did not earn our top choice because, like Natural Chemistry Natural Flea and Shampoo for Dogs, its natural repellants are less effective than synthetic insecticides. Also, products that contain essential oils are not safe for use in households with cats, Sullivan told us.
  • Well & Good Hypoallergenic Shampoo: Well & Good Hypoallergenic Shampoo contains natural ingredients: shea butter to moisturize the skin and honey to add luster and shine to the coat. It is unscented, making it a good choice for dogs that are sensitive to fragrance. This shampoo lost out to Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo because it is more expensive for the same quantity of product.
  • Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hypoallergenic Shampoo: This shampoo contains natural ingredients, such as lactic acid, to maintain skin moisture and allantoin to relieve dry, scaly, and irritated skin. It did not earn our top ranking because it is indicated for use in adult dogs only.
  • Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo with Apple and Honey for Dogs: Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo is a 99.7% natural shampoo that can be used when a bath with water isn’t practical. We liked the natural ingredients in the shampoo, but the shampoo’s scent is off-putting and short-lived.
  • Hartz Groomer’s Best Waterless 3-in-1 Solution Dog Shampoo: Hartz Waterless Shampoo cleans, freshens, and deodorizes without the need for water. Also, a little goes a long way, and the shampoo does not leave residue on a dog’s coat or skin. However, its ingredients are nearly all synthetic, including synthetic fragrance, earning this product a lower rating.
  • Synergy Lab’s Veterinary Formula Solutions Puppy Love Shampoo: Synergy Lab’s Puppy Shampoo is a gentle, tear-free formula that is safe for puppies at least 6 weeks of age. It lathers well, but its thick consistency makes it challenging to rinse out. The shampoo’s scent can last for up to a week after a bath, but the light fragrance may not be enough for some pet parents.
  • Wahl White Pear Brightening Shampoo for Pets: Wahl’s White Pear Brightening Shampoo contains plant-derived ingredients and has a pleasant pear scent. Although the shampoo is purple, it does not turn the dog’s coat purple. It has a thick consistency and lathers well but may come out of the bottle too quickly at bath time. And it contains more synthetic ingredients than what we found in Chris Christensen White on White Shampoo for Pets, our top choice of whitening shampoos.
  • Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Whitening Dog Shampoo: Nature’s Miracle Whitening Shampoo contains natural ingredients, such as awaphui extract, to naturally whiten a dog’s coat. It lathers and rinses out easily and has a pleasant scent that is not overpowering. It did not earn the top ranking because it’s formulated for use only in adult dogs.

FAQs

a person drying a dog off with a towel after a bath

Deciding on a dog shampoo can be challenging, so pet parents like yourself commonly have questions about the shampoos and dog skin conditions.

Can I use human shampoo on a dog?

The short answer is no. The skin has a pH, which indicates how acidic something is: the lower the pH, the more acidic. The pH of human skin is approximately 5, while canine skin pH is slightly higher (5.5 to 7.5), meaning that human skin is more acidic than canine skin.

Shampoo for human skin is too acidic for a dog’s skin and could irritate a dog’s eyes. “In general, I advise pet owners to use pet-specific shampoos whenever possible,” says Todd-Jenkins.

When should I see the vet for my dog’s skin problems?

Dog shampoos can work well at managing various skin conditions in dogs, but they are not a cure-all for skin problems. Skin conditions often need veterinary care to be adequately controlled and treated. Here are some indications for when you should take your dog to your vet for skin issues:

  • Hair loss
  • Bad odor on the skin
  • Skin lesions, such as ulcers
  • Lumps and bumps on the skin
  • Excessive chewing, scratching, and licking
  • Skin problems that appear suddenly and worsen quickly

The earlier that you can take your dog to the veterinarian, the better, notes Sullivan. “Early intervention leads to quicker recovery, comfort, and, often, less expense,” she says.

What is the best type of shampoo for my dog?

That depends on various factors, such as your dog’s skin and coat health. For example, if your dog has dry and itchy skin from environmental allergies, a shampoo for sensitive skin would be a good choice. If you live in an area with abundant fleas and ticks, a flea and tick shampoo could accompany your dog’s flea and tick preventative. Puppies need specific puppy shampoo that is formulated for their extra-sensitive skin.

Your veterinarian can help you determine the type of shampoo that would be best for your dog.

The importance of bathing your dog

Bathing is part of the overall grooming process, which includes regular brushing and nail trims. But why is bathing so important? Bathing has many benefits, which our experts pointed out:

  • Prevents matting of the hair
  • Promotes skin exfoliation
  • Removes loose hair
  • Cleans dirt and debris from the coat

Bathing your dog also allows you to check for external parasites, such as fleas and ticks, explains Todd-Jenkins. Bath time also gets a dog used to being touched, promoting a strong human-animal bond, she adds.

Bathing Do’s and Don’ts

Whether you’re new to dog baths or have been bathing your dog for a while, there are some bathing do’s and don’ts that are good to keep in mind, according to our experts.

Do’s

  • Do bathe your dog regularly to prevent matting. Most dogs do just fine with one bath a month, but check with your veterinarian to determine a good bathing frequency for your dog.
  • Do contact your veterinarian if you notice any skin abnormalities, such as scabs, hot spots, or bald spots, at bath time.
  • Do use age-appropriate shampoos. This is especially important for puppies because shampoo product labels might not indicate a minimum age (e.g., 6 weeks of age). “When in doubt, err on the side of caution,” advises Todd-Jenkins.
  • Do pay attention to your dog’s behavior at bath time. Are they anxious or uncomfortable? Your veterinarian can recommend strategies to reduce your dog’s bathing anxieties.
  • Do go to a groomer if bathing your dog at home is proving to be too difficult for you. If your dog needs a medicated shampoo, take that shampoo to the groomer.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use human shampoos, unless advised by your veterinarian, because the pH is too acidic for a dog’s skin.
  • Don’t use medicated shampoo unless recommended or prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Don’t assume that all herbal or organic ingredients in dog shampoos are safe. Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure about the safety of a particular shampoo’s ingredients.

Our sources

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28 photos of some of the most adorable dogs to live in the White House

obama running dog
President Barack Obama and his dog Bo were very close.

  • Dogs are the most popular pet for a president to have during his time in the White House.
  • The Obamas’ dog Bo died from cancer, the family announced on Saturday.
  • The Bidens have two German shepherds, 13-year-old Champ and 3-year-old Major, who is a rescue.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Grover Cleveland’s cocker spaniel named Gallagher had a brown coat and ears of “inconvenient length.”

Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland with his dog Gallagher.

New York Times reporter Gray Gables wrote of Gallagher and Cleveland’s other dog Millie, “Both animals take great liberties with Mr. Cleveland when he is accessible to them and when not otherwise employed, are rolling each other about on the lawn.”

Warren Harding’s terrier, named Laddie Boy, was 6 months old when he moved into the White House.

Warren Harding dog
Laddie Boy, President Warren G. Harding’s terrier.

Laddie Boy learned to deliver the newspaper to the president’s breakfast table every morning.

Calvin Coolidge’s collie Rob Roy was named after the popular cocktail.

Calvin Coolidge dog
President Calvin Coolidge stands outdoors with his wife Grace, their two sons, and their pet white collie Rob Roy in the 1920s.

Coolidge was quoted as saying, “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.”

Herbert Hoover had a Belgian shepherd named King Tut, who would patrol the gates of the White House on a nightly basis.

Herbert Hoover dogs
President Herbert Hoover and first lady Lou Henry Hoover actually had several dogs, but King Tut was the most famous.

He also helped Hoover get elected by appearing in a campaign photo to help the candidate appear more approachable.

Franklin Roosevelt’s German shepherd, Major, used to chase the White House maids around.

Franklin Roosevelt dog
Franklin D. Roosevelt with pet dog, Major, a German shepherd.

A former police dog, Major caused an international incident in 1933 when he attacked the visiting British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and nearly ripped his pants

FDR also had a Scottish terrier named Fala that would often accompany the president on his travels.

Franklin Roosevelt dog
President Franklin D. Roosevelt lifts his dog Fala as he prepares to motor from his special train to the Yacht Potomac at New London, Connecticut.

Roosevelt received Fala as an early Christmas present in 1940.

Harry Truman gave away his dog, a cocker spaniel named Feller, to a family physician because he was not a dog lover.

dog truman white house
Feller arrives at the White House in 1947.

Feller was sent to Truman by a supporter.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave John F. Kennedy a dog named Pushinka as a gift.

JFK dog
Pushinka stands her ground on the White House lawn in August 1963, while the rest of the family’s dogs vacation with the first family at Cape Cod.

Pushinka’s mother was one of the first dogs to fly into and return from space.

Other than Pushinka, JFK had eight dogs, including his German shepherd named Clipper.

JFK dogs
Clipper supervises as eight of the nine dogs of President John F. Kennedy’s household pose for impromptu press conference at Squaw Island, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in 1963.

The Kennedys also had horses, hamsters, parakeets, a canary, a cat, and a rabbit.

Two of Lyndon B. Johnson’s beagles, Him and Her, were frequently on the receiving end of the president pulling their long ears.

LBJ dogs
President Lyndon B. Johnson holds his dog Her by the ears.

The dogs became national celebrities thanks to a spread in Life magazine in 1964.

One of Lyndon B. Johnson’s beagles named Kim was given to his daughter Luci.

LBJ dog
Kim sticks his head through a partially-opened window of an automobile in 1966.

Kim was born when Him was bred with another beagle in 1965.

Luci also got another one of his beagles named Freckles.

LBJ dog
President Lyndon Johnson poses with Freckles in 1966.

Freckles was from the same litter as Kim.

LBJ found his fifth dog, a terrier mix named Yuki, at a Texas gas station on Thanksgiving in 1966.

LBJ dog
President Lyndon Johnson trots after Yuki in 1968.

Yuki accompanied Johnson to Cabinet meetings and the Oval Office.

Richard Nixon’s three dogs were an Irish setter named King Timahoe, a poodle named Vicki, and a terrier named Pasha.

Richard Nixon dogs
The three dogs of the Richard Nixon in Washington in 1972.

Nixon’s well-known dog Checkers of “Checkers speech” fame never actually lived in the White House.

Gerald Ford and his daughter Susan had a golden retriever named Liberty.

Gerald Ford dog
President Gerald Ford and his daughter, Susan on the South Lawn of the White House in 1974.

Susan got Liberty as a surprise for her father when she was a puppy. Years later, Liberty had nine puppies of her own.

Jimmy Carter had a border collie mix named Grits that was born on the same day Carter was elected president.

Jimmy Carter dog
President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter play with their dog Grits in 1978.

Grits was a gift from his daughter Amy’s teacher.

Ronald Reagan had two White House dogs. The one seen here was a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky that Nancy Reagan received as a gift in 1984.

Ronald Reagan dog
President Ronald Reagan is pulled along by his pet dog Lucky in 1985.

Lucky never fully adjusted to life in the White House, so the Reagans sent her back to their California ranch in 1985.

Reagan’s other dog in the White House was a Charles spaniel named Rex.

Ronald Reagan dog
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan walk with their dog Rex in 1986.

Rex was a gift from conservative writer and commentator William F. Buckley.

George H.W. Bush had two springer spaniels, Millie and Ranger.

George HW Bush dogs
President George Bush gets down on his knees to show off his dogs, Millie and Ranger, in 1991.

Millie was the star of the book “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush” in 1992.

Bill Clinton named his chocolate Labrador retriever Buddy after his great-uncle.

Bill Clinton dog
President Bill Clinton is greeted by his dog Buddy in 1998.

Buddy became best friends with the Clintons’ cat, Socks.

George W. Bush and his first dog in the White House, an English springer spaniel named Spot, was one of Millie’s puppies.

George W Bush dog
President George W. Bush waves as he walks toward the Oval Office with his dog Spot in 2002.

Spot was known as a friendly, obedient dog that would accompany Bush to meetings.

Bush also had two Scottish terriers named Barney and Miss Beazley, who were separated in age by four years.

George W Bush dogs
President George W. Bush waves as he arrives on the South Lawn of the White House with his dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, in 2006.

Barney died in of lymphoma in 2013.

The Obamas had two famous Portuguese water dogs named Bo and Sunny.

GettyImages 508201166
The Obamas with Bo and Sunny in the Rose Garden of the White House in 2015.

Bo was a gift for Sasha and Malia Obama after their father won the presidency.

Bo and Sunny were so popular that they apparently had official White House schedules for all of their appearances.

barack obama bo
President Barack Obama and Bo in the Oval Office.

“I get a memo at the beginning of the month with a request for their schedules, and I have to approve their appearances,” first lady Michelle Obama told PBS in 2016.

The Obama family announced Bo’s death from cancer on Saturday.

obama bo
President Barack Obama runs down the East Colonnade with Bo in 2009.

“Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion,” President Barack Obama wrote on Twitter. “For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives — happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between.”

The Bidens adopted Major in November 2018, and he joined Champ as the family’s second German shepherd.

champ major biden dogs
President Joe Biden plays with the Biden family dogs Champ and Major in 2021.

Major was the last rank Biden’s son Beau held in the US Army JAG Corps before he died from a brain tumor in 2015.

President Joe Biden’s dog Major is the first shelter dog to live in the White House.

joe biden major
Joe Biden with Major.

Major has had some trouble adjusting to life in the White House, biting a Secret Service member and a National Park Service employee in two separate incidents.

When she was the second lady, Jill Biden created the Family Heritage Garden at the vice president’s residence, which memorializes all past residents and their dogs on stone pavers.

biden dog garden at vp residence
The Family Heritage Garden, where occupants and family members, including pets, are memorialized around a fountain as seen in October 2016.

The Bidens are also expected to welcome a cat to the White House.

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The 4 best dog dewormers and parasite prevention medicines in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Intestinal parasites pose serious risks to your dog’s health.
  • The best dog dewormers treat many common intestinal parasites and are easy to administer.
  • We did the research to determine the best topical and oral parasite prevention medicine for dogs.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, DVM, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Intestinal parasites, often called worms, are microscopic organisms that live inside your dog, where they silently cause harm. Common intestinal parasites in dogs include roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. Some worms, like roundworms and hookworms, can take up residence in humans, too.

If your dog has worms, you need to eradicate them quickly and prevent them from returning. Deworming medications kill the parasites your dog already has, and intestinal parasite preventives, most of which are given monthly, prevent future worm infections. Some products also kill fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Choosing among the many safe and effective parasite preventives for dogs can be difficult. After speaking to veterinarians, we chose products based on safety, efficacy, number of parasites targeted, and products’ ease of use. Read more about how we selected products at the end of this guide.

Different drugs kill different worms, so you must always visit your veterinarian for a fecal test before giving your dog a dewormer. Your veterinarian can advise you on what product might be best depending on your dog’s temperament and lifestyle and the parasites that are most prevalent in your area. Many of these treatments also require a prescription from your veterinarian.

Here are the best dog dewormers and parasite preventives in 2021

The best broad-spectrum dewormer for dogs

drontal plus dewormer for dogs

No other dog dewormer kills as many different types of worms as Drontal Plus.

Pros: Veterinarian recommended, kills four types of worms, safe and reliable, kills all parasites within seven days, low risk for side effects

Cons: Not for puppies younger than 3 weeks old or those weighing less than 2 pounds

Drontal Plus is a safe and effective broad-spectrum dewormer that eliminates multiple types of parasites with one dose. It kills tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms within seven days. Just offer the Drontal Plus Taste Tab flavored chewable tablet to your dog alone or with a small amount of food.

Drontal Plus features three powerful active ingredients: pyrantel pamoate, praziquantel, and febantel, which together cover four species of tapeworms, two species of hookworms, two species of roundworms, and whipworms.

The dewormer has a very low risk for side effects and is safe for puppies as young as 3 weeks old and weighing at least 2 pounds. It requires a prescription from your veterinarian, and a vet visit is also important because your dog may have other parasites that even a broad-spectrum dewormer can’t eliminate.

When using a broad-spectrum dewormer like Drontal Plus, your dog may require one or more follow-up treatments to make sure all the worms are eliminated. If your dog has fleas, they should also be treated with a flea control product to prevent future tapeworm infections.

The best tapeworm dewormer for dogs

droncit tapeworm medicine for dogs

A single dose of Droncit safely and quickly kills tapeworms within 24 hours.

Pros: Kills four species of tapeworms, works within 24 hours, easy-to-administer tablet, long-trusted brand, affordably priced per pill

Cons: Some dogs may experience salivation, vomiting, or diarrhea after taking; not for puppies less than 4 weeks old

One Droncit tablet works to paralyze and eliminate the four most common species of tapeworms within 24 hours. Its active ingredient, praziquantel, is effective and safe for adult dogs and puppies 4 weeks of age and older. The tablet can be fed whole or crumbled and mixed with food.

The treatment is conveniently and affordably sold per pill, unlike the other tapeworm dewormer we considered, Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer, which contains the same active ingredient praziquantel but is only sold in a five-pack.

Dogs commonly become infected with tapeworms by ingesting fleas. For this reason, it’s important to treat your dog for fleas to prevent future infections.

The best oral parasite preventive for dogs

trifexis oral dewormer

Trifexis treats and controls three common intestinal parasites, kills adult fleas, and prevents heartworm infection with just one monthly chewable pill. 

Pros: Protects against three intestinal parasites, heartworms, and adult fleas; once-monthly treatment; safe for dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age and older weighing at least 5 pounds; tablet is easy to administer

Cons: Does not kill or treat tapeworms, not labeled for use in puppies younger than 8 weeks or weighing less than 5 pounds

Our pick for best oral parasite preventive for dogs is Trifexis, a chewable tablet that treats and controls hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. It also kills adult fleas and prevents heartworm.

Given once every 30 days, Trifexis uses spinosad and milbemycin oxime to prevent, treat, and control parasites. While it does not kill or treat tapeworms, it kills adult fleas, which are responsible for transmitting the parasite. The beef-flavored flavored chewable tablet should be given with food for maximum effectiveness.

Trifexis is safe for puppies as young as 8 weeks old and weighing at least 5 pounds. However, puppies less than 14 weeks of age might experience a higher rate of vomiting than older dogs. This parasite preventive requires a prescription from your veterinarian as well as a current negative heartworm test. It should be used with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or breeding females.

The best topical parasite preventive for dogs

advantage multi for dogs

With just one simple monthly application, Advantage Multi for Dogs treats, controls, and prevents more parasites than any other topical product.

Pros: Kills and prevents six types of parasites, once-monthly treatment, easy to administer, safe for use in puppies older than 7 weeks and weighing at least 3 pounds

Cons: Does not kill ticks; not labeled for use in puppies younger than 7 weeks or breeding, pregnant, or nursing dogs

No single preventive covers every parasite that could harm your dog, but Advantage Multi comes close. Containing the active ingredients imidacloprid and moxidectin, the topical treatment prevents three common intestinal parasites: roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. It also prevents flea infestations by killing adult fleas before they can lay eggs and prevents heartworm and mange mites.

Choosing between an oral or topical parasite product can be a tough decision. Sometimes dogs do better with one versus the other. “Some animals can’t tolerate or have a food allergy to an oral product so they must use a topical,” said veterinarian Melissa Smits, a partner at Fort Morgan Veterinary Clinic in Colorado. “Or their skin may be sensitive to a topical so an oral is better.” If there are no tolerance issues, it usually comes down to owner preference.

Advantage Multi is easy to use: Just apply it every 30 days to your dog’s skin at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. The liquid medication is absorbed and dries within hours. Unlike with some of the other topical preventives, you do not need to wear gloves to apply Advantage Multi. If you get the product on your hands, simply wash them with soap and water. For the first 30 minutes after application, keep dogs from licking the application site, either on themselves or other treated dogs in the house. Children should not touch the application site for two hours after application.

You must obtain a prescription from your veterinarian to purchase Advantage Multi. As with all medications that prevent heartworm, your dog needs a heartworm test prior starting Advantage Multi and annually thereafter.

How we selected products

While researching and writing this guide, I drew from my eight years of experience as an assistant in veterinary hospitals and two decades of experience as a writer and editor in the pet and veterinary fields. I conducted research using the quick product reference guide published by the independent, nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council. This helpful reference, which includes all FDA- and EPA-approved parasite control products for small animals, lists each product’s active ingredients, how the product is used, and which parasites it controls. 

Here are the main attributes I looked for:

  • Safety and efficacy: Only FDA-approved products were considered for this guide.
  • Number of parasites treated: In general, products that covered more parasites received higher ratings. This did not apply to tapeworm dewormers, which are only intended to treat one parasite.
  • Ease of use: Products received lower ratings if they were more complicated to use than a similar product. An example: Lower ratings were given if gloves must be worn to apply the product or if children and pets need to be kept away from the treated animal for a period of time after application.
  • Minimum age/weight: When comparing similar products, higher ratings went to preventives that can be used in younger animals.

What else we considered

  • Bayer Tapeworm Dog Dewormer: This product contains the same active ingredient (praziquantel) as our top choice for tapeworms, Droncit, but it’s only sold in a five-pack unlike Droncit which is affordably priced per pill.
  • Heartgard Plus: Given monthly, Heartgard Plus (ivermectin and pyrantel) treats and controls heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Our top pick for best oral preventive, Trifexis, is effective against an additional parasite: adult fleas, which are also responsible for transmitting tapeworm. Heartgard requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Interceptor Plus: Given monthly, Interceptor Plus (milbemycin oxime and praziquantel) treats and controls roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms and also prevents heartworms. Trifexis beat out Interceptor Plus because it kills adult fleas in addition to preventing three common intestinal parasites and heartworm. Although Trifexis doesn’t prevent tapeworms, it kills fleas, which transmit tapeworms. Interceptor Plus requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Iverhart Max Soft Chews: Given monthly, Iverhart Max treats and prevents heartworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms. It does not prevent whipworms or kill fleas like Trifexis. Iverhart Max requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Sentinel Spectrum: Given monthly, Sentinel Spectrum treats and controls tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworm, flea larvae, and flea eggs — almost as many parasites as our category winner Trifexis. Trifexis doesn’t prevent tapeworms, but we gave it a slight edge because it kills adult fleas, which transmit tapeworms. Sentinel Spectrum requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Simparica Trio: Simparica Trio treats, controls, and prevents more parasites than any other oral product, including adult fleas, flea larvae, ticks, heartworm, hookworms, roundworms, mange mite, and chewing lice. However, because intestinal parasites are the primary consideration in this guide, Trifexis gets the nod for preventing three intestinal parasites compared to Simparica Trio’s two. Simparica Trio requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.

Types of worms and their signs and symptoms

dog with parasites

Most dogs will contract intestinal parasites at some point in their lives. Some of the most common worms seen in dogs are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. In adult dogs, parasite infestations may cause mild to moderate digestive symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. However, heavy infestations, especially in young puppies, can lead to severe issues.

“They can cause intestinal problems, malnutrition, anemia, growth problems in puppies, and even potential autoimmune issues,” Smits said. “Also important is the zoonotic risk — potential spread to human family members.”

  • Roundworms: These parasites are common in dogs, especially puppies, and are 3- to 6-inches long, smooth, and round-bodied. You might not know your dog has roundworms, particularly if they have only a few. In puppies, large numbers of worms may cause a pot-bellied appearance, vomiting, diarrhea, low appetite, dull coat, and restricted growth. You might also see roundworms in your dog’s stool or vomit. Roundworms are zoonotic, which means they can be spread to human family members.
  • Tapeworms: Dogs pick up tapeworms when they ingest an infected adult flea. As the tapeworm grows, segments break off and pass in your dog’s stool. If you see something in your dog’s feces that resembles grains of white rice, or you notice them licking or biting the area under their tail, they could have a tapeworm infestation.
  • Hookworms: Hookworms are blood-sucking parasites that attach to the wall of the intestines. These tiny worms are nearly invisible without the assistance of a microscope. Signs of hookworm infection in dogs include anemia, weight loss, bloody diarrhea, dull coat, and growth restriction. Hookworms are zoonotic so they can be spread to human family members.
  • Whipworms: Whipworms are relatively large intestinal parasites (about a ¼-inch long) that reside in the cecum and large intestine, where they wreak serious havoc. Dogs with heavy whipworms are likely to experience concerning symptoms, such as watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

What you should know about parasite prevention for dogs

Best dog dewormers in 2021

Dogs should be on parasite prevention year-round.

Veterinarians recommend a broad-spectrum parasite preventive that treats, prevents, or controls intestinal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms; heartworms; fleas; and ticks.

“Many adult dogs may be asymptomatic carriers,” according to Kelley Lay, a relief veterinarian who practices in Nashville, Tennessee. “Parasites are not always able to be seen in feces and so you may not even know the problem is there. This can lead to infections that linger undetected for a long time.”

Veterinarians recommend keeping dogs on a broad-spectrum parasite preventive all year, not only in the spring and summer months. Different parasites are active during different months, and parasite activity varies. Parasites can also become active earlier than expected, including during the winter.

“You cannot fully predict or control the environment your dog is in,” Smits said. “I live in Colorado, which overall has a low incidence of heartworms and [has] freezes with no mosquitos in the winter. Except, I have killed mosquitos in my house in February. My dogs find rodents in the backyard with tapeworms and potentially fleas. We just found tapeworms in February.”

Your veterinarian can help you choose the best product or combination for your dog.

Although different parasite preventives cover many different parasites, no one product covers every single internal and external parasite that could affect your dog. For instance, one product may cover fleas, heartworm, and intestinal parasites, but not ticks. Another may cover fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites, but not heartworm. Talk to your veterinarian to help you decide which product will be best for your dog.

“This is the most important part of having a relationship with a veterinarian in your area,” Smits said. “We are trained to know what parasite problems we have in our area are, what lifestyle risks are important to consider, and overall, what is best for an individual pet and lifestyle.”

You should always take your dog to the vet before giving them a dewormer.

If you suspect your dog has worms, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a physical exam and a fecal test to determine what type of worms they have.

“Not all intestinal parasites are created equal and there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to deworming medications,” Lay said. “Your veterinarian will perform the appropriate tests to diagnose which type of intestinal parasites are present, and therefore which medication will appropriately target the problem.”

Even though some dewormers do not require a prescription, do not skip the vet visit since different drugs treat different worms. Although a broad-spectrum dewormer kills several different types of worms, certain single-celled microscopic parasites (protozoa), including coccidia and Giardia, cause symptoms similar to those caused by intestinal parasites, but they are not true worms. They require different prescription medications to treat them.

In addition to conducting a fecal test, your vet can also determine if your dog may have other health issues that need to be addressed. Depending on the type of worms found, your dog might need follow-up deworming and a follow-up fecal exam to ensure no parasites remain.

Natural dewormers aren’t necessarily a better option.

Check with your veterinarian before using natural dewormers with your dog. “While ‘natural’ deworming products may have some effect on intestinal parasites, I’ve consulted with numerous clients over the years who have tried them with repeated failure,” Lay said. “Also, there’s unfortunately still many unknowns and variables when it comes to many of the natural products.”

Lay noted that conventional, veterinarian-recommended dewormers are both effective and safe to use. “Like any medication, we can’t assume there will be zero side effects 100% of the time, but the veterinary-approved products have been around a long time, have gone through stringent drug trials and studies, and are proven to carry minimal to no risk,” she said.

Expert sources

We consulted with two licensed veterinarians for advice regarding the treatment and prevention of intestinal parasites like tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms as well as heartworms and ectoparasites like fleas, ticks, and mites. Although this information guided us in our product selection, our experts did not specifically endorse or recommend any of the products in this guide.

  • Melissa Smits, DVM, partner at Fort Morgan Vet Clinic
  • Kelley Lay, DVM, a relief veterinarian and student program director and operational coach at Blue Heron Consulting
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Sharks are among a group of animals with a 6th sense that humans don’t have – they use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate

bonnetheads sharks
Bryan Keller holding a bonnethead shark.

Shark species have an uncanny ability to find their way back to the same feeding grounds every year – even areas thousands of miles away.

According to a study published Thursday, that’s because sharks have a superior navigational tool at their disposal: They can orient themselves using Earth’s magnetic field.

They’re far from the only animals to do so. Birds, whales, and many other species use the same sixth sense to plot their migrations.

Bryan Keller, a biologist at Florida State University who co-authored the new study, likens this sense to “having an ‘internal GPS.'”

“This is, in my opinion, the best explanation for how migratory sharks successfully navigate during long-distance movements,” Keller told Insider.

‘Sharks garner map-like information from the magnetic field’

Earth's Magnetic Field
An illustration of Earth’s magnetic field.

Nearly 2,000 miles below Earth’s surface, swirling iron in the planet’s outer core conducts electricity that generates a magnetic field. This field stretches all the way from the planet’s interior to the space surrounding the Earth. It’s what protects the world from deadly solar radiation.

But the direction that the electromagnetic energy flows, as well as the strength of the resulting protective sheath, depends on where on the planet’s surface you are. So animals that use the magnetic field to orient themselves do so by detecting these differences in field strength and flow. They then use that information to figure out where they are and where to go.

Scientists long suspected sharks could navigate using the field, since the animals can sense electromagnetic fields in general. But that hypothesis had been difficult to confirm until Keller’s study.

His team examined the bonnethead shark, known as Sphyrna tiburo, because the species exhibits site fidelity – meaning it returns to the same estuary habitats each season.

“This means the sharks have the capability to remember a specific location and to navigate back to it,” he said.

bonnetheads sharks
An overhead shot of bonnethead sharks in a holding tank.

The team captured 20 bonnetheads off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, then placed the sharks in a 10-by-10-foot tank. They generated a tiny magnetic field within a 3-square-foot area of that tank. (Bonnetheads only reach 4 feet in length, which made them an ideal species to study in such a small pool, Keller said.)

The team then tweaked that localized magnetic field to mimic the electromagnetic conditions of various locations hundreds of miles away from where they’d caught the sharks. If the animals were truly relying on magnetic-field cues to navigate, the thinking went, then the bonnetheads would try to reorient themselves and start swimming in the direction they thought would lead to the Florida coast. That’s exactly what happened.

When the researchers mimicked the conditions of the magnetic field on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the animals exhibited no preference in which direction they were swimming – suggesting they assumed they were already in the right place.

“I’m not surprised that sharks garner map-like information from the magnetic field, because it makes perfect sense,” Keller said.

Many animals use the magnetic field for navigation

Even though the new study was done on bonnetheads, Keller said the findings likely apply to other shark species as well.

Great White Shark
A great white shark heads near the Neptune Islands, Australia, in June 2014.

How else could a great white, for example, migrate from South Africa to Australia – a distance of more than 12,400 miles – then return to the exact same chunk of ocean nine months later?

“En route to Australia, the animal exhibited an incredibly straight swimming trajectory,” Keller said of great whites. “Given that the magnetic field is perhaps the only constant and ubiquitous cue available to these migratory sharks, it is sensible that magnetic-based navigation is responsible for facilitating these incredible navigational successes.”

Other navigational cues do exist, including currents and tides, but Keller said the magnetic field “is likely more useful than these other aids because it remains relatively constant.”

Biologists still aren’t sure how sharks detect the field, but a 2017 study suggested that the animals’ magnetic receptors are probably located in their noses.

The ability to detect and orient using the magnetic field is fairly common in the animal kingdom overall, according to Keller. Scientists have observed that type of behavior in bacteria, algae, mud snails, lobsters, eels, stingrays, honey bees, mole rats, newts, birds, fish like tuna and salmon, dolphins, and whales.

Sea turtles, too, rely on magnetic cues when they migrate thousands of miles to lay eggs on the same beaches where they hatched.

Two_Wire_Fox_Terriers
Two wire-haired Fox Terriers.

Dogs, meanwhile, can find their way home both using their impressive sense of smell and by orienting themselves using the magnetic field, according to a June study.

“The magnetic field may provide dogs with a ‘universal’ reference frame, which is essential for long-distance navigation,” that study said.

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I tried a BarkBox subscription for my playful, energetic dog and it did not disappoint – the toys kept him entertained and they didn’t fall apart the second he got to them

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Archie Bark Box 1
My dog Archie loved his BarkBox toys, and I was impressed by how well they held up.

  • BarkBox delivers toys and treats to your home monthly with its dog subscription box.
  • Boxes range from $23 to $35 per month and include toys, all-natural treats, and a chew.
  • I tested BarkBox with my dog Archie – he loves the toys and I’m pleased with their durability.

Table of Contents

From groceries and prepared meals to clothing and beauty products, there is a monthly subscription service for everything – including dog toys.

When it comes to monthly pet product subscriptions, there are several options to choose from. There are Petco’s Pup Box, Bullymake, and RescueBox for dogs, and boxes for our feline friends from Cat Lady Box and KitNipBox, to name a few. Add to that fresh dog food services.

And then there is arguably the most popular: BarkBox. Since its inception, it’s delivered boxes to more than 2 million dogs and partnered with stores like Target to bring their most popular toys to nonsubscribers.

I decided to test the service with my dog Archie who loves to play with and chew on almost everything.

How does BarkBox work?

Archie Bark Box 2

To keep it simple, BarkBox sends you a box of toys, treats, and accessories once a month.

Not only does Bark Box offer monthly deliveries of toys and treats, but each box has a unique theme. One month your dog might receive a collection of holiday-themed treats and toys while the next month his BarkBox might send him on a journey through Chewrassic Bark. Each box contains two innovative toys, two bags of all-natural treats, a chew, and a specially curated item from the month’s themed collection.

Every toy is designed by in-house industrial designers, made for the way dogs play and approved by the company’s own test dogs.

To sign up, all you have to do is create an online profile, answering questions about your dog’s size and dietary preferences. You can also choose from the standard BarkBox filled with plush toys or the Super Chewer Box filled with fluff-free tough toys.

From there, you can choose a one-month subscription ($35), six months ($26/box), or 12 months ($23/box). The entire subscription process takes less than five minutes.

Testing the BarkBox

To write my review, Archie and I received two BarkBoxes with assorted toys, treats, and chews from the Bark Slope Street Fair collection. Here’s what we received:

  • Fresh Fair Treats, Lamb Gyro Recipe
  • Fresh Fair Treats, Duck Shish Kabob Recipe
  • Fresh Fair Treats, Chicken & Fish Taco Recipe
  • New York City Central Pork Pizza Treats
  • Plato Pet Treats Thinkers Chew, Salmon Recipe (2)
  • Max’s Maine Lobster Roll (Plush Toy)
  • Gideon the Pigeon (Plush Toy)
  • Bebe the Burrito (Plush Toy)
  • Lickton Iced Tea (Spiky Core Toy)
  • Shuck n’ Chuck Corn Cob (Super Chewer Toy)
  • The All-Powerful Pupsicle (Super Chewer Toy)
  • Buns of Steel Hotdog (Super Chewer Toy)

Archie Bark Box 4
The all-natural treats included in each BarkBox are allergy-friendly.

From the moment I started opening the BarkBox, Archie was intrigued – the noise of the packing paper alone sent him into an excited frenzy. The first thing I grabbed out of the box was Max’s Main Lobster Roll, one of the plush toys. I gave the toy a good squeeze and Archie’s ears perked up and his head tilted to the side.

I waved the toy around a couple of times then offered it to him. He immediately grabbed it out of my hand, ran down the hall into the bedroom, and started chewing.

Archie loves a good plush toy, especially if there’s a squeaker involved. But what he really loved about Max’s Maine Lobster Roll was the crinkle noise it made. Several other toys in the collection made similar noises, and he seemed to prefer them above the hard Super Chewer toys. He gobbled up the treats (which was a little surprising since he’s been picky about treats in the past) and he made quick work of the chews as well.

I’m now writing this several weeks after receiving Archie’s BarkBox.

My bedroom floor is currently covered in tufts of stuffing ripped out of several plush toys I’d received as gifts. Archie’s beloved stuffed lamb and puppy are no more, but his BarkBox plush toys are still around (though he did manage to get the squeaker out of Gideon the Pigeon and chewed that to shreds).

Needless to say, I think he’s a fan of BarkBox and so am I.

What’s the verdict?

Archie will chew on or play with just about anything, so I’m not surprised he loved the BarkBox so much. I am, however, pleased with the quality and durability of the toys. Even the plush toys from the regular BarkBox stood up well, and I’m convinced the Super Chewer toys will last forever.

Archie loves chews, so those are long gone already. I’m not sure that I need two bags of treats every month, though.

One final thing I found interesting is that BarkBox is very allergy-friendly. Every BarkBox is free from corn, wheat, and soy, which greatly reduces the risk for triggering allergies and food sensitivities. There are also options for dogs that are allergic to chicken, beef, and turkey – you simply have to call BarkBox or use their live chat feature, and they’ll send you an allergy-friendly box.

To wrap up, here’s an overview of the pros and cons for BarkBox:

The pros

  • Everything is of the highest quality, including all-natural dog treats and innovative toys.
  • Each box is tailored to fit your dog’s size, and options are available for dogs with allergies.
  • You can reorder certain items or purchase items from other collections online.
  • There is a money-back guarantee if your dog doesn’t like every item in the box.
  • BarkBox donates 5% of their profits go toward supporting organizations that provide free or low-cost vet care through spay and neuter programs.
  • Discounted prices are available for buying multiple months and for multiple dogs.

The cons

  • Subscription automatically renews; you’ll be charged and sent another box if you don’t cancel.
  • Some of the plush toys may not be ideal for heavy chewers and the stuffing could be a choking hazard – there is also access to the squeaker inside if your dog rips open the toy.
  • The rubberized toys that come in the Super Chewer box are heavy and somewhat awkward.

All in all, I was very pleased with my BarkBox experience and I think it’s safe to say that Archie is too.

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14 travel essentials to keep your dog safe and comfortable in the car, recommended by experts

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  • If you’re taking a road trip with your dog, you’ll need to ensure their safety and comfort.
  • We rounded up the best dog car travel accessories, including a crash-tested dog crate and harness.
  • You can protect your dog from overheating on the road with window shades and plenty of water.
  • For more expert reviews and buying advice, check out the Insider Reviews homepage.

Best dog car travel accessories to take your pet on a road trip

With changes to how we travel, Americans across the country are hitting the road with dogs as their copilots. Whether your plan is to hike and camp, explore back roads and under-the-radar towns, or visit family and friends, the promise of an adventure on the open road is intoxicating not just for you but for your dog, too.

To ensure the success of a road trip with your pup, you’ll need a handful of dog car travel accessories to keep them safe and comfortable during long drives. As a professional dog trainer by day and travel writer by night, I have years of experience hitting the road with dogs. I’ve combed through my own gear to come up with this list of essentials for a canine-friendly road trip.

For expertise on traveling safely with a dog in the hot summer months, I’ve consulted with veterinarian Tanya Fraser, medical director of VCA Allendale Animal Hospital in Allendale, Michigan, and Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia. Below we’ve rounded up our favorite travel gear as well as tips for traveling safely with your dog.

Here are 14 of the best dog car travel accessories for a canine-friendly road trip:

A crash-tested kennel to protect your dog in a collision

dog car travel crate from Lucky Duck

Lucky Duck Lucky Kennel Intermediate, available at Amazon, $569.99

According to Wolko, you should never travel with your dog in a plastic crate that has been buckled in with a car seat belt because it can easily fracture in a crash. Instead, use a crash-test-certified crate to give your pet the best possible chance of survival in a crash. The Center for Pet Safety has tested several crates for their Center for Pet Safety certified list, including the Lucky Kennel by Lucky Duck, which received a five-star crash-test rating. Crating may also help alleviate motion sickness in some dogs, according to Fraser.

A crash-tested harness to travel safely with your dog outside of a crate

Best dog car travel accessories to take your pet on a road trip

Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Safety Harness, available at Sleepypod, $79.99

Sleepypod Clickit Terrain Dog Safety Harness, available at Sleepypod, $94.99

Testing done by the Center for Pet Safety indicates that a crash-test-certified travel harness is an effective way to keep a dog safe on a road trip, especially a dog that has never been crate trained or that suffers from confinement distress. Sleepypod’s Clickit Sport Harness and Terrain Harness each earned a five-star rating. They attach to the seat belts in the back seat of a car through built-in loops. 

A hammock-style seat cover to keep paw prints and dirt at bay

orvis dog car seat cover for road trip

Orvis Grip-Tight Windowed Hammock Seat Protector, available at Orvis, from $169

If any portion of your road trip involves hiking, camping, or other explorations of the great outdoors, do yourself a favor and get a water-resistant seat cover to protect your car from moisture and dirt. This version from Orvis blankets the back seat and the backs of the front seats. A see-through mesh panel between the two front seats prevents your dog from feeling too isolated.

A foldable car ramp for pets with mobility issues

Petsafe car ramp for dogs

Petsafe Ultralite Bi-Fold Pet Ramp at Chewy, Amazon, Wayfair, from $69.95

Just because a dog’s mobility is limited doesn’t mean they aren’t an ideal road trip companion. Bring along a lightweight car ramp to make your travels with an older or disabled dog go more smoothly and save you from having to lift them in and out of the vehicle 20 times a day. In between stops, just fold up the ramp and slide it behind the seat for easy storage.

A pet first-aid kit just in case

pet first aid kit

Rayco International Ltd. Pet First Aid Kit, available at Amazon and Walmart, $24.99

From foxtails to ticks, there are dozens of nasty surprises that await your dog on a road trip. Be prepared for the dangers in your path with a high-quality pet first-aid kit. Fraser also recommends downloading the American Red Cross’s Pet First-Aid app to help you navigate minor injuries. If you’re headed for a specific destination, she also suggests looking up a local emergency clinic before you arrive.

Shades to block the sun and keep car temperatures down

munchkin window shade to protect dog from overheating

Munchkin Brica Window Shade, available at Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Amazon, from $13.99

Even with the air conditioning on full blast, the interior of the car can heat up to uncomfortable levels when temperatures get extreme outside. Sunshades can help to minimize the greenhouse effect inside the car by blocking the heat out. Don’t expect them to help when you’ve parked the car, though. Temperatures can skyrocket inside a parked car in just minutes. “Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows down, and even for just a few minutes,” said Fraser.

A spill-minimizing bowl so your dog can quench their thirst anytime they want

large travel water bowl for car

Heininger Waterboy Portable Pet Bowl, available at Chewy, $13.38

Heininger’s portable water bowl, which has a reservoir that fills with water when laid flat, has lived in my car on and off for years. Leave it out while you drive — the well has been designed to minimize spillage — or stand it up to drain the well water back into the jug. The BPA-free device holds up to 3 quarts of liquid. 

Interlocking treat-dispensing puzzle toys to help alleviate boredom

west paw dog toy for car rides

West Paw Toppl, available at Chewy and Walmart, from $15.95

Keep your dog from getting restless on the road by occupying them with treat-dispensing puzzle toys. West Paw’s Toppl can be stuffed with treats, spread with peanut butter, or sprayed with cheesy goodness. For smarty pants dogs, try combining a large Toppl with a small one to create a toy that’s a bit more challenging.

A soft, washable blanket that doubles as a dog bed

Carhartt_blanket_from_promo_material

Carhartt Dog Blanket, available at Chewy , Amazon, and Carhartt, from $75.99

If you’re exhausted by the end of a day of driving, so is your dog. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or camping overnight, pack something soft and cozy for your pup to cuddle up in. I always bring a soft, washable blanket along for the ride. Not only is a blanket easy to fit into an overstuffed trunk, it’s ultra-portable and can double as a dog bed whenever needed.

A dog-size backpack for outdoor adventures

ruffwear_approach_backpack Ruffwear

Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack, available at Ruffwear, Backcountry, and REI, $79.95

If you plan on doing a lot of hiking or backpacking on your road trip, it’s only fair that your dog should carry their share of the gear. Always limit your dog’s load to no more than 25% of their body weight and make sure the pack fits properly before your adventure.

An insulated water bottle with a dog bowl built right in

kong_water_bottle_for_dogs

Kong H20 Stainless Steel Dog Water Bottle, available at Amazon and Chewy, from $10.90

Whether you’re on a nature walk or in a socially distanced beer garden, keep your dog hydrated with a combination water bottle and dog bowl. This version from Kong is made of insulated stainless steel that will keep liquids cool and refreshing all day long.

A long line to let your dog safely explore new environments

signature_k9_biothane_long_lead

Signature K9 Biothane Long Line, available at Amazon, from $19.96

Even if your dog has an excellent recall, the allure of the new environments they’ll be exploring on your road trip may prove more powerful than your cue. Bring along a 15- to 20-foot long line to give your dog some freedom while ensuring they remain out of trouble.

Grooming wipes or waterless shampoo to quickly remove grime and nasty smells

earthbath_grooming_wipes Chewy

Earthbath Green Tea & Awapuhi Grooming Wipes, available at Petco, $14.99

Bodhi Dog Waterless Lavender Dog Dry Shampoo, available at Chewy and Amazon, $13.29

On the road, there may be hundreds of miles between you and the closest dog-washing station, but if your dog is living their best road trip life, chances are they’ll need at least a little cleanup before your trip is over. Grooming wipes are an easy way to freshen up your dog’s coat or remove debris from their paws or muzzle. If you’ve got a dog that loves to roll in stinky things, I can tell you from experience that you’ll need something stronger to remove the stench. A waterless dog shampoo works a bit better and it never hurts to bring a bottle along for the ride.

A folding travel crate for use inside a hotel room

Sencha_in_Orvis_Travel_Crate

Orvis Hose-Off Folding Travel Crate, available at Orvis, $129

To keep everyone safe when you leave your hotel room, you’ll need a portable crate to set up inside your room. While most hotels don’t require this, I’ve heard one too many horror stories about a hotel staff member who has been bitten after walking into a room with a canine guest. Choose something that collapses flat and has a handle for easy carrying. I like Orvis’s version, which also has two doors and plenty of ventilation and comes with a padded fleece mat.

Additional safety tips for road trips with dogs

To ensure the success of a road trip with your pup, you’ll need a handful of items to keep them safe and comfortable during long drives. Dogs also need regular breaks from the road, just like we do. “Stopping every few hours to get out, move around, and use the bathroom is ideal,” said Fraser.

All that driving also increases the possibility that your dog may, at some point, experience some car sickness. Most dogs outgrow motion sickness in puppyhood, according to Fraser, but if your dog is prone to nausea in the car, things like withholding food for a few hours before traveling or letting your dog see out the window can help. Roll down the window for additional airflow but not so low that your dog can thrust their head into the wind. That’s very dangerous. “You know the sound your windshield makes when a rock hits it? Imagine your dog being hit by that rock. Ouch!” Wolko said.

Before you embark on your trip, Fraser recommends making sure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines and parasite control. Consult your vet if you have questions. They can also provide you with anti-nausea medication if your dog frequently experiences motion sickness.

 

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