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 and moisturized. Whether a dog bath is fun or feels like a chore to you, the shampoo product that you use plays a big part in maintaining optimal skin and coat health.
Many dog owners use human shampoo on their dogs, but these products can damage a dog’s skin and leave the skin vulnerable to problems like flaky skin and infections. The best option is to purchase a shampoo designed specifically for dogs. The products below are formulated for a dog’s pH and gentle on sensitive skin.
Keeping a dog’s skin and coat clean is important, but know that you can have too much of a good thing. Too-frequent shampooing could strip their coat of the natural oils that nourish and moisturize the skin and coat. So, not only is it important to avoid bathing them too often but you also need to use a high-quality product when you do wash them.
The shampoos recommended here are not intended to treat medical conditions. Speak to your veterinarian and read our guide to the best medicated dog shampoos if you are looking to manage a specific condition.
Pros: All-natural ingredients, soap-free formula, relieves itching, soothes dry skin, promotes healing, moisturizes skin, pH-balanced to clean and deodorize, won’t wash away flea and tick products,100% biodegradable, cruelty-free
Cons: May not be suitable for dogs with allergies and extra-sensitive skin, scent may fade over time, may not be powerful enough for very strong odors
When shopping for dog shampoo, look for a product that will clean and deodorize a dog’s skin and coat without irritating their sensitive skin. We recommend Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, which is a gentle and effective formula for animals 6 weeks and older.
The shampoo contains natural ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera to soothe skin irritation, relieve itching, and moisturize a dog’s skin The soap-free, pH-balanced formula effectively cleans and softens the coat, and vanilla and almond extracts leave a pleasing scent. It is light enough that it won’t wash away flea and tick control products.
In addition to being all-natural, it is 100% biodegradable and cruelty-free.
Pros: Gentle enough for puppies and as a face wash, fresh orchid scent, natural odor-neutralizing ingredients, lathers well for deep cleaning, no harsh fragrances
Cons: Orchid scent may be overpowering, may not be powerful enough for strong odors
Like adult dogs, puppies can have sensitive skin. To care for your puppy’s skin, choose a formula that is strong enough for deep cleaning but gentle enough not to irritate or damage your puppy’s skin. Isle of Dogs Tearless Puppy Shampoo is a puppy-safe shampoo that cleans and deodorizes without the use of harsh chemicals or fragrances.
The shampoo is made with gentle cleansers that are safe for your puppy’s sensitive skin and coat. It is a tearless formula that won’t irritate their eyes if you use it as a face wash, and it leaves behind a fresh orchid scent. The formula’s odor-neutralizing ingredients provide long-lasting freshness.
Even though the shampoo can safely be used to wash your puppy’s face, take extra care not to get the product in their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Pros: Made with natural pyrethrins instead of synthetic permethrins, contains Precor insect growth regulator, kills fleas and ticks in all life stages, protects for a full 28 days, contains natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize skin, gently cleanses and softens coat, safe for puppies over 12 weeks
Cons: Not recommended for puppies under 12 weeks, some users find the odor to be too strong, must be worked into a thick lather for maximum efficacy
Not only can fleas make your dog’s skin irritated and inflamed, but these tiny, pesky parasites can make their way into your pet’s bedding, your furniture, your carpet — and eventually onto you.
Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo contains natural pyrethrins to kill adult fleas, ticks, and lice in puppies 12 weeks and older. It also contains Precor, an insect growth regulator that prevents eggs and larvae from developing into biting adults. While these ingredients are safe for dogs, they are toxic to cats and potentially fatal. Never bathe your cat with this product.
In addition to powerful active ingredients, this formula also contains natural ingredients like coconut extract, oatmeal, and aloe to help soothe and moisturize your dog’s dry, irritated, and itchy skin. The gentle formula works into an easy lather to cleanse your dog’s coat, leaving it soft, shiny, and clean. It also provides a full 28 days of protection against fleas, ticks, and lice.
Be aware that flea shampoos kill adult fleas that are currently on a dog but are less effective — and harder to use — than flea preventatives. An oral or topical spot-on flea preventive is the best line of defense against fleas and should be the first choice to prevent flea problems on a dog.
Pros: No synthetic ingredients, no detergents or sulfates, biodegradable and cruelty-free, gently cleanses and moisturizes, safe for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin, mild but pleasant scent, safe for puppies and dogs of all ages
Cons: May not be strong enough for dogs with thick double coats, thin consistency
Shampoos, particularly all-natural shampoos, that are free of harsh ingredients are generally the safest option for dogs with sensitive skin and seasonal allergies. Our recommendation for organic dog shampoo is 4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo because it is USDA-certified organic and free from synthetic ingredients that might irritate your dog’s skin. This formula is safe for dogs in all life stages.
4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo gently cleanses and moisturizes your dog’s skin and coat, leaving them smelling fresh and clean. It is minimally processed, meaning that the ingredients remain as close as possible to their original, natural form.
Ingredients are sustainably sourced and biodegradable.
Pros: Contains three times the cleansing power of ordinary shampoos, lathers well for a deep clean, made with an exclusive “dirt repel” formula, natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize skin, doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue, concentrated formula doesn’t require mixing, does not remove topical flea and tick control treatments, gentle enough to be used frequently
Cons: Triple strength formula may be too strong for dogs with very sensitive skin, bottle may leak when not stored or handled properly, green apple scent sometimes wears off quickly
The Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo contains three times more active cleansing ingredients than the average dog shampoo. Free from harsh ingredients and irritating fragrances, this formula contains a variety of foaming agents and natural ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter to leave your dog’s skin healthy and their coat clean.
This shampoo also contains a “dirt repel” formula to keep your dog’s coat cleaner longer.
Despite this shampoo being heavy duty, it is gentle enough that it won’t remove topical flea and tick control products on your dog’s skin or strip away the skin’s natural oils. Also, it can be used frequently, if needed. Always talk with your veterinarian about how often you should shampoo your dog.
Pros: Hypoallergenic formula, soap-free, tearless, cleans and moisturizes sensitive skin and coats, helps relieve itching and dryness, does not interfere with flea and tick products
Cons: Scent may be too strong for some people, may not be effective against severe allergic reactions, not recommended for nursing or pregnant dogs
Seasonal allergies can cause dogs to feel persistently itchy, leading to constant scratching and licking that damages the skin and leaves it vulnerable to infection and other skin problems.
Our top pick for a hypoallergenic dog shampoo that gently cleanses while soothing dry skin and relieving itching is Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo. This soap-free, tearless formula won’t interfere with your dog’s flea and tick control products, either.
Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo removes allergy-inducing substances like pollen from the skin and features natural ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E to soothe itching, relieve allergies, and moisturize dry and brittle coats. It won’t irritate their sensitive skin or leave behind a sticky residue. Plus, it will leave them smelling clean and fresh.
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The MudBuster makes cleaning my dog’s paws easier and faster.
I use the MudBuster to clean my dog’s paws after winter walks and after playtime in the yard.
I also use this paw cleaner to regularly rinse his feet to help keep his allergies at bay.
If your dogs are anything like mine, they hate having their paws touched. When my German shepherd Silas comes in from playing in our perpetually muddy yard, he becomes very anxious and hangs his head low as I clean off his muddy paws.
In the past, cleaning his paws meant dirtying towel after towel as I tried to wrangle him. Now that we have a Dexas MudBuster Gentle Paw Washer, cleaning his paws is so much easier – for him and for me.
Other than the fact that it’s important for my floors that Silas’ paws stay clean, it’s important for him as well. “Dog paws can be magnets for intestinal parasites, viruses, and other little nasties as they play in the dog park or even just walk through a field, the yard, or any place dogs [go to the bathroom]. This can lead to an intestinal infection with worms or even parvo when they lick or chew their paws. What better reason to wash your dogs’ paws regularly,” said veterinarian Jason Nicholas, BVMS, of Preventative Vet.
In Silas’ case, he is prone to allergies, especially in the summer and fall, and regularly cleaning his paws is our best defense against them. It also saves us from buying costly allergy medication. Dr. Nichols also emphasized the importance of clean paws for dogs with allergies like Silas. “Keeping them clean can decrease the allergen load, which can irritate the skin or even be ingested by licking or chewing on their paws,” he said.
With the MudBuster, I’m more likely to clean Silas’ paws, and it gets his paws cleaner than I get them with a towel.
The MudBuster looks like a cup but has soft silicone bristles inside to gently clean a dog’s paws. When you’re ready to use it, fill it with warm or cool water. Then, put your dog’s paws in the MudBuster one at a time, gently twisting the container and moving it up and down.
Every dog will react to this product differently, so it’s a good idea to introduce it to them without water in case they try to kick it off. It’s also worth noting that there are techniques for making your dog more comfortable being handled. Silas hates to have his paws touched, but he tolerates the MudBuster pretty well.
If you’re dealing with extremely dirty paws, you’ll want to change out the water between paws, or clean all four and then do a second pass with clean water. If your dog stands on a towel while you’re cleaning their paws, you’ll barely even need to dry them when you’re done.
When you’re finished, just dump out the dirty water and rinse the MudBuster with clean water. If your dog’s paws were especially dirty or you’ve been using the MudBuster for a while, you can also take it apart to clean it more thoroughly. Simply take off the lid, pull the silicone bristles out, and clean each piece with soap and water.
The MudBuster isn’t only for cleaning muddy paws. When we take Silas on walks in the winter, the roads and sidewalks are always covered with salt and de-icing chemicals, which dry his pads out. We’ve even dealt with cracked and bleeding paw pads in the past (read more about how to care for dry and cracked paw pads here). Now, we always use the MudBuster after winter walks.
The MudBuster comes in three sizes. Silas is a 95-pound German shepherd, and we use the large size for him. MudBuster recommends the medium for medium breeds such as Australian shepherds, boxers, and English bulldogs, and the small for breeds like dachshunds, Pomeranians, and Yorkies. All three sizes are available in blue, green, or pink.
The MudBuster has made paw cleaning less stressful for me and my dog
The MudBuster never ceases to amaze me, first and most importantly because Silas actually lets me clean his feet with it. When I used to clean his feet with a towel, he jerked and squirmed, and corralling a 95-pound dog isn’t easy.
Now that I use the MudBuster, I can still tell that Silas isn’t completely comfortable, but he doesn’t try to wrestle away from me. It makes coming in from outside less stressful for both of us.
The other way the MudBuster amazes me is simply how well it works. Even when I don’t think his paws are that dirty, the water is always very brown, and there’s often sediment left at the bottom of the container.
The bottom line
If you have a dog that likes to spend time outside, the MudBuster is a worthwhile investment. Even if your dog doesn’t mind having their paws touched, this product still makes cleaning them easier and does a better job than a damp cloth.
As Dr. Nichols said, neglecting your dog’s paws leaves them vulnerable to parasites, viruses, damage from foreign objects, and more. By keeping their paws clean, you’re also protecting your family and keeping your home clean. If this is something you struggle to keep up with, the MudBuster will make this arduous task easier and more convenient.
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There are many excellent dog food brands, but finding the right food for your pet is not so simple.
We spoke to veterinarians and an animal nutrition expert who guided us in selecting nutritious dog food.
Here are some of the best dog foods, including kibble, canned food, fresh food, and puppy, senior, and grain-free diets.
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.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Choosing a healthy dog food can be an overwhelming process. The brands and formulas we’ve highlighted here are a sampling of the many excellent options available, and each recommendation was evaluated based on standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as well as consultation with veterinary experts. (Products have been independently chosen by us based on our research and years of experience; none were recommended by our experts who maintain impartiality.)
The advice in this guide is tailored to the “average dog” – a sedentary or moderately active dog that is either a healthy weight or slightly overweight, does not have a specific health condition, and is not a working or performance dog. Each dog food was evaluated based on its nutritional adequacy, calorie content, guaranteed analysis, and ingredients.
Dry dog food is a practical option for many pet owners: It’s cost-effective, has a long shelf life, and is easy to store and serve. Always check a pet food label to ensure the food is AAFCO complete and balanced for your adult dog’s life stage — “maintenance” for adults and “growth” for puppies and pregnant or lactating females.
For adult dogs, we recommend foods containing moderate protein (the AAFCO minimum is 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat. Pet owners often assume more protein is better since dogs evolved as carnivores, but this is not so, according to Kelly Swanson, PhD, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Domestic dogs are actually omnivorous and do not require extremely high protein concentrations in their diet. “From a pet health perspective, the protein quality and digestibility are most important,” he said.
When shopping for dog food, look for meat sources of protein such as whole meats and meat meals at the top of the ingredients list. Complementary proteins like rice and beans may also be included. Swanson likes to see fat concentrations below 20%, although he doesn’t get too concerned about fat content for healthy-weight pets who do not have conditions like pancreatitis or gastrointestinal disease.
Veterinarian W. Jean Dodds, owner of Hemopet Holistic Care Veterinary Clinic, looks for a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods on the list. These include high quality meats or fish, some carbohydrates, a mixture of vegetables, and some fruit, including berries.
Many foods also contain extra ingredients like omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, probiotics for digestion, and glucosamine, chondroitin, and green-lipped mussels for joint support.
Our picks for adult dry dog food:
The best adult wet dog food
Wet food is particularly appealing to dogs. Pet parents often like it for this reason, and because it has a long shelf life when unopened.
We selected wet foods that meet AAFCO complete and balanced standards, which are the same as those that apply to dry food. However, wet food generally contains more protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian before switching your dog to a wet diet, especially if they have trouble digesting a lot of protein or fat.
Although the same standards apply to dry and wet food, it can be hard to compare their labels. Kibble has very little moisture, while canned food contains a lot of water. To understand a wet food label, you need to look at the percentages of protein, fat, and fiber on a “dry matter basis.” Read these instructions from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University to calculate them yourself, call the food manufacturer, or ask your veterinarian for help. For the foods below, we contacted the manufacturer.
When shopping, be on the lookout for wet dog food that is 100% meat. More protein might seem like a good thing, but these foods are for supplemental feeding only. “Dogs have evolved from wolves to become obligate omnivores,” said Dodds. This means that they need more than just meat in their diet. Small amounts of meat-only wet foods can make tasty meal toppers for your dog’s complete and balanced dry food.
Our picks for adult wet dog food:
The best fresh dog food
Fresh dog food is minimally processed, made with wholesome ingredients, often without preservatives, and cooked a short time before your dog eats it. All this means fresh dog food is some of the most expensive food you can buy.
Some dog food companies cook fresh, individually customized food and ship it directly to your door, usually via a subscription. It must be stored in the freezer, thawed in the refrigerator, and fed within a few days of opening the package.
Always check that the fresh food you plan to feed your dog is AAFCO complete and balanced and not intended for supplemental feeding. Most companies tailor the calorie content of the meals to your specific dog based on weight, breed, and activity level.
When choosing a healthy fresh dog food, look for the same beneficial ingredients you would for any dog food: meat sources of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, marine sources of fat, and healthy extras like omega fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and probiotics.
Our picks for fresh dog food:
The best budget dog food
The phrase “you get what you pay for” holds true for dog food. Food made from organic, non-GMO, or human-grade ingredients comes with a premium price tag.
The good news is, it’s not necessary to go broke to feed your dog a great diet. If you’re looking to spend less, many high-quality dog foods provide excellent nutrition at a lower cost.
We don’t advise buying the cheapest food available — to keep the price down, such foods contain lower-quality ingredients and more fillers. As with any diet, choose the appropriate food for your dog’s life stage and check for the AAFCO complete and balanced statement on the label.
Our picks for budget dog food:
The best grain-free dog food
Grain-free diets aren’t necessarily superior to diets that contain grains, but they can be helpful for dogs that are allergic or intolerant to specific grains. There is also a misconception that these dog foods are carbohydrate-free, but the necessary carbohydrates just come from non-grain ingredients like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and tapioca.
Something worth mentioning in any discussion about grain-free food is the fact that the FDA continues to investigate a potential link between dogs fed grain-free diets and the development of a heart condition called non-hereditary dilated cardiomyopathy. For now, no firm correlation between grain-free diets and cardiac issues has been scientifically supported. However, it’s possible we may discover more in the future. Always talk to your veterinarian about feeding your dog a grain-free diet.
Our picks for grain-free dog food:
The best dry puppy food
Puppy foods are formulated to be energy-dense, which means they are higher in fat and calories to fuel growing bodies.
To ensure the food you’re considering is appropriate for puppies, check the label for an AAFCO complete and balanced statement that says it’s intended for growth for all life stages. A food labeled “maintenance” is only intended for adult dogs.
Some puppy foods are made specially for small breeds or large and giant breeds, but there aren’t any official AAFCO nutrient standards for these designations. “Balancing the nutrient needs of dogs given their wide size variety and ages is wise and common sense,” said Dodds.
Small breed puppy foods usually have a smaller kibble size for smaller mouths and are often slightly higher in calories to account for the higher metabolisms of these breeds. Puppy foods for large and giant breeds generally contain more protein; less fat; fewer calories; and an ideal balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to encourage slower growth to support joint health and prevent obesity.
Our picks for puppy food:
The best dry senior dog food
Senior diets are intended for the unique needs of older dogs. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” said Swanson.
These diets may contain higher amounts of protein, higher quality protein to maintain muscle, fiber to aid in fecal elimination, additional antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and aid in immune response, and additional omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance.
Since older dogs are often less active, these diets typically contain fewer calories. Some foods are also lower in protein, but contrary to popular belief, healthy senior dogs may actually benefit from more protein than younger adult dogs. If your dog does not have health conditions, look for a senior diet that is lower in fat and calories and contains extra protein — the AAFCO minimum protein for adult dogs is 18%.
Our picks for senior dog food:
I’ve been fortunate to interview many veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists throughout my 20-year career writing and editing for pet and veterinary publications, and I’ve fed my own dog many different dog food brands.
For advice on what to look for in a healthy dog food and what to avoid, I consulted two veterinarians and a professor of animal and nutritional science. Although this information guided me in my product selection, our veterinary experts did not specifically endorse any of the products included in this guide. This makes sense since a veterinarian’s goal is to find a food that best fits each individual dog, rather than making broad recommendations.
All the foods mentioned in this guide are complete and balanced according to the guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), contain high-quality ingredients, and offer appropriate levels of protein, fat, and fiber for their respective categories.
Here are the main attributes we looked for, in order of importance:
AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement: The most important benchmark of a healthy dog food is a statement on the label that says it meets the nutritional standards established by the AAFCO, demonstrating that the food is complete and balanced for the dog’s life stage. All foods mentioned in this guide are AAFCO complete and balanced. Read more about those standards and definitions in the next slide.
Guaranteed analysis: The guaranteed analysis lists the percentages of the most vital nutrients in the food: protein, fat, fiber, and moisture. Sometimes, other nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids are also listed in the guaranteed analysis. Foods selected in this guide contain moderate to high protein (AAFCO minimums are 22% for puppies and 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat (AAFCO minimums are 8.5% for puppies and 5.5% for adults).
Ingredients list: The ingredients list can be tricky to navigate, especially when taking water content into account, but in general, you want to see clearly identified animal sources of protein at the top of the list. Whole meat is great, but it is heavier due to its moisture content. Once that water is removed, the meat content might not be as high as you think. Don’t automatically write off meat meals. High-quality meat meals can be an excellent source of protein — the water has been removed, so they may provide more protein than whole meat. The ingredients lists of all the foods in this guide contain animal sources of protein at the top of the list.
Healthy extras: According to Swanson, some foods contain extra ingredients intended to support healthy skin, coat, and joints. Some of these may include additional long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA; usually supplied by marine-based oils or meals), omega-6 fatty acids (safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed, etc.), glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussels, and additional vitamins (vitamin A, biotin) and minerals (zinc, copper). Probiotics, prebiotics, and yeast fermentation products may also boost gut health.
Calorie content: The calorie content of dog food is listed in kilocalories, or k/cals. When dogs consume too many calories, they are at risk for becoming overweight or obese. Less-active dogs need fewer calories and very active dogs like performance or working dogs need a food that is more calorie dense. For most dogs, being able to eat the largest volume of food while staying within the ideal daily calorie range will help them feel more satisfied. In general, such foods rated higher in our selection process. Check out this calorie calculator to determine how many calories your dog needs. Your veterinarian can also evaluate if the amount you’re feeding is appropriate.
Feeding trials: It’s great if a food has undergone feeding trials in addition to a laboratory analysis of the food’s ingredients. If the nutritional adequacy statement on the label has language like “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [product] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage]” it means the food has been proven via feeding trials to be palatable, digestible, and able sustain pets over time.
Expert formulations: Choose a pet food manufacturer that works closely with a veterinary nutritionist or other professional with a master’s degree or PhD in nutrition, animal science, or a related field. Manufacturers may employ one or more full-time nutritionists, or hire one or more nutrition consultants. For this guide, we prioritized brands that have a dedicated nutrition expert on staff to align with WSAVA recommendations.
Next-level ingredients: Seeing natural, organic, or human-grade ingredients on the label is nice, especially if you believe in the health benefits of organic foods. Wild-caught fish are as natural as you can get and, unlike farmed fish, are not treated with antibiotics or medications. Some foods use eggs and meat from cage-free chickens and turkeys, which is a bonus if you care about the welfare of the animals you — and your pets — eat. That said, ingredients in dog food need not be human-grade, organic, wild-caught, or cage-free to be healthy and nutritious for pets.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a private nonprofit corporation that defines ingredients and establishes nutritional profiles for animal feed and pet food. AAFCO establishes model language for states and other governing bodies. It does not regulate, test, approve, or certify pet food. The US Food and Drug Administration, which is a voting member of AAFCO, regulates pet food labels at the federal level. States also regulate pet foods, and most have adopted the model pet food regulations established by AAFCO.
Dog foods that meet the nutritional standards established by AAFCO may use a statement on the label that says the food is complete and balanced for the dog’s life stage according to the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile. There are three life stages: 1) maintenance, for adult dogs more than 1 year old, 2) growth, for puppies less than 1 year old, and which also includes pregnant and lactating females, and 3) all life stages, which is any dog of any age.
Foods that do not display language asserting that they are complete and balanced as determined by AAFCO standards are labeled for supplemental or intermittent feeding only. Those foods should never be a dog’s sole diet as they are not nutritionally adequate.
Foods can meet AAFCO standards in two ways:
Guaranteed analysis: Nutrient profiles are determined through laboratory analysis of the food. Foods that meet AAFCO standards as per nutrient profiles will display language like “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for [life stage].” You can always contact the company to confirm the nutrient profile of the food also meets nutritional levels established by the AAFCO.
Feeding trials: Pet foods can also meet the standards through feeding trials, where the food is fed to animals under controlled conditions and the outcomes are monitored. Feeding trials are not perfect, and they are also very expensive, so not all companies perform them. However, it’s nice to see them, though they should not replace nutrient profiles. If you see language like “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [product] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage]” it means the food has been proven via feeding trials to be palatable, digestible, and able sustain pets over time.
How to read a pet food label
Dog food packages feature attractive images and targeted descriptions intended to sell you on the quality and healthfulness of the food, but if you really want to know whether a dog food is high quality and a good choice for your dog, learn what to look for on the label.
A great place to start is this handy reference from the WSAVA about interpreting food labels. The most important information to look for on a label is the AAFCO complete and balanced statement, the guaranteed analysis (crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture), and the calorie content statement.
The ingredients list is also important, but it can be difficult for the average pet owner to know how well their dog will do on a diet just based off the ingredients.
“Although many pet owners make their decision based largely on the ingredient panel, it is only one of many considerations,” Swanson said. “Without knowing the exact formula and percentage of each ingredient, it is not too useful. What is more important is that the dietary formula is complete and balanced.”
Certain terms on pet food labels can be confusing and even misleading. “Terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are very common in the industry today,” Swanson said. “While both terms were intended to highlight higher quality ingredients, they do not guarantee high quality.” He explained that quality depends on both the raw ingredients and good manufacturing practices. “Like other ingredients that do not carry these terms, they are highly variable due to differences in soil quality (plants), feed quality (animals), ingredient storage, ingredient handling, etc.,” he said.
If you find reading pet food labels confusing, your veterinarian can talk to you about your dog’s individual needs, help you choose an appropriate food, and advise how much to feed.
FAQs about dog food
What is the best food I can feed my dog?
It’s important to find a food your dog likes eating and thrives on, but this may involve a bit of trial and error. Individual dogs digest food differently. Some dogs do better with more protein, some need less. Some dogs can tolerate higher levels of fat; others need less. Dogs also handle amounts of fiber differently. Your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist can help you sort out what diet will work best for your dog.
“Dogs are individuals,” said veterinarian Carol Osborne, of the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “What works well for Dog A, might not work well for Dog B. If you want to know if a food is good for your pet, look at your pet. Your pet is a reflection of what he or she is eating.”
Outward signs of good health include clear eyes and nose, ears that aren’t smelly, and a coat that isn’t dry, flakey, or shedding excessively. Your dog should not be vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. “Soft stool is not normal,” Osborne said. “Bowel movements should be formed and homogenous. You should not be able to make out the pea, the piece of corn, the carrot. [Homogenous stool] means the food has all been digested.”
What is human-grade dog food?
Pet foods that use the term “human-grade” must follow strict rules. The term may only be used if it applies to the finished food as a whole — not individual ingredients. Both the ingredients and finished product must be documented to be stored, handled, processed, and transported according to the current good manufacturing practices for human-edible foods, and the label must clearly state that the food is intended for dogs.
Swanson has tested a few human-grade pet foods in his lab over the years. “While I don’t have a strong preference to any one type or brand of diet, I can say that the human-grade foods I have had experience with are highly palatable, highly digestible, and resulted in a low volume of stool that allowed for easy clean up,” he said.
Is a raw diet good for my dog?
A raw diet consists of uncooked meat, bones, and vegetables. Raw pet food poses dangers to both dogs and humans. Veterinarians told Insider Reviews that despite some reported benefits, there are too many risks for pets, including bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, and injuries from bones in the food. In addition, people who are immunocompromised, elderly people, and young children are at risk of bacterial infections if they live in a household where a dog is fed a raw diet. For more information, read the statements from the FDA and CDC regarding the health and safety risks of feeding raw dog foods.
Dr. Kelly S. Swanson MS, PhD, is a professor of animal and nutritional sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. Dr. Swanson’s lab conducts research on nutrition-related problems like obesity and intestinal health. Dr. Swanson is the Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in Human Nutrition.
Jean Dodds, DVM, obtained her veterinary degree from Ontario Veterinary College. A clinical research veterinarian for more than 50 years, Dr. Dodds has more than 150 research publications. She is the founder of Hemopet, the first nonprofit national animal blood bank. Dr. Dodds is the developer of NutriScan, a food sensitivity and intolerance diagnostic test for dogs, cats and horses. She co-authored two books with Diana Laverdure, The Canine Thyroid Epidemic: Answers You Need for Your Dog (Dogwise, 2011) and Canine Nutrigenomics: Foods that Heal Your Dog (Dogwise, 2015).
Carol Osborne, DVM, is founder and director of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She is author of the books Naturally Healthy Cats (Marshall, 2006) and Naturally Healthy Dogs (Marshall, 2006) and hosts a weekly National Pet Talk AM radio show broadcast. Dr. Osborne has appeared on Good Day L.A. and Today in New York, where she was the on-camera staff veterinarian.
When then-Vice Presidential candidate Biden promised his family in 2008 that they’d purchase a puppy if he and Barack Obama won the presidential election, he surely could not have imagined the level of corruption this canine would bring to the White House.
Indeed, “Champ” – a purebred German Shepherd who came from a breeder in Pennsylvania – has been clouded in scandal ever since he first stepped foot in the nation’s capital more than a decade ago. “We are surprised that Sen. Biden chose to purchase a dog from a commercial kennel since he has been a leader on animal-protection issues,” said the Humane Society in 2008.
Three presidential elections later, Champ is still at the center of various misdeeds, only this time, with a new partner in crime. The Biden’s second dog “Major” is also a German Shepherd, but – likely due to the backlash from the Bidens’ buying a kennel dog in 2008 – was adopted from the Delaware Humane Society in 2018. Upon the adoption, the humane society posted on Facebook that it was a “very lucky day” for Major.
But if you ask any of Champ or Major’s victims, they’re anything but lucky. I am calling on both Champ and Major to look inward and realize that they are no longer in a position to lead. They must resign from their roles as White House pets.
On March 9, Major locked his eyes on a secret service member in the White House and, as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki put it, “reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual.”
There’s a reason Psaki used language befitting of an “officer-involved” shooting: to shift blame from the attacker and place it on the victim. Long have authorities used the “passive voice” to describe misconduct, and this is just the latest example of a corrupt need to protect the powerful. Major didn’t “react in a way that resulted in injury,” Jen, he attacked someone. Bad dog.
In response to the incident, Major spent some time away in Delaware, presumably on administrative leave. He is said to have received White House training within the past couple of weeks, and is now being walked with a leash. Despite these preventative measures – implemented to protect the staff and visitors of the White House just trying to go about their day from a dog with a history of violence – Major would once again find himself in a “biting-involved” incident on March 30. This time, the victim required medical attention. Next time? I shudder to think.
Champ, on the other hand, is the possible culprit of a pile of feces left in the hallway outside of the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. More disrespectful than pooping inside is the fact that he did so on the White House’s famous red carpet.
Some have tried to blame these actions on the shock of the move to DC or the high number of people coming in and out of the White House, but the time for excuses has passed. Such callous acts are indicative of an apathy towards responsibility and a lack of respect for the position of White House pet.
Suffice it to say, these dogs have a huge platform. Indeed, over 7,500 people attended Major’s “indoguration,” an event so big it landed singer Josh Groban as its musical act. Their popularity and influence cannot be overstated, and it is for this reason that their actions must be highly scrutinized.
They had an opportunity to meet this role with dignity, and instead, have behaved unlike any major or champion I’ve ever heard of. By breaking our trust, they have conceded their inability to lead, and they must resign as White House pets. For the good of the White House staff and the country, they should return to being civilians, perhaps spending more time with family in Delaware.
Champ, the older of the Biden dogs, was also taken to Delaware following the first biting issue with Major.
The previous bite, which happened on March 8, also required medical attention when Major injured a Secret Service employee.
President Biden addressed Major’s training in a recent interview with ABC News.
“You turn a corner, and there’s two people you don’t know at all. And he moves to protect,” Biden said of the German Shepherd. “But he’s a sweet dog. Eighty-five percent of the people there love him. He just – all he does is lick them and wag his tail. But … I realize some people, understandably, are afraid of dogs to begin with.”
Many dogs hate rain. Even those with fur thick enough to protect them from stinging cold rain hate the stuff, let alone those with little to no fur. In my decade of experience as a professional dog trainer, I’ve found a raincoat is a necessity for getting many a dog out for a walk on rainy days and saving them from total wet-dog misery.
To learn about what features to look for in a dog raincoat, we went straight to the professional dog walkers who spend their days in weather of all types. With their preferences and criteria in mind, we came up with a list of 11 jackets to test. Our choice for best overall dog raincoat, the Ruffwear Sun Shower Rain Jacket, not only provides waterproof coverage for the whole body, its nylon exterior helps to prevent mud from collecting on its surface.
Two of the experts we consulted — Fern De Santos, owner of A Dog’s Life HTX in Houston, and Matthew Condrin, owner of Urban Canines in San Francisco — love Ruffwear’s canine apparel. Our testing confirmed its quality.
The Sun Shower has a number of elements De Santos looks for in a dog rain jacket. First off, the lightweight jacket is unlined and uninsulated, so it can be worn in warm weather or layered with a sweater in colder temperatures. The vest-style raincoat slips over the head and buckles on either side of the belly, providing good coverage from puddle splashes and mud. It also has a wide collar and reflective piping to keep pups visible in low light.
In our cleaning test, the Sun Shower did better than most in preventing mud from clinging to the exterior fabric. When machine washed and hung to dry, it came out completely clean.
The only thing we don’t like is that there’s no hole at the back to attach a leash or harness. It is low profile enough, however, to put a harness on over top.
While it’s not as affordable as some of the jackets we considered, the Sun Shower is a great price for the quality and durability Ruffwear is known for.
It protects a dog’s undercarriage, including the front legs and chest, a feature most of the walkers look for. It also comes in a four-legged version, which may be better for extremely wet climates or dogs who need extra warmth.
This raincoat fastens from neck to ribs with a Velcro closure and has four points of drawstring adjustment. Its hood may seem functional, but it’s something our experts avoid. “They annoy the dogs by sometimes covering their eyes and interfere with leashing — plus they rarely stay up,” said Condrin.
The Blueberry Pet Raincoat also has reflective piping and accents, a hole at the back for attaching a leash to a harness, and elastic straps that can be used to keep the end of the jacket in place while walking. We found it wiped completely clean just using a dry cloth. After handwashing, it dried quickly and looked brand new. When not in use, it can be packed into its drawstring stuff sack and stashed away.
The best raincoat for small breeds
The Torrential Tracker’s size range, combined with a slim fit and a soft lining, make this the ideal rain jacket to keep little dogs from getting soaked.
Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective trim for visibility, comes in 11 sizes, machine washable
Cons: Runs a little small, collects mud easily, only two colors available
Finding a raincoat that fits a small dog without overwhelming them with too much fabric can be a challenge. But at Canada Pooch, where the Torrential Tracker Raincoat is made in sizes as short as 7 inches long, the science of canine apparel is an art.
The Torrential Tracker is made from a slick waterproof polyester reminiscent of classic, ducky-yellow children’s rain gear. It has holes for the front legs and a double Velcro closure that runs from chest to ribs, a feature that Leah King, owner of Happy Tramps in San Francisco prefers. “Velcro closures at the neck and chest make it easy to get a custom fit and to take the jacket on and off without sliding anything over their head,” she said.
An expandable collar can provide extra coverage for the back of the neck. Inside, the jacket’s soft fabric lining helps keep a pup toasty in cold weather. The material is less breathable than some of the raincoats we considered and may be a bit warm for summer storms.
The jacket also has a hole at the back for connecting a leash to a harness and two small pockets at the hind end for stashing poop bags or an ID. The lower portion of the jacket is trimmed in reflective piping. The Torrential Tracker is machine washable, which is ideal since mud spread on it quite easily.
While the length of the jacket we tested is as advertised, it has a tighter fit than other jackets of the same size. If you have a dog with a broad chest or who’s packing some extra pounds, definitely size up.
King is a fan of the Teckelklub Winter Trench, which has a simple wraparound design with a broad collar. The jacket fastens with Velcro at the neck and with a wide strap under the belly. While that’s the only belly coverage it provides, it is a good option for sensitive dogs because it does not need to be slipped over the head or legs. “Some jackets have a pullover design and many dogs are not comfortable putting them on,” explained Jeff Chebul, owner of Ranger’s Squadron in San Francisco.
The raincoat is made from 100% waterproof nylon and the entire perimeter is trimmed in 3M reflective piping. It does not have a hole at the back for attaching a leash to a harness, but the jacket is slim-fitting enough for one to be worn on top.
Although this raincoat collected a significant amount of mud, it easily wiped clean, and after machine washing and hanging it to dry, it came out looking brand new. It will also stand up to machine drying in low heat.
It can be embroidered with a monogram or your dog’s name or phone number for an additional $15.
The best raincoat for wet outdoor adventures
The Hurtta Monsoon Coat provides full coverage and freedom of movement for all-day adventures in the rain.
Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective trim for visibility, three points of adjustability, many sizes, machine washable
Cons: Limited color options
Hurtta’s Monsoon Coat will keep weekend warriors comfortable and dry no matter what the weather has in store. The brand is expert at producing jackets that won’t compromise movement or weigh down an athletic pup.
The Monsoon Coat has the most coverage of any of the raincoats we tested, with the exception of the brand’s Rain Blocker, and the collar is built with a flexible rain trap that prevents water from seeping in. Drawstrings adjust the fit at the collar, shoulders, and hips. The wraparound buckle design allows adjustment around the belly and elastic leg loops at the back end hold the jacket in place. While getting the jacket properly fitted can be a bit of a hassle, De Santos said it’s worth it for the great coverage.
This jacket has reflective accents from head to tail and a covered loop for attaching a leash to a harness worn underneath. It did a good job repelling mud and cleaned up well with machine washing and air-drying. It also comes in four colors, including an ECO version made from soft recycled material.
With far more coverage than our overall best pick, the Ruffwear Sun Shower, the Monsoon Coat will keep a dog’s entire torso dry even after multiple hours hiking in the rain without restricting movement. While this jacket is among the most expensive we tested, it’s extremely durable and likely to last a lifetime.
What else we considered
With the help of the professional dog walkers we consulted, we narrowed down the crowded field of dog raincoats to to 11 options. Here’s why six of them failed to make the cut:
RC Pets Packable Rain Poncho: Fontaine likes pairing this affordable, lightweight rain poncho with a doggy sweater for cool, wet weather. It performed well in our tests, drying more quickly and collecting mud less easily than most other brands. It was its lack of belly coverage, that kept it from the top spot in our budget raincoat category.
Pepper Pet Wear Basset Hound Dog Raincoat: This customizable rain jacket is meant for dogs with unique proportions such as long bodies and broad chests. The custom design and high-quality fabrics made this one of the two most expensive jackets we tested. Unfortunately, the jacket didn’t quite fit when it arrived, but the brand will make additional alterations free of charge.
Wildebeest All Weather Dog Jacket: Although attractively designed and lined with soft microfleece, this jacket was not completely waterproof and had minimal belly coverage. In our soak test, water seeped through a strip of webbing that runs along the spine and moistened the interior lining.
Ruffwear Vert Dog Jacket: This is another great rain jacket by Ruffwear. The fit is similar to the Ruffwear Sun Shower but with the addition of warm fleece lining, a leash hole, and elastic loops for the back legs. But the Vert is significantly more expensive than our other fleece-lined option, the Teckelklub Winter Trench, and it requires slipping the jacket over the head, which may trouble handling-sensitive dogs.
Hurtta Rain Blocker ECO Raincoat: This waterproof jacket made from recycled plastic bottles provides excellent coverage of the chest, belly, and front legs and comes in 10 sizes with several points of adjustment. Its design, which includes leg holes and a long zipper down the side, made it a major challenge to get on and off.
Kurgo Portsmouth Foul Weather Rain Jacket: I liked the design of Kurgo’s rain jacket which, like Ruffwear’s Sun Shower, is a vest style with buckles on either side of the belly. But by the end of the testing period this jacket had gone from looking brand new to shabby.
What we are looking forward to
Some of the raincoats identified by our experts or in our research as possible contenders for this guide did not arrive in time to be included. We look forward to testing the following jackets in the future.
WeatherBeeta 300D Deluxe Reflective Jacket: This waterproof jacket wraps around the chest and belly to protect a dog from water and mud. It comes in 12 sizes, from 10- to 32-inches long, and two bright colors accented with reflective material.
Petcee Waterproof Dog Jacket: This ultra-affordable raincoat is lined with fleece and covers both the chest and belly. Built-in elastic helps to assure the right fit in 13 sizes.
How we tested
We tested 11 different raincoats based on recommendations from professional dog walkers. The jackets were provided as review samples by their manufacturers, with the exception of the Blueberry Pet, Canada Pooch, Pepper Pet, Wildebeest, and Teckelclub coats, which Insider purchased.
Due to dry weather and COVID-19 restrictions, I was unable to test these jackets on dogs of multiple shapes and sizes in real rainy weather. Instead, I came up with a few tests to simulate the rainy conditions.
Fit test: I was able to verify the measurements of each by assessing their length from shoulder to tail and their girth, the width of the jacket at the chest’s widest point. I took note of any jackets that differed from their advertised size or that appeared to fit more tightly than expected.
Soak test: The soak test illustrated how each raincoat would stand up under heavy rain. Using leftover two-by-fours, we constructed a wooden dog with a belly 13 inches off the ground and a length of 20 inches. When Woody was ready, I wrapped a dry towel around its belly and dressed it in each jacket. I sprinkled the dog and raincoat with water from a hose for two minutes, then carefully removed the jacket to look for any spots where the water had seeped through. I also checked the interior lining of the jacket to see if moisture had penetrated without actually wetting the towel.
Cleaning test: The cleaning test had three parts. First, I wiped a handful of mud on the exterior of each jacket and let it dry overnight. Next, I attempted to wipe off the mud using a clean, dry cloth. Finally, I washed the raincoat according to the manufacturer’s instructions, looking for any stains or other changes in the material.
How to fit your dog for a raincoat
Dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes that fitting one for a raincoat can be a lengthy process of trial and error. Since there’s no such thing as universal sizing, what one brand considers a small could easily be considered large by a competitor. So what’s the best way to get the right fit? Grab a measuring tape and follow our instructions.
Length: The primary dimension used to determine the size of a raincoat is the length of a dog’s back. Measure your dog from top of tail to shoulder blades while they are standing in a relaxed position. If your measurement falls between sizes, size up. Some brands may recommend a specific size for certain breeds. This may be helpful, but don’t go by their suggestions alone as sizes can vary among a single breed.
Chest girth: Dog raincoats are also commonly measured by chest girth. This is an important figure to get right because many jackets are not adjustable around the chest. That’s doubly true if you have a broad- or barrel-chested pup. To get this figure, measure the circumference of your dog’s chest while they are standing in a relaxed position, wrapping the tape right behind the legs at the chest’s widest point. If your dog’s chest girth falls between sizes, choose the larger option, especially if your dog does a lot of running and jumping. A highly active dog may benefit from a jacket that is an inch or two wider than their actual measurement because it will allow their front legs more freedom of movement.
Neck girth: To make sure your jacket won’t be too tight around the neck, measure around the thickest part right below the collar. This is particularly important if the coat’s neck does not have an adjustable opening. When in doubt, size up!
Drop: Occasionally brands offer a drop measurement to help you get the right fit. The drop is how low a jacket hangs on a dog’s body and legs. Too long and it may restrict movement; too short, your pup may end up wet by the end of a walk. Your dog’s raincoat should extend no more than halfway down the leg. To figure out how a jacket will lay on your dog, compare half its width to the distance between the top of your dog’s tail to the ankle of their hind leg just above the paw.
How do you walk your dog on a rainy day?
If your dog hates to leave the house when the rain starts to fall, these tips for wet-weather walking will make sure you get their most important daily needs met.
Get the right gear.
Make rainy day walks more enjoyable by getting your pup the right gear to keep them dry. A properly fitted raincoat that covers both the chest and belly will prevent your dog from splashing water against the most sensitive parts of their body. If your dog has sensitive paws, you may also want to consider getting them a set of dog boots.
Unless the forecast calls for extreme weather, most rainy days have at least a couple of periods in which showers slow to a sprinkle. Use a weather tracking app or website to help you predict when a storm will lighten up.
Encourage, don’t force.
Even if you have the right rain gear for your pup, they may still avoid the rain at all costs. These dogs will likely require an extra incentive. Before getting ready to go, stuff your pockets full of treats and begin offering them before you’ve stepped out the door. If putting on rain gear predicts that treats will follow, your dog will be more likely to allow you to get them dressed. Use your treats to entice your dog out the door instead of forcing them to go out into the rain, which will only make them more frightened and stressed-out.
Play the Find It game.
Once outside, keep the treats flowing. Try encouraging your dog to walk with the Find It game. Throw a treat a few feet in front of your dog and say “Find It” in a happy tone of voice. Let them gobble up the treat then throw your next one, repeating the phrase. Play the game as much as necessary during the walk to get your pup’s mind off of the water falling from the sky.
Don’t expect a regular walk.
Even with plenty of treats and encouragement, dogs who really hate the rain aren’t likely to want to stay outdoors for long. If they go potty and then refuse to go any farther, that’s okay. Bring them back inside and make up the missed exercise with play or training indoors. Read more on backup plans below.
Stick to quiet streets.
On rainy days, when cars zoom through puddles, the busier the street, the louder it will be. And the more noise, the more frightened your dog is likely to feel — not to mention all that potential for being splashed by passing vehicles. When it’s raining, stick to quieter streets where there is less noise and where it is less likely you and your dog will get soaked.
Avoid walking at night.
It can be a huge challenge for drivers to see dogs on dark, wet nights. When it’s raining, stay safe by taking your daily walks before the sun sets. If you must go out in the rain at night, stick to well-lit areas and avoid busy streets.
Have a backup plan.
If your dog refuses to walk in the rain, you’ll need a backup plan to get their daily exercise and toileting needs met. Both training and play inside the home is a good alternative and can include multiple 5-to-10 minute training sessions, games of hide-and-seek, indoor fetch with a soft toy, and mental stimulation via puzzle toys. For the latter, you may have to get creative. Try a fresh grass indoor potty or select a sheltered location immediately outside your home where your dog can quickly do their business, then come back inside.
Be gentle with post-walk drying.
Whether you’ve managed to get your dog out on a long walk or a short one, it’s likely that their paws, head, and belly will need a bit of toweling off. Unfortunately, these are also some of the most sensitive parts of a dog’s body. Unless you have a dog that loves to be wrapped up in a towel, be gentle and go slow when wiping them down. It may help to ask them to lay down so you can easily access their paws without knocking them off balance. Reward them for each body part you towel off. Each foot earns one treat, each ear earns another, and the belly gets two. Don’t be surprised if your dog gets the zoomies after being dried off. It’s a natural release of pent-up energy that commonly occurs after a stressful experience.
Who we consulted
To come up with the selections for this guide, we consulted with five professional dog walkers. Each answered questions via email or instant messenger between September 2020 and February 2021. Our experts include:
Cryptocurrency holders are more likely to be dog-friendly, while those who lean on gold tend to be fans of cats, according to research by crypto exchange Xcoins.
As many as 45% of gold investors were found more likely to own a cat, and about 44% of crypto investors had a tendency to have dogs, data showed.
Another notable highlight of the research is that only 28% of people that hold crypto are women, confirming the wide belief that the industry is male-dominated – with 72% of them being men. Meanwhile, gold investors are almost evenly split between men and women.
Data published by eEtoro last month showed only 15% of bitcoin traders are women. Although that’s a slight increase from the beginning of 2020, it still highlights the massive gender imbalance in the cryptocurrency world.
Xcoins’ CEO said it was important to bridge the gap between gender groups to facilitate mainstream adoption. “If bitcoin is to succeed in the mainstream, then it needs support from all demographics,” CEO Rob Frye said. “No-one is stopping women from entering, or investing the crypto space, but little is being done to encourage them either.”
Xcoins’ study also found that younger people aged between 16 and 34 are more likely to invest in cryptocurrencies, while those inclined towards gold are older than 34. This highlighted differences in investors’ marital status, showing gold investors are more likely to be married with children, while crypto investors tend to be single with no children.
We tested 15 models to find the best nail clippers for dogs of all sizes, guillotine-style clippers, and nail grinders.
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.
Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is more important than you might think. Although some dogs wear their nails down naturally if they are very active outdoors, most dogs need regular trims. Too-long nails can curl back and grow into the paw pad – a painful and dangerous condition that requires swift treatment from a veterinarian. Not to mention, long nails can damage wood floors and scratch your arms and legs when your dog jumps up on you.
Nail clippers for dogs come in several different styles. Plier-style nail clippers work for most dogs. Guillotine clippers are generally best for small- and medium-size dogs. Nail grinders are great for gently filing down the nail rather than cutting through it.
Pros: Affordable, sharp stainless-steel blades, simple but functional design, safety lock for storage, exceptionally quiet
Cons: Small blade opening is not ideal for very large dogs or very thick nails, rubber grips sometimes slip down the handle
If you’re just starting out trimming your dog’s nails, a basic, inexpensive nail clipper is a good option. The Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper stands out for its simplicity, effectiveness, quality, and affordable price. These were the quietest of all the plier-style clippers I tested, something anyone with a skittish dog will appreciate. The blades are sharp and cut smoothly and easily. The metal handle has slip-on rubber grips — not a lot of frills here, but I found them comfortable to hold, although in my experience the grips sometimes slipped down on the metal handles.
I’ve used these clippers a lot over the years, especially back when I worked in the veterinary hospital. Even with lots of use, the stainless-steel blades always held up great, maintaining their sharpness for many years. Compared to the similarly priced Furminator Nail Clipper, the Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper is more comfortable to hold, quieter to use, and easier to maneuver around each nail thanks to the size and thinness of the blades. These nail clippers also have a quick-guard safety feature and safety lock for safe storage.
These clippers are small with a narrow blade opening, so they aren’t the best choice for very large dogs or dogs with very thick nails, but they worked great when I tested them on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails.
Pros: Small size perfect for smaller nails, very comfortable to hold, sharp stainless-steel blades cut the nail cleanly
Cons: Not ideal for people with large hands
The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper in size medium is a great option for little dogs with small or thin nails. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-sized nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. JW Pet’s gel-like nonslip handle is exceptionally comfortable. The stainless-steel blades are sharp and cut the nail easily and smoothly, and the clippers are fairly quiet. The clippers have a quick guard and lock for safe storage. I always lock my nail clippers after using them to protect the blade.
Cassie Edmond, an animal care specialist at the San Diego Humane Society, likes using small nail clippers for puppies or dogs whose nails have grown too long and are curling back toward the paw pad because the smaller cutting blades are easier to maneuver around curled nails.
The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is also helpful if you have small hands. On the flip side, if you have large hands you might find the handles difficult to hold. I have medium-size hands and had no problem operating them.
The best for large dogs
With sharp stainless-steel blades and a large tension spring, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper smoothly and easily cuts through big, thick nails.
Pros: Sharp stainless-steel blades cut smoothly, rubberized grips for comfort and control, quick-stop guard for safety, lightweight, easy to hold, locking mechanism for safe storage, one-year warranty
Big dogs often have thick, large nails, and even some medium-size dogs might have thick nails. The Andis Pet Nail Clipper in size medium easily cuts through large nails, is well constructed, and comes with a one-year warranty.
I used these clippers on a Labrador retriever. The sharp blade cut her thick nails easily and smoothly, with no shredding or splintering of the nail. The nonslip grip felt good in my hand and the handles are easy to squeeze closed thanks to a large tension spring. These clippers also worked well on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails, so they are versatile. The safety guard prevents overcutting and hitting the quick, and it can be locked in the closed position for storage.
Interestingly, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper, and our runner-up — the Safari Professional Nail Trimmers — are very similarly constructed. Side by side, they look nearly identical (outside of color), and they are also nearly identical in performance. Both are also very versatile, working well for large as well as small nails. However, the Andis nail trimmers won this category because the brand offers a one-year warranty, and Safari does not, but both are an excellent choice for almost any dog.
Pros: High-quality American steel, sharp blade for a smooth cut, easy to hold and squeeze closed, blade can be replaced with purchase of kit, made in the United States, limited lifetime warranty
Cons: No quick-guard safety feature, not appropriate for very large nails or thick nails
Resco is the inventor of the guillotine-style nail trimmer, which debuted in 1937. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. The Resco Original Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers in size small/medium outperformed the other guillotine-style clipper we tested (the Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer). The Resco blade was very sharp and cut the nail smoothly. In comparison, the blade of the Millers Forge trimmer didn’t seem as sharp and didn’t cut as smoothly.
Even though the Resco clippers have no rubber grip on the handles, I found them comfortable to hold and easy to squeeze closed. In comparison, the Millers Forge handles felt a little sticky each time I closed them, which I found distracting.
Designed to last, Resco’s chrome-plated American steel nail clipper is manufactured in the United States. When the cutting blade becomes dull, you can purchase a kit that allows you to replace the blade instead of buying a new set of clippers.
Guillotine clippers cut with less force than is needed with plier-style clippers, but they aren’t as strong so don’t choose these for dogs with very large nails or very thick nails. They work best on dogs with small or medium-size nails (they are also great for cats). The clippers are very quiet, so dogs that get upset by the loud snapping sound of some plier-style clippers might appreciate these.
Guillotine clippers don’t have a quick-guard safety feature, so don’t make big cuts; slowly snip off small amounts of nail to avoid cutting the quick. Exercise caution because a dog’s nail can get caught in this style of clippers, and if they pull away, they can damage or tear out their nail.
This cordless grinder is quiet and gentle. I particularly liked the grinding disc (recommended for novice users), which quickly and easily sanded down the nails. The grinding disc is used with both guard attachments, which block all the spinning parts of the tool — something that made me feel quite safe when using it. The enhanced safety afforded by these attachments are main reason this grinder beat out the next closest competitor in the category: the Wahl Battery Nail Grinder.
The Dremel also comes with band attachments that offer more maneuverability but require more skill and confidence as they cannot be used with the guard attachments. I used this grinder with both options and preferred both the performance and peace of mind of the grinding disc.
Nail grinders can be used on dogs of all sizes and are effective even on thick nails. I used this grinder on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a Labrador retriever with large nails. Nail grinders are great for dogs that don’t love clippers as well as dogs with black nails since you can’t see the quick.
“When grooming, 9 times out of 10, I will just grind a dog’s nails instead of trimming,” Edmond said. “Nail clippers can leave a jagged rough edge on the nail, but a nail grinder can buff out the sharpness and round the nail all the way down to the quick.”
I liked the variety of sanding bands and discs that come in the Dremel kit, but the product’s real standout is the nail safety guard and paw guide, which helped me attain a good nail trimming angle. Nail grinders do have a learning curve, but Dremel’s Quick Start Guide is helpful and clearly recommends specific attachments and speeds for beginning users. As with all nail grinders, the grinding heads need occasional replacement. Professional groomers will need to replace these more often; for pet owners, they should last a long time.
Millers Forge Nail Clipper: These trimmers are similar in construction to the Safari and Andis clippers, but they feel lower quality — reflected in the lower price. The handle on the Millers Forge clippers doesn’t have a nonslip grip and the clippers lack a quick-guard safety feature.
Furminator Nail Clipper for Dogs and Cats: The blade opening of these clippers is somewhat narrow, the handle is small, and I didn’t love the nubby grip. Although the safety guard has a unique, adjustable design, I found the guard itself got in the way too much and was hard to move out of the way if I didn’t want to use it.
Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer: The rubber grips on the handles make the clipper stick a little and the grips also slipped down while I was using them. Our top choice guillotine clipper from Resco outperformed this trimmer, which didn’t cut the nail as smoothly.
Wahl Battery Nail Grinder: Comfortable to hold and easy to use, this grinder was a close runner-up to the Dremel 7760 Paw Control Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit. The nail safety guard has multiple openings of various shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the ones that worked best for each individual dog’s nails. This grinder comes with a grinding stone with a concave top that makes it simple to round the tops of the nails, plus coarse and fine grinding bands.
Conair Pro Professional Dog Nail Grinder: This grinder is not cordless, but the cord is sufficiently long and you’ll never get caught with an uncharged battery. It’s less powerful than the other grinders I tested, so it takes a little longer to grind the nails. However, this could be a positive for novice pet owners who feel intimidated using a powerful grinder.
I tested 11 different pairs of nail trimmers and 4 grinding tools, using them on three dogs with different size nails: a Labrador retriever with large, thick nails; a miniature poodle with medium-size nails; and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. I received editorial review samples from the manufacturers with the exception of the Millers Forge and Resco clippers, which Insider Reviews purchased.
All of the clippers and grinders were tested on the miniature poodle with medium-size nails. Additionally, I tested the small clippers on the small mixed breed and the large clippers and nail grinders on the Lab. In our initial round of testing in fall 2021, each tool was tested at least once per dog, but the front-runners were tested multiple times to narrow down the category winners. I waited several weeks in between testing for the dogs’ nails to grow back.
To gauge long-term durability, I continued to use the nail trimmers that received the highest marks to trim my own dog’s nails (the miniature poodle). In the five months since this guide was originally developed, I’ve trimmed my dog’s nails approximately every two weeks and rotated clippers. I used the nail grinding tool after each trim to buff the nail edges.
Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:
Ease of use:I assessed how controlled the clippers felt in my hand and whether they were easy to squeeze closed. When cutting a dog’s nails, you don’t want to struggle or feel uncomfortable while using a nail trimmer. For nail grinders, I assessed how easy they were to set up, hold, and use.
Performance: I evaluated each pair of clippers to make sure they worked as advertised. For instance, large dog nail clippers should easily and effectively clip through tough nails, and small clippers should be appropriately sized for smaller nails. For nail grinders, I evaluated how well the grinding bands or discs smoothed out the nails and how loud each grinder was.
Sharpness: Although the cutting blades will inevitably dull over time, they should be very sharp to ensure a swift, clean cut through the nails. Inferior, dull blades tend to shred or splinter the nail rather than slicing clean through.
Safety: I evaluated the presence and effectiveness of any nail safety guards, as well as the presence of a locking mechanism that allows the clippers to be stored safely in the closed position. For nail grinders, I evaluated the tool’s safety options and how safe it felt to operate the tool.
Quality: I assessed the quality of each clippers’ materials and construction. A good pair of clippers should feel study and appear to be well made rather than cheap and poorly manufactured, and all parts should function as intended. For nail grinders, I assessed the assembly of the tool and how it felt when using it.
Frequently asked questions about nail trimming
We spoke to Edmond and veterinarian Melissa Smits, DVM, medical team coach for Blue Heron Consulting, about the most common questions about trimming a dog’s nails.
How often should I trim my dog’s nails?
This depends on your individual dog. All nails grow at different rates, and dogs wear their nails down differently, too. Big, heavy dogs that run around outside may naturally wear their nails down, requiring less frequent trimming. “A Yorkie that barely touches the ground most days might need a nail trim every two weeks,” Smits said. “An Iditarod training or marathon running pal might never need one.” Rule of thumb: Trim your dog’s nails before they grow long enough to click on the floor.
How far down do I cut the nail?
Trim the nail as short as you can without cutting into the quick, which is the vein that runs down the center of the nail. If your dog has white nails, it’s easy to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, it’s harder to know exactly how far to cut. Conservatively clip just the hooked part of the nail to be safe. You can also ask your veterinarian for a demonstration on your dog.
When should I start trimming my puppy’s nails?
Start nail trimming as early as possible so your puppy learns to accept it. Even older dogs can learn to accept nail trimming if you approach it the right way. “Introduce the dog to the nail trimming procedure in a slow, fun, rewarding manner,” Smits said. “This will enable the dog to fall in love with the attention that comes with getting a pedicure and time with you.”
Which is better, nail clippers or a nail grinder?
Nail clippers cut through the nail whereas nail grinders file the nail down to a shorter length. Some dogs prefer the sensation of nail grinding over clipping, and you’re less likely to cut into the quick with a grinder. On the flip side, some dogs dislike the loud sound and vibrations of nail grinders. These tools also have a learning curve to be able to use them safely and comfortably. Smits recommends using the tool you feel most comfortable with, which will make your dog most comfortable.
What is the best nail clipper for my dog?
In general, a good dog nail trimmer should be easy to hold and have a sharp blade for smooth cutting. If your dog has very small or very large nails, choose a nail clipper that correlates. Look for clippers with blades made of stainless steel, which is strong and resists rusting. For timid dogs or those that are reluctant to have their nails trimmed, a quiet nail clipper is a bonus. At the end of the day, though, choosing the right dog nail clipper comes down to how you like using it.
Does nail trimming hurt my dog?
As long as you don’t cut too far down, it hurts no more than trimming your own nails. However, be very careful not to cut the quick. The quick is extremely sensitive. Cutting into it is painful and will cause the nail to bleed. It may also cause your dog to become resistant to nail trimming in the future.
What should I do if I cut my dog’s nail and it starts to bleed?
If you accidentally nick the quick, use styptic power to cauterize it and stop the bleeding. Scoop up a small amount of powder onto your finger or with a piece of gauze and press it gently but firmly against the nail. Hold for a minute or so until the bleeding stops. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use use flour or corn starch instead.
I’m too nervous to trim my dog’s nails. Who will do it for me?
If you are not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, or if you are concerned your pet might bite if you try to trim the nails, seek professional help. Most groomers include nail trimming in their regular services. You can also make an appointment to have your dog’s nails trimmed at your veterinary hospital. “If the dog is an amiable sort, groomers are a phenomenal option,” Smits said. “If the dog is a holy terror, they might need sedation, at which point the veterinarian is your best option.”
How do I care for dog nail clippers and grinders?
After each use, wipe your clippers clean. When not in use, close the clippers and engage the safely lock to keep the blade protected. If your nail clippers get wet, dry them thoroughly before storing them indoors in a plastic or cloth bag with all of the grinding accessories. If nail clippers or grinders are left outside and exposed to dampness and temperature extremes, the metal can rust and plastic can warp.
After a damning USA Today investigation linked a popular flea and tick collar to nearly 1,700 pet deaths, a Congressional subcommittee is calling for the products to be temporarily recalled.
“I think that it’s only appropriate in this case that the manufacturer do a voluntary recall,” Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, told CBS News. “And I think that it’s appropriate, out of an abundance of caution, that we step back, we look at the situation, investigate and proceed from there.”
USA Today revealed earlier this month that more than 75,000 incidents involving Seresto collars had been reported to the EPA between 2012 and June 2020. These reports linked the collars to tens of thousands of animal injuries; 900 of the incidents involved people.
According to the EPA, which approved the collars in 2012, the Seresto collars “are made of plastic impregnated with insecticides,” which are released into an animal’s fur over a period of eight months. The agency does not consider those insecticides, flumethrin and imidacloprid, to be harmful to pets or humans. But a 2012 study by Bayer found that the two have a “synergistic effect” and are more toxic to fleas when paired together.
Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, told USA Today that “synergistic effect” likely applies to animals, too.
Krishnamoorthi sent a letter to pharmaceutical giant Bayer – which developed the collars – on Thursday requesting more information about the products’ toxicity. He sent another letter to Elanco, the company that sells the collars, asking it to recall the products and issue refunds.
‘I know these collars killed my dogs’
When Karen Hufman read the USA Today report, her family was still grieving for their dog Charlie, who died in August.
“I was floored,” she told Insider. “I said, ‘Oh my god, now I know these collars killed my dogs.'”
Hufman said she bought Seresto collars for Charlie and her other dog, Muffin, in October 2018 and June 2019. After that second instance, Muffin, a 12-year-old Petit Basset Griffon Vendée, stopped eating. She died a month later.
Charlie, an English pointer-Beagle mix who was also about 12, got his third Seresto collar in February. Weeks later, he was diagnosed with a bladder infection, and then cancer. One study has linked dogs’ exposure to certain topical insecticides – though not the ones Seresto uses – to an increased risk of bladder cancer.
“This month I finally put it together: It was the collars. It was just too much of a coincidence,” Hufman said.
She added that before their deaths, both of her dogs had been in excellent health – they got exercise and ate high-quality food. Still, she doesn’t have any evidence the collars were the cause of their deaths, and hasn’t filed any reports to the EPA.
According to Elanco, of the 25 million Seresto collars sold since 2012, less than 0.3% have been linked to incidents.
“The recent media reports were based on raw data and cannot be used to draw conclusions on what may have actually caused the issues,” Tony Rumschlag, senior director for technical consultants at Elanco, said in a statement to Insider, adding, “it is critically important to understand that a report is not an indication of cause.”
Keri McGrath, a spokeswoman for Elanco, told Insider that the company is cooperating with the House subcommittee’s request for information, but that “no market action, such as a recall, is warranted.”
“Elanco continues to stand behind the safety profile for Seresto,” she added.
The 1,700 deaths could be an undercount
Before the USA Today report, the House subcommittee members hadn’t heard about any issues with Seresto products. But now they’ve asked Elanco and Bayer to disclose any communications they’ve had regarding the collars’ toxicity with regulatory groups like the EPA.
The subcommittee members think there are probably far more Seresto incidents than the number reported to the EPA, since those reports only represent pet owners who’ve realized there could be a link between the collar and their pet’s issue and then filled out a form or called the agency.
“We believe that the actual number of deaths and injuries is much greater, since the average consumer would not know to report pet harm to EPA, an agency seemingly unrelated to consumer pet products,” Krishnamoorthi wrote in his letters.
Hufman could be one such consumer.
“My two dogs aren’t included in that 1,700 number,” she said.
McGrath said the onus isn’t on pet owners to report incidents related to Seresto collars to the EPA: “That’s not the expectation,” she said.
Rather, Bayer or Elanco should pass information about incidents to the EPA after customers or veterinarians call the companies’ hotlines. Veterinarians can also reach out directly to the EPA, she said.
The EPA has not issued any warnings to consumers about the collars, but an agency spokesperson told Insider earlier this month that it takes “every incident reported seriously and review these data to see whether action is necessary.”
Seresto flea collars are still among the top products of their kind on Amazon and other sites like Chewy.com. Amazon spokeswoman Mary Kate McCarthy told USA Today, however, that the company will now be “looking into the product in question.”
Narrator: There are good boys, and then there are very good boys like these dogs here. They’re searching for a scent that no human can detect: the scent of an epileptic seizure. We’ve long known that dogs can detect seizures in humans in some cases 45 minutes before they occur. That’s one reason why organizations like Handi’chiens in France provide service dogs for people with epilepsy. And in some cases, this can prove lifesaving.
It might give people time to take medication that could prevent or reduce the severity of a seizure or move somewhere safer where an injury is less likely to occur. Incredible? Yes. But proven? Not until French researchers teamed up with Medical Mutts, a US-based organization that trains seizure alert dogs.
That marker, they believed, was a scent that dogs can detect. So in 2018, they set up an experiment. First, they collected dozen of samples of breath and sweat from people with different forms of epilepsy. Some of them were taken during or right after a seizure, while others were collected after exercise or at rest.
Then they distributed them among seven different steel containers in this room. Finally, they let out, or, they let in the dogs. One by one, Casey, Dodger, Lana, Zoey, and Roo walked into the room. They were trained to stop and stand still if they think they detected the scent of a seizure. And if they were right, they got a treat, good dog! To the researchers’ excitement, the canines excelled.
Three of the dogs, Casey, Dodger, and Zoey, sniffed out the odor associated with seizure with 100% accuracy. The two other pups, Lana and Roo, who had less time to train, weren’t quite as accurate. But they still correctly identified two-thirds of the seizure samples on their first try.
What makes these results even more remarkable is that the scent samples were from different people and also produced by different kinds of seizures. And what exactly is that marker made of? Here’s the thing: We still don’t know. It’s likely that seizures trigger a change in the body’s electrical activity, the researchers say. And those changes can affect the composition of odor molecules that we emit through our sweat, breath, and, likely, urine.
Now, whether people emit these odors before a seizure in time to reduce its worst effects is still in question, and it’s not something that the researchers tested. But some experts claim that people emit a specific group of odor chemicals 15 to 45 minutes prior to seizing, which dogs can detect. So what exactly makes canines such smell superstars? It’s their incredible noses.
With as many as 300 million olfactory receptors, a dog’s nose is up to 100 thousand times stronger than our own. That means they can detect a few scent molecules among trillions of them. Scientists are now trying to build electronic noses that are just as powerful. The idea is that they too could be used to sniff out diseases. But for now e-noses are nowhere near as good as dogs, and in some ways, doesn’t that seem like a good thing?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2019.