We tested 13 vacuums designed for pet hair, and these 5 picked up the most fur

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All the vacuums we tested in the corner of a room best vacuum for pet hair 2021

When your fur friend sheds constantly, you have to stay on top of your vacuuming or risk an infestation of dust bunnies. A good vacuum makes it easy for you to keep your floors and furniture pet hair-free while also handling other messes.

For this guide, I tested 13 vacuums to see how they cleaned up cat and dog hair, cat litter, flour, coffee grounds, and Cheerios on carpeting, hardwood floors, and furniture. 

I have reviewed vacuums for three years and have developed many objective tests to determine which models are best for different budgets and cleaning needs. Below, I outline how I tested the vacuums and provide answers to pet vacuum FAQs. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products.

Here are the best vacuums for pet hair of 2021

Best overall vacuum for pet hair: Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum, $599.99 on Best Buy
The powerful suction of the Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, and emptying the dustbin was easy and clean.

Best budget vacuum for pet hair: Bissell CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet Vacuum Cleaner, $154.49 on Amazon
While there are cheaper options out there, the Bissell CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet Vacuum Cleaner is the most affordable vacuum that still does an outstanding job of collecting pet hair.

Best canister vacuum for pet hair: Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Vacuum, $593.23 on Amazon
The pricey Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Vacuum picked up messes better than any other vac in our tests, and the disposable vacuum bag keeps you out of contact with the debris.

Best handheld vacuum for pet hair: Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $195.23 on Amazon
If you’re looking for a vacuum that’s easy to use on furniture and in cars, consider the Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner with its outstanding performance in its handheld configuration.

Best robot vacuum for pet hair: Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum, $299 on Amazon
The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories.

Best vacuum for pet hair overall

image of hand holding Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum Best vacuum for pet hair overall 2021

The powerful suction of the Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, and emptying the dustbin was easy and clean.

Pros: Performed well in our tests, especially removing pet hair; powerful suction; contact-less debris disposal; comes with a wall-mounted docking station

Cons: Tiring to hold in handheld configuration, short battery life in boost mode, have to keep trigger depressed for vacuum to run

Dyson has developed a name for itself with its collection of high-quality, high-end products. The Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum is a prime example of this quality. 

Per Dyson, it engineered the V11 Animal for larger homes with pets. For the most part, this bore out in our tests. It was one of only three vacs to collect all of the pet hair on all of the surfaces we tested, and the hair didn’t get tangled in the brush. 

This Dyson vac also did an outstanding job of picking up other debris on hardwood and furniture, leaving behind just a trace of flour. Flour was a challenge for the V11 on carpeting, leaving behind about 17% of the flour. 

None of the vacuums I tested did well in every category, and the V11 Animal performed poorly in terms of ease of use. You have to keep the trigger depressed for the unit to run. My workaround was to wrap a piece of duct tape around it. 

To empty the dustbin, you have to remove the attachments. If you don’t have it positioned just right, the bin’s trap-door release could send debris flying. For the most part, though, I appreciated how cleanly the bin emptied: My hands didn’t end up dirty.

Lastly, I wasn’t impressed with the battery. On boost mode, it only lasted nine minutes. Then it took over four hours to recharge. Granted, the boost mode felt more powerful than the other cordless vacuums I tested. In eco mode, the battery lasted for 75 minutes, and in Auto mode, it lasted for 45.

For most uses, you can get by with eco mode, which Dyson claims will run for 60 minutes on a single charge. Since it’s removable, you could purchase additional batteries, but they’re pricey at $150.

On the plus side, the V11 Animal was easy to maneuver. I found I could easily move it perpendicular to where I was standing. The non-Dyson vacuums couldn’t do this. Also, the V11 Animal comes with a wall-mounted docking station that holds all of the attachments for convenient, out-of-the-way storage.

Read our full Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum review.

Best budget vacuum for pet hair

image of bissell cleanview swivel rewind pet vacuum cleaner on table, best budget vacuum for pet hair 2021

While there are cheaper options out there, the Bissell CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet Vacuum Cleaner is the most affordable vacuum that still does an outstanding job of collecting pet hair.

Pros: Picked up all of the pet hair in all of our tests, great on hardwood, features a retractable cord, powerful suction

Cons: Messy debris disposal

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the four vacuums I tested that cost less than the Bissell CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet Vacuum Cleaner (model 2256) performed poorly. I can’t recommend any of them. Consequently, our budget pick is still somewhat pricey at $150, but it’s well worth the price.

The CleanView Swivel Rewind was one of three vacuums that picked up all the pet hair on all of the surfaces in our tests. Also, the hair didn’t get tangled in the brush. 

While its ability to pick up other debris was just average on carpeting and furniture, it did exceptionally well on hardwood. On every surface, it picked up all of the cat litter and Cheerios. It struggled with the coffee grounds on carpeting and only did a so-so job of collecting flour in all of the tests.

I appreciated how simple the Bissell CleanView Swivel Rewind was to use. The swivel head makes it easy to maneuver with one hand. The cord never got in my way thanks to the easy retraction feature (the “Rewind” in the name), and since it’s upright, I didn’t have to support the weight of the vac. I just guided it as it made quick work of messes. And the hose detached effortlessly to reach elevated areas.

However, I had a hard time emptying the dustbin without getting my hands dirty or inadvertently sending gunk flying outside of the trash can. Your best bet is to release the trap-door mechanism with the bottom inside your trash receptacle.

Best canister vacuum for pet hair

image of miele classic c1 cat and dog vacuum on table, best canister vacuum for pet hair 2021
Originally $699.00 | Save 15%


The pricey Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Vacuum picked up messes better than any other vac in our tests, and the disposable vacuum bag keeps you out of contact with the debris.

Pros: Did an impressive job of collecting all debris on all surfaces, disposal bags keep debris contained, runs quietly

Cons: Not particularly user-friendly, have to buy replacement bags, heavy, expensive

For those who can afford them, canister vacuums provide a powerful, yet quiet and mess-free way to clean up after your pet. The benefits of a canister vacuum were exemplified in our testing of the Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Vacuum. 

The Classic C1 was the best overall at picking up debris. In addition to picking up all of the pet hair on all of the surfaces we tested — while remaining free of pet hair tangles — the vacuum picked up almost all of the other materials on carpeting, hardwood, and furniture. The only substance it seemed to have any difficulty with was flour, but it still picked up at least 90% of the flour on each surface.

My main gripes with the Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Canister Vacuum have to do with how user unfriendly it can be. At over 20 pounds, it’s the heaviest vacuum we tested. Fortunately, you don’t have to support the weight. The motor and debris collect in the wheeled canister which is connected by hose to the handle and vacuum head. 

However, I didn’t like the feel of dragging the canister behind me as I cleaned. While the hard plastic handle felt durable, it wasn’t comfortable in my hand. Also, the bulky powerbrush head didn’t lend itself to easy maneuverability.

I have mixed feelings about the disposable dust bag. The Classic C1 was the only vacuum we tested that used bags. On the one hand, I don’t like the idea of producing more garbage, and replacement bags are an added expense ($14.90 for four replacement bags and two filters). (Miele also makes a bagless version of its pet vacuum, the Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog.) 

On the other hand, the 4.5-liter bag holds an impressive amount of debris, and it did a great job of keeping particles contained, which makes it a smart solution for allergy sufferers. How often you need to change the bag depends on a variety of factors, but I didn’t come close to filling it despite sucking up more than two pounds of debris in my tests.

Best handheld vacuum for pet hair

image of black and decker powerseries extreme, best handheld vacuum for pet hair 2021

If you’re looking for a vacuum that’s easy to use on furniture and in cars, consider the Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner with its outstanding performance in its handheld configuration.

Pros: Cleaned well on all surfaces, lightweight in handheld configuration, easy to use, mess-free dustbin emptying, removable battery

Cons: Short battery run time, long charge time, left behind pet hair on carpeting and hardwood

All of the traditional handheld vacuums I tested performed poorly. Consequently, I can’t recommend any of them. We will test more models for future updates to this guide. In the meantime, we wanted to provide a suitable handheld alternative. In its handheld configuration, the Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner is your best bet.

When used as a handheld, the Powerseries Extreme vacuum picked up all of the cat litter, flour, and pet hair on furniture. Plus, it was light enough that my arm didn’t strain while holding it for long periods. 

In its stick vacuum mode, the performance was less impressive but still good. On both carpet and hardwood, it collected all of the Cheerios, cat litter, and ground coffee. But the Black+Decker vac only picked up around 85% of the pet hair and flour on the two surfaces.

The rubberized bristles did a good job of remaining tangle-free, and I liked how the brushroll head swivels so you can make tight turns. I noticed that the vac seemed to do a better job of collecting debris when pulling the head toward me rather than pushing away.

Emptying the dustbin was a tidy affair. The narrow design makes it easy to direct the gunk into the trash can, and the trap door release kept the particles out of contact with my hands. 

The biggest negative with the Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner is its battery. On high power, the battery was in the middle of the pack in our tests. However, it was one of the slowest to charge. Fortunately, the battery is removable, and you can buy additional 20V lithium-ion batteries, which work with all Black+Decker cordless tools. They’re currently about $35 on Amazon.

Best robot vacuum for pet hair

collage of images of bissell spinwave cleaning up flour, best robot vacuum for pet hair 2021
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%
Originally $399.99 | Save 25%


The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories.

Pros: Quiet operation, app connectivity, picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, small size, great mop attachment and accessories, great job on corners and hardwood

Cons: Gets stuck easily, can’t set up no-go zones, can’t clean furniture 

If you have pets that shed heavily and are tired of vacuuming every day, a robot vacuum may be your best bet. Since these robots try to pack a lot of features into a small space, they tend not to have the suction power or dustbin capacity of other vacuums. For daily, automated cleaning, though, a robot vacuum is indispensable. 

Since robot vacuums have a mind of their own, I put them through a different testing methodology. You can read more about how we test in our robot vacuum guide 

Based on my testing of dozens of robot vacuums, the Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum is the best for pet hair. It picked up all of the pet hair mix I laid out on hardwood and carpeting. And it only left traces of flour and kitty litter behind on hardwood. It also did a great job of going deep into corners. 

Pets are sometimes skittish around robot vacuums. Fortunately, the SpinWave is one of the quietest models I’ve tested. On high suction, it’s 65 decibels (a little louder than a normal conversation), and it’s just 58 decibels on quiet mode. 

The mop attachment has spinning mop pads that do an outstanding job of scrubbing dried-on liquids while avoiding carpets. The cleaning tool that comes with the vac is perfect for cutting away hairs that get tangled in the brush, though this wasn’t a common problem in my testing.

You can schedule the SpinWave to clean at the same time every day or mix it up using the Bissell Connect app (available for iOS and Android).

The biggest negatives were the robovac got stuck on a one-inch threshold between rooms. You can’t set no-go zones to avoid it, so you may need to put a physical barrier in the way. Also, if your pets tend to have frequent accidents, a robot vacuum may not be a good choice since it could potentially spread the mess and destroy the vacuum.

What else we tested

Image of multiple vacuums standing upright in the corner of a room - best pet vacuum 2021

We tested 13 vacuums for this guide. These are the ones that didn’t make the cut.

What else we recommend and why:

Bissell MultiClean Allergen Lift-Off Pet, Model 2852: This and the Bissell CleanView Swivel Rewind were the best upright vacuums we tested. We decided to include the CleanView Swivel Rewind because it’s more affordable and did a better job of picking up pet hair. Still, if you find the MultiClean Allergen Lift-Off Pet on sale for cheaper, consider picking it up, especially if your home is heavily carpeted.

Bissell ICONpet Edge, Model 2894A: The ICONpet was easy to use, had one of the longest battery runtimes, and charged the fastest. It also did a great job of sucking up cat litter and flour on furniture in its handheld configuration. Emptying the dustbin was mess-free. However, it left behind 23% of the pet hair on carpet and furniture. 

Dyson V15 Detect: At $700, this is the most expensive model we tested. It has a bunch of fancy, high-end features, such as a screen that gives you a rundown of what size and how much particulate matter it sucked up. It did a great job of cleaning all of the surfaces, except it left behind traces of pet hair on carpeting and furniture. I liked that the battery charged in under four hours, but it only lasted for eight minutes on top power. I also found the unit was tiring to hold in handheld mode, and I didn’t like that I had to keep the trigger depressed for it to run.

Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins, Model AZ2002: The suction and rollers were so powerful with this upright vac that I felt like I was trying to rein in a shark. It excelled on carpet and hardwood. It was also easy to use. The biggest negative was the large dustbin was hard to empty without sending particles flying.

What we don’t recommend and why:

Black+Decker Dustbuster, Model HHVK515JP07: This handheld was easy to use, affordable, and had one of the longest battery runtimes. However, it didn’t do a good job of cleaning on any surface. It appears to have a loose flap leading into the dustbin, which caused a lot of the debris it sucked up to just fall back out onto the floor.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser: After testing this corded handheld vac on carpeting and hardwood, I gave up on it. It’s just not pleasant to use. The head has a narrow opening so cleaning a mess takes several passes. Cheerios clogged it. Flour would come pouring back out of the head after I turned off the power, and it was hard to stay clean when disposing of debris.

Black+Decker Spillbuster Portable Carpet Cleaner: In all fairness, this cordless handheld is designed for cleaning up wet messes. This is a guide for vacuums that clean up pet hair, a dry mess. It did not do well in our tests, but if I ever write a guide about the best vacuums for pet waste, I look forward to putting this vac through its paces.

Shark Vertex Ultralight DuoClean PowerFins, Model HZ2002: This corded stick vacuum showed promise, initially picking up all of the materials except flour. As I used it more, I noticed that debris was escaping from the dustbin. This was a dealbreaker.

Our pet vacuum testing methodology

Image of the author testing the Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme Vacuum on a purple and red carpet

We put each vacuum in this guide through several objective tests. The most important factors to take into account when buying a vacuum are how well it picks up pet hair on a variety of surfaces and how easy it is to use, empty, and maintain.

Here’s a breakdown of how much of each material (in grams) the top picks cleaned up on each surface in our tests:

Surface – Material

Dyson V11 Animal Bissell CleanView Miele Classic C1 Black+Decker Powerseries Extreme
Carpet – Cheerios 47 50 50 48
Carpet – Litter 97 100 100 98
Carpet – Coffee 100 77 96 97
Carpet – Hair 1 1 1 0.89
Carpet – Flour 83 88 92 83
Hardwood – Cheerios 50 50 50 50
Hardwood – Litter 100 100 97 97
Hardwood – Coffee 100 97 98 100
Hardwood – Hair 1 1 1 0.84
Hardwood – Flour 95 93 93 89
Furniture – Litter 50 50 50 50
Furniture – Hair 1 1 1 1
Furniture – Flour 49 44 45 49 

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Carpet cleaning: One at a time, I poured 100 grams of different substances on a five-square-foot patch of carpeting. I used 100 grams of flour, coffee grounds, and cat litter; 50 grams of Cheerios; and a one-gram mix of cat and dog hair of varying lengths. Then I vacuumed up as much of each substance as I could in 30 seconds. Lastly, I compared the weight of the dustbin after vacuuming to the starting weight to determine how much of each material the vacuum collected.

Hardwood cleaning: The process was the same as with carpet cleaning, only the tests were conducted on five square feet of hardwood flooring.

Furniture cleaning: I poured 50 grams each of cat litter and flour plus the one-gram pet hair mix on a chair with fabric upholstery. Then I used the manufacturer-recommended cleaning configuration for furniture. Again, to determine how much debris the vacuum collected in 30 seconds, I compared the weights of the dustbin before and after sucking up each material.

Battery (if applicable): I fully charged the vacuum. Then I timed how long it could run on top power until the battery died. Lastly, I timed how long it took to fully charge the vacuum.

Ease of use: This is a somewhat subjective experience measurement. As I used each vacuum, I paid close attention to what made it hard or easy to use. For example, the Dyson vacuums were harder to use because you need to keep your finger on the trigger to keep the vacuum running. Also, they were heavy in the handheld configuration. The cord got in the way with some of the corded vacuums. The Miele lost points because of its suboptimal maneuverability.

Disposal: Aside from the Miele, which has a disposable vacuum bag, I emptied the dustbins of the vacuums at least a dozen times each. As I did this, I noted how messy the process was and if I came in contact with the debris. Preference was given to vacuums that were easy to empty and didn’t send dust flying outside of the trash bin.

Pet vacuum FAQs

Image of top picks all sitting on a table for best vacuum for pet hair 2021

Do you need a vacuum for pet hair, or is it just marketing?

There are certainly vacuums that aren’t specifically marketed for pet hair that will work just fine. However, some characteristics set the best ones apart from ordinary vacuum cleaners. 

The main features that make a vacuum ideal for pet hair are strong suction, excellent filtration, and specialized cleaner heads and attachments. A good cleaner head will loosen up debris stuck deep in the fibers of carpeting and furniture. The strong suction will suck it up, and a well-sealed filtration system will ensure the debris doesn’t end up back in the air you breathe.

If you’re concerned about allergens in your air, be sure you choose a vacuum that has a true HEPA filter. These filters (commonly found in air purifiers) capture 99.7% of 0.3-micron particles. 


What are the best attachments for pet hair?

Powerful suction alone doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to remove pet hair that is embedded in your carpeting or furniture. To get pesky pet hair, you need a cleaner head that agitates the surface you’re cleaning.

The brushroll on the main head of most vacuum cleaners will loosen the pet hair enough for the vac to suck it up. But, for furniture, cat trees, dog beds, and other elevated surfaces, look for attachments that have mini-motorized brushrolls or at least bristles that will free up pet hair.


What can you do to ensure the longevity and top performance of your vacuum?

I’m guilty of not maintaining my vacuum until it gets so clogged that it doesn’t work. Today’s vacuums are so easy to clean, and the few seconds you take to clean them will increase their cleaning performance so drastically that you’ll save time in the long run.

Though maintenance varies from vacuum to vacuum and you should consult your user manual for the most accurate information, most models can benefit from regular filter cleaning and checking the brushroll and removing any debris that’s built up.

Glossary

four vacuums sitting on a hardwood floor for best vacuum for pet hair 2021

Brushroll: Also known as a brush bar or roller brush, this is the long, cylindrical part of the vacuum head that comes in contact with the surface you’re cleaning. It’s designed to agitate carpet fibers so that the vacuum can suck up embedded dust, hair, and other debris that might not come loose with suction alone. On hard surfaces, you’ll typically want to turn the brushroll off since it might scatter the substances you are trying to clean up.

Canister: A canister vacuum has a wheeled container that houses the debris collection (typically a vacuum bag), suction motor, and filter system. This container is connected to the handle with a hose. As you vacuum, the debris travels through the vacuum head and hose and collects in the wheeled container that rolls with you as you clean.

Crevice tool: This attachment, which comes with most vacuums, is long and narrow making it ideal for reaching into crevices between couch cushions, in your car, and other hard-to-reach spots.

Handheld: While you hold most vacuums in your hand, this specifically refers to small vacs that you hold entirely off the ground while you use them. They are ideal for furniture, walls and ceilings, and vehicles.

HEPA filter: An acronym for high-efficiency particulate air, HEPA filters must be able to capture at least 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles. This makes them ideal for allergy sufferers or anyone who wants to keep dust out of the air.

Upright: Upright vacuums are the popular design that most people think of when they think of a vacuum cleaner. They have all of their components located in one unit: a vacuum head, dustbin, motor, and handle. These vacuums typically feature a cord and can stand upright on their own.

Stick: Stick vacuums are becoming increasingly popular due to their versatility and easy storage. The motor, dustbin, and handle are one unit. A pole or stick connects the handle to the vacuum head, and you can typically remove the pole for handheld operation. Most stick vacuums are cordless.

Check out our guides to more great vacuum cleaners

A person using a Dyson vacuum on a kitchen floor
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The 6 best cat litter boxes in 2021

Prices are accurate at the time of publication.

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

cream colored cat inside a white hooded litter box, our pick for best cat litter box in 2021
This spacious hooded litter box from Nature’s Miracle has a removable cover for easy cleaning.

Cats have very specific preferences when it comes to litter boxes. So do their guardians. The key is finding one that satisfies both simultaneously.

Over the last two years, we’ve tested 26 different litter boxes to do just that. We also spoke to veterinarians and cat behaviorists for advice on what to look for in a litter box.

Our search for the best litter boxes has taken us from the simplest to the most technologically advanced models. We have selected the best basic, easy-to-use litter boxes with enough space to satisfy large breeds like Maine coon cats or multiple cat households.

We’ve also chosen a design-forward top-entry litter box for cats that prefer to urinate against the side of a pan or aggressively kick their litter, a sturdy and reliable disposable litter box for travel, and a self-cleaning model that won’t intimidate skittish cats.

The best cat litter boxes in 2021

Best litter box overall: Nature’s Miracle Oval Hooded Litter Box, $28.05 on Chewy
The versatile Nature’s Miracle Oval Hooded Litter Box is spacious, affordable, and easy to modify for sensitive cats.

Best litter box for large cats: Smart Cat Ultimate Litter Box, $18.79 on Chewy (temporarily out of stock)
The spacious Smart Cat Ultimate Litter Box helps prevent litter scatter and is easy to clean.

Best top-entry litter box: Modkat XL Litter Box, $127.49 on Amazon
The modern Modkat XL Litter Box has top and front entries and a unique folding lid for easy cleaning.

Best self-cleaning litter box: Petsafe Scoop Free Self-Cleaning Litter Box, $149.95 at Chewy
Simply designed for cat comfort, the Petsafe Scoop Free Self-Cleaning Litter Box removes solid waste so you don’t have to.

Best litter box for multiple cats: Sterilite 41-quart Storage Box, $10.98 at Walmart
Though not traditionally marketed as a litter box, the Sterilite 41-quart Storage Box offers expert-recommended size and simplicity at an affordable price.

Best disposable litter box: Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box, $8.99 at Chewy
Made from recycled paper and infused with baking soda, Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box holds up against leaks and odors for 30 days.

Best litter box overall

black litter box with white cover positioned on floor, our pick for best cat litter box overall

The versatile Nature’s Miracle Oval Hooded Litter Box is spacious, affordable, and easy to modify for sensitive cats.

Pros: Can be used uncovered, covered, or partially covered; simple design; spacious pan; no swinging door; snaps and handle on cover make it easy to remove and attach; charcoal filter odor absorber; affordable

Cons: Basic design might not be appealing to some people

Often what a cat desires in a litter box is not the same thing that appeals to our human interests. I saw this firsthand as my two cats tested the litter boxes for this guide. After speaking to Dr. Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA Veterinary Hospital, and cat behavior consultant Daniel “DQ” Quagliozz, what I’ve learned above all is that cats need choices in order to feel secure.

I selected Nature’s Miracle Hooded Flip-Top Litter Box precisely because it allows me to give my cats different options to best meet their toileting needs. The first option with this box is to use the base alone without adding the cover. With high, rounded sides, the 25.25-by-18.75-inch pan is spacious and sturdy.

The second option is to add the cover. It snaps into the base in four places and has a handle and a charcoal filter for absorbing odors. Unlike some covered litter boxes, there is no plastic door a cat will need to push through that may also swing disconcertingly once the cat is inside the box. 

The third option is to flip the front of the cover up so it opens up about a third of the box. This makes for easy cleaning and, if left in this position, also creates a hybrid covered-uncovered box that may better meet the requirements of both cat (easy entry and no over-confinement) and guardian (odor control and less visible waste). 

While the Nature’s Miracle Hooded Flip Top isn’t particularly stylish, the large, versatile box will satisfy the whole family — two-legged and four-legged, alike — for a very reasonable price.

Best litter box for large cats

a blue litter box filled with brown cat litter placed on the floor, our pick for the best litter box for large cats

The spacious Smart Cat Ultimate Litter Box helps prevent litter scatter and is easy to clean.

Pros: Generous size; high, ramped sides help decrease litter tracking; affordable

Cons: Only one color option

Simplicity and spaciousness are the first two factors Quagliozzi and Sung look for in a litter box. “Most of the traditional litter boxes offered are [too] small,” Sung said. A litter box should be at least 1.5 times the length of a cat. SmartCat’s Ultimate Litter Box  is among the largest of the litter boxes we tested at 25 by 18.5 inches.

At approximately 1.5 times the length of an 17-inch cat, there is plenty of room for larger cats to comfortably stretch out and cover waste in this box. Even better, it has relatively high, ramped sides to decrease litter scatter.

SmartCat’s litter box is made from durable plastic resin that is easy to clean and has an oversized rim for convenient lifting. At $20, this litter box is priced right, too, but it’s only available in one color: bright blue.

Best top-entry litter box

white square litter box with gray lid that has semi-round opening is the best top-entry litter box

The modern Modkat XL Litter Box has top and front entries and a unique folding lid for easy cleaning.

Pros: Modern design, front- and top-entry, perforated folding lid for capturing loose litter and easy cleaning, reusable rip-free plastic liner, scoop, three color options

Cons: Kittens and older or anxiety-prone cats may have trouble using this box, expensive

Most cats require athletic ability to enter a top-entry box, and, once inside, the cat can only go in a place that allows them to pop their head out of the hole. With a higher lid and entries at the top and front, Modkat’s XL Litter Box fits the needs of a wider variety of cats.

Good-looking and well-designed, the Modkat XL is 21-inches long, 16-inches wide, and 17-inches tall and is sold in three colors (white, gray or black). The lid entrance is a generous 10.25 inches in diameter and the front opening measures 8.5-inches wide by 9.75-inches tall. If you’d rather your cat not use that opening, just close the built-in sliding door.

The lid folds back for easy cleaning and litter tracked onto the roof returns to the pan through perforations. The box comes with two rip-resistant reusable plastic liners, which will last up to three months each, and a scoop. 

While the front-entry makes this litter box more accessible, aging cats and kittens may still struggle to access the door that hovers about 6 inches above the floor. My senior cat had no trouble, though, and used this box frequently. Although he didn’t use the top-entry, he tracked no more litter out of this box than the others we tested. 

The Modkat XL’s biggest flaw is its price tag. Nevertheless, for a well-designed litter box that actually looks somewhat stylish, the Modkat XL is a solid investment.

Best self-cleaning litter box

gray litter box filled with blue crystal litter with a self-cleaning rake in back is best automatic litter box

Simply designed for cat comfort, the Petsafe Scoop Free Self-Cleaning Litter Box removes solid waste so you don’t have to.

Pros: Easy to set up and use, covered compartment holds solid waste, uses odor-absorbent and dust-free proprietary litter, tracks how often a cat uses the box, disposable trays can be easily thrown out

Cons: Proprietary litter is pricey; litter may be harmful to cat if ingested, waste compartment is small

Self-cleaning litter boxes are controversial among cat experts. Sung does not recommend them because they can frighten cats and guardians may miss the signs of intestinal or urinary problems.

Still, if you’re struggling to clean your cat’s litter box(es) at least once daily, a self-cleaning model can help. Of the four I tested, my cats preferred the one that most resembled a generously sized standard litter box: the Scoop Free Self-Cleaning Litter Box by Petsafe.

This easy-to-setup box is designed with a sensor rim and a built-in rake that sits on top of a 23-by-15.5-inch disposable litter tray. Sensors recognize when a cat enters the box. Twenty minutes after they have exited, the rake automatically pushes solid waste toward a covered compartment at the opposite end. A health counter keeps track of how often your pet does their business. 

The Scoop Free box must be used with Petsafe’s disposable or reusable litter tray and its proprietary blend of crystal cat litter. The litter is absorbent, drying, and 99% dust-free, but must be replaced every two to four weeks at a cost of $16.95 per disposable tray or about $17 per bag. Chemical-based litters may also be harmful to a cat if they accidentally ingest them.

Just because the box is self-cleaning doesn’t mean you’re completely off the hook. The small compartment that collects waste may need to be emptied several times before it’s time to change the litter tray. All things considered, this box works hard to keep the pan constantly clean and fresh, ensuring a pleasant toileting experience every time.

Best litter box for multiple cats

clear sterilite storage box filled with tan color cat little is best litter box for multiple cats

Though not traditionally marketed as a litter box, the Sterilite 41-quart Storage Box offers expert-recommended size and simplicity at an affordable price.

Pros: Large size with plenty of room for natural toileting behaviors, made from durable plastic, snap-on lid for easy moving, low sides for easy entry by most cats, inexpensive

Cons: Shallow sides don’t prevent litter from being kicked or tracked out of box

Because many traditional litter boxes are too small for more than one cat to use several times a day, both Quagliozzi and Sung often recommend that their clients use a wide, flat plastic storage container instead. With their extra-large size and simple design, they make excellent, affordable stand-ins for the real thing.

Sterilite’s 41-quart Storage Box is made from durable, clear plastic and measures approximately 35 inches by 17 inches, providing a cat with tons of room to perform natural toileting behaviors like digging and covering their waste. Because the box is waterproof, it won’t leak any excess urine that goes uncaptured by litter.

While the included white plastic lid will need to be stored away most of the time, it can be pulled out and snapped in place to easily move the box to a different location without spillage. With sides that are approximately 6 inches high, this box is shallow enough for most cats to easily enter and exit.

Guardians with cats who aggressively scratch and kick their litter, however, may need to do more floor cleanup than they would with a litter pan with higher sides. 

Best disposable litter box

white cardboard litter box filled with gray cat litter, our disposable cat litter box recommendation

Made from recycled paper and infused with baking soda, Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box holds up against leaks and odors for 30 days.

Pros: Recycled materials, leakproof and tear-proof, infused with baking soda to keep smells at bay, comes in 2-pack, lasts 30 days, ideal for temporary use or travel

Cons: More challenging to scrape stuck-on clumps than in a plastic box, generates a lot of waste when used long-term

Whether you’re looking for a sturdy stand-alone litter box or a liner for a plastic box, Nature’s Miracle disposable boxes are an excellent worry-free option. Even after a full month of use by my two cats, the bottom of the pan was fully intact. Nowhere had urine even started to penetrate the recycled paper material.

Nature’s Miracle currently makes two versions of their disposable litter box: regular and jumbo. Unfortunately, the style we liked best, the 23-by-18-inch triangular corner box, has been discontinued. The next best option for comfortable toileting based on the recommendations of Sung and Quagliozzi is the 21-by-14.5-inch jumbo-size rectangular box, which is sold in packs of two

Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box is made of dense, compacted recycled paper that the company advertises as leakproof and tear-proof. In our monthlong test, I found both claims to be true. The box is also made with baking soda to help keep bad odors in check. Nature’s Miracle disposable boxes can be used with any type of litter  — I chose a clumping clay version — and when it’s at the end of its 30-day life cycle, the landfill-safe pan can be easily thrown out.

Because the disposable litter box is made of paper instead of plastic, its biggest flaw is that clumps that get stuck to the bottom or sides are a little harder to remove than they are in a smooth plastic box. And although this is a great option for travel or temporary care, sending a pan to the landfill every month seems unnecessary when there are so many reusable options available.

Nevertheless, both guardians who are ultra-fastidious with regard to their litter boxes and those who need a reliable temporary box will find a great solution in the Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box.

What else we’ve tested

round black little box with oval entrance is the litter-robot 3 automatic litter box

What else we recommend

  • Litter Genie Cat Litter Box: This flexible box is a great choice for small cats. Made from lightweight plastic with handles, it’s easier to empty and move around than most other standard boxes. But because even smaller pets need an area that is 1.5 times their length to comfortably do their business, this one, which is 3 inches shorter than the Smart Cat Litter Box, failed to clench the top spot. 
  • Frisco High-Sided Cat Litter Box, Extra Large: Designed with high sides for aggressive litter-kickers, this is a solid, affordable box for smaller cats. At 24 inches long, it’s just slightly less spacious than our top pick.
  • Petmate Giant Litter Pan: Formerly our top pick, this pan is no longer available for purchase. The spacious pan was made with antimicrobial material to fight odors and had built-in pockets for supplies, making it ideal for both cat and guardian.
  • Nature’s Miracle High-Sided Litter Box: I like this simple, affordable high-sided box, but it’s only 60% of the size of our selection for best budget box, the Sterilite 41-quart Storage Box.
  • Catit Jumbo Hooded Pan: This litter box was a close second to our best overall pick. Like the Nature’s Miracle hooded box, it can be used uncovered, covered, or with the front section flipped up. It was only the cost — more than twice that of the Nature’s Miracle pan — that kept this box out of the top spot.
  • Frisco Hooded Cat Litter Box, Extra Large: This is a good all-around box that is spacious and easy to enter. The door flap is lightweight and removable, but the cover has to be completely lifted off of the base for cleaning.
  • Litter-Robot 3 Connect: This box is an expensive lesson in how cat preferences and human preferences often don’t align. The technology is very impressive — it even comes with an app to help track your cat’s business — and it appears to work well. I say “appears” because after two months my cats still hadn’t dared to enter the Litter-Robot. In my own tests, it had no trouble dealing with the various objects I tasked it with filtering out: pencils, erasers, and water to activate urine-like clumps. Unfortunately, the box’s tight interior prevents a cat from being able to toilet on even ground — a deal-breaker for my cats. Luckily, the machine comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee for cats who refuse to give it a try.

What we don’t recommend

  • Omega Paw Roll’N Clean Cat Litter Box: This self-cleaning box has received plenty of good reviews, but it missed the mark for me. Rolling the box to filter waste often resulted in pouring litter onto the floor and I still had to regularly scrape clumps stuck to the bottom of the pan. At just 10 by 15 inches, the interior of the pan is also extremely small when the filter is in place. 
  • Littermaid 3rd Edition Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box: This self-cleaning litter box was riddled with problems. Clumps of urine-soaked litter frequently stuck to its rake or  the door of the waste disposal compartment and plenty of soiled litter was left behind on the base of the pan. The lifting waste compartment lid frequently got stuck and had to be manually lowered.
  • Petmate Jumbo Litter Pan: Petmate’s jumbo-size litter pan is a solid 21.25-inches long, but that’s only 125% the length of my smaller cat and 115% the size of my larger one. Sung recommends litter pans be at least 150% the length of your largest cat.
  • Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan, Giant: While this is a decent standard litter pan with a great price tag, it is significantly smaller, 19.25 inches-long, than the other pans we tested.
  • Frisco Open Top Cat Litter Box with Rim: At just 19.75 by 15.13 inches, this litter box is much too small for a cat to toilet comfortably.
  • Booda Dome Cleanstep Litter Box: While I like the look of this litter box, it devotes too much space to design and not enough to the litter (the pan is only 12 by 21 inches). The inclusion of the stairs also makes this box unnecessarily complicated for more sensitive cats who prefer simple access.
  • Nature’s Miracle Disposable Cat Box: The regular-size disposable litter pans by Nature’s Miracle are made of the same great stuff as the jumbo version I selected as the best disposable box. This one is significantly smaller with 25% less space.
  • Kitty’s Wonder Box Disposable Litter Box: This disposable litter box is well made, but it’s tiny, just 13.5 by 17 inches. The size makes the Wonder Box a decent option for travel, but it’s not appropriate for long-term daily use. 
  • So Phresh Disposable Cat Litter Box: This box made from sustainable bagasse fiber was on par with the Nature’s Miracle disposable box except that it’s almost 3 inches shorter and has lower sides.
  • Kitty Sift Disposable Sifting Litter Box: I really liked the concept of this box that filters out waste with three layers of perforated recycled cardboard. It remained leak-free throughout our testing period, but I found sifting the litter made a big mess and I had to remove clumps that stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  • Modkat Top-Entry Litter Box: We previously named this the best top-entry litter box, thanks to its functional, appealing design. It is, however, much smaller than its cousin, the Modkat XL, and can only be entered from the top. It also comes with a hefty price tag, especially if your cat turns out to dislike entering the litter box from the top.
  • Petmate Top-Entry Litter Pan: The dimensions of this affordable box are similar to those of the Modkat, but style is lacking with this pan and it doesn’t come with a liner. I also found that every time I attempted to clean the Petmate, the lid slipped out of the hinges and pulled completely off of the top.
  • Tidy Cats Breeze Cat Litter Box System: Frankly, I don’t see how this litter box is any better than using a standard box with non-clumping litter. It has an absorbent pad to suck up urine that seeps through its proprietary pellets but solids still need to be scooped. On top of that, the urine-soaked litter pads need changing weekly, generating a lot of unnecessary waste, and the pan is just 20.5 inches long.
Our cat litter box testing methodology

We identified the best litter boxes available at major retailers based on criteria established by our experts. Each box was put to use for a minimum of one month, undergoing the following tests during that period. Unless a litter box required a specific litter to operate effectively, all litter boxes were filled with our favorite budget litter, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Multi-Strength Cat Litter.

Ease of entry test: Because not every cat is agile enough or motivated enough to jump up into a litter box, I considered ease of entry. I measured the sides of each box and the height of any openings and watched to see whether my cats appeared to have difficulty accessing the boxes. I also observed how my cats responded to each box, noting which they preferred to toilet in more frequently.

Tracking test: For each box, I collected the litter tracked onto the floor over a period of three days, then compared the quantity of litter between boxes. Surprisingly, I found that the litter tracked from every box we tested was roughly equivalent.

Cleaning test: I cleaned each litter box twice daily, noting how easy it was to access and remove the waste and how much litter stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan. After a month of use, I thoroughly cleaned each box, disposing of the litter and wiping it out completely. I noted how challenging the boxes were to clean and approximately how long it took to go from full and dirty to empty and clean.

Size test: Sung explained that cats need a space that is at least 1.5 times their length to scratch at the litter and bury their waste. For this test, I began by measuring the length of each of my two cats when standing in a relaxed position. I then measured the length of each of the litter box contenders and compared the numbers. Larger litter boxes were favored over their smaller counterparts.

Cat litter box FAQs

cream colored cat inside a white hooded litter box, our pick for best cat litter box in 2021

What is the best litter box for a cat?

Dr. Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary in New York City, looks for three major qualities in a cat litter box: size, accessibility, and escapability. The litter box should be at least 1.5 times the length of your cat so they can turn around comfortably and find a clean area to do their business if you haven’t managed to scoop that day, she explained.

It should also be easy for your cat to enter and exit. “Make sure the sides aren’t too high for your cat,” Richardson said. “Or if you have an arthritic cat or a very small kitten, you might consider providing a ramp.”

Lastly, it’s important for a cat to feel safe when they do their business. Litter boxes with high sides, as well as ones that are fully enclosed or top-entry, may make some cats feel trapped leading them to avoid it.

Can a litter box be too big?

No. “Most cats won’t mind a box that is a bit larger than they need, provided you keep it very clean,” said Richardson. “The main concern is with litter boxes being too small.”

Where should I put my cat’s litter box?

The best place to put your cat’s litter box is in a quiet, secluded area away from household traffic, Richardson said. That way your cat will feel safe and comfortable when toileting. She advised against placing a litter box at the end of a hallway, somewhere your cat may feel trapped, or in the area where they are fed. “Cats typically don’t like to go where they eat,” she said.

How frequently does a cat use their litter box?

The typical cat uses the litter box as many as half-a-dozen times a day, urinating two to four times and defecating once or twice. Every cat, however, is an individual and some go more or less frequently on average. Cleaning your litter boxes daily will help you monitor for behavioral changes that may indicate a health problem such as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

How many litter boxes do I need and what size should they be?

A good general rule of thumb for litter boxes is to have one per cat plus an extra, Sung told us. Each litter box should have enough space to comfortably dig and bury waste with dimensions that are at least 1.5 times the size of the cat.

How often should I clean the litter box?

To keep fastidious felines toileting happily, our experts recommend cleaning the litter box at least once, if not several times, each day.

Do cats like open or closed litter boxes?

Some cats may be intimidated by hooded or covered litter boxes, especially if they are low enough that the cat must crouch to do their business. An open-topped litter pan is the most universally accepted by cats of all types.

What if my cat stops urinating?

Cats are highly susceptible to FLUTD, a range of conditions that affect the bladder, urinary tract and/or urethra. Male cats, in particular, are commonly afflicted with urinary stones or crystals which block urine from being expelled from the body. And when a cat can’t urinate, the toxins that build up can be deadly. A vet has just 24 to 48 hours to remove a blockage and save their life. If a vet is unable to identify FLUTD or other medical problems, a cat who refuses to urinate is likely doing so out of anxiety. To get to the root of the problem, seek out a behaviorist who can help identify and overcome a cat’s triggers.

Why is my cat peeing outside the litter box?

There are a variety of reasons why a cat may urinate outside of their litter box. Inappropriate elimination can occur when a cat dislikes the size or design of their litter box or the style of litter in the pan and has found another location—a pile of laundry, a potted plant, a fluffy rug—that better satisfies their desire to scratch and dig. Inappropriate elimination can also be a sign that a cat dislikes the location of their litter box. A box placed next to a washing machine or too close to the dog’s bed, for example, may cause anxiety that induces them to look for an alternative place to urinate. Lastly, a cat who suddenly begins to urinate outside of their litter box may be attempting to communicate a health issue such as an oncoming FLUTD.

Why am I finding urine on vertical surfaces?

Urine left on vertical surfaces is called marking. Marking is not urination, per say, but the spraying of pheromones, a behavior which they accomplish by raising the tail and backing up to a wall, bookcase, sofa or other location. Most cats who mark do so out of anxiety or because they are experiencing conflict with another animal. Any cat can mark but it most commonly occurs in intact males.

Our sources

  • Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi, cat behavior consultant and owner of Go Cat Go! in San Francisco, California. For two decades, Quagliozzi has worked with cats at the San Francisco SPCA, San Francisco Animal Care and Control, and through his private practice, Go Cat Go! Quagliozzi’s expertise has been featured on Animal Planet and in a variety of other media outlets. We spoke to Quagliozzi via phone in August 2020.
  • Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary in New York, New York. Richardson completed her veterinary degree at London’s Royal Veterinary College and has worked with animals around the world, from South Africa to Hong Kong. At Small Door Veterinary, her primary interests besides general practice include preventative care, dentistry, and internal medicine. We consulted Richardson via email on October 19, 2021.
  • Wailani Sung, director of behavior and welfare programs and board-certified veterinary behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA Veterinary Hospital in San Francisco, California. Sung attended the University of Georgia for both a master’s degree and doctorate in psychology with a special interest in animal behavior. She went on to earn a second doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Sung is one of fewer than 100 board-certified veterinary behaviorists in the United States. She currently directs the San Francisco SPCA’s Behavior Specialty Service and writes on animal behavior for Vetstreet, PetMD, and Healthy Pet magazine. We interviewed Sung via email on March 30, 2020.
Read the original article on Business Insider

60 cool gifts for dog lovers and their canine companions, from matching sweaters to TikTok famous dog buttons

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portrait of golden retriever leaning against wall, two blue dog bowls and a shelf off to the side - cool gift for dog lover
West and Willow makes custom pet portraits that dog parents can proudly display at home.

  • We rounded up unique and cool gifts for dog lovers and their dogs, from subscription boxes to books.
  • Here are 60 thoughtful, entertaining, and adorable gift ideas dogs and their humans will love.
  • Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we’ve ever tested.

As one of the most magical and amusing creatures on earth, dogs are more than deserving of a gift every now and again. And their human guardians? Yeah, they deserve a little something too.

In this list of gift ideas, we’ve curated 60 of our favorite gifts for dogs and the people who love them, including a DNA kit, a monthly subscription box filled with toys and treats, and custom pet stickers.

Whether they want to add a little doggy decor to their home or you want to give your favorite pet something new to play with, these gifts evoke pure joy of the canine kind.

Here are 60 of the best gifts for dog lovers and their dogs:

French confections made just for dogs

brown circular dog treats with green filling dispersed on a white countertop - dog treat gift

Bonne et Filou Dog Macarons, available at Amazon, $23.99

Bring home a taste of the classic French patisserie to your good boy or girl with these handmade macarons. The cookies are made in small batches and, unlike those made for humans, are hard enough for long-lasting chewing. Choose from ten flavors including mint, cheese and strawberry/mint/lavender made with top-notch, locally supplied ingredients.

A DNA test to determine their rescue dog’s breed

A person in a gray shirt reads dog DNA results to their brown and tan dog - cool gifts for dog lovers

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

Anyone with a rescue or a mutt will love this key to finally answering every stranger’s favorite question: “What breed is your dog?” The Embark Breed test delivers one of the most accurate analyses of a dog’s genetic makeup. It’s cheaper than other tests that also measure health markers, and your money is going toward a healthier future for dogs everywhere — if your recipient opts in, Embark will add their dog’s DNA to its ever-growing database used by researchers to identify genetic-related health conditions.

Matching sweaters for celebrating the holiday season

A person wearing a christmas patterned sweater, kissing a black dog wearing the same printed sweater

The Great Yukon Sweater for Pups and People, available at Dog Threads, from $42

Keep cozy this winter in Fair Isle designed for the whole family. The white sweater, patterned in antlered moose and red and black geometric motifs, comes in doggy sizes XS to XXL and human sizes kids small to adult unisex XXL. Each is ethically made in China and 2% of all sales are donated to animal rescue organizations.

A pack of dogs to plan the coming year

A white booklet with green watercolor grass and black and white watercolor dogs on the cover

Dog Squad 2021-2022 Planner, available at Anthropologie, $19.95

Get organized with this 17-month canine-inspired planner featuring a pack of watercolor pups. Inside they’ll find everything they need to keep track of 2022 — pages for tracking daily tasks, annual events, goals, and their monthly budget. 

The one and only dog bowl they’ll ever need

A black and brown dog drinking water out of a red YETI dog bowl

YETI Boomer 8 Dog Bowl, available at Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and YETI, $49.98

Yeti, a company known for its virtually indestructible coolers and outdoor gear, also makes one of the most dependable dog bowls on the market. The stainless steel, 8-cup dish is resistant to punctures, rust, and being flung across the room by a Great Dane with the zoomies. It’s also dishwasher safe, BPA-free, has a nonslip ring at the base, and is available in 10 colors.

An engraving of their dog’s paw print to wear around their neck

A silver paw print necklace shown on a person's neck - unique gift for a dog lover

Your Pet’s Actual Paw Print Necklace, available at Etsy, from $39.60

They can keep their pup close to their heart with this custom engraved necklace. Send in a photo of an inked or clay paw print, or even just a picture of the dog’s foot. My Millie Jewelry will turn it into a miniature likeness in gold or silver and hang it on a delicate chain.

A travel kit for keeping their dog’s essentials organized

A set of gray bags of varying sizes, some of which are holding dog food

Dog Weekender Travel Kit, available at Orvis, $89

Upgrade them from plastic bags and mismatched containers to a coordinated travel kit made for holding the things their dog can’t leave home without. The rugged carrying case comes with a zip-up dog food bag and two collapsible dog bowls and has a padded shoulder strap for convenient carrying. They can stash leashes, treats, toys and more in the two mesh side pockets. For just $8 more, you can even have their dog’s name embroidered on the outside.

A way to communicate with their dog

Fluent Pet Get Started Kit dog buttons

Get Started Kit, available at Fluent Pet, $79.95

They’ll never wonder again what’s on their dog’s mind with these talking dog buttons. This kit popularized by TikTok phenom Bunny comes with six recordable buttons, three easy-to-assemble tiles and 67 ideogram ID stickers. They can start with easy everyday concepts like “potty,” “outside,” and “play” and it’ll be no time before they’re having full-fledged conversations with their dog.

A biodegradable alternative for cleaning up after their dog

Squares of brown disposable paper with the Pooch Paper Logo drawn across them

Pooch Paper, available at Chewy, $12.99

Stop sending all those plastic poop bags to landfill with this eco-friendly alternative. Pooch Paper is made from surprisingly strong recycled paper and each sheet is a generous 12-by-12 inches to keep their hands clean. Read our full review here.

Their dog in sock form

feet wearing white socks patterned with face of brown and white dog, same dog lying beside feet

Custom Pet Socks, available at Cuddle Clones, $24.99

Wrap their barking dogs in puppy love with a pair of customizable socks. Cuddle Clones will pattern a pair with the face of their furry friend using just a photo. Choose from dozens of backgrounds, including holiday patterns.

A tiny pup tent for their tiny pup

A yellow tent with a zipper front - fun gift for a dog

Basecamp Dome Tent, available at Tiny Tents, $39.99

Just because camping season is over doesn’t mean your dog can’t still bed down in their own personal tent. The Basecamp is a miniaturized version of the real thing, with a geodesic dome shape, ultralight poles, and two mesh windows for ventilation. The durable tarpaulin floor means that, once the weather warms back up, this little tent can go with you to your favorite campground.

A monthly box of canine surprises

Bark Box for dogs with toys and treats stacked on top and beside it

Bark Box Monthly Subscription, available on Bark Box, from $23

Don’t bother trying to figure out exactly what the dog or dog lover in your life wants. Bark Box has done the work for you. Its monthly dog subscription boxes contain curated collections of toys, treats, and chews based on fun themes like summer camp, magic, and spa days. Send Bark Box as a gift or, better yet, get your own.

A pack of dogs to protect their smartphone

green iphone case with different dog breeds printed on it

Pet Friendly Dog Pattern Phone Case, available on Society6 for both iPhone and Android, from $18

No more scrolling their social media feeds to find cute dogs. With this dog phone case, there will already be dozens of pups at their fingertips. The pack, which includes corgis, shiba inus, and poodles, can be customized as a slim or tough case for almost any iPhone or Android model.

A squeezable dog water bottle for instant hydration

person in black hat and white sweater holding water bottle with bowl attached, white dog drinking from bowl

Highwave Auto Dog Mug, available at Chewy, from $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.

Flannel pants for cold-weather canine snuggling

navy blue flannel pants with dog print a great gift for dog lovers

L.L. Bean Flannel Pants, Dog Print, available on L.L. Bean, $49.95

These extra soft dog pajama pants will keep them warm and cozy on crisp nights. They’ve been designed for maximum comfort with a drawstring waist and pockets. Choose from three dog-tastic colors and prints and 13 sizes.

A stress-relieving coloring book full of dogs

cover of adult coloring book with text dog lover and picture of dog wearing hat

Dog Lover: Adult Coloring Book, by Gina Trowler, available on Amazon, $6.99

This charming adult coloring book is packed with 64 pages of intricately drawn black-and-white canines. Go ahead, make your great dane blue and your chihuahua pink. The book’s pages are nice and thick so the colors won’t bleed through.

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

book cover with text how stella learned to talk and photo of dog

“How Stella Learned to Talk by Christina Hunger,” available at Amazon and Target, $14.39

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 pack of doggy chip clips

six chip clips with dog faces

Kikkerland Doggie Bag Clips, available at World Market and Amazon, from $4.99

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

white and tan dog sitting in wire 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 dog food to fill their pup’s belly

two packages of just food for dogs turkey macaroni fresh dog food

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.

Custom dog stickers that are (almost) as cute as the real thing

black and brown dog’s face printed on custom stickers for dog lovers

My Sticker Face Sampler Sticker Face Sheet, available on Amazon, $15.99

Give the gift of sticky immortality with these customized dog stickers. Just upload a photo of their dog and My Sticker Face will create a spot-on version made from vinyl that they can affix to anything that needs a puppy pick-me-up.

A food puzzle to work the canine brain

tan and black dog pawing at blue and purple dog puzzle to get treats

Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Twister Dog Puzzle, available at Chewy and Amazon, from $14.20

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

yellow book with cover text "dog astrology" and illustration of dog in blue

“Dog Astrology” by Stella Andromeda, available at 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

three pillows, each with a different dog face including brown dog, tan dog, and black and white dog

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

white umbrella with pictures of many different color dog faces

Reed Evins Art Umbrella, available at AKC.org and Reed Evins Art, $29.99

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

clear glass with brown liquid and ice cub shaped like a bulldog

Novelty Bulldog Ice Molds, available at Williams Sonoma, $21.95

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

white camera and dog treat dispenses beside smartphone with image of white dog on screen

Furbo Treat-Tossing Dog Camera, available at Chewy and Furbo, from $168

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. 

A dog-splattered dish towel that really sees them

blue dish towel with illustrations of brown, white, and black dogs and text "People I want to meet: Dogs"

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 pair of Bernie’s viral mittens to squeak and tug

dog toy with two stuffed brown mittens attached by white rope

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 woolly 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

metal counter with days of week and times and text "did you feed the dog?"

The Original “Did You Feed The Dog?” available at Amazon, $8.02

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

white dog with brown ears wearing pj's with pixar characters, hand petting dog

Toy Story “To Infinity and Beyond” Dog & Cat Jersey PJs, available at Chewy, from $12.93

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

appliance that resembles a waffle grill with baked bone shaped dog treats inside

Dash Express Dog Treat Maker, available at Amazon and Target, $29.49

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 hoodie with a kangaroo pouch to keep their pup close

person wearing blue hoodie and white and tan dog resting in pouch attached to 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 and person running in field, person holding long pole with tennis ball attached

Chuckit! Launcher, available at Chewy and Amazon, $5.28

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

person wearing light orange face mask with peach print, holding dog wearing matching bandana

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

two silver cufflinks with engraving of a dog's face

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

black and white dog wearing collar with silver clasp that has fi logo on it

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 dog owners 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.

The one toy every dog needs

black and brown dog chewing on red rubber toy

Kong Classic, available at Chewy, from $7.99

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

black dog lying on gray and black elevated platform dog bed

K&H Products Elevated Dog Bed, available at Chewy, from $40.99

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

canvas dog hamper with illustration of dog face

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 smiling bouncy ball that doubles as a puzzle toy

black and white dogs holding pink and green tennis balls in their mouths, balls have teeth painted on them

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 bucket list activity journal for dog lovers and their canine compatriots

blue book with "chew this journal" text and many illustrations of different dog faces

“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

green bag of dog treats with text "Jiminy's" and gray and black dog sniffing the bag

Jiminy’s Chewy Cricket Treats, available at Chewy and Amazon, from $9.79

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 $125.10

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 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, $35.75

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

white mug with black dog silhouette and text "I work hard so my dog can have a better life mug" transposed over it

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

For anyone with lingering doubts about where pet parents’ 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

brown dog licking orange rubber mat with soft treat spread across it

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

white dog looking up at black and white plush toy attached to red string

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

tan and white dog wearing purple and pink beaded collar

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

person wearing blue nubbed bathing glove with water flowing out and holding it beside black and brown dog

Aquapaw Pet Bathing Tool, available at Chewy and 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 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, $19.47

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 and Willow, from $65

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

tan dog wearing dark navy blue turtleneck sweater

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

shower curtain with print of dogs of all colors and sizes

Dog Shower Curtain, available at Society 6, $42.24

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

gray dog backpack with blue sherpa logo

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

fluffy golden dog lying on light blue dog bed

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

book cover with black and tan german shepherd puppy and the text "what the dog knows"

“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

29 thoughtful Christmas gifts on Amazon for every person in your life

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Amazon Echo Dot fourth-gen on a table
The Echo Dot is one of many great gift ideas available on Amazon.

  • You can get pretty much anything on Amazon, which makes it a convenient site for holiday gifts.
  • From candles to speakers, these Amazon gift ideas will help you check off every person on your shopping list.
  • Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we’ve ever tested.

Even during a year when online shoppers can expect delays, Amazon remains a reliable retailer with fast delivery options for Prime members. Although the quick delivery is convenient, searching through Amazon’s millions of products to find the perfect gift for every recipient can be a time-consuming endeavor.

To help speed up your search, we rounded up recommendations for thoughtful and interesting gifts that are ideal for everyone on your shopping list. From the friend who’s obsessed with spicy food to the family member who loves binge-watching new shows, our list includes Amazon gift ideas for all interests.

Here are the 29 best Amazon Christmas gifts for every recipient:

For the puzzle buff

House Plant Puzzle - Amazon Christmas gifts

Houseplant Jungle 1,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle, $16.99

This stunning, 1,000 piece project is the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys completing jigsaw puzzles, especially if they have a green thumb. The Houseplant Jungle puzzle features artwork with over 50 plants in beautiful shades of green and measures 20 inches by 27 inches when completed.

For the binge-watcher

Hulu logo

Hulu Gift Card, from $25

Friends and family members who are always streaming the latest TV shows and movies will appreciate a digital gift card to Hulu. Compatible with new and existing subscriptions, the gift card is sent via email to your recipient and comes in $25, $50, and $100 options.

Ad-supported Hulu costs $7 a month and ad-free Hulu costs $13 a month, so a $50 Hulu gift card will provide your recipient with seven months of Hulu Basic or just under four months of Hulu Premium. From critically acclaimed original series like “The Handmaid’s Tale” to network shows like “The Bachelorette,” there’s entertainment for everyone to watch on Hulu.

For the spicy food fanatic

DIY Hot Sauce Kit

DIY Hot Sauce Making Kit, $49.99

Any gift recipient who loves spicy foods will enjoy controlling the heat and making a custom concoction with this DIY hot sauce kit. In addition to useful items like a funnel, glass bottles, and a recipe pamphlet, this quality package has all the ingredients needed to make a homemade hot sauce, including apple cider vinegar, ancho pasillas peppers, chipotle peppers, habanero peppers, and even a ghost pepper.

For gamers on the go

Nintendo Switch Hard Shell Case

Hard Shell Travel and Storage Case for Nintendo Switch, $27.60

As more Americans get vaccinated and feel comfortable traveling, many Nintendo Switch consoles that were purchased during the height of the coronavirus lockdown may be taken outside of the home for the first time. Whether the console is brought on an airplane, a road trip, or just to a friend’s apartment, a hard shell case can give your giftee peace of mind.

This black case from Amazon Basics costs $28 and has room for the console, dock, cables, Joy-Con controller grip, and a Pro controller.

For the host

amazon gifts

Slate Cheese Board Set, $26.99

Help them amp up their hosting with this slate cheese board. It features handles for easy transporting and velvet pads underneath so it won’t scratch their table. This setting will be a sure standout at their next dinner party. 

For the photographer

kodak 2 mini portable printer

Kodak Mini 2 Retro Portable Instant Photo Printer, $99.99

Whether they’re a photography pro or have never used a camera besides the one on their iPhone, just about anyone will have fun with this portable printer. It quickly connects to any mobile device for fast printing at home or on the go. It’s a fun gadget and a great gift for anyone who loves to have tangible photos of their favorite memories. 

For the wine enthusiast

Oster Cordless Electric Wine Opener

Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener with Foil Cutter, $19.99

Forget simple corkscrews and make opening bottles a breeze with this Oster wine bottle opener. It features a sleek design and gives you the ability to effortlessly open bottle after bottle.

For the music junkie

portable shower speaker

Haissky Portable Bluetooth Shower Speaker, $25.99

Now they can take their tunes anywhere they go — even in the shower. This speaker is fully waterproof, suctions to shower walls, and pairs with their smartphone, tablet, or computer for easy listening. If they don’t feel like taking their shower show tunes to the next level, the portable speaker is also great for using in the car, on a boat, at the beach, out on their patio, or just around the house.

For the breakfast fan

Dash Mini

Dash Mini Waffle Maker, $17.99

The Dash Mini Waffle Maker is compact enough to keep for special occasions without cramping up your kitchen storage space. It’s affordable, efficient, and likely to bring them a bit of joy.

For the skincare enthusiast

aztec secret indian healing clay

Aztec Secret Healing Clay Mask, $14.95

The Aztec Clay Mask has been called “the world’s most powerful facial,” and it’s also under $15. It can be mixed with water, but it works best with a little bit of apple cider vinegar. You can read a full review here.

For the coffee lover

Amazon 4

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, $599.95

For the hardcore coffee lover, an instant coffee maker might not cut it. If nothing would make them happier in the morning than sipping on an espresso that tastes like the one from their favorite cafe, they need this Breville espresso machine. If you love the idea, but are looking for something a little more affordable, check out our guide to the best espresso machines you can buy

For the cat lady

Cat earrings

Jamber Jewels Sterling Silver Cat Stud Earrings, $27

Even if you don’t have a cat yourself, you probably understand that owning one isn’t just a choice — it’s a lifestyle. Show your favorite cat lover you get it with these adorable silver studs. From afar they look like just another simple silver pair of studs, but a look up close reveals they’re actually super-cute kittens. 

For the commuter

Audible

Audible Subscription, $15/month

Add some excitement to their monotonous, everyday commute with an Audible subscription. For $15 a month, they’ll get one audiobook and two Audible Originals that they can listen to anytime and anywhere. Plus, when you gift Audible the recipient will get 30% off any additional audiobooks they want to purchase on their own. You can choose to gift memberships for either one, three, six, or 12 months. 

For the serious home chef

amazon gifts

Breville CS20001 Joule Sous Vide, $199.95

If they don’t have one yet, any home cook needs this sous vide machine that we named the best sous vide machine with an app in our guide. With little effort, they can make juicy, tender meats of restaurant-level quality. They’ll impress themselves and their guests alike with how delicious their dishes turn out. 

For the outdoors enthusiast

Amazon gift

Earth Pak Dry Bag, from $19.99

Whether they’re hiking, fishing, camping, or doing any outdoor activities with unpredictable weather, they’ll appreciate this dry bag to keep all of their belongings safe. With sizes from 10 to 40 liters, you can pick one that’s right for their needs. It even comes with a clear, waterproof phone case, so they can document their adventures with pictures, without a broken smartphone at the end of the day.

For the eco-friendly

baggu

Baggu Duck Tote, $32

Being sustainable doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice style. This tote from Baggu is roomy, adjustable, comes in plenty of fun patterns, and is made from 100% recycled cotton. If you think they’d like something a little smaller, Baggu’s nylon bags are really popular, cute, and just $10. 

For the artist

art set

Art 101 142-Piece Art Set, $29.99

Help them get their creative juices flowing with this set of art supplies that’ll let them create everything from pencil sketches to beautiful watercolors. Inside they’ll find premium colored pencils, pastels, crayons, mixing palettes, brushes, and more. Everything comes in a nice wooden box with a handle, so they can easily take this with them wherever they go.

For the spa regular

Amazon holiday gifts soap

Pre De Provence Luxury Box of Guest Gift Soap (Set of 5), Rose, $8.99

These rose soaps make a thoughtful gift for anyone who loves to indulge in some quality “me time.” Plus, anyone will love smelling like a fresh bouquet of roses. 

For the football fan

nfl, $16

The Northwest Company NFL Handwarmer, $29.97

Football fans are willing to brave the cold for their favorite team, but you can help make game day a little more bearable with this hand warmer. The weatherproof exterior and plush, insulated interior will keep their hands warm and dry, so they can focus on the game — and not the fact that their fingers are freezing. 

For the ‘green thumb’

indoor herb garden

Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit, $29.97 

Give them the tools to keep up with their gardening habit all year long. Each set comes with five compostable peat pots, five potting soil discs, five custom wood plant markets, and a comprehensive growing guide to get started.

For the bookworm

amazon gift 3

Alice in Wonderland Bookmark, $22.40

Add some whimsy to their next read with this Alice in Wonderland bookmark. It’s sure to catch their attention, and you can be sure they’ll never lose their place again. 

For the student

LapDesk

LapGear BamBoard Lap Desk, $29.99

You don’t even have to be a student to appreciate this lap desk — it works for just about anyone who likes to get work done from the comfort of their own bed. While the top surface is flat and sturdy enough to write on, the bottom is a tapered pillow that’s comfortable to hold on your lap. It’ll also keep your legs from overheating. 

For the fitness enthusiast

nextroller

NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller, $59.98

Anyone who exercises often knows that a foam roller is an essential fitness tool. Not only does it relieve muscle and joint pain, a foam roller can improve flexibility, circulation, and even help speed up injury recovery. This vibrating foam roller lets them choose just the right amount of pressure to soothe sore joints and muscles, plus it feels like a massage (which you can be sure they’ll appreciate). 

For the pet parent

pet sofa, $150

Enchanted Home Pet Dreamcatcher Dog Sofa, $149.99

For the pet parent whose furry friend is their world, get them a gift that their pet will find useful and comfy. This classy couch has been miniaturized to fit small dogs and cats. It’s also a great gift for pet owners who don’t want their pets to perch on their real couch, but still want to give them a place to sit in the living room. 

For new homeowners

pillow, $29

Primitives by Kathy Striped Throw Pillow, $30.69

Getting settled into a new home takes a lot of time, and a lot of decorating. If you know anyone who just moved in, this throw pillow is a thoughtful way to bring them one step closer to making their new place feel like home. 

For the home decorator

Rivet ceramic planter

Rivet Modern Geometric Ceramic Planter, $34.94

From their statement couch to the art on their walls, their home is impeccably decorated and, frankly, buying them a piece of home decor can be intimidating. If you so choose, go for one of these ceramic planters. They’re simple enough to accentuate all kinds of spaces, but the rose color and pattern helps make them unique. 

For the foodie

sabatino, $50

Sabatino Truffles Pasta Night, $50

This set made it into Oprah’s exclusive Favorite Things giveaway last year — and if it’s one of Oprah’s favorite things, you can be sure the foodie in your life will love it too. White truffle oil, truffle zest, and a truffle-infused, gluten-free pasta will make for a deliciously decadent pasta night. 

For the homebody

warm cozy, $18

Warm and Cozy Soy Candle, $20

Their favorite winter pastime is curling up by a warm fire wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. Their home smells like hot cocoa, freshly baked cookies, and everything else you want on a cold day. This hand-poured soy candle — with notes of pine, orange, cinnamon, cypress, and fir — is just what they need to make their home feel even homier this holiday season. 

For the techie

Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen with Smart Bulb

Echo Dot (4th Generation) with Sengled Bluetooth Bulb, $34.99

While there are many Amazon devices to choose from, the Echo Dot is our favorite for affordability without sacrificing quality. This set even comes with a smart bulb to get them started — or add to their existing collection of smart appliances

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The 5 best dog snow jackets and coats, according to dog walkers from the coldest cities in the US

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Dog walkers and trainers from cold climates shared what dog snow jacket features and styles they like.
  • Our experts said the best dog snow coats are water-resistant, lined, and cover a dog’s belly.
  • Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and evaluates pet products.

When winter weather comes calling, people aren’t the only ones who struggle to stay warm and dry. Blustery days complete with snow, slush, and ice are enough to make all but the hardiest dog breeds think twice about going for a walk. But, with a dog insulated from the cold and wet in a cozy jacket, bad weather doesn’t have to mean a day stuck indoors.

Given the vast number of dog snow jackets available – from parkas to snowsuits to blankets – it can be a challenge to figure out which one is the best fit for your dog and their winter exploits. To help us navigate market, we spoke with 13 dog walkers and trainers from among the coldest, snowiest cities in the United States. We then analyzed their opinions on the features, styles, and brands that make the best dog coats to come up with our recommendations for dogs of all sizes, shapes, and needs.

Here are the best dog snow jackets in 2021

Best dog snow jacket overall

Labrador dog wearing green best dog snow jacket Ruffwear Powder Hound and walking on snowy mountain

With full belly coverage and an insulated top layer, Ruffwear’s Powder Hound Jacket keeps your dog warm and dry no matter what the weather has in store.

Pros: Insulated and lined, full chest and belly coverage, water-resistant, reflective trim

Cons: Pricey, harness must be worn over the jacket

Ruffwear’s Powder Hound is a high-quality jacket that will keep your dog warm and dry in cold, wet, and windy winter conditions. According to Jacob Venter, owner of Denver Dog Joggers in Denver, Colorado, the jacket is not only water-resistant, but it also fits tightly enough to prevent snow from building up inside. 

As a brand, Ruffwear was the clear favorite among the dog pros we consulted for this guide. “Ruffwear has the best dog gear,” said Krissia Chanto, co-owner of Rock Paw Pet Care in Boulder, Colorado. Megan Selheim, owner of Come, Sit, Stay in Minneapolis, Minnesota, agreed. “Ruffwear jackets are long lasting and high quality,” she said.

The upper panel of the Powder Hound Jacket is filled with recycled polyester insulation and its lower panel is stretchy and form-fitting, with cap sleeves over the front legs and full chest and belly coverage. The jacket’s interior has a soft lining to prevent chafing and discomfort. It is easy to put on and take off quickly with a single zipper that runs the length of its left side.

Reflective trim provides better visibility at night and there is a loop at the base of the neck for attaching an additional light. Although this jacket does not have an opening for securing a leash to a harness worn underneath, it is slim fitting enough that most harnesses will fit easily over the outside. 

Best dog snow jacket for outdoor adventures

greyhound wearing black Hurtta Expedition Parka dog coat

The insulated Hurtta Expedition Parka moves with an active dog to keep them protected on outdoor adventures in the snow, sleet, wind, and cold.

Pros: Insulated and lined, full chest and belly coverage, waterproof, built to move with an active dog, reflective trim

Cons: Pricey

Dogs who love a good outdoor winter adventure will stay toasty and dry in Hurtta’s insulated Expedition Parka. Designed in Finland to withstand harsh Nordic winters, this jacket moves with an active dog and allows extended range of motion. “It’s easy to get on and off, warm, waterproof, durable, and fashionable,” said Lori Riegler, owner of Off Leash MKE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I want one for myself!”

Made from a laminated water- and windproof nylon fabric, the Expedition Parka is built to withstand temperatures as low as -20 F. The jacket slips over the head and chest, wraps around the belly, and is secured with a single adjustable buckle. Both its wide snood and the section around the shoulders have elastic drawstring cords that adjust to a dog’s unique shape.

The interior of the parka is lined with soft, breathable fabric. Its exterior is trimmed in highly visible reflective piping. Elastic sections at the front legs flex with a dog’s movement and elastic straps at the hind end can be slipped over the back legs for added security. An opening at the back can be used for connecting a leash to a harness worn underneath the jacket.

One of the best things about the Expedition Parka is the wide variety of sizes to choose from. Included among the brand’s 16 size options are two long-but-small options perfect for hot dog-shaped canines and two small-but-wide options for chesty bully breeds. 

Like our best overall pick, Ruffwear’s Powder Hound, the Hurtta Expedition Parka doesn’t come cheap, but what you get for your money is durable and hard-working enough to last a lifetime.

Best dog jacket for snow and slush

french bulldog dressed in Canada Pooch Slush Suit snow coat with full leg coverage

The Canada Pooch Slush Suit offers full-body water-resistant protection to keep snow, slush, and sidewalk salt at bay.

Pros: Insulated and lined, full-body coverage, water-resistant, reflective trim

Cons: Only sold in two colors, handling-sensitive dogs may struggle with leg holes, pricey for large dogs

When the forecast calls for snow, wind, or freezing rain, the Canada Pooch Slush Suit is ready to keep your dog warm and dry from head to toe. The full-body onesie covers the most sensitive areas of your dog’s body and its soft polyester lining helps to insulate them from frigid temperatures.

“[My dog] and I are big fans of the Canada Pooch Slush Suit,” said Sydney Fontaine, owner of Zippy Pet Care in Chicago, Illinois. “It can double as a full-body rain jacket, as well, which is perfect for his thick, curly hair.”

The Slush Suit is a step-in jacket that zips closed along the length of the dog’s right side. Melody Koney, a dog walker with Windy City Paws in Chicago, Illinois, said that this style not only fits most dogs well but also keeps them warm in frigid winter temperatures. Two snaps at each ankle and a drawstring cord at the neck help to adjust the suit for the right fit.

The shell is made from water-resistant polyester and reflective tape runs along the zipper for better visibility. The Canada Pooch website has a breed sizing tool to help identify which size is best for your dog. Inside, the suit is fully lined, a feature that Fontaine said is important in Chicago’s cold winters. “Dogs hold most of their heat along their back and spine so keeping that insulated is the top priority,” she said. It also has an opening at the back for attaching a leash to a harness worn underneath.

Because the suit requires each leg to be placed individually in its own opening, dogs who are sensitive to handling may struggle with it. And although it’s moderately priced for smaller dogs, the price rises for larger pups, topping out at $85. Nevertheless, whether you live in Northern climes or frequently get away to the mountains, the Canada Pooch Slush Suit’s got your dog covered.

Best budget dog snow jacket

chihuahua wearing best cheap dog jacket, the frisco red dog snow jacket in snowy backyard

The super affordable Frisco Boulder Plaid Insulated Puffer Coat is a cozy everyday option for winter walks.

Pros: Insulated and lined, water-resistant

Cons: Minimal belly coverage, may not hold up to heavy rain or excessive snow, no reflective trim

Frisco’s range of affordable dog snow jackets don’t just look cute, they provide a good quality alternative to pricier pet apparel, according to Stephanie Gonzales, owner of Maw and Paws Dog Walking in Brooklyn, New York. With its quilted, water-resistant polyester exterior and plush fleece lining, the Frisco Boulder Plaid Insulated Puffer Coat, in particular, is a great option for cold, damp conditions.

The Boulder Plaid Insulated Puffer is easy to put on your dog and secured with two velcro straps that wrap under the belly and around the neck. This makes it a great option for squirmy dogs who can’t stand still long enough to step through tight leg holes and dogs who are sensitive to having a jacket pulled over their head.

Because the jacket leaves the belly and chest mostly exposed, you may want to throw on a second layer on wet or snowy days when your pup is likely to kick up a lot of bone-chilling water and mud.

This puffer is designed to fit a range of body types. “My dog Rocko is a Chiweenie, which means it can be difficult to find something that fits his long skinny torso while still providing length to keep his little butt warm. Frisco seems to have that figured out,” said Gonzales.

A harness worn underneath the puffer can be connected to a leash through an opening at the back. And when it’s collected its fair share of mud and salt, the jacket can be thrown in a washing machine and dryer.

While this coat may struggle to stay dry in heavy rain or deep snow and has no reflective trim, it’s a solid everyday option for keeping your dog cozy in the cold without emptying your wallet.

Best snow jacket for barrel-chested dogs

chocolate lab wearing Weatherbeeta Comfitec Reflective Parka 300D, the best dog snow jacket for barrel-chested dogs

The waterproof, insulated Weatherbeeta Comfitec Reflective Parka 300D has an adjustable strap to accommodate broad and barrel-chested dogs.

Pros: Insulated and lined, full chest and belly coverage, adjusts to fit dogs with broad or irregularly sized chests, waterproof, reflective trim

Cons: Handwashing recommended, only available in two colors

Weatherbeeta’s Comfitec Reflective Parka 300D Deluxe Dog Coat comfortably fits dogs with broad, barrel, or irregularly shaped chests for whom regular jackets are too snug. With full chest and belly coverage, this waterproof, insulated snow jacket will keep dogs of all sizes warm and dry.

The velcro closure like that on Weatherbeeta’s parka is preferred by several of the dog pros we consulted. “I don’t like coats that have buttons or zippers on them simply from an ease of use standpoint,” said Anderson. “When my dogs are wiggling to get outside, I like to get them geared up and out the door as quickly as I can which makes velcro my best friend.” The beauty of the strap on the Comfitec Reflective Parka is that it wraps around the chest and belly, so it can be pulled tighter for narrow-chested dogs or fastened more loosely across broader dogs.

The parka has a wide collar that can be worn flipped up or down, and an opening at the back can be used to connect a leash to a harness worn underneath the jacket. Elastic at the chest allows the parka to move with your dog and elastic straps at its tail end can be slipped over the legs for added security. 

The jacket is lined with fleece and filled with polyester material that will keep a dog with medium-thick fur warm in near-freezing temperatures. The polyester exterior is trimmed in reflective tape, ensuring your dog stays highly visible day or night. If you’d rather your dog’s snow apparel be a little more low key, though, you’ll have to look elsewhere. While this jacket can be machine washed on the delicate cycle in cold water, Weatherbeeta recommends handwashing it with mild soap.

How to fit your dog for a snow jacket

Getting the right fit on a dog snow jacket is rarely as simple as choosing between small, medium, and large. Depending on the shape of their body, a dog that’s considered “small” may fit better in a large-size jacket, while a slim, leggy dog may need a smaller one. To get the right fit for your dog’s snow jacket, pull out the measuring tape and calculate the following measurements.

  • Length: Body length is the primary way to determine what size jacket a dog will need. To get the most accurate measurement, measure your dog while they are standing in a relaxed position from the shoulder blades to the base of the tail. If your dog’s measurements are between sizes, go with the larger option. Sometimes a brand suggests a breed type or body weight that typically fit its different sizes. This can be helpful, but don’t use it as your only guide; body types can vary drastically among different dogs of the same weight.
  • Chest girth: Since most jackets are not adjustable around the chest, it’s important to get this measurement right. This is especially true for broad or barrel-chested pups. To get chest girth, measure the circumference of your dog’s chest at its largest point right behind the front legs while they are in a standing position. Go with the larger option if your dog’s measurements fall between sizes. If you have an active dog that does a lot of running and jumping, you may want to add 1 to 2 inches to your figure to assure they have full freedom of movement while wearing the jacket.
  • Neck girth: To get the right fit on a jacket with a nonadjustable neck opening, measure around the thickest part of the neck, right below where their collar sits. As with the other measurements, when in doubt size up.
  • Drop: The drop indicates how low a jacket hangs on a dog’s body and legs. If the jacket is too long, it may restrict their movement. If it’s too short, it may not provide adequate coverage. To determine how a jacket’s drop will lay on your dog, compare its length to their length, measuring from the base of the tail down the hind leg to the ankle just above the paw. The ideal jacket covers the body but extends less than halfway down the leg.

Cold-weather safety for dogs

golden retriever wearing blanket coat while lying in snow with tennis ball beside paw

When the mercury drops, a dog who’s not prepared for the cold may be at risk of developing frostbite or hypothermia. And while some breeds are more susceptible to cold than others, a good winter-weather rule of thumb is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them, said veterinarian Zay Satchu, chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet in New York, New York.

When cold, a dog may shiver, hunch their body, lift or hold their paws off the ground or seek out warmth, said Satchu. But while those signs may be obvious when you’re at their side, a dog who’s left outdoors without supervision in cold weather may become dangerously cold without you realizing it. When a dog’s body temperature drops, hypothermia is a real possibility, not to mention the fact that extreme cold can lead to frostbite on exposed areas like the ears, nose, and paws.

Anytime you are really feeling the cold, there’s no harm in putting a jacket on your dog, Satchu explained. “They’re more likely to let you know they are feeling toasty by panting than to let you know they are chilly,” she said. It’s easier to cool down a warm dog by removing an outer layer than to warm up a dog that’s chilled to the bone.

Boots can also help to keep a dog warm by protecting their sensitive paws from snow, ice, and salty sidewalks. “Booties are similar to you wearing gloves during the cool months,” Satchu explained.

Unless you have a hearty Northern breed like a husky or Bernese mountain dog, it’s important to bring an outdoor dog inside when temperatures drop below freezing. And if it’s cold enough that you need to cover every bit of your exposed skin to feel somewhat comfortable, you should stick to bringing your dog outdoors for only quick potty breaks instead of longer walks.

Anytime a dog who has been in extreme temperatures is showing symptoms of lethargy, muscle stiffness, weakness, decreased mental alertness, or loss of consciousness, you should contact your vet immediately. These signs of hypothermia can be life threatening.

Our experts

To come up with our selections for this guide, we consulted dog professionals from across the United States who walk and train dogs in cold, snowy winter climates. The majority of our experts responded to a survey that inquired about brands, designs, and features they prefer in a dog snow jacket. Those who did not respond to the survey were sent questions to answer via email. Our list of experts includes:

Catherine Adamo, owner of Loyal Dog Club in Detroit, Michigan

Stacia Anderson, co-founder of RuffCity Uptown Dog Walking in New York, New York

Krissia Chanto, co-owner of Rock Paw Pet Care in Boulder, Colorado

Sydney Fontaine, owner of Zippy Pet Care in Chicago, Illinois

Stephanie Gonzales, owner of Maw and Paws Dog Walking in Brooklyn, New York

Dawn Jacques, owner of Milwaukee Paws Pet Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Arelys Jimenez, dog walker at Windy City Paws in Chicago, Illinois

Melody Koney, dog walker at Windy City Paws in Chicago, Illinois

Lori Riegler, owner of Off Leash MKE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Laura Ryan, owner of Pup Patrol Walkers & Pet Care in Worcester, Massachusetts

Megan Selheim, owner of Come, Sit, Stay in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jacob Venter, owner of Denver Dog Joggers in Denver, Colorado

Katie Westling, co-owner of Paw Pet Care Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota

We also consulted Dr. Zay Satchu, chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet in New York, New York, on how to keep a dog safe in cold winter weather.

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The best dog boots and paw wax in 2021, according to dog walkers and trainers

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Nine dog walkers and trainers told us about their favorite dog snow boots, hiking boots, and paw wax.
  • Our experts said the best dog boots go on easily and protect paws without minimizing sensation.
  • Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and evaluates pet products.
  • 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.

Neither sleet nor rain nor heat nor snow will stop your dog from wanting to go out for a walk, but bad weather may make you think twice. Extreme temperatures can irritate a dog’s sensitive paws, and ice and snow can be downright dangerous.

There’s no need to skip the walk altogether when the weather isn’t cooperating. A set of dog boots or high-quality paw wax can protect your dog from freezing, hot, or rough terrain, so they can do the thing they love most.

To come up with our selections for this guide to the best dog boots, we consulted nine dog walkers and trainers from across the United States. We asked them about their preferences for keeping dog paws protected during icy winters and hot summers as well as on outdoor adventures. According to our experts, the best dog boots overall are Pawz Rubber Dog Boots, a set of waterproof slip-ons that are easy to get on, hard to kick off, and inexpensive.

Here are the best dog boots in 2021

Best dog boots overall

australian shepherd wearing red best overall dog boots pawz and running across snow

Waterproof Pawz rubber dog boots protect paws in extreme heat, ice, and snow and are well tolerated by most dogs.

Pros: Rubber boots, waterproof, slip-on, sold in packs of 12

Cons: May not hold up to rough terrain, not reflective, uninsulated

Whether your dog’s paws need protection from ice, snow, and salt in the winter or hot asphalt in the summer, several of our dog pros agreed that Pawz waterproof dog boots are the best option. 

“We have found these boots to be by far the best for staying on a dog’s paws during a walk,” said Megan Selheim, owner of Come, Sit, Stay in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Stacia Anderson, co-founder of RuffCity Dog Walking in New York City, agreed. “In my experience, all dog boots are inferior to Pawz balloon booties,” she said.

Pawz are made from flexible, durable all-natural rubber and come in a variety of sizes to fit dogs from tiny Chihuahuas to huge Newfoundlands. The dog booties slip over the paw and stay secure without straps or buckles. While they have enough traction to prevent a dog from slipping and sliding, they don’t have a cumbersome sole, a feature that adds to their usefulness.

“Most dogs adapt to them quickly because they are not bulky and they can still feel the sensation of the ground through these boots,” Selheim said. The lack of a reinforced sole, however, makes it easier for sharp rocks and other sidewalk hazards to tear through the rubber and scratch a dog’s paws.

Because they are made without reinforcements, Pawz do wear out. There’s no need to feel guilty about throwing them out, however, because they’re sustainably sourced and biodegradable.

Pawz are sold in packs of 12, so you can easily replace one that goes missing. That’s important to Lori Riegler, owner of Off Leash MKE, a dog walking and pet sitting business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Booties are like socks and mittens, you are always losing one,” she said.

Best dog boots for winter

two basset hounds wearing muttluks best dog winter boots in yellow and black

Warm, cozy Original All-Weather Muttluks provide everyday paw protection against frigid winter temperatures.

Pros: Stretchy fabric boots, tough leather sole, reflective, sold in packs of 4, storage bag included

Cons: Not water-resistant

Original All-Weather Muttluks are like reinforced mittens for a dog’s paws. The boots slip over the paw with the kind of stretchy fabric preferred by the dog walkers and trainers we consulted. A velcro strap across the ankle keeps them securely in place on cold-weather walks.

The soles of Original All-Weather Muttluks are reinforced with a thin layer of treated suede leather. While their smooth surface can be slippery in slush and rain, they are durable enough to prevent sharp objects like rocks and nails from slicing through to the paw pad. The nylon fabric exterior provides insulation to keep sensitive toes toasty. Reflective material on the strap makes them easier to see in low light.

These booties are warm and comfortable for everyday winter wear, but they aren’t water-resistant and can get waterlogged when walking in heavy rain, snow, and slush. And even though their tough soles will also hold up well against hot sidewalks in the summer, they may become overly warm if worn for long periods in the heat. The boots are machine washable, and for best results, the company recommends retreating the leather after cleaning.

Unlike most boots, sizing is determined by measuring from the paw’s front to back instead of side to side across its widest point. The boots are sold in a pack of four and come in a mesh storage bag.

Best dog boots for hiking

large yellow dog running in blue Ruffwear Grip Trex best dog boots for hiking

Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots provide adventurous dogs with paw protection when covering long distances on rocky or uneven terrain.

Pros: High-traction, flexible water-resistant rubber soles, reflective

Cons: Fastening strap may chafe, only sold in pairs of 2

Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots protect paws from the scrapes and abrasions that can develop during long days on the trail. With breathable mesh on top and flexible, water-resistant soles made from Vibram vulcanized rubber, these booties provide powerful traction on slippery or uneven surfaces without overly compromising paw sensation.

Ruffwear was a popular brand among the dog professionals we surveyed who said the Grip Trex boots are ideal for hiking and other outdoor adventures. They are less bulky than the brand’s snow boots and have a thicker rubber sole than its everyday boots. The mesh polyester upper has a wide opening for pulling the boot on and off and a reinforced toe. Each boot has reflective trim for low-light visibility. 

To keep the boots from slipping off, Ruffwear’s Grip Trex cinch around the leg just above the paw and fasten with a velcro closure. Because there is very little material between the stiff strap and the ankle, this boot may rub and cause abrasions when worn for extended periods of time, said Jacob Venter, owner of Denver Dog Joggers in Denver, Colorado. Breaking in the boots on everyday walks before taking them out on an excursion may help, as can pairing them with Ruffwear’s dog socks.

As the size of a dog’s front paws is often different from that of their back paws, Grip Trex boots are sold in pairs instead. These booties are the most expensive of those we selected for this guide, but their wide range of sizes ensures you’ll get just the right fit for every paw.

Best dog paw wax for protection

a blue and white tub with musher's secret paw wax printed on lid

Musher’s Secret Paw Wax is a reliable alternative to boots in conditions ranging from snow and ice to extreme heat.

Pros: Protects paws from ice, snow, and heat; made from natural ingredients; affordable

Cons: Provides limited protection against rocky terrain, may need to be reapplied in snow

Dogs who refuse to wear boots can find relief from ice, snow, sidewalk salt, and extreme heat with Musher’s Secret paw wax. “Musher’s Secret is very effective for protecting paws and so much easier than booties,” said Katie Westling, co-owner of Paw Pet Care Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Canadian-made balm works by establishing a wax barrier between the paw pads and the ground without impacting a dog’s ability to feel the terrain. It is made from four types of wax — white and yellow beeswax, carnauba palm wax, and candelilla wax — combined with vegetable oil and vitamin E. The food-grade ingredients are nontoxic and won’t harm a dog who attempts to lick it off.

While it might seem that all that wax and oil would result in greasy hands and a slick trail of puppy paw prints, Melody Koney a dog walker with Windy City Paws in Chicago, Illinois, assured us that’s not the case. “It’s easy to put on a dog’s paws, and it doesn’t leave a mess on floors and carpets,” she said.

An added benefit of Musher’s Secret is the soothing and conditioning its oils and vitamin E provide for dry, cracked winter paws and dog noses. The balm doesn’t provide as much protection against rocky terrain. It may help to keep paws safe from excessive rubbing and scratching, but it won’t stop a sharp stone from slicing a sensitive paw pad. In snowy conditions, the wax may have to be reapplied on longer outdoor adventures.

Affordable Musher’s Secret paw protection comes in three sizes — 60 grams, 200 grams, and 1 pound — and will remain shelf-stable year after year if you don’t use it all up in a single season.

How to fit your dog for boots

Most dog boots are sized with the width of a dog’s paws in mind. To get the ideal fit, put a piece of paper on the floor and grab a pencil. Place one of your dog’s front paws on the page and lift up the other so they have all of their weight flat on the paper. Draw an outline using your pencil. Since the back paws may be smaller than the front, repeat the process with them.

When you have your outlines, measure the widest point of the paw from toe-to-toe. The width should correspond to the sizes in which the boot is sold. If your dog’s paw falls between sizes, go with the smaller option.

For boots that are measured by length instead of width, measure the paw outline you’ve drawn from the longest toenail to the “heel” and find the correct size on the sizing chart. A snug fit is better than a loose one, so if your dog’s paw falls between sizes, choose the one that is smaller.

How to keep dogs safe in cold weather

Even though they come with built-in fur coats, dogs can still get cold in extreme temperatures. Unless you have a hearty Northern breed like a Husky or Bernese mountain dog, protecting a dog with a coat and boots can help to prevent them from developing frostbite or hypothermia when the mercury drops below freezing. “A good rule of thumb is if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for them,” said Zay Satchu, DVM, chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet in New York, New York.

When a dog is cold, their body reacts by shivering and hunching to conserve warmth. They may also lift or hold their paws off the ground or make a beeline for enclosed spaces they believe will be warmer. A dog that is exposed to freezing temperatures for too long can develop frostbite on their ears, nose or paw pads or, in extreme cases, hypothermia.

On days where the only way to be comfortable outdoors is to swaddle yourself head to toe in clothing, only cold-weather-loving breeds should be spending a lot of time outdoors, especially if you aren’t at their side. “If you aren’t directly supervising, it can be difficult to pick up on signs of hypothermia, which can be life threatening,” Satchu said. You should contact your vet immediately when symptoms like lethargy, muscle stiffness, weakness, decreased alertness, and loss of consciousness indicate that your dog’s body temperature has dropped to dangerous levels.

An insulated coat and boots can help to keep your dog warm in the winter cold. “If you’re grabbing a coat on the way out, you might as well grab one for Fluffy too,” said Satchu. Like mittens or gloves for your hands, boots can protect the paws from freezing salty sidewalks, snow, and slush. If your dog refuses to wear boots, Satchu recommends trying a paw balm to create a barrier between sensitive paw pads and the sidewalk and wiping salty paws down with a warm damp cloth after the walk.

Our experts

For guidance on selecting the best dog boots, we went straight to those who spend their days walking and training dogs in all types of weather. Nine dog professionals from around the United States responded to a survey designed to identify the features of a good dog boot and the brands and designs they most prefer. Our list of experts includes:

We also consulted Zay Satchu, DVM, chief veterinary officer and co-founder of Bond Vet in New York, New York, on the best practices for keeping a dog safe in cold winter weather.

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Insider Reviews’ All-Time Best: The top 100 products our team has ever tested

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Here at Insider Reviews, we’ve tested a lot of products, from cheap knick-knacks that are surprisingly useful to big investment pieces you need to make your life more productive, comfortable, and enjoyable. Along the way, our team of experienced service journalists has discovered our all-time-favorite products, and we want to share them – all 100 – with you.

All-Time Best is our collection of can’t-miss products in the sea of everything you can buy online today. They’re the products we can’t live without, the ones that make our eyes light up and that we recommend to everyone we know IRL. Through tens of thousands of hours of testing, these products across the categories of tech, home, kitchen, style, beauty, outdoors, fitness, pets, and parenting stand out as the best of the best.

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51 gifts dog lovers and their canine companions will love

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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 dogs.
  • Show them you care with a monthly subscription box, canine home decor, and all sorts of dog books.
  • Here are 51 useful, entertaining, and adorable gifts dogs and their humans will love.

As one of the most magical and amusing creatures on earth, dogs are more than deserving of a gift every now and again. And their human guardians? Yeah, they deserve a little something too.

In this list, we’ve curated 52 of our favorite gifts for dogs and the people who love them, including a stylish dog crate, a monthly subscription box filled with toys and treats, and custom pet stickers. Whether you want to add a little doggy decor to your home or give your favorite pet something new to play with, these gifts evoke pure joy of the canine kind.

Here are 51 of the best gifts for dogs lovers and their dogs:

Dog stickers that are (almost) as cute as the real thing

black and brown dog’s face printed on stickers

My Sticker Face Sampler Sticker Face Sheet, available on Amazon, $15.99

Give the gift of sticky immortality with these customizable pet stickers. Just upload a photo of their dog and My Sticker Face will create a spot-on version made from vinyl that they can affix to anything that needs a puppy pick-me-up.

A monthly box of canine surprises

dog toys and treats in Bark Box

Bark Box Monthly Subscription, available on Bark Box, from $23

Don’t bother trying to figure out exactly what the dog or dog lover in your life wants. Bark Box has done the work for you. Its monthly subscription boxes contain curated collections of toys, treats, and chews based on fun themes like summer camp, magic, and spa days. Send Bark Box as a gift or, better yet, get your own.

A pack of dogs to protect their smartphone

iphone case with dog print

Pet Friendly Dog Pattern Phone Case, available on Society6 for both iPhone and Android, from $20.99

No more scrolling their social media feeds to find cute dogs. With this smartphone case, there will already be dozens of pups at their fingertips. The pack, which includes corgis, shiba inus, and poodles, can be customized as a slim or tough case for almost any iPhone or Android model.

Flannel pants for cold-weather canine snuggling

navy blue flannel pants with plaid dog print

L.L. Bean Flannel Pants, Dog Print, available on L.L. Bean, $49.95

These extra soft flannel pants will keep them warm and cozy on crisp nights. They’ve been designed for maximum comfort with a drawstring waist and pockets. Choose from three dog-tastic colors and prints and 13 sizes.

A stress-relieving coloring book full of dogs

coloring book with picture of dog wearing hat on cover

Dog Lover: Adult Coloring Book, by Gina Trowler, available on Amazon, $6.99

This charming adult coloring book is packed with 64 pages of intricately drawn black-and-white canines. Go ahead, make your great dane blue and your chihuahua pink. The book’s pages are nice and thick so the colors won’t bleed through.

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, $13.99

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 pack of doggy chip clips

six chip clips with dog faces

Kikkerland Doggie Bag Clips, available at World Market and Amazon, from $4.99

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 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, $29.99

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, $21.95

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 and Furbo, $161.99

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 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 $13.35

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, $29.49

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, $4.71

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 $7.99

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 $40.99

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 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 $9.95

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 $129

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 $14.45

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 Chewy and 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, $24.43

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 $65

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, $45.49

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

The best dog food in 2021, with advice from veterinarians and an animal nutritionist

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Dog food being served to a boston terrier puppy
  • 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 for your pet can be an overwhelming process. The truth is, there isn’t a single best dog food in any given category. And that’s actually a good thing because it means pet owners have many excellent options to choose from.

With guidance from veterinarians and an animal nutritionist, we carefully selected different types of foods across price points, including dry kibble, canned wet food, fresh food, and diets for puppies or senior dogs. In order to maintain impartiality, our experts did not recommend specific brands or formulas.

“Dogs are individuals,” says 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.”

We also consulted standards from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Global Nutrition Guidelines published by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). The foods in this guide are complete and balanced according to AAFCO standards, which means they offer appropriate levels of protein, fat, and fiber for a dog’s life stage.

Each of our picks was evaluated based on its nutritional adequacy, calorie content, guaranteed analysis, and ingredients. They contain high-quality ingredients and meet our long list of expert-informed criteria – you can read more about those at the end of this guide. .

Our advice 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. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods to your dog’s diet to account for their individual needs.

At the end of this guide, you’ll find complete details on our methodology and the experts we spoke with, as well as information on how to read a pet food label, calculate your dog’s caloric needs, and find a food your dog likes to eat. You can also use this knowledge to evaluate any other brands you might be interested in trying.

Here are 21 of the best dog foods you can buy in 2021

Best adult dry dog food

dry dog food including purina beyond superfood, merrick health grains, and nature's logic canine chicken meal feast
These dry dog foods from Purina, Merrick, and Nature’s Logic contain a variety of high-quality ingredients and healthy extras.

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 feed. 

For adult dogs, we recommend foods that contain a moderate amount of protein (the AAFCO minimum is 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat. When it comes to protein, you may assume more is better since dogs evolved as carnivores, but this is not the case, 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,” explains Swanson. With that in mind, we looked at dozens of foods to find ones with whole meats and meat meals at the top of the ingredients list. Complementary proteins like rice and beans are also good. Swanson likes to see fat concentrations below 20%, but he doesn’t get too concerned about fat content for healthy-weight pets who do not have conditions like pancreatitis or gastrointestinal disease.

Beyond this, veterinarian W. Jean Dodds, owner of Hemopet Holistic Care Veterinary Clinic, looks for a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, including high quality meats or fish, some carbohydrates, a mixture of vegetables, and some fruit. Many dog 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 recommendations below hit all of the must-haves and each has a combination of healthy extras, from omega fatty acids and probiotics to  glucosamine and chondroitin.

Our picks for adult dry dog food:

Beyond Superfood Blend Wild-Caught Salmon, Egg, and Pumpkin Recipe (14.5-lb bag) (medium)Classic Healthy Grains Real Beef and Brown Rice Recipe (25-lb. bag) (medium)Canine Chicken Meal Feast (25-lb. bag) (medium)
Best adult wet dog food

best wet dog food including wellness lamb and beef stew, go solutions skin and coat care, and nutro turkey and potato recipe
We recommend these AAFCO complete-and-balanced wet dog foods from Wellness, Go! Solutions, and Nutro.

Wet food is particularly appealing to dogs. Pet parents often like it for this reason, and it may be a good option for picky eaters who turn their nose up to kibble. Wet food also has a long shelf life when unopened. 

We selected wet foods that meet the same AAFCO complete and balanced standards 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. Dry kibble has very little moisture, while canned food contains a lot of water. To read a wet food label, you need to look at the percentages of protein, fat, and fiber on a “dry matter basis.” Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University offers instructions so you can calculate them yourself. You can also call the food manufacturer or ask your veterinarian for help. For the foods we recommend, 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,” says 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:

Skin + Coat Care Pollock Pate (12.5-oz. cartons, 12-pack) (medium)Lamb and Beef Stew with Brown Rice and Apples (12.5-oz. cans, 12-pack) (medium)Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Turkey and Potato Recipe (12.5 oz. cans, 12-pack) (medium)
Best fresh dog food

best fresh dog food includes just food for dogs, the farmer's dog, and ollie
Fresh dog food from Just Food For Dogs, The Farmer’s Dog, and Ollie can be delivered right to your door.

Fresh dog food has grown in popularity over the last few years. We like it because it 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.

Many pet food companies cook fresh, individually customized meals and ship them directly to your door, usually via a subscription. 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.

We have tested all of our picks for fresh food and can attest to their quality. These foods are AAFCO complete and balanced and the calorie content of the meals is tailored to your dog based on their weight, breed, and activity level.

Our picks for fresh dog food:

Turkey and Whole Wheat Macaroni (18-oz. package) (medium)Monthly Subscription (medium)Chicken Recipe (monthly subscription) (medium)
Best budget dog food

best budget dog food includes whole earth farms adult, blue buffalo life protection, and natural balance original ultra
High-quality affordable dry dog food is available from Blue Buffalo, Natural Balance, and Whole Earth Farms.

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, we’ve found high-quality dog foods that provide excellent nutrition at a lower price. 

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:

Adult Recipe (25-lb. bag) (medium)Life Protection Formula Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe (30-lb. bag) (medium)Original Ultra Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Duck Meal Formula (30-lb. bag) (medium)
Best grain-free dog food

recommended grain-free dog food fro purina one, orijen fit and trim, and instinct original
For AAFCO complete-and-balanced grain-free dog food, we recommend recipes from Purina, Orijen, and Instinct Original.

Grain-free diets aren’t necessarily superior to diets that contain grains, but they can be helpful if your dog is 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 recommendations are all AAFCO complete and balanced and include whole meats and healthy extras like omega fatty acids, probiotics, and glucosamine. Both Orijen Fit and Trim and Purina One True Instinct have also undergone feeding trials to ensure they are palatable, digestible, and can nutritionally sustain pets over time.

Our picks for grain-free dog food:

Fit and Trim Grain-Free Dog Food (25-lb. bag) (medium)Original Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken (22.5-lb. bag) (medium)One True Instinct Grain-Free With Real Beef (25-lb. bag) (medium)
Best dry puppy food

best dog food for puppies includes wellness complete health small breed, orijen large breed, and merrick healthy grains
These foods from Wellness, Merrick, and Orijen will meet a growing puppy’s unique nutritional needs.

Puppy foods are formulated to be energy-dense, which means they are higher in fat and calories to fuel growing bodies. Some puppy foods are made specially for small breeds or large and giant breeds. “Balancing the nutrient needs of dogs given their wide size variety and ages is wise and common sense,” says Dodds.

To ensure a food 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. 

There aren’t any official AAFCO nutrient standards for small and large breed designations. 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, and fewer calories. They often include an ideal balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to encourage slower growth to support joint health and prevent obesity.

We selected three different foods, one for small breeds, one for large breeds, and one for any size breed. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy and Orijen Puppy Large Grain-Free Food have both undergone feeding trials to ensure they are palatable, digestible, and nutritionally sustainable.

Our picks for puppy food:

Complete Health Small Breed Puppy (4-lb. bag) (medium)Puppy Large Grain-Free Food (25-lb. bag) (medium)Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe (12-lb. bag) (medium)
Best dry senior dog food

best senior dog food includes purina pro plan, merrick healthy grains, and nulo freestyle
These senior dog foods include healthy extras like glucosamine, chondroitin, omega fatty acids, and probiotics.

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,” says 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 are high in protein and include healthy extras to support an aging dog’s health.

Our picks for senior dog food:

Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Chicken and Rice Formula (30-lb. bag) (medium)Healthy Grains Senior Recipe (25-lb. bag) (medium)Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Trout and Sweet Potato Recipe (26-lb. bag) (medium)
Our methodology

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. 

I also consulted educational materials from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Global Nutrition Guidelines published by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

What to look for in dog food, 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.

AAFCO standards

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

a dog food label showing guaranteed analysis, AAFCO complete and balanced statement, ingredients, and calorie content.
On a dog food label, look for important details like the AAFCO Complete and Balanced statement, guaranteed analysis, and calorie content.

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 says. “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 says. “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 says.

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

Dog food being served to a boston terrier puppy

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,” says 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 says. “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 says.

What is a raw diet for dogs?

A raw diet may consist of uncooked meat, bones, fruit, vegetables, raw eggs, and yogurt or another dairy product. By comparison, most store-bought dog food contains some combination of cooked meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Is a raw diet good for my dog?

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.

Our expert sources

  • 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.
  • Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) 
  • World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Global Nutrition Guidelines 
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I wanted an eco-friendly alternative to dog waste bags and found Pooch Paper – it’s easy to use and biodegradable

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Pooch Paper package and daschund dog in background
Pooch Paper Dog Waste Sheets are biodegradable and compostable.

  • Pooch Paper Dog Waste Sheets are an eco-friendly, biodegradable alternative to plastic dog poop bags.
  • The sheets are easy to fold up and put in your pocket before heading out on a walk with your dog.
  • They take some getting used to, but are worth it if want to reduce your environmental footprint.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

My two hounds enjoy their walks, and we go on about three a day. I always clean up their waste and then dispose of it in our garbage bin. After a week, the trash gets hauled away and I feel good that the waste wasn’t left on my neighbor’s lawn.

But there’s a problem: I typically use plastic bags to pick up my dogs’ waste. According to this handy calculator from Doody Calls, my two dogs produce 8 pounds of waste each week – that’s 416 pounds each year. I don’t want to think about the number of plastic bags that I use in a week.

Although I typically use bags that are biodegradable, the effectiveness of biodegradable plastic bags has been called into question. That’s why I was excited to find Pooch Paper, an eco-friendly paper alternative to plastic poop bags. The company sent me samples to test for this review.

What makes Pooch Paper eco-friendly?

Pooch Paper review
The sheets have a grease-resistant coating that keeps waste from soaking through the paper.

You can purchase Pooch Paper as a one-month supply (50 sheets) for a single dog, though it may be enough for two if your dogs are small to medium size. Each Pooch Paper sheet is made of recycled non-chlorine-bleached paper and measures 12 inches by 12 inches. They are manufactured using renewable energy and are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable.

Sustainability is the company’s number one priority. Its goal is to reduce our plastic footprint and its destructive impact on our environment. Plastics are toxic to most species and can result in the creation of dangerous greenhouse gasses when disposed of in a landfill.

“Our paper is made with recycled, unbleached, uncoated softwood pulp using a machine-finished, sustainable manufacturing process,” said Tracy Rosensteel, the founder of Pooch Paper. She explained that the unbleached paper fiber produces a higher pulping yield, which in turn lessens the overall environmental footprint.

How do Pooch Paper sheets work?

It’s easy to use Pooch Paper to pick up your dog’s waste. A single sheet holds the waste produced by both of my dogs on a single walk. The texture of the paper took a few days to get used to, but the grease-resistant coating made from corn helps get the waste up into the sheet in just one try.

The instructions say to twist the corners around the waste to contain it before you toss it into the garbage bin. Twisting the corners take a little practice and how much waste is in the center of the sheet will determine how much paper is left to twist.

Ideally, after you’ve picked up waste, there will be a space at the top to twist together either the edges or the four corners. The sheet will stay closed, but you’ll have to carry the used paper with one hand unless you have a carrying pouch attached to your waistband. If you do have to carry it with your hands, it’s not inconvenient if it’s a short walk.

The used sheets can go directly into the garbage bin. The FTC’s Green Guide explains that all earth-friendly products must completely break down and return to nature within a reasonably short period of time. I now toss the paper sheets into the garbage can without any guilt.

I carry unused sheets in the 5-inch-by-5-inch zippered Pooch Pouch, which I attach to my leash. It fits about 10 sheets and my house key. You can also attach the pouch to your wrist or belt loop. It is not only practical but also really cute.

The cons

If the waste I’m picking up isn’t solid and firm, it’s a little messy to get it into the Pooch Paper and twist the corners without a lot of fuss.

The paper could also be a bit challenging if you have a large breed dog. When I’m dealing with a bigger amount of waste, it can be difficult to pick up all of it. My recommendation is to use two sheets, and you’ll definitely want to have a pouch to put your sheets into after they’re full.

The bottom line

Pooch Paper is the best eco-friendly option I’ve found for cleaning up after my dogs on walks. After I pick up the waste, it easily fits in a waist pouch, and one sheet is typically enough for both of my dogs. While they aren’t as easy to use as plastic bags, their reduced carbon footprint make them a worthy alternative.

Pros: Manufactured using renewable energy, biodegradable alternative to plastic poop bags, easy to pick up firm waste, one-step process to twist shut

Cons: Can be difficult to clean up loose or large amount of waste, requires a separate pouch to carry used sheets on longer walks

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