19 supplies that will help your new cat feel at home, according to cat rescuers and a veterinarian

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bring home a new cat
  • Before bringing a new cat home, prepare for a smooth transition with these essential cat supplies.
  • We consulted cat rescuers and a veterinarian to come up with this new cat checklist.
  • You’ll need a litter box, food, and toys to keep them comfortable, stimulated, and healthy.
  • For more expert reviews and buying advice, check out the Insider Reviews homepage.

The day you bring home your new cat is full of joy. But while you may be ready for snuggles and play from the moment your kitty arrives, most felines aren’t as excited about moving day. Just when they were getting used to the shelter or foster home – bam – here comes another transition. And cats, they aren’t the best at dealing with change.

Preparing for the arrival of your new cat ahead of time will help smooth their transition to your home. While it’s a no-brainer that cats require a litter box and food, new cat owners may not realize that items like scratching posts, cat trees, calming pheromones, and toys can reduce stress and provide your pet with an enriching environment.

With the help of cat rescuers and a veterinarian, we compiled this new cat checklist to ensure you have the right supplies on hand.

Here are 19 cat supplies to stock up on when you adopt a new pet:

A cozy cat carrier for your cat’s freedom ride and beyond

mr peanuts platinum cat carrier

Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Expandable Carrier, available at Chewy, $50.99

A cat carrier is mandatory for bringing your cat home from the shelter, said Franušić. We love Mr. Peanut’s refined, comfortable tote, which can unzip to expand to almost three times the size of a regular carrier, making it more comfortable for long travel days. 

A calming pheromone diffuser to decrease stress

FeliwayClassic

Feliway Classic Diffuser, available at Chewy, $29.99

You’ll want to decrease stress and unwanted behaviors like urine spraying during your cat’s first weeks at home. Veterinarian Andrea Moore, medical director at Pinnacle Animal Hospital in San Jose, California, and Danielle Carr, shelter manager at Town Cats in Morgan Hill, California, both recommend a calming pheromone like Feliway. Feliway mimics the F3 facial pheromones cats deposit when rubbing their cheeks against surfaces in order to mark them as safe.

A simple litter box for your cat to do their business

natures miracle hooded litter box

Nature’s Miracle Oval Hooded Litter Box, available at Chewy, $29.99

When it comes to a litter box, all of our experts agree that simple is best. You want a box your cat can use “without having to do any tricks,” said Moore. And even though self-cleaning litter boxes are convenient, Moore advises against them because the noises they make can frighten cats.

At the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, Libby Farel-Friedman, who is the supervisor of adoption programs, recommends using a simple uncovered litter box. If you prefer your box to be covered to reduce smells or prevent your dog from getting inside, buy one like Nature’s Miracle Oval Hooded Litter Box, which has a removable lid that can be added later on. 

Regular flea treatment to keep the itches away

Seresto

Seresto Flea and Tick Prevention Collar, available at Chewy, $59.98

Flea control is important regardless of whether a cat is indoor-only or goes outside. Most flea treatments are topical, but Seresto also makes a flea collar that many cat owners and veterinarians like. Not all cats will be comfortable wearing a flea collar, but for those that tolerate it, Moore said it’s a good option.

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

An unscented natural litter to make using the litter box appealing

worlds best multiple cat litter

World’s Best Multiple Cat Unscented Litter (14 lbs), available at Chewy, $15.44

Moore avoids dusty litters, which can cause respiratory issues, as well as perfumed litters with a strong scent. All three of our shelter experts like litters made of natural materials like corn or grass, and Carr’s favorite litters are made from pine wood. “I think they’re really efficient at neutralizing odors and are really easy to scoop,” she said. For more ideas, check out our guide to the best natural cat litter.

A flat, wide food dish to prevent whisker fatigue

CatFoodBowl

Dr. Catsby Cat Food Bowl, available at Amazon, $19.95

For cats with sensitive whiskers, brushing up against the side of a food or water bowl can cause pain and make eating stressful. To prevent “whisker fatigue,” Moore suggested using a flatter dish without steep sides. 

Nutritious dry and wet cat food that your pet will love

HillsScience

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food for Indoor Cats, available at Chewy, from $15.99

While many cats prefer dry foods, they are high in carbohydrates and calories. Feeding a diet that includes wet food can help to maintain weight and overall health, according to Moore. “Wet food is great for cats because it provides more moisture,” she said. “It’s especially important for males because you want them producing urine so they don’t have urinary issues.”

Franušić and Farel-Friedman recommended Hill’s Science Diet, which comes in several varieties for cats with different needs. There are plenty of other high-quality options, including Nom Nom, a human-grade monthly cat food delivery service. 

Irresistible treats for training and high-stress situations

Churu

Inaba Churu Lickable Puree Natural Cat Treat, available at Chewy, $17.96

“We use Churu for clicker training and it works wonders,” said Carr. Clicker training, a form of positive-reinforcement training that marks correct behaviors with a distinct clicking sound, is an excellent way to teach tricks and address behavior challenges in cats. Churu is great for stressful situations, too. “We have cats who are super stressed and we give them Churu, and it works so well to distract them from what’s going on,” said Carr. For more ideas, see our guide to the best cat treats.

Earthquake putty to keep knickknacks, vases, and picture frames from becoming playthings

QuakeHold

Quakehold! Museum Putty, available at Amazon, $3.97

Adhering your knickknacks to shelves and tables using earthquake putty ensures that your favorite picture frame or vase won’t end up in pieces on the floor. “When you actually get a cat into your home, you find that they love to explore and get on top of things,” said Lindsay Franušić, assistant manager of adoption programs, at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley in Milpitas, California. She told us that putty was a lifesaver for her.

 

Tasty dental treats to help promote a happy, healthy mouth

Feline

Feline Greenies Natural Dental Care Treats, available at Chewy, from $2.35

Keeping your cat’s mouth clean is essential to its overall health. “Ideally, you should try to teach your cat to have its teeth brushed,” said Moore. But if that proves too challenging, dental treats are the next best thing. She also recommended using a water additive for stress-free dental care. For more options, check out our guide to the best dental products for cats.

A reflective breakaway cat collar to hold your their ID tags

Rogz

ROGZ Reflective Cat Collar, available at Amazon, from $9.95

If your cat goes outdoors, they need a breakaway collar that will come undone if they get caught on a tree branch or fence, said Moore. We like this durable reflective collar by Rogz, which is the top pick in our guide to the best cat collars.

Stainless steel ID tags to make sure your cat gets home safely

GoTags

GoTags Stainless Steel Pet ID Tags, available at Chewy, $7.95

Even if your cat is microchipped, ID tags engraved with their name and phone number can help them make it home safe and sound. If your cat is indoor-only, Moore said they don’t need to wear a collar or ID tags. Instead, microchip your cat so that they can be easily identified if they escape.

A comfy harness and leash set for taking your cat on a walk

CatHarness

Rabbitgoo Cat Harness and Leash Set, available at Amazon, from $14.98

For indoor cats, the outdoors is a fantasy world of sights, sounds, and smells that many find delightful. According to Moore, leash training “is a safe way to have [a] cat outside and a good activity for the cat and owner to do together.” But because being on a leash is not a natural behavior for cats, guardians need to take the time to acclimate their cat to the leash.

A cat brush for removing excess hair and preventing hairballs

5eb032d0204ad3739e3594c7

Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush, available at Chewy, from $12.99

Cats are fastidious, and in the process of grooming, they consume a lot of hair. For long-haired cats, especially, “brushing is really helpful to remove the loose hair that is ready to shed that may get matted if not removed,” said Moore. A good cat brush like the Safari Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush can help remove the excess hair and may reduce the frequency of hairballs. 

A scratching post for your cat to claw

On2Pets Skyline Scratching Post

On2Pets Skyline Sisal Cat Scratching Post, available at Chewy, $44.99

“Cats scratch as a scent marker, to help with their nails, and to relieve stress,” said Moore. Plus, your cat will be less likely to scratch your furniture if they have other options. This cat scratcher from Max & Marlow includes a 26-inch scratching post plus two attached toys. For more ideas, check out our guide to the best scratching posts.

A cat wand for chasing, pouncing, and play

DaBird

GoCat Da Bird Pull Apart Wand, available at Petco, $8.95

“The best toys are the ones where you can interact with your cat. Playing with them helps you to bond better,” said Farel-Friedman. Cat wands are a classic kitty favorite, and Carr recommended both Da Bird and Cat Catcher by GoCat. See our guide to the best cat toys for more options.

An interactive food puzzle toy to stimulate your cat’s hunting instincts

Petsafe Egg Cersizer toy

Petsafe Egg-Cersizer, available at Chewy, $5.99

“I think food puzzle toys are great,” said Carr. “They’re really good for cats who are overweight and for cats who are overstimulated. It’s more natural, too, because [it mimics the way] cats have to work for their food in the wild.” Moore suggested feeding kibble out of interactive food puzzle toys as well as — or instead of — treats.

A cardboard cat scratcher to promote independent play

TurboscratcherCatToy

Bergan Turboscratcher Cat Toy, available at Chewy, $17.98

All of our experts agreed that there is no such thing as too many scratchers. Carr likes the Bergan Turboscratcher which has a ball in the frame. “Cats get their scratch on while playing with the balls inside,” she said. “They can play and entertain themselves so even if you’re not home they have stimulation.”

A cat tree tower for climbing, scratching, and play

Armarkat

Armarkat Classic Cat Tree, available at Petco, $55.06

“We definitely recommend cat trees,” said Farel-Friedman. “They not only provide cats with the ability of choice, but they also provide them with exercise and stress relief.” Dr. Moore agreed: “You want to have vertical space, especially people who have a small living area.” The ideal tree has built-in scratching posts and plenty of spots to snuggle up. That’s why we like the classic cat tree from Armarkat, which is the budget pick in our guide to the best cat trees.

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The 6 best dog shampoos in 2021 for fleas and ticks, grooming, and skin irritation

  • Bathing your dog regularly helps keep their skin and coat clean, healthy, and moisturized.
  • Dog shampoos are formulated to be gentle on a dog’s sensitive skin and free from harsh ingredients and fragrances.
  • Our top pick is Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, which cleans and deodorizes without irritating sensitive skin.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, DVM, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

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

Many dog owners use human shampoo on their dogs, but these products can damage a dog’s skin and leave the skin vulnerable to problems like flaky skin and infections. The best option is to purchase a shampoo designed specifically for dogs. The products below are formulated for a dog’s pH and gentle on sensitive skin.

Keeping a dog’s skin and coat clean is important, but know that you can have too much of a good thing. Too-frequent shampooing could strip their coat of the natural oils that nourish and moisturize the skin and coat. So, not only is it important to avoid bathing them too often but you also need to use a high-quality product when you do wash them.

The shampoos recommended here are not intended to treat medical conditions. Speak to your veterinarian and read our guide to the best medicated dog shampoos if you are looking to manage a specific condition.

Here are the best dog shampoos in 2021

The best overall

Earthbath dog shampoo

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo combines all the good things that you’d want in a dog shampoo into one product.

Pros: All-natural ingredients, soap-free formula, relieves itching, soothes dry skin, promotes healing, moisturizes skin, pH-balanced to clean and deodorize, won’t wash away flea and tick products,100% biodegradable, cruelty-free

Cons: May not be suitable for dogs with allergies and extra-sensitive skin, scent may fade over time, may not be powerful enough for very strong odors

When shopping for dog shampoo, look for a product that will clean and deodorize a dog’s skin and coat without irritating their sensitive skin. We recommend Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo, which is a gentle and effective formula for animals 6 weeks and older.

The shampoo contains natural ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera to soothe skin irritation, relieve itching, and moisturize a dog’s skin The soap-free, pH-balanced formula effectively cleans and softens the coat, and vanilla and almond extracts leave a pleasing scent. It is light enough that it won’t wash away flea and tick control products.

In addition to being all-natural, it is 100% biodegradable and cruelty-free.

The best for puppies

Isle of Dogs dog shampoo

Isle of Dogs Tearless Puppy Shampoo gently cleanses a puppy’s sensitive skin and coat and can be used as a face wash without irritating the eyes. 

Pros: Gentle enough for puppies and as a face wash, fresh orchid scent, natural odor-neutralizing ingredients, lathers well for deep cleaning, no harsh fragrances

Cons: Orchid scent may be overpowering, may not be powerful enough for strong odors

Like adult dogs, puppies can have sensitive skin. To care for your puppy’s skin, choose a formula that is strong enough for deep cleaning but gentle enough not to irritate or damage your puppy’s skin. Isle of Dogs Tearless Puppy Shampoo is a puppy-safe shampoo that cleans and deodorizes without the use of harsh chemicals or fragrances.

The shampoo is made with gentle cleansers that are safe for your puppy’s sensitive skin and coat. It is a tearless formula that won’t irritate their eyes if you use it as a face wash, and it leaves behind a fresh orchid scent. The formula’s odor-neutralizing ingredients provide long-lasting freshness.

Even though the shampoo can safely be used to wash your puppy’s face, take extra care not to get the product in their eyes, nose, or mouth.

The best for fleas and ticks

Adams dog shampoo

Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo is made with natural pyrethrins and an insect growth regulator to kill fleas on contact and provide 28 days of protection.

Pros: Made with natural pyrethrins instead of synthetic permethrins, contains Precor insect growth regulator, kills fleas and ticks in all life stages, protects for a full 28 days, contains natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize skin, gently cleanses and softens coat, safe for puppies over 12 weeks

Cons: Not recommended for puppies under 12 weeks, some users find the odor to be too strong, must  be worked into a thick lather for maximum efficacy  

Not only can fleas make your dog’s skin irritated and inflamed, but these tiny, pesky parasites can make their way into your pet’s bedding, your furniture, your carpet — and eventually onto you.

Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo is a highly effective formula that kills fleas in all life stages and is also effective against ticks and chewing lice.

Adams Plus Flea and Tick Shampoo contains natural pyrethrins to kill adult fleas, ticks, and lice in puppies 12 weeks and older. It also contains Precor, an insect growth regulator that prevents eggs and larvae from developing into biting adults. While these ingredients are safe for dogs, they are toxic to cats and potentially fatal. Never bathe your cat with this product.

In addition to powerful active ingredients, this formula also contains natural ingredients like coconut extract, oatmeal, and aloe to help soothe and moisturize your dog’s dry, irritated, and itchy skin. The gentle formula works into an easy lather to cleanse your dog’s coat, leaving it soft, shiny, and clean. It also provides a full 28 days of protection against fleas, ticks, and lice.

Be aware that flea shampoos kill adult fleas that are currently on a dog but are less effective — and harder to use — than flea preventatives. An oral or topical spot-on flea preventive is the best line of defense against fleas and should be the first choice to prevent flea problems on a dog.

The best for sensitive skin

4 legger dog shampoo

4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo is free from the synthetic and harsh ingredients that might irritate a dog’s sensitive skin.

Pros: No synthetic ingredients, no detergents or sulfates, biodegradable and cruelty-free, gently cleanses and moisturizes, safe for dogs with allergies and sensitive skin, mild but pleasant scent, safe for puppies and dogs of all ages

Cons: May not be strong enough for dogs with thick double coats, thin consistency

Shampoos, particularly all-natural shampoos, that are free of harsh ingredients are generally the safest option for dogs with sensitive skin and seasonal allergies. Our recommendation for organic dog shampoo is 4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo because it is USDA-certified organic and free from synthetic ingredients that might irritate your dog’s skin. This formula is safe for dogs in all life stages.

4 Legger Conditioning Shampoo gently cleanses and moisturizes your dog’s skin and coat, leaving them smelling fresh and clean. It is minimally processed, meaning that the ingredients remain as close as possible to their original, natural form.

Ingredients are sustainably sourced and biodegradable.

The best heavy-duty shampoo

Synergy dog shampoo

With three times the cleansing action of ordinary dog shampoos, Veterinary Formula Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo tackles even the toughest dirt and odors.

Pros: Contains three times the cleansing power of ordinary shampoos, lathers well for a deep clean, made with an exclusive “dirt repel” formula, natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize skin, doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue, concentrated formula doesn’t require mixing, does not remove topical flea and tick control treatments, gentle enough to be used frequently

Cons: Triple strength formula may be too strong for dogs with very sensitive skin, bottle may leak when not stored or handled properly, green apple scent sometimes wears off quickly

For a shampoo to take on even the dirtiest, smelliest of dogs but gentle enough to soothe and moisturize their skin, our top choice Veterinary Formula Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo.

The Triple Strength Dirty Dog Concentrated Shampoo contains three times more active cleansing ingredients than the average dog shampoo. Free from harsh ingredients and irritating fragrances, this formula contains a variety of foaming agents and natural ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter to leave your dog’s skin healthy and their coat clean.

This shampoo also contains a “dirt repel” formula to keep your dog’s coat cleaner longer.

Despite this shampoo being heavy duty, it is gentle enough that it won’t remove topical flea and tick control products on your dog’s skin or strip away the skin’s natural oils. Also, it can be used frequently, if needed. Always talk with your veterinarian about how often you should shampoo your dog.

The best for sensitive skin

Vets Best dog shampoo

The Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo uses a soap-free, tearless formula that works fast to soothe dry and irritated skin.

Pros: Hypoallergenic formula, soap-free, tearless, cleans and moisturizes sensitive skin and coats, helps relieve itching and dryness, does not interfere with flea and tick products

Cons: Scent may be too strong for some people, may not be effective against severe allergic reactions, not recommended for nursing or pregnant dogs

Seasonal allergies can cause dogs to feel persistently itchy, leading to constant scratching and licking that damages the skin and leaves it vulnerable to infection and other skin problems.

Our top pick for a hypoallergenic dog shampoo that gently cleanses while soothing dry skin and relieving itching is Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo. This soap-free, tearless formula won’t interfere with your dog’s flea and tick control products, either.

Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo removes allergy-inducing substances like pollen from the skin and features natural ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E to soothe itching, relieve allergies, and moisturize dry and brittle coats. It won’t irritate their sensitive skin or leave behind a sticky residue. Plus, it will leave them smelling clean and fresh.

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I clean my dog’s paws with this simple, easy-to-use product – it’s made the process less stressful for me and my dog

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

MudBuster paw cleaner
My dog is prone to allergies and regularly cleaning his paws with the MudBuster is our best defense against them.

  • The MudBuster makes cleaning my dog’s paws easier and faster.
  • I use the MudBuster to clean my dog’s paws after winter walks and after playtime in the yard.
  • I also use this paw cleaner to regularly rinse his feet to help keep his allergies at bay.

If your dogs are anything like mine, they hate having their paws touched. When my German shepherd Silas comes in from playing in our perpetually muddy yard, he becomes very anxious and hangs his head low as I clean off his muddy paws.

In the past, cleaning his paws meant dirtying towel after towel as I tried to wrangle him. Now that we have a Dexas MudBuster Gentle Paw Washer, cleaning his paws is so much easier – for him and for me.

Other than the fact that it’s important for my floors that Silas’ paws stay clean, it’s important for him as well. “Dog paws can be magnets for intestinal parasites, viruses, and other little nasties as they play in the dog park or even just walk through a field, the yard, or any place dogs [go to the bathroom]. This can lead to an intestinal infection with worms or even parvo when they lick or chew their paws. What better reason to wash your dogs’ paws regularly,” said veterinarian Jason Nicholas, BVMS, of Preventative Vet.

In Silas’ case, he is prone to allergies, especially in the summer and fall, and regularly cleaning his paws is our best defense against them. It also saves us from buying costly allergy medication. Dr. Nichols also emphasized the importance of clean paws for dogs with allergies like Silas. “Keeping them clean can decrease the allergen load, which can irritate the skin or even be ingested by licking or chewing on their paws,” he said.

With the MudBuster, I’m more likely to clean Silas’ paws, and it gets his paws cleaner than I get them with a towel.

How the MudBuster works

The MudBuster looks like a cup but has soft silicone bristles inside to gently clean a dog’s paws. When you’re ready to use it, fill it with warm or cool water. Then, put your dog’s paws in the MudBuster one at a time, gently twisting the container and moving it up and down.

Every dog will react to this product differently, so it’s a good idea to introduce it to them without water in case they try to kick it off. It’s also worth noting that there are techniques for making your dog more comfortable being handled. Silas hates to have his paws touched, but he tolerates the MudBuster pretty well.

If you’re dealing with extremely dirty paws, you’ll want to change out the water between paws, or clean all four and then do a second pass with clean water. If your dog stands on a towel while you’re cleaning their paws, you’ll barely even need to dry them when you’re done.

Dexas MudBuster Portable Dog Paw Cleaner2
The MudBuster is easy to use and clean.

When you’re finished, just dump out the dirty water and rinse the MudBuster with clean water. If your dog’s paws were especially dirty or you’ve been using the MudBuster for a while, you can also take it apart to clean it more thoroughly. Simply take off the lid, pull the silicone bristles out, and clean each piece with soap and water.

The MudBuster isn’t only for cleaning muddy paws. When we take Silas on walks in the winter, the roads and sidewalks are always covered with salt and de-icing chemicals, which dry his pads out. We’ve even dealt with cracked and bleeding paw pads in the past (read more about how to care for dry and cracked paw pads here). Now, we always use the MudBuster after winter walks.

The MudBuster comes in three sizes. Silas is a 95-pound German shepherd, and we use the large size for him. MudBuster recommends the medium for medium breeds such as Australian shepherds, boxers, and English bulldogs, and the small for breeds like dachshunds, Pomeranians, and Yorkies. All three sizes are available in blue, green, or pink.

The MudBuster has made paw cleaning less stressful for me and my dog

The MudBuster never ceases to amaze me, first and most importantly because Silas actually lets me clean his feet with it. When I used to clean his feet with a towel, he jerked and squirmed, and corralling a 95-pound dog isn’t easy.

Now that I use the MudBuster, I can still tell that Silas isn’t completely comfortable, but he doesn’t try to wrestle away from me. It makes coming in from outside less stressful for both of us.

The other way the MudBuster amazes me is simply how well it works. Even when I don’t think his paws are that dirty, the water is always very brown, and there’s often sediment left at the bottom of the container.

The bottom line

If you have a dog that likes to spend time outside, the MudBuster is a worthwhile investment. Even if your dog doesn’t mind having their paws touched, this product still makes cleaning them easier and does a better job than a damp cloth.

As Dr. Nichols said, neglecting your dog’s paws leaves them vulnerable to parasites, viruses, damage from foreign objects, and more. By keeping their paws clean, you’re also protecting your family and keeping your home clean. If this is something you struggle to keep up with, the MudBuster will make this arduous task easier and more convenient.

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Unlike the Easter Bunny, these rabbits can’t hop. Scientists have solved the mystery of the ‘hand-standing’ bunnies.

Sauteur d'Alfort rabbits hopping
The typical posture of a Sauteur d’Alfort rabbit when walking.

  • Sauteur d’Alfort rabbits walk on their front legs, as opposed to hopping on their hind legs.
  • Scientists finally have an explanation as to why this species has such a peculiar gait.
  • The ‘hand-standing’ rabbits walk on their forelegs because of a genetic mutation, a PLoS study found.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sauteur d’Alfort rabbits, also known as Alfort jumping rabbits, have a peculiar way of moving.

Instead of hopping on their hind legs, like other bunnies, the Sauteur d’Alfort rabbits lift their back legs from the ground and ‘hand-stand’ on their forelegs.

They then scurry forward on their front paws, maintaining their balance.

Read more: Here are 10 companies hoping to cash in on the boom in edible worms and crickets

Ever since the species was first discovered in 1935, scientists have been baffled as to why the furry creatures are unable to hop or jump like most other rabbits.

Academics from PLoS Genetics– a peer-reviewed scientific journal – now have an explanation, Gizmodo reported.

The unusual gait can be explained by a genetic mutation, the study found.

This species has a warped RORB gene, BBC Newsround said. “This was the only mutation that stood out as really striking,” Miguel Carneiro, an academic at the University of Porto, told the media outlet.

A mutation in the RORB gene can result in the loss of spinal cord interneurons.

“When you move, these neurons fire all the time, they coordinate muscle contractions and know if the other limbs are in balance,” Leif Andersson, a co-author of the study, told Gizmodo. “This coordination of muscle contraction is not correct in these rabbits.”

In the Sauteur D’Alfort rabbits, these interneurons were either less abundant or totally absent, the study said. This, in turn, results in the loss of saltatorial locomotion – the ability to jump or hop.

The hand-standing is a result of the rabbits working around their inability to travel like other species, the study said.

Baby rabbits of this species learn, after a few months, to walk solely on their front legs to compensate for the genetic mutation and consequent spinal defects, the New Scientist said.

It’s unlikely that the quirky gait causes the animals any pain, Gizmodo reported.

The team of 12 scientists solved the mystery of the hand-standing rabbits after an experiment involving the breeding of a Sauteur d’Alfort rabbit with another species that can hop and jump normally, Slate reported.

The scientists then sequenced the DNA of the 50 or so descendants, the Smithsonian Magazine said.

Some of the baby rabbits had hand-standing gaits and scientists were able to identify the mutation in the code at the RORB gene in these animals, the magazine added.

Previous studies have shown that RORB mutations in other animals, such as mice, can interfere with normal movement. RORB-deficient mice waddle like ducks, the PLoS study said.

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21 of the best dog foods in 2021 for puppies, adult dogs, and seniors

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Best dog food brands in 2021
  • There are many excellent dog food brands, but finding the right food for your pet is not so simple.
  • We spoke to veterinarians and an animal nutrition expert who guided us in selecting nutritious dog food.
  • Here are some of the best dog foods, including kibble, canned food, fresh food, and puppy, senior, and grain-free diets.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Choosing a healthy dog food can be an overwhelming process. The brands and formulas we’ve highlighted here are a sampling of the many excellent options available, and each recommendation was evaluated based on standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as well as consultation with veterinary experts. (Products have been independently chosen by us based on our research and years of experience; none were recommended by our experts who maintain impartiality.)

The advice in this guide is tailored to the “average dog” – a sedentary or moderately active dog that is either a healthy weight or slightly overweight, does not have a specific health condition, and is not a working or performance dog. Each dog food was evaluated based on its nutritional adequacy, calorie content, guaranteed analysis, and ingredients.

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.

Not all dogs are the same, so always consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods to their diets.

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

The best adult dry dog food

Dog Food_Adult Dry

Dry dog food is a practical option for many pet owners: It’s cost-effective, has a long shelf life, and is easy to store and serve. Always check a pet food label to ensure the food is AAFCO complete and balanced for your adult dog’s life stage — “maintenance” for adults and “growth” for puppies and pregnant or lactating females. 

For adult dogs, we recommend foods containing moderate protein (the AAFCO minimum is 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat. Pet owners often assume more protein is better since dogs evolved as carnivores, but this is not so, according to Kelly Swanson, PhD, professor of animal and nutritional sciences at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Domestic dogs are actually omnivorous and do not require extremely high protein concentrations in their diet. “From a pet health perspective, the protein quality and digestibility are most important,” he said.

When shopping for dog food, look for meat sources of protein such as whole meats and meat meals at the top of the ingredients list. Complementary proteins like rice and beans may also be included. Swanson likes to see fat concentrations below 20%, although he doesn’t get too concerned about fat content for healthy-weight pets who do not have conditions like pancreatitis or gastrointestinal disease.

Veterinarian W. Jean Dodds, owner of Hemopet Holistic Care Veterinary Clinic, looks for a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods on the list. These include high quality meats or fish, some carbohydrates, a mixture of vegetables, and some fruit, including berries. 

Many foods also contain extra ingredients like omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, probiotics for digestion, and glucosamine, chondroitin, and green-lipped mussels for joint support.

Our picks for adult dry dog food:

The best adult wet dog food

Dog Food_Wet Food

Wet food is particularly appealing to dogs. Pet parents often like it for this reason, and because it has a long shelf life when unopened. 

We selected wet foods that meet AAFCO complete and balanced standards, which are the same as those that apply to dry food. However, wet food generally contains more protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian before switching your dog to a wet diet, especially if they have trouble digesting a lot of protein or fat.

Although the same standards apply to dry and wet food, it can be hard to compare their labels. Kibble has very little moisture, while canned food contains a lot of water. To understand a wet food label, you need to look at the percentages of protein, fat, and fiber on a “dry matter basis.” Read these instructions from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University to calculate them yourself, call the food manufacturer, or ask your veterinarian for help. For the foods below, we contacted the manufacturer.

When shopping, be on the lookout for wet dog food that is 100% meat. More protein might seem like a good thing, but these foods are for supplemental feeding only. “Dogs have evolved from wolves to become obligate omnivores,” said Dodds. This means that they need more than just meat in their diet. Small amounts of meat-only wet foods can make tasty meal toppers for your dog’s complete and balanced dry food.

Our picks for adult wet dog food:

The best fresh dog food

Dog Food_Fresh Food

Fresh dog food is minimally processed, made with wholesome ingredients, often without preservatives, and cooked a short time before your dog eats it. All this means fresh dog food is some of the most expensive food you can buy.

Some dog food companies cook fresh, individually customized food and ship it directly to your door, usually via a subscription. It must be stored in the freezer, thawed in the refrigerator, and fed within a few days of opening the package. 

Always check that the fresh food you plan to feed your dog is AAFCO complete and balanced and not intended for supplemental feeding. Most companies tailor the calorie content of the meals to your specific dog based on weight, breed, and activity level. 

When choosing a healthy fresh dog food, look for the same beneficial ingredients you would for any dog food: meat sources of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, marine sources of fat, and healthy extras like omega fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and probiotics.

Our picks for fresh dog food:

The best budget dog food

Dog Food_Budget

The phrase “you get what you pay for” holds true for dog food. Food made from organic, non-GMO, or human-grade ingredients comes with a premium price tag. 

The good news is, it’s not necessary to go broke to feed your dog a great diet. If you’re looking to spend less, many high-quality dog foods provide excellent nutrition at a lower cost. 

We don’t advise buying the cheapest food available — to keep the price down, such foods contain lower-quality ingredients and more fillers. As with any diet, choose the appropriate food for your dog’s life stage and check for the AAFCO complete and balanced statement on the label.

Our picks for budget dog food:

The best grain-free dog food

Dog Food_Grain Free

Grain-free diets aren’t necessarily superior to diets that contain grains, but they can be helpful for dogs that are allergic or intolerant to specific grains. There is also a misconception that these dog foods are carbohydrate-free, but the necessary carbohydrates just come from non-grain ingredients like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and tapioca.

Something worth mentioning in any discussion about grain-free food is the fact that the FDA continues to investigate a potential link between dogs fed grain-free diets and the development of a heart condition called non-hereditary dilated cardiomyopathy. For now, no firm correlation between grain-free diets and cardiac issues has been scientifically supported. However, it’s possible we may discover more in the future. Always talk to your veterinarian about feeding your dog a grain-free diet.

Our picks for grain-free dog food:

The best dry puppy food

Dog Food_Puppy

Puppy foods are formulated to be energy-dense, which means they are higher in fat and calories to fuel growing bodies. 

To ensure the food you’re considering is appropriate for puppies, check the label for an AAFCO complete and balanced statement that says it’s intended for growth for all life stages. A food labeled “maintenance” is only intended for adult dogs.

Some puppy foods are made specially for small breeds or large and giant breeds, but there aren’t any official AAFCO nutrient standards for these designations. “Balancing the nutrient needs of dogs given their wide size variety and ages is wise and common sense,” said Dodds.

Small breed puppy foods usually have a smaller kibble size for smaller mouths and are often slightly higher in calories to account for the higher metabolisms of these breeds. Puppy foods for large and giant breeds generally contain more protein; less fat; fewer calories; and an ideal balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to encourage slower growth to support joint health and prevent obesity.

Our picks for puppy food:

The best dry senior dog food

Dog Food_Senior Dog

Senior diets are intended for the unique needs of older dogs. “Senior diets are formulated to target some of the common ailments of older pets, such as joint health, digestive health, immune health, and possibly others,” said Swanson. 

These diets may contain higher amounts of protein, higher quality protein to maintain muscle, fiber to aid in fecal elimination, additional antioxidants to limit oxidative stress and aid in immune response, and additional omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive performance.

Since older dogs are often less active, these diets typically contain fewer calories. Some foods are also lower in protein, but contrary to popular belief, healthy senior dogs may actually benefit from more protein than younger adult dogs. If your dog does not have health conditions, look for a senior diet that is lower in fat and calories and contains extra protein — the AAFCO minimum protein for adult dogs is 18%.

Our picks for senior dog food:

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).

Here are the main attributes we looked for, in order of importance:

AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement: The most important benchmark of a healthy dog food is a statement on the label that says it meets the nutritional standards established by the AAFCO, demonstrating that the food is complete and balanced for the dog’s life stage. All foods mentioned in this guide are AAFCO complete and balanced. Read more about those standards and definitions in the next slide.

Guaranteed analysis: The guaranteed analysis lists the percentages of the most vital nutrients in the food: protein, fat, fiber, and moisture. Sometimes, other nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids are also listed in the guaranteed analysis. Foods selected in this guide contain moderate to high protein (AAFCO minimums are 22% for puppies and 18% for adults) and low to moderate fat (AAFCO minimums are 8.5% for puppies and 5.5% for adults).

Ingredients list: The ingredients list can be tricky to navigate, especially when taking water content into account, but in general, you want to see clearly identified animal sources of protein at the top of the list. Whole meat is great, but it is heavier due to its moisture content. Once that water is removed, the meat content might not be as high as you think. Don’t automatically write off meat meals. High-quality meat meals can be an excellent source of protein — the water has been removed, so they may provide more protein than whole meat. The ingredients lists of all the foods in this guide contain animal sources of protein at the top of the list.

Healthy extras: According to Swanson, some foods contain extra ingredients intended to support healthy skin, coat, and joints. Some of these may include additional long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA; usually supplied by marine-based oils or meals), omega-6 fatty acids (safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed, etc.), glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussels, and additional vitamins (vitamin A, biotin) and minerals (zinc, copper). Probiotics, prebiotics, and yeast fermentation products may also boost gut health.

Calorie content: The calorie content of dog food is listed in kilocalories, or k/cals. When dogs consume too many calories, they are at risk for becoming overweight or obese. Less-active dogs need fewer calories and very active dogs like performance or working dogs need a food that is more calorie dense. For most dogs, being able to eat the largest volume of food while staying within the ideal daily calorie range will help them feel more satisfied. In general, such foods rated higher in our selection process. Check out this calorie calculator to determine how many calories your dog needs. Your veterinarian can also evaluate if the amount you’re feeding is appropriate.

Feeding trials: It’s great if a food has undergone feeding trials in addition to a laboratory analysis of the food’s ingredients. If the nutritional adequacy statement on the label has language like “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [product] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [life stage]” it means the food has been proven via feeding trials to be palatable, digestible, and able sustain pets over time.  

Expert formulations: Choose a pet food manufacturer that works closely with a veterinary nutritionist or other professional with a master’s degree or PhD in nutrition, animal science, or a related field. Manufacturers may employ one or more full-time nutritionists, or hire one or more nutrition consultants. For this guide, we prioritized brands that have a dedicated nutrition expert on staff to align with WSAVA recommendations.

Next-level ingredients: Seeing natural, organic, or human-grade ingredients on the label is nice, especially if you believe in the health benefits of organic foods. Wild-caught fish are as natural as you can get and, unlike farmed fish, are not treated with antibiotics or medications. Some foods use eggs and meat from cage-free chickens and turkeys, which is a bonus if you care about the welfare of the animals you — and your pets — eat. That said, ingredients in dog food need not be human-grade, organic, wild-caught, or cage-free to be healthy and nutritious for pets.

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

Dog Food_Read Pet Food Label

Dog food packages feature attractive images and targeted descriptions intended to sell you on the quality and healthfulness of the food, but if you really want to know whether a dog food is high quality and a good choice for your dog, learn what to look for on the label.

A great place to start is this handy reference from the WSAVA about interpreting food labels. The most important information to look for on a label is the AAFCO complete and balanced statement, the guaranteed analysis (crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, and moisture), and the calorie content statement.

The ingredients list is also important, but it can be difficult for the average pet owner to know how well their dog will do on a diet just based off the ingredients.

“Although many pet owners make their decision based largely on the ingredient panel, it is only one of many considerations,” Swanson said. “Without knowing the exact formula and percentage of each ingredient, it is not too useful. What is more important is that the dietary formula is complete and balanced.”

Certain terms on pet food labels can be confusing and even misleading. “Terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are very common in the industry today,” Swanson said. “While both terms were intended to highlight higher quality ingredients, they do not guarantee high quality.” He explained that quality depends on both the raw ingredients and good manufacturing practices. “Like other ingredients that do not carry these terms, they are highly variable due to differences in soil quality (plants), feed quality (animals), ingredient storage, ingredient handling, etc.,” he said.

If you find reading pet food labels confusing, your veterinarian can talk to you about your dog’s individual needs, help you choose an appropriate food, and advise how much to feed.

FAQs about dog food

FAQs about dog food

What is the best food I can feed my dog?

It’s important to find a food your dog likes eating and thrives on, but this may involve a bit of trial and error. Individual dogs digest food differently. Some dogs do better with more protein, some need less. Some dogs can tolerate higher levels of fat; others need less. Dogs also handle amounts of fiber differently. Your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist can help you sort out what diet will work best for your dog.

“Dogs are individuals,” said veterinarian Carol Osborne, of the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. “What works well for Dog A, might not work well for Dog B. If you want to know if a food is good for your pet, look at your pet. Your pet is a reflection of what he or she is eating.”

Outward signs of good health include clear eyes and nose, ears that aren’t smelly, and a coat that isn’t dry, flakey, or shedding excessively. Your dog should not be vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. “Soft stool is not normal,” Osborne said. “Bowel movements should be formed and homogenous. You should not be able to make out the pea, the piece of corn, the carrot. [Homogenous stool] means the food has all been digested.”

What is human-grade dog food?

Pet foods that use the term “human-grade” must follow strict rules. The term may only be used if it applies to the finished food as a whole — not individual ingredients. Both the ingredients and finished product must be documented to be stored, handled, processed, and transported according to the current good manufacturing practices for human-edible foods, and the label must clearly state that the food is intended for dogs.

Swanson has tested a few human-grade pet foods in his lab over the years. “While I don’t have a strong preference to any one type or brand of diet, I can say that the human-grade foods I have had experience with are highly palatable, highly digestible, and resulted in a low volume of stool that allowed for easy clean up,” he said.

Is a raw diet good for my dog?

A raw diet consists of uncooked meat, bones, and vegetables. Raw pet food poses dangers to both dogs and humans. Veterinarians told Insider Reviews that despite some reported benefits, there are too many risks for pets, including bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, and injuries from bones in the food. In addition, people who are immunocompromised, elderly people, and young children are at risk of bacterial infections if they live in a household where a dog is fed a raw diet. For more information, read the statements from the FDA and CDC regarding the health and safety risks of feeding raw dog foods.

Our 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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The 5 best dog buttons to teach your pet to communicate in 2021

  • Speech pathologists use recordable buttons to communicate with nonverbal individuals.
  • These buttons that record and play sound can also help a dog to communicate their needs and wants.
  • We chose the best dog buttons, including budget and light-up versions.

Cognitive scientists and speech pathologists use pressable buttons – each representing an action, place, or object – to communicate with nonverbal individuals. Dogs can use the method, too. By pressing buttons onto which a word or sound has been recorded, a dog can learn to “speak” in simple phrases like “play” and “outside.” Give them enough buttons and they can communicate their thoughts on almost everything. Get started with a beginner’s set of four to six buttons. For this guide, we’ve selected the best options, including budget, fully customizable, and light-up versions.

Here are the best dog buttons in 2021

The best dog buttons overall

Fluent Pet Get Started Kit dog buttons
A dog button system developed by a cognitive scientist

Fluent Pet’s Get Started Kit comes with six buttons and three nonslip tiles for organizing words and actions.

What we like: Fully customizable, comes with tiles to keep buttons organized, batteries included

Fluent Pet’s Get Started Kit was designed by a cognitive scientist to foster better communication between verbal and nonverbal individuals. The battery-operated system works for dogs, too, as proven by two canine learners, Bunny and Stella, who have amassed hundreds of thousands of social media followers. The kit comes with everything you need to teach your dog to “talk,” including six buttons that have microphones for recording words and 67 stickers to identify the buttons visually. The buttons fit into three nonslip hexagonal tiles: one for actions, one for objects, and one for places. The tiles can be put together in multiple configurations and easily disassembled or added to. The kit arrives ready-to-use with batteries and a starter guide.

The best budget dog buttons

learning resources dog buttons
Budget-friendly buttons that speech pathologists use to communicate with nonverbal individuals

Learning Resources Recordable Answer Buzzers are an affordable way to begin teaching a dog to use their words.

What we like: Includes four buttons in different colors, easy to press, comes with activity guide

Learning Resources Recordable Answer Buzzers, a tool that speech pathologists use to communicate with nonverbal individuals, are an affordable way to begin teaching a dog to “talk.” The set comes with four easy-to-press 3-inch-diameter buttons in four different colors. Each button is powered by two AAA batteries and can record up to seven seconds of sound. Batteries are not included, but the set arrives with an activity guide to help you get started.

The best customizable dog buttons

talking tiles dog buttons
A set that can be fully customized with sound and pictures

Talking Products Talking Tiles are fully customizable with transparent covers and up to 80 seconds of recording time.

What we like: Fully customizable, can record sound using a computer or smartphone, includes six buttons in different colors

The six buttons included in Talking Products Talking Tiles can be fully customized with audio messages and images. Each 4-inch-wide hexagonal button holds up to 80 seconds of audio recorded with a built-in microphone or via a smartphone or computer using the audio-input jack. Further customize each button by adding a picture or symbol underneath the transparent cover. Each button runs on three AAA batteries, which must be purchased separately.

The best light-up dog buttons

Ritioner's Learning Answer Buzzers dog buttons
An excellent choice for dogs who are hard of hearing

Ritioner’s Learning Answer Buzzers play sound and light up simultaneously each time they are pressed.

What we like: Light-up buttons, easy to press, records up to 30 seconds of sound

Ritioner’s Learning Answer Buzzers are durable plastic buttons that glow with LED light when pressed. While this feature can be a useful cue for teaching any dog to communicate, it’s especially helpful for those who are hard of hearing. For hearing dogs, these four differently colored, easy-to-press buttons can also record up to 30 seconds of sound. Each buzzer runs on two AAA batteries, which are sold separately.

The best potty button

Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0
An indoor or outdoor potty button with 38 bell tones and 4 volume settings

The Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0 works indoors or out so your dog can communicate when they need to potty or when they want to come in.

What we like: Easy to press, 38 customizable bell tones, can be used indoors or out, 90-day money-back guarantee

Teach your dog how to communicate when they need to go outside with the Mighty Paw Smart Bell 2.0. The bell consists of a plug-in receiver and an easy-to-press activator button. The 2-inch-diameter wireless activator button can be placed anywhere within 1,000 feet of the receiver using a 3M adhesive strip. The water-resistant button can even be placed outside for dogs who need to let you know when they’re ready to come in. To adjust the sound of the bell, choose from four volumes and 38 different ring tones. The Mighty Paw Smart Bell also comes with a training guide to help you get started and a self-charging battery is built into the device.

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Chewy shares leap 13% after surprise swing to quarterly profit

Chewy Taco Cat Halloween Costume
  • Chewy shares climbed by 13% Wednesday following the fourth-quarter results from the pet-products seller.
  • The company swung to a profit of $0.05 a share, surprising analysts who had expected a loss of $0.10 a share.
  • Chewy’s first-quarter sales forecast of $2.11 billion to $2.13 billion was above Wall Street’s target.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of Chewy jumped Wednesday after the online pet-products retailer unexpectedly swung to a fourth-quarter profit, bolstered by millions of more people last year who took on duties of caring for animals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company late Tuesday posted fourth-quarter earnings of $0.05 a share, compared with expectations for a loss of $0.10 a share in a survey of analysts by Refinitiv. A year earlier, Chewy posted a per-share loss of $0.15.

Sales of $2.04 billion beat Wall Street’s target of $1.96 billion as the company dealt with “surging volume”. Sales a year ago were $1.35 billion.

Chewy shares climbed by 13% to $90.95, a move that sets up the stock to trim its year-to-date loss to less than 1%. The stock price began to decelerate in early February but it’s more than doubled from about $36 over the past 12 months.

The company added 5.7 million net active customers in 2020, representing 42.7% annual growth. It also said it widened its product offerings to include gift cards, personalized items, and vet services. “Pet adoptions surged in 2020 as millions of homebound people and families sought out the comfort, companionship, and joy of pet parenthood” during the pandemic, the company said.

Chewy forecast first-quarter sales of $2.11 billion to $2.13 billion, higher than the average analyst forecast of $2.07 billion.

Wedbush analysts on Wednesday raised their price target to $100 from $90 and reiterated their outperform rating on Chewy following the company’s “solid earnings beat, above-consensus guidance, and a path to a 2021 beat and even higher long-term earnings power.”

Chewy’s cofounder and former chief executive, Ryan Cohen, is leading a turnaround effort at video game retailer and Reddit-community favorite GameStop.

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The 5 best dog raincoats in 2021, according to professional dog walkers and our testing

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • We consulted five professional dog walkers to find out what’s most important in a dog raincoat.
  • According to our experts, the best dog raincoats have belly coverage and put function over style.

Many dogs hate rain. Even those with fur thick enough to protect them from stinging cold rain hate the stuff, let alone those with little to no fur. In my decade of experience as a professional dog trainer, I’ve found a raincoat is a necessity for getting many a dog out for a walk on rainy days and saving them from total wet-dog misery.

To learn about what features to look for in a dog raincoat, we went straight to the professional dog walkers who spend their days in weather of all types. With their preferences and criteria in mind, we came up with a list of 11 jackets to test. Our choice for best overall dog raincoat, the Ruffwear Sun Shower Rain Jacket, not only provides waterproof coverage for the whole body, its nylon exterior helps to prevent mud from collecting on its surface.

Here are the best dog raincoats in 2021

Updated on 3/26/2021: We rewrote this guide after extensive research, expert interviews, and testing.

The best raincoat overall

Ruffwear Sun Shower Dog Raincoat

The Ruffwear Sun Shower Dog Raincoat has all of the features a dog needs to stay dry and none of the less-functional features they don’t.

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective piping for visibility, mud repellent, multiple sizes, machine washable

Cons: Harness must be worn over the jacket, limited color options

The vest-style Ruffwear Sun Shower Dog Raincoat keeps dogs dry in both summer showers and winter storms.

Two of the experts we consulted — Fern De Santos, owner of A Dog’s Life HTX in Houston, and Matthew Condrin, owner of Urban Canines in San Francisco — love Ruffwear’s canine apparel. Our testing confirmed its quality.

The Sun Shower has a number of elements De Santos looks for in a dog rain jacket. First off, the lightweight jacket is unlined and uninsulated, so it can be worn in warm weather or layered with a sweater in colder temperatures. The vest-style raincoat slips over the head and buckles on either side of the belly, providing good coverage from puddle splashes and mud. It also has a wide collar and reflective piping to keep pups visible in low light.

In our cleaning test, the Sun Shower did better than most in preventing mud from clinging to the exterior fabric. When machine washed and hung to dry, it came out completely clean.

The only thing we don’t like is that there’s no hole at the back to attach a leash or harness. It is low profile enough, however, to put a harness on over top.

While it’s not as affordable as some of the jackets we considered, the Sun Shower is a great price for the quality and durability Ruffwear is known for.

The best budget raincoat

blueberry pet dog raincoat

The affordable Blueberry Pet Two-Legged Reflective Dog Raincoat has significant belly coverage and reflective piping to keep your pup dry and visible in wet weather.

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective piping for visibility, four points of adjustment, mud repellent, comes with carry sack, multiple sizes

Cons: Hooded, dogs who are sensitive to handling may have difficulty with fitted legs, handwash only, limited color options

Blueberry Pet’s Two-Legged Reflective Dog Raincoat is proof that excellent canine rain gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This lightweight polyester jacket repelled mud better than all but one of the other raincoats we tested.

It protects a dog’s undercarriage, including the front legs and chest, a feature most of the walkers look for. It also comes in a four-legged version, which may be better for extremely wet climates or dogs who need extra warmth.

This raincoat fastens from neck to ribs with a Velcro closure and has four points of drawstring adjustment. Its hood may seem functional, but it’s something our experts avoid. “They annoy the dogs by sometimes covering their eyes and interfere with leashing — plus they rarely stay up,” said Condrin.

The Blueberry Pet Raincoat also has reflective piping and accents, a hole at the back for attaching a leash to a harness, and elastic straps that can be used to keep the end of the jacket in place while walking. We found it wiped completely clean just using a dry cloth. After handwashing, it dried quickly and looked brand new. When not in use, it can be packed into its drawstring stuff sack and stashed away.

The best raincoat for small breeds

Canada Pooch Torrential Tracker

The Torrential Tracker’s size range, combined with a slim fit and a soft lining, make this the ideal rain jacket to keep little dogs from getting soaked.  

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective trim for visibility, comes in 11 sizes, machine washable

Cons: Runs a little small, collects mud easily, only two colors available

Finding a raincoat that fits a small dog without overwhelming them with too much fabric can be a challenge. But at Canada Pooch, where the Torrential Tracker Raincoat is made in sizes as short as 7 inches long, the science of canine apparel is an art.

The Torrential Tracker is made from a slick waterproof polyester reminiscent of classic, ducky-yellow children’s rain gear. It has holes for the front legs and a double Velcro closure that runs from chest to ribs, a feature that Leah King, owner of Happy Tramps in San Francisco prefers. “Velcro closures at the neck and chest make it easy to get a custom fit and to take the jacket on and off without sliding anything over their head,” she said.

An expandable collar can provide extra coverage for the back of the neck. Inside, the jacket’s soft fabric lining helps keep a pup toasty in cold weather. The material is less breathable than some of the raincoats we considered and may be a bit warm for summer storms.

The jacket also has a hole at the back for connecting a leash to a harness and two small pockets at the hind end for stashing poop bags or an ID. The lower portion of the jacket is trimmed in reflective piping. The Torrential Tracker is machine washable, which is ideal since mud spread on it quite easily.

While the length of the jacket we tested is as advertised, it has a tighter fit than other jackets of the same size. If you have a dog with a broad chest or who’s packing some extra pounds, definitely size up.

The best raincoat for freezing rain

Teckelklub Winter Trench Waterproof Dog Coat

With its highly functional design, the fleece-lined Teckelklub Winter Trench Waterproof Dog Coat will protect dogs of all shapes and sizes  from cold, wind, and rain.

Pros: Waterproof, reflective trim for visibility, fleece lined, multiple sizes and color options, machine washable, dryer-safe

Cons: Partial belly coverage, harness must be worn over the jacket, collects mud easily

When rain comes with a healthy dose of wind and cold, the fleece-lined Teckelklub Winter Trench Waterproof Dog Coat keeps dogs not just dry, but warm too.

King is a fan of the Teckelklub Winter Trench, which has a simple wraparound design with a broad collar. The jacket fastens with Velcro at the neck and with a wide strap under the belly. While that’s the only belly coverage it provides, it is a good option for sensitive dogs because it does not need to be slipped over the head or legs. “Some jackets have a pullover design and many dogs are not comfortable putting them on,” explained Jeff Chebul, owner of Ranger’s Squadron in San Francisco.

The raincoat is made from 100% waterproof nylon and the entire perimeter is trimmed in 3M reflective piping. It does not have a hole at the back for attaching a leash to a harness, but the jacket is slim-fitting enough for one to be worn on top.

Although this raincoat collected a significant amount of mud, it easily wiped clean, and after machine washing and hanging it to dry, it came out looking brand new. It will also stand up to machine drying in low heat.

It can be embroidered with a monogram or your dog’s name or phone number for an additional $15.

The best raincoat for wet outdoor adventures

Best dog raincoats in 2021

The Hurtta Monsoon Coat provides full coverage and freedom of movement for all-day adventures in the rain.

Pros: Waterproof, significant belly coverage, reflective trim for visibility, three points of adjustability, many sizes, machine washable

Cons: Limited color options

Hurtta’s Monsoon Coat will keep weekend warriors comfortable and dry no matter what the weather has in store. The brand  is expert at producing jackets that won’t compromise movement or weigh down an athletic pup. 

The Monsoon Coat has the most coverage of any of the raincoats we tested, with the exception of the brand’s Rain Blocker, and the collar is built with a flexible rain trap that prevents water from seeping in. Drawstrings adjust the fit at the collar, shoulders, and hips. The wraparound buckle design allows adjustment around the belly and elastic leg loops at the back end hold the jacket in place. While getting the jacket properly fitted can be a bit of a hassle, De Santos said it’s worth it for the great coverage.

This jacket has reflective accents from head to tail and a covered loop for attaching a leash to a harness worn underneath. It did a good job repelling mud and cleaned up well with machine washing and air-drying. It also comes in four colors, including an ECO version made from soft recycled material.

With far more coverage than our overall best pick, the Ruffwear Sun Shower, the Monsoon Coat will keep a dog’s entire torso dry even after multiple hours hiking in the rain without restricting movement. While this jacket is among the most expensive we tested, it’s extremely durable and likely to last a lifetime.

What else we considered

dog rain jackets

With the help of the professional dog walkers we consulted, we narrowed down the crowded field of dog raincoats to to 11 options. Here’s why six of them failed to make the cut:

RC Pets Packable Rain Poncho: Fontaine likes pairing this affordable, lightweight rain poncho with a doggy sweater for cool, wet weather. It performed well in our tests, drying more quickly and collecting mud less easily than most other brands. It was its lack of belly coverage,  that kept it from the top spot in our budget raincoat category.

Pepper Pet Wear Basset Hound Dog Raincoat: This customizable rain jacket is meant for dogs with unique proportions such as long bodies and broad chests. The custom design and high-quality fabrics made this one of the two most expensive jackets we tested. Unfortunately, the jacket didn’t quite fit when it arrived, but the brand will make additional alterations free of charge.

Wildebeest All Weather Dog Jacket: Although attractively designed and lined with soft microfleece, this jacket was not completely waterproof and had minimal belly coverage. In our soak test, water seeped through a strip of webbing that runs along the spine and moistened the interior lining.

Ruffwear Vert Dog Jacket: This is another great rain jacket by Ruffwear. The fit is similar to the Ruffwear Sun Shower but with the addition of warm fleece lining, a leash hole, and elastic loops for the back legs. But the Vert is significantly more expensive than our other fleece-lined option, the Teckelklub Winter Trench, and it requires slipping the jacket over the head, which may trouble handling-sensitive dogs.

Hurtta Rain Blocker ECO Raincoat: This waterproof jacket made from recycled plastic bottles provides excellent coverage of the chest, belly, and front legs and comes in 10 sizes with several points of adjustment. Its design, which includes leg holes and a long zipper down the side, made it a major challenge to get on and off.  

Kurgo Portsmouth Foul Weather Rain Jacket: I liked the design of Kurgo’s rain jacket which, like Ruffwear’s Sun Shower, is a vest style with buckles on either side of the belly. But by the end of the testing period this jacket had gone from looking brand new to shabby. 

What we are looking forward to

Some of the raincoats identified by our experts or in our research as possible contenders for this guide did not arrive in time to be included. We look forward to testing the following jackets in the future.

WeatherBeeta 300D Deluxe Reflective Jacket: This waterproof jacket wraps around the chest and belly to protect a dog from water and mud. It comes in 12 sizes, from 10- to 32-inches long, and two bright colors accented with reflective material.

Petcee Waterproof Dog Jacket: This ultra-affordable raincoat is lined with fleece and covers both the chest and belly. Built-in elastic helps to assure the right fit in 13 sizes.

How we tested

testing dog rain jackets

We tested 11 different raincoats based on recommendations from professional dog walkers. The jackets were provided as review samples by their manufacturers, with the exception of the Blueberry Pet, Canada Pooch, Pepper Pet, Wildebeest, and Teckelclub coats, which Insider purchased.

Due to dry weather and COVID-19 restrictions, I was unable to test these jackets on dogs of multiple shapes and sizes in real rainy weather. Instead, I came up with a few tests to simulate the rainy conditions. 

Fit test: I was able to verify the measurements of each by assessing their length from shoulder to tail and their girth, the width of the jacket at the chest’s widest point. I took note of any jackets that differed from their advertised size or that appeared to fit more tightly than expected.

Soak test: The soak test illustrated how each raincoat would stand up under heavy rain. Using leftover two-by-fours, we constructed a wooden dog with a belly 13 inches off the ground and a length of 20 inches. When Woody was ready, I wrapped a dry towel around its belly and dressed it in each jacket. I sprinkled the dog and raincoat with water from a hose for two minutes, then carefully removed the jacket to look for any spots where the water had seeped through. I also checked the interior lining of the jacket to see if moisture had penetrated without actually wetting the towel.

Cleaning test: The cleaning test had three parts. First, I wiped a handful of mud on the exterior of each jacket and let it dry overnight. Next, I attempted to wipe off the mud using a clean, dry cloth. Finally, I washed the raincoat according to the manufacturer’s instructions, looking for any stains or other changes in the material.

How to fit your dog for a raincoat

Dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes that fitting one for a raincoat can be a lengthy process of trial and error. Since there’s no such thing as universal sizing, what one brand considers a small could easily be considered large by a competitor. So what’s the best way to get the right fit? Grab a measuring tape and follow our instructions.

Length: The primary dimension used to determine the size of a raincoat is the length of a dog’s back. Measure your dog from top of tail to shoulder blades while they are standing in a relaxed position. If your measurement falls between sizes, size up. Some brands may recommend a specific size for certain breeds. This may be helpful, but don’t go by their suggestions alone as sizes can vary among a single breed.

Chest girth: Dog raincoats are also commonly measured by chest girth. This is an important figure to get right because many jackets are not adjustable around the chest. That’s doubly true if you have a broad- or barrel-chested pup. To get this figure, measure the circumference of your dog’s chest while they are standing in a relaxed position, wrapping the tape right behind the legs at the chest’s widest point. If your dog’s chest girth falls between sizes, choose the larger option, especially if your dog does a lot of running and jumping. A highly active dog may benefit from a jacket that is an inch or two wider than their actual measurement because it will allow their front legs more freedom of movement.

Neck girth: To make sure your jacket won’t be too tight around the neck, measure around the thickest part right below the collar. This is particularly important if the coat’s neck does not have an adjustable opening. When in doubt, size up!

Drop: Occasionally brands offer a drop measurement to help you get the right fit. The drop is how low a jacket hangs on a dog’s body and legs. Too long and it may restrict movement; too short, your pup may end up wet by the end of a walk. Your dog’s raincoat should extend no more than halfway down the leg. To figure out how a jacket will lay on your dog, compare half its width to the distance between the top of your dog’s tail to the ankle of their hind leg just above the paw.

How do you walk your dog on a rainy day?

If your dog hates to leave the house when the rain starts to fall, these tips for wet-weather walking will make sure you get their most important daily needs met.

Get the right gear.

Make rainy day walks more enjoyable by getting your pup the right gear to keep them dry. A properly fitted raincoat that covers both the chest and belly will prevent your dog from splashing water against the most sensitive parts of their body. If your dog has sensitive paws, you may also want to consider getting them a set of dog boots.

Plan ahead.

Unless the forecast calls for extreme weather, most rainy days have at least a couple of periods in which showers slow to a sprinkle. Use a weather tracking app or website to help you predict when a storm will lighten up.

Encourage, don’t force.

Even if you have the right rain gear for your pup, they may still avoid the rain at all costs. These dogs will likely require an extra incentive. Before getting ready to go, stuff your pockets full of treats and begin offering them before you’ve stepped out the door. If putting on rain gear predicts that treats will follow, your dog will be more likely to allow you to get them dressed. Use your treats to entice your dog out the door instead of forcing them to go out into the rain, which will only make them more frightened and stressed-out.

Play the Find It game.

Once outside, keep the treats flowing. Try encouraging your dog to walk with the Find It game. Throw a treat a few feet in front of your dog and say “Find It” in a happy tone of voice. Let them gobble up the treat then throw your next one, repeating the phrase. Play the game as much as necessary during the walk to get your pup’s mind off of the water falling from the sky.

Don’t expect a regular walk. 

Even with plenty of treats and encouragement, dogs who really hate the rain aren’t likely to want to stay outdoors for long. If they go potty and then refuse to go any farther, that’s okay. Bring them back inside and make up the missed exercise with play or training indoors. Read more on backup plans below.

Stick to quiet streets.

On rainy days, when cars zoom through puddles, the busier the street, the louder it will be. And the more noise, the more frightened your dog is likely to feel — not to mention all that potential for being splashed by passing vehicles. When it’s raining, stick to quieter streets where there is less noise and where it is less likely you and your dog will get soaked.

Avoid walking at night. 

It can be a huge challenge for drivers to see dogs on dark, wet nights. When it’s raining, stay safe by taking your daily walks before the sun sets. If you must go out in the rain at night, stick to well-lit areas and avoid busy streets.

Have a backup plan. 

If your dog refuses to walk in the rain, you’ll need a backup plan to get their daily exercise and toileting needs met. Both training and play inside the home is a good alternative and can include multiple 5-to-10 minute training sessions, games of hide-and-seek, indoor fetch with a soft toy, and mental stimulation via puzzle toys. For the latter, you may have to get creative. Try a fresh grass indoor potty or select a sheltered location immediately outside your home where your dog can quickly do their business, then come back inside.

Be gentle with post-walk drying.

Whether you’ve managed to get your dog out on a long walk or a short one, it’s likely that their paws, head, and belly will need a bit of toweling off. Unfortunately, these are also some of the most sensitive parts of a dog’s body. Unless you have a dog that loves to be wrapped up in a towel, be gentle and go slow when wiping them down. It may help to ask them to lay down so you can easily access their paws without knocking them off balance. Reward them for each body part you towel off. Each foot earns one treat, each ear earns another, and the belly gets two. Don’t be surprised if your dog gets the zoomies after being dried off. It’s a natural release of pent-up energy that commonly occurs after a stressful experience.

Who we consulted

To come up with the selections for this guide, we consulted with five professional dog walkers. Each answered questions via email or instant messenger between September 2020 and February 2021. Our experts include:

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The 5 best carpet cleaners in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Carpet cleaners for home use allow you to remove stains and dirt without having to call in a professional.
  • Some cleaners can be used on multiple surfaces such as upholstery, tile floors, and even in your car.
  • Our top pick, is lightweight, easy to use, and fast-drying, making it ideal for home use.

Pets, kids, and just general wear and tear can leave your carpeting looking lackluster, but hiring professional carpet cleaners can get expensive and time-consuming. Instead of calling the pros, buying a carpet cleaner can be a sound investment, keeping your carpet (and in some cases, your upholstery) in good shape. In the best cases, a good carpet cleaner can even buy you extra years before you have to recarpet.

We’ve evaluated and selected the best carpet cleaners for their overall performance, versatility, durability, ease of use, and value. The products in this guide can tackle stains, ground-in dirt, and more, leaving your carpeting looking refreshed and revitalized. They’re easy to operate right in your home and available at a variety of price points. There are even a few options that are suitable if you’re tight on space or just need a carpet cleaner that’s quick and easy to use.

Here are the best carpet cleaners in 2021

The best overall

Bissel carpet cleaner

Suitable for both carpeting and upholstery, the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro features an Express Clean Mode that can dry carpeting in as little as 30 minutes. 

Pros: Shorter drying-time option, dual brush rollers, removable roller cover, targeted spot pretreating, pet upholstery tool

Cons: Doesn’t include an actual heat function

The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro is a versatile carpet cleaner that can tackle carpeting, upholstery, and area rugs while also meeting the challenge of cleaning stains in homes with pets. Weighing just 19 pounds, this cleaner is easy to wheel through your home, and its 1-gallon tank capacity allows for plenty of continuous cleaning. It also has an 11-inch wide cleaning path that allows you to cover a significant area in a single pass.

The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro carpet cleaner has many features that make for easy use and impressive performance, and it’s designed to tackle stains with low physical exertion. It’s also designed for the challenges of cleaning up after pets. Its two-in-one handheld pet upholstery tool features both a dry and a wet mode to remove pet hair and odors. 

While you can use the Max Clean Mode for embedded dirt and stains, the Express Clean Mode provides a lighter, faster cleaning. According to Bissell, the Express Clean Mode can dry in as little as 30 minutes. This mode is ideal when you’re in a hurry or have to try to keep kids off of the carpet as it dries.

The handheld tool and the cleaner’s generously sized 8-foot hose can go where the body of this carpet cleaner can’t, allowing you to tackle upholstered furniture, tough-to-access spaces in your rooms, pet beds, vehicle upholstery, and more. 

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining the unit itself, the brush rollers feature a removable cover, allowing you to easily access the rollers for hair removal and maintenance.

The best for big jobs

Big Green carpet cleaner

The Bissell Big Green Machine Professional Carpet Cleaner with dual 1.75 gallon tanks offers serious stain-removing power to tackle big jobs.

Pros: Offers powerful cleaning, long-reach hose makes cleaning stairs easy, strong enough to remove deep stains, two generously sized tanks allow for longer cleaning between refills

Cons: A little bulky, heavy when filled with water

The Bissell Big Green Machine Professional Carpet Cleaner is a powerful carpet cleaner ideal for tackling cleaning jobs without having to rent a professional cleaner. This machine is equipped with an extra-large power brush, which scrubs and removes deeply embedded dirt and stains both as you push the unit forward and as you pull it backward, saving you time and maximizing efficiency.

With a cleaning path of 10.5 inches, it also allows you to quickly clean larger areas. When you pull the trigger on the handle, the cleaner sprays out a water-and-formula solution that the power brush scrubs into the carpet.

This Bissell Big Green Machine comes with a 25-foot cord and a 9-foot spot cleaning hose, allowing you to access tight spots like carpeted stairs. Its 6-inch-wide Tough Stain Tool allows you to spray and scrub stains in spots the main body unit can’t access, like upholstery, pet beds, and more.

The flow indicator allows you to monitor and recognize when it’s time to add water and detergent. This machine’s large capacity dual 1.75-gallon tanks allow you to clean an entire room before pausing to empty the dirty water tank and refill the clean water tank. Plus, the design of the cleaner, with an anti-tip wide base, helps to keep the machine stable.

While the Bissell Big Green Machine is powerful and similar to rental cleaners, it’s compact enough to be stored away in a closet. It’s one of the heavier carpet cleaners, though, weighing 41 pounds. 

The best on a budget

Hoover carpet cleaner

The Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner is lightweight and powerful, and while it’s full of features, it’s still offered at a highly affordable price.

Pros: Compact upright design saves space, lightweight, low profile foot allows you to clean underneath furniture and tight spaces

Cons: Smaller water reservoir requires frequent filling, some users found the cleaner doesn’t pick up enough water

If you’re living in an apartment or small house and only have occasional carpet cleaning needs, you don’t want a large, bulky carpet cleaner taking up valuable storage space. The Hoover PowerDash Pet Carpet Cleaner is compact, has an upright design, measuring 15.2 inches by 10.1 inches by 43.5 inches. It offers a 10-inch cleaning path and can hold up to half a gallon of clean water at a time, yet weighs only 12.5 pounds.

This cleaner is equipped with many valuable features that make it efficient and easy to use. One of its better features is the HeatForce, which applies hot air to the carpet that you’re cleaning to speed drying. It also has an antimicrobial SpinScrub Brush System, a patented system that is treated with antimicrobial materials. As the brushes rotate and clean dirt from the carpet, these antimicrobial materials help to keep odor and bacteria from developing in the brushes and in the carpet cleaner. 

The dual tank system is easy to fill, empty, and rinse and keeps the clean water separated from the dirty water for more effective cleaning. One of the most convenient designs is the low-profile foot, which allows you to fit this carpet cleaner underneath furniture to access stains almost anywhere.

The best steam cleaner

Dupray carpet cleaner

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner utilizes the pressure of steam to offer chemical-free sanitization that can be used on floors, grout, and so much more.

Pros: Chemical-free cleaning, steamer operates on just tap water, heats up in seven minutes, works on multiple surfaces, backed by a two-year warranty, up to 50 minutes of cleaning time

Cons: No suction or vacuum function, steam can be dangerous so careful handling is needed, need to continuously hold down a button to operate steam function

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner brings the power of steam cleaning to your home at an affordable price. In just seven minutes, this unit heats steam to 275 degrees, allowing you to quickly get cleaning. This low-moisture steam works on all surfaces, including floors, furniture, mattresses, ceramic and tiles, grout, and even car interiors. It’s more than just a carpet cleaner, and its versatile design makes it suitable for use throughout many areas in your home. 

This steam cleaner cleans, disinfects, sanitizes, degreases, and deodorizes without using chemicals, relying instead on the cleaning power of pressurized steam. Steam cleaning can loosen dirt and kill threatening substances like dust mites, bacteria, mold, and allergens. Additionally, the hot steam dries quickly. Because this cleaner uses just water, you also don’t have to worry about buying (or running out) of cleaning products. 

You can operate the Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner with just tap water and it offers up to 50 minutes of continuous cleaning time. This 18-piece kit includes everything you need to do a full-house cleaning, including a rectangular floor tool, three microfiber pads, a window tool, two extension tubes, one lance, one microfiber cloth, one triangular tool, one triangular tool microfiber bonnet, five nylon brushes, one brass brush, and one AddFresh Fragrance Disc.

The unit weighs just 9 pounds and is on wheels, so you can roll it through the house. It also features a 16-foot power cord and a 6.5-foot steam hose, allowing you easier access to hard-to-reach spaces.

The best portable carpet cleaner

Bissell pet cleaner

Weighing under 5 pounds, the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Portable Cordless Carpet Cleaner is compact, versatile, and easily portable.

Pros: Cordless and lightweight design; ideal for removing pet stains; built-in scrub brush; versatile enough to use on carpets, upholstery, and auto interiors

Cons: Requires recharging, doesn’t include any power scrubbing features, limited capacity means it’s best for small jobs

Rather than lugging out a heavy carpet cleaner, the Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Portable Cordless Carpet Cleaner gives you cleaning power that’s easily portable. Weighing only 4.6 pounds, this little cleaner can go just about anywhere, meaning it can clean stains on carpeted stairs, upholstery, area rugs, and vehicle interiors. It’s cordless and battery-powered, further adding to its agility, and makes cleaning stains an easy, fast process.  

This carpet cleaner may be small, but it still does a great job of cleaning up stains. Just spray the cleaning solution, use the built-in scrubber, and then suction the cleaner and stain out of the carpet. You can store the cleaning solution right in the machine, so it’s always ready to go. The fully charged battery offers up to 15 minutes of use, and recharging takes about four hours. 

This Bissell Pet Stain Eraser Cordless Carpet Cleaner is a go-to in my house. I can tuck it away in a closet until I need it. I particularly like that I can fit it underneath furniture like tables, making it easy to clean up small messes on my rugs without having to move any furniture.

Check out our other great cleaning guides

best cordless vacuums 2021 lg cordzero hardwood floor
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The 5 best dog nail clippers and grinders in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Trimming your dog’s nails with clippers or a grinder keeps them healthy and prevents painful overgrowth and breakage.
  • We tested 15 models to find the best nail clippers for dogs of all sizes, guillotine-style clippers, and nail grinders.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is more important than you might think. Although some dogs wear their nails down naturally if they are very active outdoors, most dogs need regular trims. Too-long nails can curl back and grow into the paw pad – a painful and dangerous condition that requires swift treatment from a veterinarian. Not to mention, long nails can damage wood floors and scratch your arms and legs when your dog jumps up on you.

Nail clippers for dogs come in several different styles. Plier-style nail clippers work for most dogs. Guillotine clippers are generally best for small- and medium-size dogs. Nail grinders are great for gently filing down the nail rather than cutting through it.

To find the best nail clippers, I tested 11 different pairs of trimmers and 4 grinding tools, using them on three dogs with different-size nails. You can read more about our testing methodology and the features that make up a good pair of clippers at the end of this guide.

I consider myself a bit of a nail-trimming expert – check out my guide on how to safely trim a dog’s nails. During my eight-year stretch working as a veterinary assistant, I trimmed the nails of thousands of pets. I’ve also regularly trimmed the nails of my own dogs and cats over the last few decades. For additional expertise on nail trimmers, I consulted both a veterinarian and a pet groomer.

Here are the best dog nail clippers you can buy:

The best budget nail clippers

millers forge pet nail clipper

Simple and affordable, the Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper works well for small and medium-size dogs and cuts the nails cleanly.

Pros: Affordable, sharp stainless-steel blades, simple but functional design, safety lock for storage, exceptionally quiet 

Cons: Small blade opening is not ideal for very large dogs or very thick nails, rubber grips sometimes slip down the handle

If you’re just starting out trimming your dog’s nails, a basic, inexpensive nail clipper is a good option. The Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper stands out for its simplicity, effectiveness, quality, and affordable price. These were the quietest of all the plier-style clippers I tested, something anyone with a skittish dog will appreciate. The blades are sharp and cut smoothly and easily. The metal handle has slip-on rubber grips — not a lot of frills here, but I found them comfortable to hold, although in my experience the grips sometimes slipped down on the metal handles. 

I’ve used these clippers a lot over the years, especially back when I worked in the veterinary hospital. Even with lots of use, the stainless-steel blades always held up great, maintaining their sharpness for many years. Compared to the similarly priced Furminator Nail Clipper, the Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper is more comfortable to hold, quieter to use, and easier to maneuver around each nail thanks to the size and thinness of the blades. These nail clippers also have a quick-guard safety feature and safety lock for safe storage.

These clippers are small with a narrow blade opening, so they aren’t the best choice for very large dogs or dogs with very thick nails, but they worked great when I tested them on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails.

The best for small dogs

jw pet grip soft pet nail clippers

JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper‘s small handle and cutting blades are perfect for toy breeds and dogs with small or thin nails. 

Pros: Small size perfect for smaller nails, very comfortable to hold, sharp stainless-steel blades cut the nail cleanly

Cons: Not ideal for people with large hands

The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper in size medium is a great option for little dogs with small or thin nails. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-sized nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. JW Pet’s gel-like nonslip handle is exceptionally comfortable. The stainless-steel blades are sharp and cut the nail easily and smoothly, and the clippers are fairly quiet. The clippers have a quick guard and lock for safe storage. I always lock my nail clippers after using them to protect the blade. 

Cassie Edmond, an animal care specialist at the San Diego Humane Society, likes using small nail clippers for puppies or dogs whose nails have grown too long and are curling back toward the paw pad because the smaller cutting blades are easier to maneuver around curled nails. 

The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is also helpful if you have small hands. On the flip side, if you have large hands you might find the handles difficult to hold. I have medium-size hands and had no problem operating them.

The best for large dogs

andis dog nail clipper

With sharp stainless-steel blades and a large tension spring, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper smoothly and easily cuts through big, thick nails. 

Pros: Sharp stainless-steel blades cut smoothly, rubberized grips for comfort and control, quick-stop guard for safety, lightweight, easy to hold, locking mechanism for safe storage, one-year warranty

Cons: None

Big dogs often have thick, large nails, and even some medium-size dogs might have thick nails. The Andis Pet Nail Clipper in size medium easily cuts through large nails, is well constructed, and comes with a one-year warranty. 

I used these clippers on a Labrador retriever. The sharp blade cut her thick nails easily and smoothly, with no shredding or splintering of the nail. The nonslip grip felt good in my hand and the handles are easy to squeeze closed thanks to a large tension spring. These clippers also worked well on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails, so they are versatile. The safety guard prevents overcutting and hitting the quick, and it can be locked in the closed position for storage. 

Interestingly, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper, and our runner-up — the Safari Professional Nail Trimmers — are very similarly constructed. Side by side, they look nearly identical (outside of color), and they are also nearly identical in performance. Both are also very versatile, working well for large as well as small nails. However, the Andis nail trimmers won this category because the brand offers a one-year warranty, and Safari does not, but both are an excellent choice for almost any dog.

The best guillotine clippers

resco dog nail clippers

Equipped with replaceable blade technology, Resco Original Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers cut smoothly and quietly. 

Pros: High-quality American steel, sharp blade for a smooth cut, easy to hold and squeeze closed, blade can be replaced with purchase of kit, made in the United States, limited lifetime warranty

Cons: No quick-guard safety feature, not appropriate for very large nails or thick nails

Resco is the inventor of the guillotine-style nail trimmer, which debuted in 1937. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. The Resco Original Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers in size small/medium outperformed the other guillotine-style clipper we tested (the Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer). The Resco blade was very sharp and cut the nail smoothly. In comparison, the blade of the Millers Forge trimmer didn’t seem as sharp and didn’t cut as smoothly. 

Even though the Resco clippers have no rubber grip on the handles, I found them comfortable to hold and easy to squeeze closed. In comparison, the Millers Forge handles felt a little sticky each time I closed them, which I found distracting.

Designed to last, Resco’s chrome-plated American steel nail clipper is manufactured in the United States. When the cutting blade becomes dull, you can purchase a kit that allows you to replace the blade instead of buying a new set of clippers. 

Guillotine clippers cut with less force than is needed with plier-style clippers, but they aren’t as strong so don’t choose these for dogs with very large nails or very thick nails. They work best on dogs with small or medium-size nails (they are also great for cats). The clippers are very quiet, so dogs that get upset by the loud snapping sound of some plier-style clippers might appreciate these.

Guillotine clippers don’t have a quick-guard safety feature, so don’t make big cuts; slowly snip off small amounts of nail to avoid cutting the quick. Exercise caution because a dog’s nail can get caught in this style of clippers, and if they pull away, they can damage or tear out their nail.

The best nail grinder

dremel nail grinder for dogs

With a nail safety guard, paw guide, and wide variety of grinding attachments, the Dremel 7760 PawControl Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit is easy to use and works well for professionals and novices alike.

Pros: Quiet, gentle, enhanced safety guards that block all spinning parts, good for novices and professionals, rechargeable cordless operation

Cons: Needs to fully charge before use, instructions require careful review for safe setup and use, grinding heads need occasional replacement

Some nail grinders are marketed specifically to pet owners and others are best for professionals, but our top pick for the best dog nail grinder, the Dremel 7760 Paw Control Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit, is ideal for both novice pet owners and professional groomers. 

This cordless grinder is quiet and gentle. I particularly liked the grinding disc (recommended for novice users), which quickly and easily sanded down the nails. The grinding disc is used with both guard attachments, which block all the spinning parts of the tool — something that made me feel quite safe when using it. The enhanced safety afforded by these attachments are main reason this grinder beat out the next closest competitor in the category: the Wahl Battery Nail Grinder

The Dremel also comes with band attachments that offer more maneuverability but require more skill and confidence as they cannot be used with the guard attachments. I used this grinder with both options and preferred both the performance and peace of mind of the grinding disc. 

Nail grinders can be used on dogs of all sizes and are effective even on thick nails. I used this grinder on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a Labrador retriever with large nails. Nail grinders are great for dogs that don’t love clippers as well as dogs with black nails since you can’t see the quick. 

“When grooming, 9 times out of 10, I will just grind a dog’s nails instead of trimming,” Edmond said. “Nail clippers can leave a jagged rough edge on the nail, but a nail grinder can buff out the sharpness and round the nail all the way down to the quick.”

I liked the variety of sanding bands and discs that come in the Dremel kit, but the product’s real standout is the nail safety guard and paw guide, which helped me attain a good nail trimming angle. Nail grinders do have a learning curve, but Dremel’s Quick Start Guide is helpful and clearly recommends specific attachments and speeds for beginning users. As with all nail grinders, the grinding heads need occasional replacement. Professional groomers will need to replace these more often; for pet owners, they should last a long time.

What else we considered

other dog nail clippers we considered
  • Safari Professional Nail Trimmers (Medium/Large): This clipper and the Andis Pet Nail Clipper are nearly identical in appearance and performance. In this guide, the Andis nail trimmers beat out the Safari trimmers because Andis offers a one-year warranty and Safari does not.
  • JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper (Large):  Like other products in JW Pet’s GripSoft line, the handle is extra comfortable to hold, but these clippers stick a little after squeezing them. Both the Safari Professional Nail Trimmers and Andis Pet Nail Clipper are superior. 
  • Millers Forge Nail Clipper: These trimmers are similar in construction to the Safari and Andis clippers, but they feel lower quality — reflected in the lower price. The handle on the Millers Forge clippers doesn’t have a nonslip grip and the clippers lack a quick-guard safety feature. 
  • Furminator Nail Clipper for Dogs and Cats: The blade opening of these clippers is somewhat narrow, the handle is small, and I didn’t love the nubby grip. Although the safety guard has a unique, adjustable design, I found the guard itself got in the way too much and was hard to move out of the way if I didn’t want to use it.
  • Four Paws Magic Coat Professional Series Nail Clipper: Although these clippers are perfect for the smallest dogs with the smallest nails, like Chihuahuas and young puppies, the JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is more versatile, working for dogs with small as well as medium-size nails. The handle of the Four Paws scissors-style clippers is very small, so if you have larger hands they may be difficult to use.
  • Andis Nail Clipper (Small): These clippers work well for small dog nails and are very comparable to our winner JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper, which won out due to its extra-comfortable nonslip grip for an easy hold. 
  • Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer: The rubber grips on the handles make the clipper stick a little and the grips also slipped down while I was using them. Our top choice guillotine clipper from Resco outperformed this trimmer, which didn’t cut the nail as smoothly.
  • Wahl Battery Nail Grinder: Comfortable to hold and easy to use, this grinder was a close runner-up to the Dremel 7760 Paw Control Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit. The nail safety guard has multiple openings of various shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the ones that worked best for each individual dog’s nails. This grinder comes with a grinding stone with a concave top that makes it simple to round the tops of the nails, plus coarse and fine grinding bands. 
  • Conair Pro Professional Dog Nail Grinder: This grinder is not cordless, but the cord is sufficiently long and you’ll never get caught with an uncharged battery. It’s less powerful than the other grinders I tested, so it takes a little longer to grind the nails. However, this could be a positive for novice pet owners who feel intimidated using a powerful grinder. 
  • Andis Cordless Dog and Cat Nail Grinder: This nail grinder was easy to use and worked well, but it lacks a nail safety guard, which is a helpful feature, especially for novice users.

What we’re looking forward to testing

We’re testing three new tools for an update to this guide in fall 2021:

How we tested

Best dog nail clippers and grinders in 2021

I tested 11 different pairs of nail trimmers and 4 grinding tools, using them on three dogs with different size nails: a Labrador retriever with large, thick nails; a miniature poodle with medium-size nails; and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. I received editorial review samples from the manufacturers with the exception of the Millers Forge and Resco clippers, which Insider Reviews purchased.

All of the clippers and grinders were tested on the miniature poodle with medium-size nails. Additionally, I tested the small clippers on the small mixed breed and the large clippers and nail grinders on the Lab. In our initial round of testing in fall 2021, each tool was tested at least once per dog, but the front-runners were tested multiple times to narrow down the category winners. I waited several weeks in between testing for the dogs’ nails to grow back. 

To gauge long-term durability, I continued to use the nail trimmers that received the highest marks to trim my own dog’s nails (the miniature poodle). In the five months since this guide was originally developed, I’ve trimmed my dog’s nails approximately every two weeks and rotated clippers. I used the nail grinding tool after each trim to buff the nail edges.  

Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:

Ease of use:I assessed how controlled the clippers felt in my hand and whether they were easy to squeeze closed. When cutting a dog’s nails, you don’t want to struggle or feel uncomfortable while using a nail trimmer. For nail grinders, I assessed how easy they were to set up, hold, and use. 

Performance: I evaluated each pair of clippers to make sure they worked as advertised. For instance, large dog nail clippers should easily and effectively clip through tough nails, and small clippers should be appropriately sized for smaller nails. For nail grinders, I evaluated how well the grinding bands or discs smoothed out the nails and how loud each grinder was.

Sharpness: Although the cutting blades will inevitably dull over time, they should be very sharp to ensure a swift, clean cut through the nails. Inferior, dull blades tend to shred or splinter the nail rather than slicing clean through. 

Safety: I evaluated the presence and effectiveness of any nail safety guards, as well as the presence of a locking mechanism that allows the clippers to be stored safely in the closed position. For nail grinders, I evaluated the tool’s safety options and how safe it felt to operate the tool.

Quality: I assessed the quality of each clippers’ materials and construction. A good pair of clippers should feel study and appear to be well made rather than cheap and poorly manufactured, and all parts should function as intended. For nail grinders, I assessed the assembly of the tool and how it felt when using it.

Frequently asked questions about nail trimming

How to trim a dog's nails dog nail anatomy

We spoke to Edmond and veterinarian Melissa Smits, DVM, medical team coach for Blue Heron Consulting, about the most common questions about trimming a dog’s nails. 

How often should I trim my dog’s nails?

This depends on your individual dog. All nails grow at different rates, and dogs wear their nails down differently, too. Big, heavy dogs that run around outside may naturally wear their nails down, requiring less frequent trimming. “A Yorkie that barely touches the ground most days might need a nail trim every two weeks,” Smits said. “An Iditarod training or marathon running pal might never need one.” Rule of thumb: Trim your dog’s nails before they grow long enough to click on the floor.

How far down do I cut the nail?

Trim the nail as short as you can without cutting into the quick, which is the vein that runs down the center of the nail. If your dog has white nails, it’s easy to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, it’s harder to know exactly how far to cut. Conservatively clip just the hooked part of the nail to be safe. You can also ask your veterinarian for a demonstration on your dog.

When should I start trimming my puppy’s nails?

Start nail trimming as early as possible so your puppy learns to accept it. Even older dogs can learn to accept nail trimming if you approach it the right way. “Introduce the dog to the nail trimming procedure in a slow, fun, rewarding manner,” Smits said. “This will enable the dog to fall in love with the attention that comes with getting a pedicure and time with you.”

Which is better, nail clippers or a nail grinder?

Nail clippers cut through the nail whereas nail grinders file the nail down to a shorter length. Some dogs prefer the sensation of nail grinding over clipping, and you’re less likely to cut into the quick with a grinder. On the flip side, some dogs dislike the loud sound and vibrations of nail grinders. These tools also have a learning curve to be able to use them safely and comfortably. Smits recommends using the tool you feel most comfortable with, which will make your dog most comfortable.

What is the best nail clipper for my dog?

In general, a good dog nail trimmer should be easy to hold and have a sharp blade for smooth cutting. If your dog has very small or very large nails, choose a nail clipper that correlates. Look for clippers with blades made of stainless steel, which is strong and resists rusting. For timid dogs or those that are reluctant to have their nails trimmed, a quiet nail clipper is a bonus. At the end of the day, though, choosing the right dog nail clipper comes down to how you like using it.

Does nail trimming hurt my dog?

As long as you don’t cut too far down, it hurts no more than trimming your own nails. However, be very careful not to cut the quick. The quick is extremely sensitive. Cutting into it is painful and will cause the nail to bleed. It may also cause your dog to become resistant to nail trimming in the future. 

What should I do if I cut my dog’s nail and it starts to bleed?

If you accidentally nick the quick, use styptic power to cauterize it and stop the bleeding. Scoop up a small amount of powder onto your finger or with a piece of gauze and press it gently but firmly against the nail. Hold for a minute or so until the bleeding stops. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use use flour or corn starch instead. 

I’m too nervous to trim my dog’s nails. Who will do it for me?

If you are not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, or if you are concerned your pet might bite if you try to trim the nails, seek professional help. Most groomers include nail trimming in their regular services. You can also make an appointment to have your dog’s nails trimmed at your veterinary hospital. “If the dog is an amiable sort, groomers are a phenomenal option,” Smits said. “If the dog is a holy terror, they might need sedation, at which point the veterinarian is your best option.”

How do I care for dog nail clippers and grinders?

After each use, wipe your clippers clean. When not in use, close the clippers and engage the safely lock to keep the blade protected. If your nail clippers get wet, dry them thoroughly before storing them indoors in a plastic or cloth bag with all of the grinding accessories. If nail clippers or grinders are left outside and exposed to dampness and temperature extremes, the metal can rust and plastic can warp.

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