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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
We tested 15 models to find the best nail clippers for dogs of all sizes, guillotine-style clippers, and nail grinders.
This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.
Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is more important than you might think. Although some dogs wear their nails down naturally if they are very active outdoors, most dogs need regular trims. Too-long nails can curl back and grow into the paw pad – a painful and dangerous condition that requires swift treatment from a veterinarian. Not to mention, long nails can damage wood floors and scratch your arms and legs when your dog jumps up on you.
Nail clippers for dogs come in several different styles. Plier-style nail clippers work for most dogs. Guillotine clippers are generally best for small- and medium-size dogs. Nail grinders are great for gently filing down the nail rather than cutting through it.
Pros: Affordable, sharp stainless-steel blades, simple but functional design, safety lock for storage, exceptionally quiet
Cons: Small blade opening is not ideal for very large dogs or very thick nails, rubber grips sometimes slip down the handle
If you’re just starting out trimming your dog’s nails, a basic, inexpensive nail clipper is a good option. The Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper stands out for its simplicity, effectiveness, quality, and affordable price. These were the quietest of all the plier-style clippers I tested, something anyone with a skittish dog will appreciate. The blades are sharp and cut smoothly and easily. The metal handle has slip-on rubber grips — not a lot of frills here, but I found them comfortable to hold, although in my experience the grips sometimes slipped down on the metal handles.
I’ve used these clippers a lot over the years, especially back when I worked in the veterinary hospital. Even with lots of use, the stainless-steel blades always held up great, maintaining their sharpness for many years. Compared to the similarly priced Furminator Nail Clipper, the Millers Forge Pet Nail Clipper is more comfortable to hold, quieter to use, and easier to maneuver around each nail thanks to the size and thinness of the blades. These nail clippers also have a quick-guard safety feature and safety lock for safe storage.
These clippers are small with a narrow blade opening, so they aren’t the best choice for very large dogs or dogs with very thick nails, but they worked great when I tested them on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails.
Pros: Small size perfect for smaller nails, very comfortable to hold, sharp stainless-steel blades cut the nail cleanly
Cons: Not ideal for people with large hands
The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper in size medium is a great option for little dogs with small or thin nails. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-sized nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. JW Pet’s gel-like nonslip handle is exceptionally comfortable. The stainless-steel blades are sharp and cut the nail easily and smoothly, and the clippers are fairly quiet. The clippers have a quick guard and lock for safe storage. I always lock my nail clippers after using them to protect the blade.
Cassie Edmond, an animal care specialist at the San Diego Humane Society, likes using small nail clippers for puppies or dogs whose nails have grown too long and are curling back toward the paw pad because the smaller cutting blades are easier to maneuver around curled nails.
The JW Pet Grip Soft Deluxe Pet Nail Clipper is also helpful if you have small hands. On the flip side, if you have large hands you might find the handles difficult to hold. I have medium-size hands and had no problem operating them.
The best for large dogs
With sharp stainless-steel blades and a large tension spring, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper smoothly and easily cuts through big, thick nails.
Pros: Sharp stainless-steel blades cut smoothly, rubberized grips for comfort and control, quick-stop guard for safety, lightweight, easy to hold, locking mechanism for safe storage, one-year warranty
Big dogs often have thick, large nails, and even some medium-size dogs might have thick nails. The Andis Pet Nail Clipper in size medium easily cuts through large nails, is well constructed, and comes with a one-year warranty.
I used these clippers on a Labrador retriever. The sharp blade cut her thick nails easily and smoothly, with no shredding or splintering of the nail. The nonslip grip felt good in my hand and the handles are easy to squeeze closed thanks to a large tension spring. These clippers also worked well on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails, so they are versatile. The safety guard prevents overcutting and hitting the quick, and it can be locked in the closed position for storage.
Interestingly, the Andis Pet Nail Clipper, and our runner-up — the Safari Professional Nail Trimmers — are very similarly constructed. Side by side, they look nearly identical (outside of color), and they are also nearly identical in performance. Both are also very versatile, working well for large as well as small nails. However, the Andis nail trimmers won this category because the brand offers a one-year warranty, and Safari does not, but both are an excellent choice for almost any dog.
Pros: High-quality American steel, sharp blade for a smooth cut, easy to hold and squeeze closed, blade can be replaced with purchase of kit, made in the United States, limited lifetime warranty
Cons: No quick-guard safety feature, not appropriate for very large nails or thick nails
Resco is the inventor of the guillotine-style nail trimmer, which debuted in 1937. I used these clippers on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. The Resco Original Deluxe Dog Nail Clippers in size small/medium outperformed the other guillotine-style clipper we tested (the Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer). The Resco blade was very sharp and cut the nail smoothly. In comparison, the blade of the Millers Forge trimmer didn’t seem as sharp and didn’t cut as smoothly.
Even though the Resco clippers have no rubber grip on the handles, I found them comfortable to hold and easy to squeeze closed. In comparison, the Millers Forge handles felt a little sticky each time I closed them, which I found distracting.
Designed to last, Resco’s chrome-plated American steel nail clipper is manufactured in the United States. When the cutting blade becomes dull, you can purchase a kit that allows you to replace the blade instead of buying a new set of clippers.
Guillotine clippers cut with less force than is needed with plier-style clippers, but they aren’t as strong so don’t choose these for dogs with very large nails or very thick nails. They work best on dogs with small or medium-size nails (they are also great for cats). The clippers are very quiet, so dogs that get upset by the loud snapping sound of some plier-style clippers might appreciate these.
Guillotine clippers don’t have a quick-guard safety feature, so don’t make big cuts; slowly snip off small amounts of nail to avoid cutting the quick. Exercise caution because a dog’s nail can get caught in this style of clippers, and if they pull away, they can damage or tear out their nail.
This cordless grinder is quiet and gentle. I particularly liked the grinding disc (recommended for novice users), which quickly and easily sanded down the nails. The grinding disc is used with both guard attachments, which block all the spinning parts of the tool — something that made me feel quite safe when using it. The enhanced safety afforded by these attachments are main reason this grinder beat out the next closest competitor in the category: the Wahl Battery Nail Grinder.
The Dremel also comes with band attachments that offer more maneuverability but require more skill and confidence as they cannot be used with the guard attachments. I used this grinder with both options and preferred both the performance and peace of mind of the grinding disc.
Nail grinders can be used on dogs of all sizes and are effective even on thick nails. I used this grinder on a miniature poodle with medium-size nails and a Labrador retriever with large nails. Nail grinders are great for dogs that don’t love clippers as well as dogs with black nails since you can’t see the quick.
“When grooming, 9 times out of 10, I will just grind a dog’s nails instead of trimming,” Edmond said. “Nail clippers can leave a jagged rough edge on the nail, but a nail grinder can buff out the sharpness and round the nail all the way down to the quick.”
I liked the variety of sanding bands and discs that come in the Dremel kit, but the product’s real standout is the nail safety guard and paw guide, which helped me attain a good nail trimming angle. Nail grinders do have a learning curve, but Dremel’s Quick Start Guide is helpful and clearly recommends specific attachments and speeds for beginning users. As with all nail grinders, the grinding heads need occasional replacement. Professional groomers will need to replace these more often; for pet owners, they should last a long time.
Millers Forge Nail Clipper: These trimmers are similar in construction to the Safari and Andis clippers, but they feel lower quality — reflected in the lower price. The handle on the Millers Forge clippers doesn’t have a nonslip grip and the clippers lack a quick-guard safety feature.
Furminator Nail Clipper for Dogs and Cats: The blade opening of these clippers is somewhat narrow, the handle is small, and I didn’t love the nubby grip. Although the safety guard has a unique, adjustable design, I found the guard itself got in the way too much and was hard to move out of the way if I didn’t want to use it.
Millers Forge Guillotine Style Pet Nail Trimmer: The rubber grips on the handles make the clipper stick a little and the grips also slipped down while I was using them. Our top choice guillotine clipper from Resco outperformed this trimmer, which didn’t cut the nail as smoothly.
Wahl Battery Nail Grinder: Comfortable to hold and easy to use, this grinder was a close runner-up to the Dremel 7760 Paw Control Cordless Pet Nail Grinding Kit. The nail safety guard has multiple openings of various shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the ones that worked best for each individual dog’s nails. This grinder comes with a grinding stone with a concave top that makes it simple to round the tops of the nails, plus coarse and fine grinding bands.
Conair Pro Professional Dog Nail Grinder: This grinder is not cordless, but the cord is sufficiently long and you’ll never get caught with an uncharged battery. It’s less powerful than the other grinders I tested, so it takes a little longer to grind the nails. However, this could be a positive for novice pet owners who feel intimidated using a powerful grinder.
I tested 11 different pairs of nail trimmers and 4 grinding tools, using them on three dogs with different size nails: a Labrador retriever with large, thick nails; a miniature poodle with medium-size nails; and a 10-pound mixed-breed dog with small nails. I received editorial review samples from the manufacturers with the exception of the Millers Forge and Resco clippers, which Insider Reviews purchased.
All of the clippers and grinders were tested on the miniature poodle with medium-size nails. Additionally, I tested the small clippers on the small mixed breed and the large clippers and nail grinders on the Lab. In our initial round of testing in fall 2021, each tool was tested at least once per dog, but the front-runners were tested multiple times to narrow down the category winners. I waited several weeks in between testing for the dogs’ nails to grow back.
To gauge long-term durability, I continued to use the nail trimmers that received the highest marks to trim my own dog’s nails (the miniature poodle). In the five months since this guide was originally developed, I’ve trimmed my dog’s nails approximately every two weeks and rotated clippers. I used the nail grinding tool after each trim to buff the nail edges.
Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:
Ease of use:I assessed how controlled the clippers felt in my hand and whether they were easy to squeeze closed. When cutting a dog’s nails, you don’t want to struggle or feel uncomfortable while using a nail trimmer. For nail grinders, I assessed how easy they were to set up, hold, and use.
Performance: I evaluated each pair of clippers to make sure they worked as advertised. For instance, large dog nail clippers should easily and effectively clip through tough nails, and small clippers should be appropriately sized for smaller nails. For nail grinders, I evaluated how well the grinding bands or discs smoothed out the nails and how loud each grinder was.
Sharpness: Although the cutting blades will inevitably dull over time, they should be very sharp to ensure a swift, clean cut through the nails. Inferior, dull blades tend to shred or splinter the nail rather than slicing clean through.
Safety: I evaluated the presence and effectiveness of any nail safety guards, as well as the presence of a locking mechanism that allows the clippers to be stored safely in the closed position. For nail grinders, I evaluated the tool’s safety options and how safe it felt to operate the tool.
Quality: I assessed the quality of each clippers’ materials and construction. A good pair of clippers should feel study and appear to be well made rather than cheap and poorly manufactured, and all parts should function as intended. For nail grinders, I assessed the assembly of the tool and how it felt when using it.
Frequently asked questions about nail trimming
We spoke to Edmond and veterinarian Melissa Smits, DVM, medical team coach for Blue Heron Consulting, about the most common questions about trimming a dog’s nails.
How often should I trim my dog’s nails?
This depends on your individual dog. All nails grow at different rates, and dogs wear their nails down differently, too. Big, heavy dogs that run around outside may naturally wear their nails down, requiring less frequent trimming. “A Yorkie that barely touches the ground most days might need a nail trim every two weeks,” Smits said. “An Iditarod training or marathon running pal might never need one.” Rule of thumb: Trim your dog’s nails before they grow long enough to click on the floor.
How far down do I cut the nail?
Trim the nail as short as you can without cutting into the quick, which is the vein that runs down the center of the nail. If your dog has white nails, it’s easy to see the quick. If your dog has black nails, it’s harder to know exactly how far to cut. Conservatively clip just the hooked part of the nail to be safe. You can also ask your veterinarian for a demonstration on your dog.
When should I start trimming my puppy’s nails?
Start nail trimming as early as possible so your puppy learns to accept it. Even older dogs can learn to accept nail trimming if you approach it the right way. “Introduce the dog to the nail trimming procedure in a slow, fun, rewarding manner,” Smits said. “This will enable the dog to fall in love with the attention that comes with getting a pedicure and time with you.”
Which is better, nail clippers or a nail grinder?
Nail clippers cut through the nail whereas nail grinders file the nail down to a shorter length. Some dogs prefer the sensation of nail grinding over clipping, and you’re less likely to cut into the quick with a grinder. On the flip side, some dogs dislike the loud sound and vibrations of nail grinders. These tools also have a learning curve to be able to use them safely and comfortably. Smits recommends using the tool you feel most comfortable with, which will make your dog most comfortable.
What is the best nail clipper for my dog?
In general, a good dog nail trimmer should be easy to hold and have a sharp blade for smooth cutting. If your dog has very small or very large nails, choose a nail clipper that correlates. Look for clippers with blades made of stainless steel, which is strong and resists rusting. For timid dogs or those that are reluctant to have their nails trimmed, a quiet nail clipper is a bonus. At the end of the day, though, choosing the right dog nail clipper comes down to how you like using it.
Does nail trimming hurt my dog?
As long as you don’t cut too far down, it hurts no more than trimming your own nails. However, be very careful not to cut the quick. The quick is extremely sensitive. Cutting into it is painful and will cause the nail to bleed. It may also cause your dog to become resistant to nail trimming in the future.
What should I do if I cut my dog’s nail and it starts to bleed?
If you accidentally nick the quick, use styptic power to cauterize it and stop the bleeding. Scoop up a small amount of powder onto your finger or with a piece of gauze and press it gently but firmly against the nail. Hold for a minute or so until the bleeding stops. If you don’t have styptic powder, you can use use flour or corn starch instead.
I’m too nervous to trim my dog’s nails. Who will do it for me?
If you are not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, or if you are concerned your pet might bite if you try to trim the nails, seek professional help. Most groomers include nail trimming in their regular services. You can also make an appointment to have your dog’s nails trimmed at your veterinary hospital. “If the dog is an amiable sort, groomers are a phenomenal option,” Smits said. “If the dog is a holy terror, they might need sedation, at which point the veterinarian is your best option.”
How do I care for dog nail clippers and grinders?
After each use, wipe your clippers clean. When not in use, close the clippers and engage the safely lock to keep the blade protected. If your nail clippers get wet, dry them thoroughly before storing them indoors in a plastic or cloth bag with all of the grinding accessories. If nail clippers or grinders are left outside and exposed to dampness and temperature extremes, the metal can rust and plastic can warp.
Dog tents give pets a safe and comfortable space to relax indoors and outdoors.
We found the best dog tents for small and large dogs for use at home, the beach, or when camping.
Dog tents serve many purposes. Tent-shaped beds for indoor use give your pet a comfortable place to relax without distractions, something shy or anxious dogs may benefit from. Outdoor dog tents made from durable materials and with mesh windows for airflow give pooches a chance to rest under shade after a day of outdoor adventures. These convenient tents can be transported for outings, be it to the beach, a camping trip, or an RV adventure.
What we like: Sturdy materials, comfortable fabrics, easily washable
If you have a small to medium-size playful companion who loves covered safe spaces, this tent bed will provide them comfort. A thick cushion also ensures that the tent will be a welcoming refuge come bedtime. Made of medium-weight materials and pine wood supports, the tent can withstand the antics of puppies and roughhousing dogs and washable fabrics and a removable cushion make for easy upkeep. It comes in gray or white.
What we like: Contemporary design, spacious for its dimensions, durable and washable materials
For your small dog who enjoys privacy, this tent offers a surprisingly roomy space for dogs. With a cushion bed and thick soft walls to keep warmth in, this tent will be inviting to your dog. The bed’s polyfoam lining molds to your pet’s body to provide comfort. The tent is wrapped in a classic linen fabric and comes in nine different colors and patterns to match any home decor. Washable materials ensure that it can be your pet’s clean and comfortable resting spot for a long time to come.
What we like: Safe for dogs up to 200 pounds, multiple windows for good airflow, waterproof mesh bed, easy to assemble
The K&H Pet Products Original Pet Cot House is a sturdy covered cot that is ideal for large dogs. The nylon mesh bed and elevated legs will help keep your dog dry and cool on a porch or lawn. It’s roomy, measuring 30 inches by 42 inches, and has two windows plus an open entrance that provide good air circulation. The cot is easy to assemble and both the cover and canopy are machine washable.
The best dog tent for camping
The Alcott Pup Tent is a lightweight, durable tent that ensures you never have to leave your dog behind when going camping.
What we like: Portable and lightweight at only 1.5 pounds, 5 windows for air circulation, ground stakes to keep in place, roomy enough for a large dog
The Alcott Pup Tent is easy to transport but still roomy for your dog at 28 inches by 45 inches in size. The green nylon tent comes with durable tent poles and four ground stakes. Five mesh windows in addition to a zippered entrance keep your dog cool while providing them with ample opportunity to take in their surroundings. It’s a good idea to apply waterproofing spray before your outing.
What we like: Comes in sizes ranging from small to extra large, wide canopy coverage, mesh bed for air circulation, easy to assemble.
This airy and shady cot with a removable canopy is a great way to spend time with your dog outdoors in the summer. The raised mesh bed will ensure your dog gets a lot of ventilation, and the generous canopy coverage will keep the sun off your dog at almost any time of day. This green cot can be easily disassembled and brought along for outings to the beach and park or on RV road trips.
What we like: Spacious, easy to set up, lightweight and portable, comes with weather cover
The Purrfect Fence Play Tent is a roomy 76 inches by 62 inches in size and perfect for keeping small dogs safe and secure outdoors. Pups can easily see through the mesh panels to observe all the happenings. If the sun is harsh or there is light rain, you can place the included weather guard over the top of the tent. We also recommend covering the mesh floor with a comfortable blanket.
Narrator: There are good boys, and then there are very good boys like these dogs here. They’re searching for a scent that no human can detect: the scent of an epileptic seizure. We’ve long known that dogs can detect seizures in humans in some cases 45 minutes before they occur. That’s one reason why organizations like Handi’chiens in France provide service dogs for people with epilepsy. And in some cases, this can prove lifesaving.
It might give people time to take medication that could prevent or reduce the severity of a seizure or move somewhere safer where an injury is less likely to occur. Incredible? Yes. But proven? Not until French researchers teamed up with Medical Mutts, a US-based organization that trains seizure alert dogs.
That marker, they believed, was a scent that dogs can detect. So in 2018, they set up an experiment. First, they collected dozen of samples of breath and sweat from people with different forms of epilepsy. Some of them were taken during or right after a seizure, while others were collected after exercise or at rest.
Then they distributed them among seven different steel containers in this room. Finally, they let out, or, they let in the dogs. One by one, Casey, Dodger, Lana, Zoey, and Roo walked into the room. They were trained to stop and stand still if they think they detected the scent of a seizure. And if they were right, they got a treat, good dog! To the researchers’ excitement, the canines excelled.
Three of the dogs, Casey, Dodger, and Zoey, sniffed out the odor associated with seizure with 100% accuracy. The two other pups, Lana and Roo, who had less time to train, weren’t quite as accurate. But they still correctly identified two-thirds of the seizure samples on their first try.
What makes these results even more remarkable is that the scent samples were from different people and also produced by different kinds of seizures. And what exactly is that marker made of? Here’s the thing: We still don’t know. It’s likely that seizures trigger a change in the body’s electrical activity, the researchers say. And those changes can affect the composition of odor molecules that we emit through our sweat, breath, and, likely, urine.
Now, whether people emit these odors before a seizure in time to reduce its worst effects is still in question, and it’s not something that the researchers tested. But some experts claim that people emit a specific group of odor chemicals 15 to 45 minutes prior to seizing, which dogs can detect. So what exactly makes canines such smell superstars? It’s their incredible noses.
With as many as 300 million olfactory receptors, a dog’s nose is up to 100 thousand times stronger than our own. That means they can detect a few scent molecules among trillions of them. Scientists are now trying to build electronic noses that are just as powerful. The idea is that they too could be used to sniff out diseases. But for now e-noses are nowhere near as good as dogs, and in some ways, doesn’t that seem like a good thing?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2019.
This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas. The purpose of this medical review is to ensure accuracy and does not imply any product endorsements or recommendations.
Being pulled down the street can turn a relaxing dog walk into a frustrating battle. As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, more than half of my clients ask for help training their dog to walk nicely on a leash. I typically recommend that dog owners purchase a quality front-clip no-pull harness to assist them in training their dog how to walk on leash without pulling.
For this guide, I partnered with five shelter workers and volunteers at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco to test nine of the most popular no-pull harnesses. Harnesses were tested on walks with more than two dozen medium and large untrained rescue dogs. I also interviewed professional dog walkers and trainers about their favorite harnesses. With each harness, we evaluated how well it prevents pulling, whether it causes discomfort or impedes a dog’s movement, overall fit, adjustability, durability, and washability. Read more about our testing methodology at the end of this guide.
Why you should walk your dog with a harness
Dog harnesses are more than just a training tool to discourage pulling. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, a harness is safer than walking with a leash attached to a collar. Traditional neck collars should never be used for restraining or controlling your dog, as they can cause tension and stress on the dog’s neck. In a 2020 study using canine neck models with pressure sensors, Anne Carter, PhD, a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that all types of dog collars have the potential to cause harm to a dog’s neck. A flat neck collar’s only purpose is for attaching your dog’s ID tags or for decoration.
It’s important to remember that front-clip, no-pull harnesses are not a magical quick fix. They are, however, an excellent management tool that makes it easier to train a dog to walk nicely on leash.
Here are the best no-pull dog harnesses you can buy
Pros: Deters pulling better than other harnesses, six points of adjustment for appropriate fit, good for dogs that dislike putting their head through a harness, machine washable, 90-day chew replacement policy
Cons: More expensive than most other harnesses, no padding, can be confusing to put on at first
When used with a leash attached to the front D-ring, this harness offers superior control for dogs that pull. Its Y-neck design does not cross the dog’s shoulders or pinch under the armpits, offering a level of comfort not found with other harnesses. Like all the harnesses in this guide, the leash can be attached to either the chest D-ring to reduce pulling or to the back of the harness for dogs that don’t pull.
If you’ve had trouble finding a harness that fits, this is an excellent option. There are six different points that can be adjusted for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The harness has a band that clips around the torso and another band that clips around the neck. While the neck band is ideal for dogs that resist putting their head through a harness, this design can make it confusing to put the harness on until you get the hang of it. The colored top strap on the back will help you keep straight what goes where.
Robyn Socarro, a professional dog trainer at Beyond the Biscuit in Bentonville, Arkansas, swears by the Balance Harness. “It is great for daily performance, and it doesn’t interfere with the dog’s shoulder movement,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming and water activities with my dogs, and this harness doesn’t need to be removed when using a doggie life jacket, and it dries quickly without irritating the skin.”
“The Blue-9 Balance Harness is my go-to recommendation for my clients,” said professional dog walker Clare Hart-Slattery, based in Oakland, California. “It has a higher level of adjustability than other no-pull harnesses, which helps eliminate loose spots that may encourage pulling or irritate the skin.”
The Balance Harness has a minimalist design that includes unpadded nylon straps and comes in eight different colors and five sizes. I toss mine into the washer and let it air-dry, with no damaging effects.
Although the soft nylon has a 3,500-pound test strength, if your dog chews this harness, Blue-9 offers a 90-day replacement for half price — just pay shipping to mail in the damaged harness. Because of its design, however, most dogs cannot reach the straps with their mouths and I’ve never had a dog chew through one.
Pros: Works well for serious pullers, straps do not loosen or sag, velvet-lined straps prevent chafing, machine washable, available in 7 sizes and 23 different colors and designs, double-connection leash included
Cons: Can be confusing to put on, straps are difficult to adjust
Users are frequently amazed at how quickly the Freedom harness reduces tension on the leash for dogs that pull, especially when paired with the included double-connection leash. By connecting the leash to the D-rings at the chest and back, the harness evenly distributes pressure, preventing a dog from feeling discomfort at a single point on their body and providing more control than most other harnesses. The martingale strap at the back tightens in response to pulling to help prevent a dog from squirming out of the harness and escaping.
Several of our testers found it tricky to put the harness on the first few times because the straps are fitted tightly in the stainless steel hardware. However, once the four points were properly adjusted, they got the hang of it. The straps stay secure and don’t loosen up like some harnesses. There is also a buckle at the neck, so it doesn’t need to be pulled over the dog’s head. The velvet lining on the strap behind the legs is a nice touch for sensitive-skinned dogs.
2 Hounds has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Available in seven different sizes, the Freedom Harness works well for dogs of all sizes and shapes and is the only one in this guide that offers two different widths: 5/8-inch wide straps for smaller dogs and 1-inch straps for larger dogs. One of my clients could not find a harness that fit her low and wide Corgi-Labrador mix until she tried the 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness. It comes in 23 different colors and patterns.
This harness can be machine-washed on delicate cycle and air-dried. I accidentally put it in the dryer, and it came out fine. 2 Hounds will also replace a chewed harness for $12.99 with free shipping.
Pros: Five points of adjustment for good fit, reflective stitching, some padding
Cons: Limited color options, heavy plastic buckles may be uncomfortable
With both a front and a back D-ring, the Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a solid choice. Attach the leash to the front of the harness to reduce pulling or secure it to the back ring for casual walks or running with your dog.
Beth DiMeccio walks shelter dogs most weekdays at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and tested this harness on several untrained shelter dogs that were difficult to walk. She was impressed with how well it worked for serious pullers. “There’s little chance a dog can wriggle out of this harness, which is a big concern with shelter dogs,” she said.
This Y-shaped nylon harness does not restrict a dog’s movement, unlike Petsafe’s other popular no-pull harness, the Easy Walk, which has a horizontal chest strap that sits too low on some dogs. The 3-in-1’s five different adjustment points allow for a comfortable and snug fit, and with a buckle at the neck, it doesn’t need to be pulled over a dog’s head. It’s also easy to put on and take off after a few tries, but the tiny tags on the straps labeled “shoulder,” “girth,” and “center chest” are only slightly helpful. The light neoprene padding and reflective stitching are a nice touch.
With 1-inch wide straps, this harness is heavier than similar styles, creating too much bulk for smaller dogs. Although the wider straps mean less chafing, there is no padding to cover any of the large plastic clasps. Your dog may have some discomfort if they wear the harness all day.
The harness comes in four different sizes. Unfortunately, the color choices are limited to black, plum, and teal. It also comes with a built-in adjustable car control strap, which attaches to a car’s seat belt. Neither the strap nor the harness are crash-tested, but when used together they will keep your dog restrained in the backseat while you are driving. Petsafe recommends only hand-washing the 3-in-1, which can make it difficult to get out the dog stink that most harnesses collect.
Petsafe offers two sweet guarantees: If your dog chews their harness, the company will ship a replacement for $14.90 (no need to send the damaged harness back). Bought the wrong-size harness? Petsafe has a Perfect Fit Guarantee: They’ll send a new harness free of charge, with a suggestion to donate the first harness to a local shelter.
Pros: Padded, wide straps that won’t chafe, can be worn all day, comes in 13 different colors and 5 sizes, easy to put on and take off, durable
Cons: Chest piece twists and gaps with serious pullers, not quick-drying
Designed for outdoor adventures, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness can take a lot of punishment while keeping your dog comfortable. The foam padding on the chest and belly prevents rubbing and chafing, and the built-in clasps are covered with fabric so they don’t touch any part of a dog’s body.
With only two clasps and two adjustment buckles, the harness is easy to put on and remove. It has two leash attachments: an aluminum V-ring on the back and a reinforced webbing attachment on the chest plate.
The Front Range doesn’t reduce pulling as well as the other harnesses we recommend. Although it is normal for a front-clip harness to move when your dog pulls, the Front Range has more twist than our other top picks, causing it to shift to the side with consistent pulling.
But, if your dog tears through bushes or plays rough with other dogs, this harness is a durable option. After seven years, the Front Range is the only intact harness my dog still wears from his younger days. The polyester shell fabric is durable and doesn’t fade over time, and the reflective stitching is a bonus for nighttime dog walking. The harness is available in 5 sizes and comes in 13 different colors to match every possible preference because, of course, your dog needs a hibiscus pink harness.
San Francisco-based professional dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast Scarlett Cermak, owner of Embark Today, loves the size range and color options as well as its comfort and versatility. “The padding is nice because it doesn’t rub on my thin-coated dog,” she said. “I also really like that there is a back-clip option because there are times, believe it or not, when I want my dogs to pull, like in sports like canicross or joring.”
Hand-washing is advised, but I’ve had to put my dog’s harness in the washer and dryer many times. It’s held up, but the edges are now slightly curled. The chest vest can take a while to dry, so it may stay damp for a while after washing or if your dog swims in it.
Ruffwear’s warranty covers manufacturing defects, but there is no chew replacement policy. In my experience, only the most acrobatic chewers can reach the straps with their teeth.
How we tested
We considered the most popular harnesses on the market and solicited opinions from professional dog walkers and dog trainers who were already using the brands under consideration.
Three shelter staff and two volunteer shelter walkers then tested the harnesses on walks with more than two dozen rescue dogs at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco over a period of eight weeks. The dogs were all medium and large-size (over 50 pounds) and chosen because they were known to be difficult to walk due to overexcitability, lack of training, or reactivity. Dogs were walked with the tester harnesses for 30 to 60 minutes on city streets and in local parks.
Unmanageable leash pulling is typically a problem for dog owners with larger dogs, so we did not test these harnesses on dogs under 25 pounds. Many small dogs strain while on leash, but owners do not struggle with being pulled off their feet.
We also did not test head halters, as most dogs initially find them uncomfortable and will resist wearing them. The no-pull harnesses in this guide are a better choice for anyone looking for the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training and behavior modification. If you’d like to learn more about head halters, read about them in our guide to the best dog harnesses.
We rated each harness according to the following criteria:
Prevents pulling: We assessed how well it prevented dogs from pulling on leash while walking. Dogs were walked for a minimum of 30 minutes on 4-foot leashes.
Does not impede or restrict movement: Harnesses were tested on dogs of different sizes and shapes to check for sagging and straps that lay over the dog’s front legs and shoulders.
Does not chafe or rub: We tested harnesses on both long- and short-haired dogs to check for chafing or rubbing.
Dog cannot slip or back out of the harness: Because these harnesses were tested on shelter dogs who tend to be flight risks, this was a crucial consideration.
Easy to put on and take off/ease of adjusting: Putting on or adjusting your dog’s harness shouldn’t be frustrating. Our shelter volunteers and testers were asked to record their impressions when first putting the tester harnesses on dogs.
Durability and washability: We asked professional dog walkers for their opinions on how well these wear over time and whether they hold up after multiple washes.
Initial cost and replacement cost: We considered whether the price of the harness is justified and how easy it is to replace if chewed.
What else we considered
Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness: This is an affordable harness with a padded chest plate and both front and back leash attachments. It’s a solid choice as an everyday walking harness for larger dogs that pull moderately.
Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness: This is a somewhat effective no-pull harness, with a vest-shaped design similar to the Ruffwear Front Range. Unless your dog is barrel-chested, the front of the harness twists to the side whenever the dog pulls. The straps also require constant tightening as they loosen too easily.
Petsafe Easy Walk: This popular front-clip harness is inexpensive and easy to put on and adjust. The front chest strap, however, tends to sag more than any other harness we tested, causing it to hang across the dog’s front legs and impede movement. With no padding and thin straps, the Easy Walk may also rub and create abrasions. The buckle ends up under the armpit on many dogs, which can be uncomfortable.
Wonder Walker Body Harness: This is a sturdy front-clip harness that works well to prevent pulling. Unfortunately, the horizontal chest strap tends to sag significantly and ends up laying across the dog’s shoulders or front legs.
Bolux Dog Harness: One of the most inexpensive harnesses available, this harness does nothing to prevent your dog from pulling, as it only has one leash attachment on the back. Squirmy dogs can easily back out of this harness and escape.
How to get the right fit
Finding the right harness for your dog is like choosing the perfect running sneakers. The right fit is crucial. There’s nothing scarier than your dog wriggling or backing out of a loose-fitting harness. An ill-fitting harness will also be uncomfortable, and if it’s too tight, it can cause chafing. Sagging harnesses can impede a dog’s full range of shoulder or leg movement.
A well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to fit two to three fingers under all the straps. Check the sizing charts and read the instructions on how to measure your dog. When buying online, measure carefully and check the return policy before ordering. If you have a puppy, prepare to purchase more than one harness as they grow.
Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so what fits well for one dog may not work for another. You may have to try a few different harness styles if your dog has an atypical body shape.
Why do dogs pull on leash and how can you stop it?
No dog is born innately understanding how to walk on a leash. Most dogs will pull unless loose leash walking is taught and reinforced.
Dogs pull because they naturally walk faster than we do and because they want to get to the park or greet another dog or sniff something interesting. They pull because they’ve never been taught not to pull. Dogs also strain on the leash because it works for them: They pull, and they get to move forward. Tension at the end of the leash is a learned behavior.
The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to train loose leash walking using positive reinforcement. If your dog is a veteran puller, there is no humane piece of equipment that you can just put on them to instantly stop the pulling. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that neck collars do not prevent pulling and put too much pressure on the dog’s neck.
Although front-clip no-pull harnesses are not a magic bullet that will instantly stop your dog from pulling, they are a management tool. A good harness will help you manage and control your dog while teaching them leash manners.
Although we tested these no-pull harnesses on medium and large dogs, pulling on leash can be a problem for dogs of any size. While some handlers may tolerate leash pulling with a small dog, a no-pull harness is just as helpful for them.
How do front-clip no-pull harnesses work?
Front-clip harnesses are designed to discourage forward pulling by pivoting the dog toward you whenever the leash is taut. There’s no magic — that’s it. This spinning toward you provides a training opportunity while your dog focuses on you. If you keep walking whenever your dog pulls, you are not only missing out on the chance to train loose leash walking, but you are also reinforcing pulling.
Not all front-clip harnesses are created equal. Harnesses come in two basic designs: A Y-shaped chest strap or a strap that lays horizontally across the chest. Y-shaped harnesses better allow for full freedom of movement.
“Any product that forms a Y shape around the dog’s neck and under the chest is non-restrictive,” said Chris Zink, DVM, a canine sports medicine consultant and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.
The best no-pull harnesses have both back- and front-clip rings, and some brands now sell cleverly designed leashes that clip to both rings simultaneously, giving the handler better control and balancing leash tension across the body instead of at a single location.
Leashes that attach to the back of a dog’s harness are a safe and comfortable option for dogs that don’t strain on the leash. Back-clip harnesses are also useful for attaching a dragline when teaching recall (“come”).
Why we don’t recommend prong, choke, and e-collars
We only considered no-pull equipment that does not cause pain or discomfort for a dog. Prong, choke, and shock collars are all designed to punish a dog by inflicting pain around the neck whenever they pull. Prong collars and choke chains can also cause damage to a dog’s neck.
“As a general rule, I don’t like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck,” said Siracusa. “Definitely no prong or shock collars. Even a martingale-type collar, which I do like, will not prevent the dog from pulling [and] will apply pressure on the neck.”
Punishment and pain create fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs also have no place in modern dog training. Studies show that e-collars (shock collars) produce behavioral and physiological signs of stress when used on pet dogs. As of October 2020, Petco, the second largest retail pet company in the United States, discontinued the sale of all shock collars online and in stores. Shock collars are banned and illegal in many countries, including England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. To train your dog more humanely, effectively, and successfully, use science-based positive reinforcement and rewards-based training and handling methods.
No harness is chew-proof
There is no such thing as a chew-proof harness. A chewed-up harness is not a manufacturer defect or the fault of a poor design. It takes less than 30 seconds for a determined dog or teething puppy to destroy a brand-new harness, so take it off them when unsupervised. Be sure to also remove harnesses to prevent injury when dogs rough house, as teeth and limbs can get entangled.
If your dog is a veteran harness destroyer, check the manufacturer’s chew guarantees before purchasing. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous some of the replacement policies are.
Who we consulted
Anne Carter, PhD, is a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University.
Chris Zink, DVM, is a board-certified specialist in veterinary pathology and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chris is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians and researchers. She is a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Carlo Siracusa, DVM, is the director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Before administering any treatment to your dog, it’s important to consult your veterinarian.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Karie Johnson, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.
Picture this: It’s a cold November day. The sun is reflecting off a fresh layer of snow, and the family is gathered together for Thanksgiving. Everyone is watching the dogs play outside before heading in for dinner. It’s a beautiful fall scene – until someone notices bloody paw prints in the snow. Leave it to my German Shepherd Silas to slice open the pad on the bottom of his paw on Thanksgiving Day.
So what did I do? What any self-respecting dog mom would do in this situation: freak out. After I calmed down, we corralled Silas into the bathroom to assess the damage and contain the blood. Then we called the vet and got the lowdown on what to do for an injured paw pad. Unfortunately for Silas but fortunately for you, this wasn’t the last time he cut or cracked his pads, so I’m now an expert in injured dog pads. Below, I’ll walk you through the steps to take care of your dog’s pad and get it back to playing fetch in no time.
Call the vet
Every situation and every dog is different, so the first thing you should do is call your dog’s vet. If bleeding is severe or the pad is completely cut off, you might need to take your dog to its vet or to the nearest emergency vet if it’s after-hours. Taking Silas to the vet usually causes him more anxiety and trauma than whatever is bothering him in the first place. Luckily, we were able to save a trip, and his vet talked us through what to do over the phone.
You read that correctly. It seems strange, but this is what our vet advised us to do, and it worked perfectly. For smaller cuts or cracks, you can skip this step, but for a larger cut, manually hold the cut together and apply superglue. Hold the cut together until the glue dries. This acts in the same way a surgical glue would to hold a cut together.
Apply a balm
A pet balm or dog paw cream like Vermont’s Original Bag Balm can help the cut heal and soften its dry pads. Make sure the superglue is dry before this step.
Bandage the paw
In a pinch when this first happened to Silas, we used a paper towel and a clean sock, but once we were able to get the proper materials (gauze and self-adhering tape), we found they worked much better. Securely wrap the gauze around the cut and the dog’s entire foot. Then wrap the tape around the foot and partially up the leg. Self-adhering tape works well because it won’t pull your dog’s fur. Make the wrap tight enough that it won’t slip off, but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. If you notice that your dog’s leg or paw looks swollen, the bandage is too tight and should be loosened or removed.
Optional: If your dog is biting at the dressing, you can cover it with a sock or buy your dog a dreaded cone of shame.
Change the dressing
At least once a day, change the dressing and clean the injury again until the wound is healed. If you stop wrapping it too soon, it could reopen or get infected.
Try to keep your dog off the injured paw pad
For an active dog like Silas, this is the hardest step. One of the most effective ways to do this is to work on mentally stimulating activities to tire your dog out.
How to prevent this from happening in the future
Keep your yard free of sticks and other sharp objects.
Use dog boots if walking in hot weather or on salted surfaces in the winter.
Rinse your dog’s feet regularly in the winter. Cleaning Silas’ paws is so easy with our MudBuster.
Brushing your dog may feel like a chore, but regular brushing prevents tangles and mats – the snarled knots of hair trapped in the coat. Mats are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but they can be painful and irritating to the skin, even causing infections. Frequent brushing also distributes healthy oils and removes loose hair from the coat before it sheds all over your clothes and home.
To help you narrow down the best brush for your dog, I tested 23 different grooming tools over a three-month period with two dogs, a Labrador retriever with short, straight hair and a miniature poodle with long, curly hair. I received editorial review samples from manufacturers with the exception of Millers Forge, Chris Christensen, and ConairPro brushes, which Insider Reviews purchased.
I’m no novice when it comes to brushing dogs. I’ve been brushing, bathing, and clipping my poodle for his entire life (more than a decade now). I also brushed and bathed thousands of pets during my eight-year stint as a veterinary assistant. For additional expertise on dog brushing, I consulted with pet groomer Cassie Edmond, who is an animal caregiver at the San Diego Humane Society.
Dog brushes come in different styles for different coats. To know which type of brush is best for your dog, first identify their coat type.
Smooth: This type of coat consists of short, close-lying hair that grows in only one layer (no undercoat). Some breeds with smooth coats include bulldogs, Dalmatians, Boston terriers, Doberman pinschers, greyhounds, and Weimaraners.
Double coat: Dogs with double coats have two types of hair. The outercoat (outermost layer of hair) is longer and the undercoat (which lies close to the skin) is shorter and usually wooly or soft. Some breeds with double coats include Australian shepherds, border collies, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers.
Long hair: Long-haired dogs may have silky or coarse hair. Some long-haired dogs have an undercoat while others do not. Breeds with long hair include Afghan hounds, Maltese, shih tzus, and Yorkshire terriers.
Curly or wavy hair: Curly-haired dogs must be brushed regularly to prevent mats. Generally, they do not have an undercoat, although some mixed-breed dogs, including doodles, might have an undercoat. Breeds with curly coats include Bedlington terriers, bichons frises, poodles, and Portuguese water dogs.
To avoid skin irritation, choose the right brush for your dog’s coat type and avoid overbrushing. “There can be such a thing as too much brushing,” Edmond said. “Overbrushing causes something called brush burn, which is an irritation of the skin. Slicker brushes used on short-haired dogs can cause brush burn faster.”
Edmond recommends brushing your dog daily. Beyond grooming and hygiene, there are additional benefits. “Brushing regularly gives pet parents the opportunity to touch their pets all over, which can help identify possible health concerns early,” she said. “As a groomer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered lumps, bumps, cuts, or skin issues.”
Equipped with two brush styles and a nonslip handle, the versatile Hartz Combo Brush is ideal for dogs of many different coat types.
Pros: Stainless steel pins with safety tips, good for dogs of most sizes, antislip grip for comfort and control, affordable price, two brushes in one
Cons: Might be too large for toy dogs
A combo brush is two brushes in one: a pin brush on one side and a soft-bristle brush on the other. Use the pin side to brush out tangles and remove loose hair. The bristle brush works well for short-haired dogs such as dachshunds, pit bulls, and Chihuahuas. “It can be helpful in removing dead hairs during shedding season and redistributing the dog’s natural oils on its body,” said Edmond.
Our top pick for the best combo brush for dogs is the Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Brush. This brush is great for dogs of many coat types and also convenient if you have two dogs with different types of hair. I tested this brush on a miniature poodle and a Labrador retriever. Only the pin brush side was useful for the poodle coat, but the Labrador coat benefited from both sides.
Overall, this is just a really nice brush. It’s lightweight at just under 5 ounces, yet sturdy and comfortable to hold. The stainless steel pins have safety tips for safe and gentle brushing, and the nylon bristles are soft but stiff enough to do some good hair removal while brushing. Measuring 12.2 inches long and 3.2 inches wide, this brush is well-sized for small to large dogs. It’s not suited to the job of grooming toy breeds (for that, consider the Burt’s Bees Double Sided brush under “What else we considered” at the end of this guide).
Hartz also offers a satisfaction guarantee on all its grooming tools if they have not been misused or abused. Simply return the brush with a copy of your receipt within one year of purchase for a replacement or refund.
Pros: Reduces loose hair from shedding, doesn’t damage topcoat, skin guard protects from digging into skin, works for dogs of all sizes and most coat types, money-back guarantee
Cons: Not for use on nonshedding breeds, dropping tool can damage the teeth, overbrushing or applying too much pressure can irritate skin
Deshedding tools have one purpose: to remove as much loose hair from your dog’s coat as possible — before it ends up in your house and on your clothes. Although designs vary, deshedding tools often look like metal rakes or fine-tooth combs.
“Deshedding tools are a groomer’s best friend,” said Edmond, who has a Furminator in her personal grooming tool kit. “It is so satisfying to use this on a husky or German shepherd during heavy shedding seasons.”
The Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool landed in the top spot for this guide. I tested it on a Labrador retriever that sheds very heavily. The amount of hair I was able to remove from her coat was astonishing. It was far more than I could remove with any of the three other deshedding tools I tested.
The magic is in the stainless steel deshedding edge that reaches through the topcoat to safely and easily remove loose hair and undercoat without damaging the topcoat. The curved edge of the blade and skin-guard design help the tool glide over a dog’s body to prevent digging into the skin.
The Furminator’s ergonomic handle offered a comfortable grip, and the release button made it easy to collect hair from the tool and continue deshedding. For storage, a special edge guard protects the metal teeth. The manufacturer is so sure you’ll love the Furminator that it offers a money-back guarantee as long as the product is used and stored as directed.
Pros: Made for pets with sensitive skin, angled stainless steel bristles minimize irritation, rubberized grips and curved handle provide comfort and control
Cons: Not as effective for smooth-coated dogs with no undercoat (may cause skin irritation), might be too large for toy breeds
A slicker brush is made from very thin, closely set wire bristles that are good for general brushing and removing loose fur from long-haired dogs. A high-quality slicker brush should be stiff enough to untangle the coat but still gentle on the skin.
“I would not advise any pet parent to use a slicker brush for short-haired dogs as they can cause brush burn,” Edmonds said. “I would use this for long-haired pets and double-coated shedding dogs like Siberian huskies, German shepherds, and golden retrievers.”
We like JW Pet’s Gripsoft Soft Slicker Brush because it effectively detangles the coat and removes loose hair. With its flexible stainless steel bristles turned 90 degrees away from the skin, it also minimizes “raking,” which makes brushing more comfortable for your dog. The 5.5-inch-wide bristle area makes it a good fit for small to large-size dogs.
I tested this brush on a miniature poodle with a long, curly coat and a Labrador retriever with medium-length hair. Even though these two dogs have very different coats, the Gripsoft Slicker worked well on both types of hair. Before testing, I also ran each of the slicker brushes along the inside of my forearm to make sure they felt comfortable and found this one is very gentle on the skin. Owners of toy breeds will likely find this brush too big. For the smallest of dogs, I recommend checking out the Millers Forge Slicker Brush under “What else we considered” at the end of this guide.
The JW Pet Gripsoft is also durable yet lightweight and comfortable to hold with nonslip rubber grips on the front and back of the curved handle. When I was done brushing, I used my fingers to easily lift the hair out of the rounded brush head.
Pros: Stainless steel pins with rounded, polished tips for comfort; durable design; firm cushion with air vent for flexibility; comfortable wooden body and handle
Cons: More expensive than similar models, not ideal for smooth-coated dogs
For dogs with medium to long hair, a pin brush is a good option for removing loose hair and detangling. This type of brush consists of metal pins that are more widely spaced than the bristles of a slicker brush, which helps prevent hair breakage. The pins are also set into a rubber cushion, and a high-quality brush will have pins with rounded ends to prevent scratches on the skin.
We chose the Chris Christensen Oval Pin Brush as our top pick. I’ve used several Chris Christensen brushes and combs over the years because they came highly recommended by my poodle breeder. This brush lived up to the standard I’ve come to expect from the brand’s grooming tools.
I tested this brush on a miniature poodle and found it glided through his coat easily and gently detangled without scratching his skin or breaking off any hairs. The high-quality stainless steel pins have rounded and polished tips, and the pins are set into a durable, firm cushion that has an air vent hole for extra flexibility.
The wooden body and easy-grip handle are constructed from lightweight solid beech, making it comfortable to hold. The brush is available in three different pin lengths: 20mm for short coats, 27mm for medium to long coats, and 35mm for long, thick full coats.
The best curry brush
The easy-to-grip Bodhi Dog Bath Brush is like a loofah for your dog, and it’s effective for bathing or dry brushing.
Pros: Dry or wet use; effective yet gentle; handy strap for a comfortable hold; increases shampoo lather; massaging soft rubber bristles; natural, unrefined rubber limits chemical footprint; money-back guarantee
Cons: Not ideal for all coat types; strap might be too tight for larger hands; brush can be slippery when wet
This type of brush, which is also called a curry comb, is made of rubber or soft plastic. It has flexible nubs that remove dirt and loose hair from the coat. Curry brushes are also great in the bath when used to work shampoo deep into the coat, all while giving your dog a nice massage.
These brushes are best for dogs with smooth or short coats. “I use a curry brush on short-haired dogs during or right after a bath,” Edmond said. “I like to use it on dogs that are heavily shedding.”
Our pick for the best curry brush is the Bodhi Dog Bath Brush. I tested this brush on a Labrador retriever with a medium-length coat. I like how the strap makes it easier to hold the brush even when wet, although like all the curry brushes I tested, it can still get slippery when wet. The 5-by-3.5-inch brush’s strap fit my hand well, but people with large hands might find the strap a bit tight.
When used on a dry coat, the soft, split-ended rubber tips gently loosen and remove shedding hair and dirt. The Bodhi brush serves the same function in the bath and also increases the effectiveness of shampoo lathering for a deeper clean while turning grooming time into massage time.
Pros: Soft rubber nubs gently remove hair, flexible design for brushing all parts of body, massaging action ideal for dogs that dislike brushing, Velco wrist straps provide secure fit, available in three sizes
Cons: Not ideal for nonshedding dogs, sizing may not accommodate all hand sizes, somewhat difficult to clean hair off the gloves
Grooming gloves are great for shedding dogs that run away when you bring out the brush. They allow you to brush your dog by petting them, and most dogs love the soothing massage this provides. The rubber grips on the palm and fingers are good for removing loose hair.
The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Grooming Gloves are the best of the four styles we tested. I used these gloves on a Labrador retriever that isn’t a big fan of being brushed. Not only did the gloves remove a lot of loose hair, but she lay down on her side and was happy for me to continue brushing all over her body.
The five-finger design allowed me to gently brush all over, including her head, face, body, legs, and tail, while the soft rubber nodules gently collected fur. The Velcro wrist straps kept the gloves secure on my hands. For best results, brush in the direction of hair growth.
To clean these gloves, peel the hair off. Pro tip: It’s easiest to remove the hair when the gloves are full. The gloves come in three sizes to fit most hands: medium, large, and extra-large. I ordered the medium according to the size chart, and they fit well — snug but not too tight.
Four Paws Magic Coat Dual Mat Remover: Although the slicker side of this brush was nice, the dematting tool on the flip side just didn’t compare to the Furminator. However, this would be a good choice if you only wanted to purchase one tool that is both an everyday brush and a dematting tool.
Andis Deshedding Tool: While this is another effective tool, the Furminator and Oster were both gentler and easier to use.
Conair Pro Dog Undercoat Rake: I really liked the comfortable memory grip handle on this brush, but it just didn’t remove hair as well as the other deshedding tools that I tested.
Furbliss Pet Brush: I really liked the Furbliss, which is made from a soft and flexible rubber that gives a gentle massage. However, I slightly preferred the more rigid Bodhi Dog Bath Brush and the fact that it has a strap to help keep it on your hand in the bath.
If you have time, brush your dog every day to remove shedding hair, untangle knots, and redistribute coat oils. If you can’t brush daily, once a week is sufficient for most breeds. Dogs with long coats that tend to mat should be brushed two to three times a week.
How can I make grooming pleasant for my dog?
First, make sure the brush you choose is gentle on your dog’s skin. Test it against your forearm if you’re not sure. Give plenty of treats during brushing sessions, and stop if your dog is showing signs of stress. It’s better to break brushing up into mini-sessions rather than stress your dog out.
How do I know what kind of brush to buy for my dog?
Slicker brushes and pin brushes are good for most hair types other than very thin, smooth coats. Soft-bristle brushes and curry brushes are best for short, smooth coats. Deshedding tools are only for coats that shed. Grooming gloves can work for most coat types other than non-shedding breeds like poodles and Yorkshire Terriers. If you’re not sure what kind of brush to use, ask your veterinarian or groomer for advice.
How do I care for my dog’s brush?
Keep your dog’s brush dry and clean the hair out after each grooming session. To easily remove hair from a brush, slip a comb into the bristles near the base of the brush and lift all the hair out in one solid piece.
The best dog dewormers should treat four of the most common intestinal parasites in dogs and should be easy to administer.
Guaranteed to treat multiple species of hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, and whipworm, Safe-Guard 4 Canine Dewormer is our top pick for the best dog dewormer overall.
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.
Intestinal parasites are extremely common in dogs of all ages, and most can’t be seen with the naked eye, which means you might not know if your dog is infected. Some worms can be transmitted to humans (children are especially vulnerable), so it’s important to keep your dog parasite-free.
When choosing the best dewormer for your dog, you need to know what type of worms your dog has. If you suspect that your dog might have worms, bring them to the veterinarian for a physical exam and fecal test. Treatment is generally easy with over-the-counter dewormers for dogs.
You can purchase a dewormer for specific types of worms, or you can choose a broad-spectrum product that kills many different types of worms. Dewormers come in several forms including tablets, granules, powders, and liquids, so talk to your veterinarian about the option that is best for your dog. Once you know what kind of dewormer you need, take a look at our top picks for the best non-prescription dewormer for dogs.
Safe-Guard 4 Canine Dewormer (fenbendazole) is a broad-spectrum dewormer that kills four types of intestinal parasites commonly seen in dogs.
Pros: Kills four common types of worm, easy-to-mix granule formulation, safe and effective, kills two species of roundworm and hookworm
Cons: Large dogs may require more than one package, only kills one species of tapeworm and whipworm, three once-a-day doses required, not for puppies younger than 6 weeks of age
If you’re looking for a quick and effective solution to intestinal parasites, a broad-spectrum dewormer may be the way to go. These dewormers contain active ingredients that kill four types of common worms, including multiple species, and generally come in an easy-to-administer form. For efficacy, convenience, and affordability, Safe-Guard 4 Canine Dewormer is our top pick for the best dewormer for dogs overall.
Made with the active ingredient fenbendazole, Safe-Guard 4 Canine Dewormer kills two species each of roundworm and hookworm as well as the most common species of tapeworm and whipworm.
Generally recognized as a safe and effective dewormer for dogs, it comes in an easy-to-administer granule formulation that can be sprinkled on or mixed into your dog’s food and is safe for dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older. This dewormer is given once a day for three days. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends annual fecal tests to check for internal parasites at least once a year or as recommended by your veterinarian.
The best liquid dewormer for dogs
With pyrantel pamoate as the powerful active ingredient, Nemex-2 Liquid Dewormer is a safe and effective treatment for roundworms and hookworms in dogs and puppies as young as 2 weeks of age.
Pros: Highly palatable, liquid formulation is easy to administer, safe for puppies as young as 2 weeks, safe for pregnant females, good for dogs that don’t like tablets
Cons: Only treats roundworms and hookworms, large dogs may require a higher dosage
Many dogs dislike taking tablets and even powdered dewormers may be difficult to disguise in your dog’s food. If you’re looking for an alternative, a liquid dewormer might be a good option. Nemex 2 Liquid Dewormer for Dogs is our top pick because it is approved to treat roundworms and hookworms in dogs and comes in an easy-to-administer liquid.
Nemex 2 Liquid Dewormer for Dogs only treats roundworms and hookworms, so if your dog has tapeworms or whipworms, this medication will not be effective. The active ingredient pyrantel pamoate is highly effective and widely recognized as safe. Simply add the liquid to your dog’s food or feed it directly by mouth. One treatment should kill all worms. Follow up with a fecal test from your veterinarian to make sure the worms have been eliminated.
The best dewormer for puppies
Made with three powerful active ingredients, Bayer Quad Dewormer Chewable Tablets is a broad-spectrum dewormer safe for puppies and small dogs weighing at least 2 pounds and less than 25 pounds.
Pros: Three powerful active ingredients, broad-spectrum dewormer, kills four types of intestinal parasites, safe for puppies 2 pounds and over, palatable beef-flavored chewable tablet
Cons: Heavy infestations may require multiple treatments, some dogs dislike taking tablets
You may be surprised to learn that most puppies are born with worms. Fortunately, worms are generally easy to treat. Puppies should be treated with a dewormer at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks of age, followed by additional treatments as needed. Our top pick for the best dewormer for puppies is Bayer Quad Dewormer Chewable Tablets.
Specifically designed for puppies and small dogs weighing between 2 and 25 pounds, Bayer Quad Dewormer Chewable Tablets features three active ingredients — praziquantel, pyrantel pamoate, and febantel — to kill four types of worms commonly seen in dogs: roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. A single dose is enough to kill common worms and it comes in a highly palatable beef-flavored tablet. Follow up with a fecal test from your veterinarian to make sure the worms have been eliminated.
Pros: Broad-spectrum dewormer, made for dogs 6 to 25 pounds, easy-to-administer tablet form, two powerful active ingredients, cost-effective
Cons: Doesn’t kill whipworms, not ideal for dogs over 25 pounds, not for use in puppies younger than 12 weeks, should not be used in pregnant or nursing females
Products designed for dogs of all sizes and dosed by weight can be tricky to divide for small-breed dogs, especially if they come in tablet form. For a safe and effective dewormer designed specifically for small dogs, we recommend Sentry HC WormX Plus 7-Way Dewormer for Small Dogs.
This Sentry Dewormer is formulated specifically for small dogs 12 weeks and older that weigh between 6 and 25 pounds. The two active ingredients, pyrantel pamoate and praziquantel, quickly and effectively kill two types of tapeworms, two types of roundworms, and three types of hookworms. It comes in an easy-to-administer tablet form that can be fed whole or crushed and mixed with your dog’s food. Only one dose is needed to eliminate worms. Follow up with a fecal test from your veterinarian to make sure the worms have been eliminated.
Pros: Broad-spectrum dewormer, two powerful active ingredients, made for dogs 25 to 200 pounds, palatable chewable tablet form, easy dosing instructions, works quickly
Cons: Doesn’t kill whipworms, not for dogs that weigh less than 25 pounds, not for puppies under 12 weeks of age
Large-breed dogs require different amounts of medicines, and that is definitely true for dewormers. If you purchase a regular dewormer, you may find yourself purchasing several boxes to get the right dosage for a large-breed dog. Depending what brand you choose, the costs to treat your dog could add up quickly — especially if the product requires multiple treatments.
For a fast and cost-effective solution designed specifically for medium and large breeds, we recommend Durvet Triple Wormer.
Durvet Triple Wormer features a broad-spectrum formula made with two powerful active ingredients: pyrantel pamoate and praziquantel. This product is proven to kill two species of tapeworms, two species of roundworms, and three species of hookworms.
It comes in a highly palatable chewable tablet. Simply feed it directly or mix it into your dog’s food. For the maximum efficacy, repeat the dosage after two weeks. As with the other dewormers on this list, follow up with a fecal test from your veterinarian to make sure the worms have been eliminated.
What you should know about intestinal parasites in dogs
Four different types of worms commonly infect dogs and puppies: roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Puppies are also commonly infected with a single-cell intestinal parasite known as coccidia. Adult dogs can become infected with coccidia as well, but many dogs develop an immunity to these parasites.
Dogs can become infected with intestinal parasites in different ways. Puppies often become infected with roundworms prior to birth or when nursing from their mother. Tapeworms can be transmitted if a dog swallows an infected flea (treating flea infestations goes hand in hand with treating tapeworm infections). Dogs can pick up hookworms and whipworms from their environment, often from the feces of infected dogs, or contaminated soil or water.
Some of the most common symptoms of worms in dogs included digestive upset (vomiting or diarrhea), gas, bloated belly (pot-bellied appearance), increased appetite, unexplained weight loss, weakness, and bloody stool or diarrhea. In puppies especially, intestinal parasite infections can cause anemia and poor growth.
The FDA is warning veterinarians and animal owners that Sportmix pet foods from Midwestern Pet Foods may be toxic.
The dog food might contain dangerous levels of aflatoxins, a toxin created by certain kinds of mold. So far, 70 dogs have died and more than 80 have become ill after eating Sportmix food, although not all the cases are confirmed to be from aflatoxins.
Midwestern Pet Foods has issued a voluntary recall of foods produced at the Oklahoma plant, and owners should stop feeding the food to pets immediately and consult a vet. They can also report suspected cases of aflatoxin poisoning to the FDA, which is investigating Midwestern Pet Foods in cooperation with departments of agriculture in 10 states.
Aflatoxin poisoning can cause “sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea” according to the FDA. It can also result in long-term liver damage and death. No illnesses have been reported in cats or humans, The New York Times reported, although people are recommended to wash their hands after handling.
The pet food company first issued a voluntary recall in December when tests showed high levels of aflatoxin. On January 11, Midwestern Pet Foods expanded the recall to include other products, and the full list can be found on the FDA’s website.
“As a fourth-generation family-owned company, Midwestern Pet Foods has been committed to ensuring that our products are safe and nutritious for nearly 100 years. Until recently, throughout our long history, we’ve never had a product recall” the company said in a statement. “We continue a thorough review of our facilities and practices in full cooperation with FDA in an effort to better serve our customers and pet parents who put their trust in us.”
MPF listed the codes of all the affected pet foods here.
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Make your cat’s transition to their new home as seamless as possible by stocking up on the essentials before their arrival.
Cats need supplies like a litter box, food, toys, and scratchers to make them feel safe, encourage healthy habits, and provide them with stimulation.
We consulted with two cat rescue organizations and veterinarian Dr. Andrea Moore of Pinnacle Animal Hospital in California to determine the most important supplies to have when bringing a new cat home.
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 four experts, we’ve come up with a list of essentials to have when you bring a new cat home. For a veterinary perspective, we consulted Dr. Andrea Moore, owner and medical director at Pinnacle Animal Hospital in San Jose, California. Staff at two cat rescue organizations also lent their expertise on how to transition a cat to a new home: Danielle Carr, shelter manager at Town Cats in Morgan Hill, California, and Libby Farel-Friedman and Lindsay Franušić, supervisor and assistant manager of adoption programs, respectively, at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley (HSSV) in Milpitas, California.
Here are 19 pet supplies to have on hand when you bring your new cat home:
A cozy carrier for your cat’s freedom ride and beyond
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.
To help decrease stress and unwanted behaviors like urine spraying that go with it, both Moore and Carr recommend using a calming pheromone like Feliway during your cat’s first weeks at home. Feliway mimics the F3 facial pheromones cats deposit when rubbing their cheeks against surfaces in order to mark them as safe.
Earthquake putty to keep knickknacks, vases, and picture frames from becoming playthings
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 Franušić, adding that putty was a lifesaver for her.
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, Farel-Friedman said they recommend 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.
An unscented natural litter to make using the litter box appealing
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.
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,” Dr. Moore suggested using a flatter dish without steep sides.
Nutritious dry and wet food that your cat will love to eat
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
“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.
Tasty dental treats to help promote a happy, healthy mouth
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 collar to hold your cat’s ID tags
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
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
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 brush for removing excess hair and preventing hairballs
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.
“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.
“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
“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.
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 cardboard floor scratcher with tracking balls to promote independent play
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
“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.