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Treehugger / Catherine Song

Best of Green Awards 2021: Eco Pets

From pet toys and gear to food and nonprofits, Treehugger and The Spruce Pets shine a light on the best of the best for sustainable pets.

We are a people who love our pets. In 2020, Americans spent $103.6 billion dollars on their companion animals. This year that number is expected to be even higher by a few billion dollars. Our companion animals do so much for us, is it any wonder we want to spoil them in return?

Alas, there is a flaw in this plan. The production of all those products comes with a lot of problems for the environment. Many pet toys are made from virgin plastic and/or are produced in a way that makes them impossible to recycle. Gear and other supplies that are not durable break and join all the other discarded pet supplies in the landfill. Novelty items can be fun for a minute but are soon tossed. Food and treats may have questionably sourced ingredients and packaging that is not recyclable—not to mention the carbon emissions created during the production and shipping of all this stuff. The list goes on.

Fortunately, there are a number of pet supply companies that are putting sustainability at the top of their priority list. Whether it's independent newcomers creating innovative products or large international brands pledging sound sustainability initiatives, we are seeing more and more eco-friendly movement in the industry.

It's companies like these, and the products they make, that we are honoring in our Best of Green Awards for eco-friendly products for cats and dogs.

How We Chose Our Winners

To come up with our winners we teamed up with our sister site The Spruce Pets to combine Treehugger's authority in sustainability with The Spruce Pets’ deep expertise in all things pets. We called for nominations from readers, contributors, staff, and outside experts, then carefully vetted each nominee on a specific set of criteria. To help us spotlight the winners, we formed a panel of experts to test and/or comment on the products.

Meet the Panelists

headshots of panelists

Treehugger / Catherine Song

Melissa Shapiro: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
Melissa Shapiro is a veterinarian and lifelong animal welfare advocate. She is also mom to Piglet, the deaf blind pink puppy. Since bringing Piglet home in 2017, she has used his social media platform to educate, advocate, and inspire others to adopt pets with special needs. Her new book, "PIGLET: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family,” is available wherever books are sold.

Mary Jo DiLonardo: Writer, Puppy Foster Parent
Mary Jo DiLonardo is a writer and editor specializing in pets and wildlife. She is a dedicated foster parent who has fostered more than 40 puppies, many of whom have been featured in her writing.

Hilary Aver: Editor, The Spruce Pets
Hilary Aver is an editor at The Spruce Pets. She has also held positions at The Cut, Vanity Fair, and ELLE.com. She's the proud owner of a cattle dog mix named Georgie.

Judy Duhr: Founder & Director, Speak! St. Louis
Judy Duhr is the founder and director of Speak! St. Louis, a rescue that focuses primarily on special needs dogs that are blind, deaf, or both. Having worked in rescue for more than 20 years, she has an interest in products that are as healthy for the environment as they are for pets.

Melissa Breyer: Editorial Director, Treehugger
Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director who is a sustainability expert as well as an ardent animal lover who rescues both pets and wildlife. Over the years she has had hamsters, rabbits, horses, birds, fish, cats, and dogs; her current pet roster includes two giant house cats. 

Best Gear

eco pet awards gear

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

Max & Neo: Neo Dog Collar

What to Know: Quality matters so much when it comes to choosing a dog collar. You want something that will stand up to years of hard use, and we know that the Neo Dog Collar is a winner—it even took top place in the "heavy duty" category in our round-up of best eco-friendly dog collars. For every item purchased, Max & Neo donates a piece of gear to dog rescue groups across the country. 

Why We Chose It: Judy Duhr, founder and director of Speak! St Louis, is impressed by this company’s commitment to charity work. “Max & Neo gives back by donating boxes of their products to rescues. They also offer a very generous discount for rescues. It’s an incredible company and their products are exactly what our rescue needs. The collars are very sturdy and the reflective lighting is amazing at night. The collars hold up in the washer and last forever.”

Ruffwear: Flagline Dog Harness

What to Know: Ruffwear has some serious gear for outdoorsy dogs and their owners who like to do more than just stroll through the neighborhood. The Flagline harness is a highly adjustable, lightweight, and comfortable dog harness that comes with a handle, front and back clips, and a handle and load-dispersing panel on the chest/belly that makes it easy for you to help hoist your dog whenever he or she needs assistance. This feature is also handy for older or healing dogs that might need a boost.

Why We Chose It: Mary Jo DiLonardo, pet writer and puppy foster parent, says this harness is great for adventurous outings. “Hikers love Ruffwear gear. There's a lift-and-assist handle to help your pet over creeks and crevices, and several places to attach a leash. The fabric is very durable and withstands lots of wear and tear. There are also all sorts of great colors.”

Lupine Pet: Eco Safety Cat Collar

What to Know:  The webbing on the colorful Eco Safety Cat Collar is made from 100% recycled plastic. The collars are crafted in the same workshop in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that Lupine Pet has used since its inception in 1990. The collar features a breakaway safety buckle that will release if more than five pounds of pressure is sensed, preventing your cat from getting tangled in branches or other interesting things. You can order the collar with or without a bell. 

Why We Chose It: DiLonardo likes that these collars are made out of recycled plastic bottles. She says, “Lupine collars are soft, yet durable. I have a Lupine dog collar that has lasted for years and still looks and feels great. These eco-collars come in six muted earthy colors and have an ‘even if chewed’ lifetime guarantee.” This means that the company will replace any pet gear that’s been accidentally damaged during normal pet-related activities, including chewing or scratching.

Kitty Holster

What to Know: The Kitty Holster boasts an ingenious "inescapable" design that's easy for you to get your cat in and out of. Made in the United States from 100% cotton (with an undyed cotton lining to help prevent skin reactions), it is breathable and has no harsh nylon webbing, thin straps, or plastic clips that could cause discomfort or skin abrasions for your pet.

Why We Chose It: “We usually think of harnesses for dogs, but they’re great for cats as well,” says Melissa Breyer, Treehugger’s editorial director. “Especially since cats aren’t so great at coming when called,” she adds. The Kitty Holster can be used for taking a cat to the vet, while traveling, and especially for taking walks outside, Breyer explains. “I especially like this model because it’s 100% cotton and designed with a cat’s comfort in mind.”

Wilderdog: Alpine Reflective Leash

What to Know: This Alpine Reflective Leash is made from upcycled climbing rope, which guarantees toughness. Woven into the rope are four strands of reflective tape for added safety when visibility is low. The leash comes with a locking carabiner that ensures your dog cannot become unclipped. Because it's made from climbing rope and carabiners, the leash can be tied in numerous ways to serve different purposes, such as going hands-free, making a coupler for two dogs, creating a short traffic handle, and more. 

Why We Chose It: “My first concern when I take my dog for a hike where I live in Maine is that she's going to be easy to spot, especially if there are hunters in the area or it gets dark,” says Hilary Aver, editor at The Spruce Pets. “This reflective leash is a great way to keep your little canine hiker safe.” We also like the fact that all Wilderdog leashes are made in the U.S. and come with a lifetime quality guarantee.

Best Furniture

eco pet awards furniture

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

NaturoPet: Natural Pet Bed

What to Know: It may not be a bed of roses, but it's the equivalent for your pet. The supremely comfortable Natural Pet Bed is made from American-raised wool and organic cotton. It is a perfect sleeping spot for dogs of all sizes, ages, and abilities, with natural materials that are breathable and water-repellent. A zippered washable cover makes for easy cleaning. As the manufacturer says, "This bed is virtually indestructible and able to outlast synthetic pet beds for years!" 

Why We Chose It: DiLonardo likes this eco-bed because it has two organic cotton covers stuffed with a filling made of 100% natural wool, which has been humanely and sustainably harvested. “There’s never any downtime for your pet's nap schedule,” she adds. “The outer cover can be easily machine-washed, leaving the inner cover so your pet always has a place to snooze.”  Plus, this bed is handmade in the U.S.

Boba & Vespa: Water Gem Cardboard Cat House

What to Know: If you set this up in the corner of your home, it's bound to become your cat's favorite place to hide, sleep, and play. It will also be an automatic conversation starter for anyone who sees it. The Water Gem Cardboard Cat House is a unique take on the traditional polyester cat bed. Made from 100% recyclable and compostable cardboard, its eye-catching pyramidal shape makes this cat house look good in any room. Cats will like the fact that it offers a roof over their head, an elevated entryway, and a cozy cradled base. 

Why We Chose It: “No one said cats could only hang on top of the cabinet or their special kitty towers,” Aver says. “This Water Gem cat house is the perfect shape; it won't take up too much space, and your cat will feel secure when they hang out there!” Bonus points for the fact that the cardboard structure will biodegrade fully within 2-3 months. 

Molly Mutt: Pet Bed

What to Know: The Molly Mutt Bed is a DIY pet bed of sorts. You fill a 100% cotton canvas duvet cover with a bunch of your old clothes—things that you would have tossed anyway—and voilà, your dog has a soft and comfortable bed that smells like the best thing in the world (to him or her, at least), which is you! This ingenious design saves textile waste from going to landfill and avoids the creation of yet more synthetic filling. The bed’s outer material is durable, washable, preshrunk, and built to last.

Why We Chose It: If your dog spends a lot of time relaxing on a bed, you want that space to be comfortable. This sustainable option offers comfort and all kinds of great designs to blend in with the rest of your home decor. We love the fact that this bed repurposes old clothes—a vastly underutilized resource—in a smart and effective way. 

PetFusion: Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge

What to Know: Your cat will be delighted by the feel and shape of the cardboard used to make this Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge. It offers a place to scratch, get exercise, and relieve stress, as well as to sleep and lounge. This toy is an attractive addition to any room in the house and will help protect your furniture while also giving your cat the stimulation that he or she craves.

Why We Chose It: Breyer says, "My cats LOVE this lounge. They play hide and seek with it, and they scratch it and sleep on it. We've had one for six years with two cats and it still looks great." That’s some heavy use and impressive longevity, so we know this product is built to last. We also love that it’s made from recycled cardboard with non-toxic cornstarch glue, which means that it will biodegrade fully when it’s been scratched past redemption. 

Best Food

eco pet awards food

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

The Honest Kitchen: Dehydrated Dog Food

What to Know: Honest Kitchen's Dehydrated Dog Food was an editor's pick in Treehugger's roundup of best dog foods. It has a super clean and ethical ingredient list that rivals even human food when it comes to quality. The food is free from all artificial preservatives, byproducts, and fillers and is low in sodium and phosphorus. There are grain-free and whole-grain versions. Because the product is dehydrated, the amount of edible food is quadruple the weight of what you purchase; the box only weighs 10 pounds, yet makes 40 pounds of fresh dog food. To serve, add warm water and wait three minutes.

Why We Chose It: About one-third of Honest Kitchen ingredients are certified organic with proteins like humanely raised free-range chicken and Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish. They use no preservatives, fillers, or GMOs. The company has an impressive commitment to preserving biodiversity and using solar power, and is working to incorporate renewable materials into its packaging.

Jiminy’s Chewy Cricket Treats

What to Know: You might find the idea of munching on crickets to be icky, but your dog loves them, especially in the form of Jiminy's Chewy Cricket Treats. Crickets can be good for dogs with sensitive stomachs and help to build and support a diverse microbiome in the gut. They’re supremely nutritious, raised without the chemical and resource inputs required for meat production, and are arguably one of the most ethical forms of protein. They’re also highly eco-friendly, using far less water than regular treats.

Why We Chose It: “Every dog and puppy who has tested these treats has loved them!” DiLonardo explains. “Featuring crickets and grubs and plant-based ingredients, the snacks lower your pet's carbon footprint. They're also super soft and smelly, which makes them perfect for training treats.” Those carbon savings are real. Jiminy’s says that, compared to a five-ounce bag of traditional dog treats, the cricket treats save 220 gallons of water.

Beco Pets: Bamboo Bowl

What to Know: If you're in the market for a new dog bowl, check out this Bamboo Bowl from Beco Pets, a company that has won awards for its outstanding ethical and corporate social responsibility. The Classic Bamboo Dog Bowl is made from a blend of renewable bamboo, rice husks, cornstarch, and PLA resin. (PLA is a plant-based material.)

Why We Chose It: Made from bamboo and rice husks, these bowls are not only sustainable, they are also attractive. They come in five colors and patterns and are safe to use in the dishwasher. They contain no BPA. We like that Beco Pets is PETA-approved and does not test on animals. A percentage of profits is donated to charities helping animals around the world.

Wild One: Organic Baked Treat Kit

What to Know: Wild One's baked treats contain nine plant-based ingredients, and they all sound so tasty that you might be tempted to take a nibble, too. Made from 100% USDA-certified organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and oils, they come in a variety pack of three flavors. These snacks have no artificial colors, flavors, or fillers, and are free of corn, wheat and soy. 

Why We Chose It: “My pup is obsessed with these treats,” says Aver. “The shape is easy for her to eat in one bite, and I feel good about the ingredients they contain. She doesn't know that I'm secretly giving her something really healthy for her, so it's a win for both of us.”

Stella & Chewy’s: Raw Dinner Morsels

What to Know: Cats love raw food, and this is no exception. With added probiotics and pumpkin seeds to help with digestion, Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried morsels (which won “best overall” in a Spruce Pets roundup) can be served as-is or with water to rehydrate it. The company uses all-natural ingredients, responsibly sourced proteins, and organic produce. Stella & Chewy’s food is made in the U.S. and does not include grain, gluten, filler, artificial preservatives, or food coloring.

Why We Chose It: “Cats are notoriously picky eaters, so I was thrilled when my cats decided they love a food that meets my nutritional and sustainability standards,” says Breyer. “Rather than piles of cans or heavy bags of food, this food is light as a feather, easy to ship, and comes in bulk,” she says. “That my cats never turn their noses up at it makes it all the better.”

Best Cleaning and Grooming

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Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

Radius: Organic Canine Toothpaste

What to Know: Dogs need clean teeth, too! This USDA-certified Organic Canine Toothpaste will scour your pet's teeth and gums, leaving them fresh and clean, thanks to tasty coconut oil (good for whitening and reducing bacteria) and cinnamon. The toothpaste contains no xylitol, chemicals, pesticides, GMOs, glutens, fluoride, parabens, detergents, carrageenan, SLS, or any type of synthetics. Reviewers say their dogs are happy to let owners brush their teeth because they find it so tasty.

Why We Chose It: If anyone knows a thing or two about brushing dog teeth, it’s DiLonardo, who’s fostered more dogs than we can count. If she vouches for a product, it must work. She says, “Brushing dog and puppy teeth isn't always fun, so at least make sure the paste is healthy and tasty. Radius is USDA-certified organic with no chemicals, fluoride, parabens, detergents, or any synthetics. Plus it's a woman-owned and operated, family-run business.”

TriNova: Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover Eliminator

What to Know: It is frustrating when natural cleaning products don't work as effectively as synthetic ones, but TriNova will not disappoint. This Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover is 100% natural and boasts professional strength and an impressive track record at getting old and new pet stains and smells out of everything. The versatile enzyme-powered formula can be used on most surfaces, including bedding, mattresses, cages, kennels, laundry, clothes, hardwood, litter boxes, and more. And if for some reason you're not happy (unlike the thousands of rave reviewers), you can get a full refund.

Why We Chose It: “I’ve tried so many stain and odor removers over the years, most of which have been nauseatingly overpowering or just haven’t really worked at all,” says Breyer. In our Best of Green Awards for cleaning products, we awarded Begley's Best Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover for the best pet product, but Breyer says it’s a tie with TriNova. “I actually love the smell of TriNova,” says Breyer. “It’s floral but natural; it swaps pet smells with a scent that is subtle, fresh, and lovely. It’s really one of the best-smelling products I use.”

Ewegurt: Dog Shampoo Bar

What to Know: We're big fans of shampoo bars here at Treehugger, as it eliminates unnecessary plastic bottles, so you can imagine our excitement at finding Ewegurt's shampoo bar for dogs. This unique formula, made from sheep's milk yogurt and coconut oil, lathers richly, moisturizes fur, and rinses away without any residue. It's handmade in small batches in the Midwest. Reviewers are loyal fans, saying it's the best shampoo they've ever used on their pups.

Why We Chose It: “There are lots of great, natural dog shampoos,” DiLonardo says, “but this is a sweet sheep-shaped bar handmade in the U.S. out of sheep's milk yogurt. The nubby texture likely feels like a nice massage on your pet as your lather up.” We’re fans of anything that makes bath time easier for pets and owners alike.

AtEase: Bamboo Brush

What to Know: Both dogs and cats need to be brushed regularly, and what better way to do it than with this beautiful bamboo brush? This lovely pick from AtEase, a retailer of eco-friendly pet products, features soft, coated pins that massage your pet’s body during brushing. This removes the dead undercoat, brings out natural oils, and improves the overall quality of the fur by boosting blood circulation and promoting healthier growth. Your animal will look forward to getting groomed when you pick up this brush.

Why We Chose It: The fewer plastic products we bring into our homes, the better. Says Aver, “This simple brush is the perfect option for keeping your pet's fur from matting up and to prevent overshedding. If you don't like it, though, you have a money-back guarantee.” 

Best Toys

eco pet awards toys

Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

West Paw: Rowdies Plush Toy

What to Know: Many pups love to chew—and while this can be good for their teeth, it can mean destroyed household items or toys that get obliterated in no time. Enter the Rowdies Plush Toys from West Paw, built for the roughest dog play. The super durable fabric and 100% recycled plastic filling make for a toy that can stand up to dogs' liveliest games. These are handmade in Bozeman, Montana, and come with a guarantee for replacement if your dog manages to get the best of it. West Paw has a strong sustainability policy and has many toys made out of recycled and recyclable material.

Why We Chose It: Lindsey Reynolds, Treehugger’s content quality and visual editor, vouches for this toy. “My pitties can tear a pillow or stuffed animal apart in less than 60 seconds. Not only are these Rowdies strong enough to withhold tough play, they're made with an eco-friendly IntelliLoft fill (made from recycled plastic bottles). It's worth spending a little more to have a toy that lasts through chews, rather than to keep replacing it with cheap landfill-bound items. The company will also replace or refund if your dog is an extra Toy Destroyer.”

Ducky World: Yeowww! Catnip Banana

What to Know: This award-winning catnip toy will make your cat go bananas—in a good way! The cotton casing is stuffed with carefully selected 100% organic catnip. As the company notes, "We sample each catnip harvest and pick the highest quality based on freshness, color, and aroma. No chemicals or pesticides are used in cultivation. We like to use only the leaves and flower tops for an out-of-this-world blend that only Yeowww!! Catnip has."

Why We Chose It: “Catnip is a great way to keep your cat entertained and calm,” says Aver, “and this organically grown catnip is stuffed inside a durable toy to prevent a mess! Win for your cat, win for you.” We like the fact that both catnip and toy are grown/made in the U.S., too.

Ripple Rug

What to Know: "It's the flippity floppity rug that cats and kittens love!" The Ripple Rug is a cat toy like no other—a large 35-inch-by-47-inch play mat that allows your fur baby to explore, scratch, hide, sleep, and burrow for fun. The rug is strong, nontoxic, colorfast, and resistant to mildew and mold. It's easy to spot-clean with soap and water, but is also machine-washable. 

Why We Chose It: It’s been called “the most creative cat toy in the world” for good reason. Cats love it, and we love the fact that each one is made in the U.S. from 24 recycled plastic water bottles. To date, manufacturer Snuggly Cat has repurposed roughly three million bottles. The company also donates Ripple Rugs to shelters and rescue groups.

Good Karma Rope Toys: Jerry the Giraffe

What to Know: Adorable Jerry the Giraffe is hand-tied from rope that’s naturally dyed, making it perfectly safe for your pup to chew. And while he or she chews, it will fray and act as doggie dental floss. You can also trim or remove pieces when major fraying occurs. 

Why We Chose It: Aver points out that these toys are dyed with natural vegetable dyes, “so you can feel good about your dog playing tug with it as their favorite toy—because it will be!” We also like the fact that Jerry the Giraffe is fully biodegradable and compostable, which means you don’t have to worry about it clogging up landfills once it’s been chewed beyond use.

Best Waste Supplies

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Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

World’s Best Cat Litter

What to Know: The aptly named World's Best Cat Litter stands out for its unique formula, made from whole-kernel corn. Corn-based cat litters are made from finely ground whole corn kernels or ground corn cobs. The cobs are more environmentally friendly because a waste product is being given a new purpose. This litter is dust-free and highly absorbent; it clumps quickly to trap odors and biodegrades fully. It’s made in Iowa by a company that gives back a portion of proceeds to organizations supporting rescue cats.

Why We Chose It: “Cat litter has always been an elephant in the room for sustainability-minded cat owners, which is why I was thrilled to discover World’s Best,” says Breyer. “I was afraid that an all-natural litter wouldn’t perform very well, but this one is a superstar! We use the lavender-scented one; our home doesn’t smell like lavender perfume, but it doesn’t smell like kitty litter either.” 

Dooloop

What to Know: The Dooloop is a deceivingly tiny and simple gadget that will make a world of difference on your daily dog walks. Attach it onto your leash and you'll immediately have a handy spot to hang poop bags, freeing your hands for a mess-free walk. Here’s to a cleaner world where no doggie poop bags ever get left along the sides of roads and trails (not that we think you’d ever do that)!

Why We Chose It: DiLonardo says, “I see a lot of pet products and this was my favorite this year. There's no excuse to leave a poop bag behind: Just hook it onto this gadget for easy carrying on your leash. It's made in Maine out of BPA-free, recycled and recyclable plastic, and has zero-waste packaging. Plus it looks cute! I've had people stop me while walking my dog to ask about it.”

Pooch Paper

What to Know: If you're willing to be open-minded about dealing with dog poop, this is a clever product that helps reduce plastic waste. Made in the U.S., Pooch Paper is a recycled, non-chlorine-bleached, and grease-resistant square piece of paper that you can use to scoop up your dog's deposit. You just twist it closed and toss it in the trash whenever you have the chance. The sheets are 100% biodegradable, compostable, and manufactured using renewable energy. 

Why We Chose It: “There's a bit of a learning curve when using paper to scoop poo,” DiLonardo says, “but these sheets are made of 100% biodegradable, recycled, plastic- and PFAS-free paper. Just scoop, twist, and deposit. And the sheets fold easily in your back pocket until you're ready to use them.” You’ll get the hang of it in no time and may wonder why you didn’t switch sooner.

Max & Neo: Reusable Dog Pee Pads

What to Know: Training a puppy involves dealing with lots of messes, which is why having a washable, absorbent pad is a great idea. Skip the disposables with this Pee Pad from Max & Neo, which has numerous five-star reviews from happy customers. It's designed to handle messes of all sizes, with a quick-drying top layer, an absorbent core layer, and a non-stick bottom coating barrier that protects surfaces from fluids. Reusability is always a winning concept here at Treehugger, so we’re big fans.

Why We Chose It: Duhr describes this as “another amazing product by Max and Neo.” She goes on to say, “These are fabulous and save so much money and our planet rather than using disposable pads. Also, with the disposables, puppies often chew them up. Disposable pads do not stay put, but these pads do. They are excellent to use for older dogs and dogs who are under medical care, like recovery from surgery. If you place these pads on top of a dog bed, it will keep the dog bed clean and dry. They also work well in your car after taking your dog for a swim. I love the large size.”

iPrimio: Ultimate Stainless Steel Cat Box

What to Know: The iPrimio Ultimate Stainless Steel Cat Box is a great choice for a litter box because it's durable and built to last. This particular box is open on top, which many cats prefer, and extra large for comfortable use—almost two feet long and 15 inches wide. With its smooth sides, no sharp edges, and rubber feet on the bottom to prevent slipping, it won “best overall” in an earlier roundup of top Treehugger litter box picks.

Why We Chose It: If your cat doesn't need privacy in the bathroom, this open stainless steel litter box is a solid pick. Breyer loves this box because it's stainless steel and does not rust, absorb smells, or get stained. "It’s easy to clean," says Breyer, "and after a lifetime of plastic litter boxes, I love the idea of one that will last for decades."

Best for Calming

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Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Retailers below

Thunderworks: Thundershirt

What to Know: More than 70 million dogs in the U.S. suffer tremendous anxiety from things like thunderstorms and fireworks. For many of those pets, there's a surprisingly simple fix—a snug-fitting jacket that creates mild pressure to calm the animal. The ThunderShirt helps anxious dogs in 80% of cases and doesn't require any training to use. Lightweight, breathable, and machine-washable, these ingenious "shirts" are also useful for separation anxiety and travel.

Why We Chose It: “The ThunderShirt can be a very effective tool for dogs who have anxiety, especially during storms and fireworks or other stressful times,” Duhr explains. “It is a great option and worth trying rather than first turning to medication.”

Bach Original Flower Remedies: Rescue Remedy Pet

What to Know: Rescue Remedy Pet is a bottle of liquid drops that can offer natural, non-drowsy relief to pets that are feeling uncomfortable or unhappy with travel, loud noises, and other stressful situations. The 80-year-old homeopathic formula is created using Dr. Edward Bach's famous combination of five natural flower essences, handpicked from his original gardens in the United Kingdom; these include rock rose, impatiens, clematis, star of Bethlehem, and cherry plum.

Why We Chose It: We love that this formula is for pets of all shapes and sizes. Aver likes it for cats, noting that sometimes, even getting your anxious kitty to the vet can be a challenge. She says, “This stress-relieving homeopathic treatment might help keep your cat from trying to escape its carrier ... and make things a lot easier for you.” (As always, please talk to your veterinarian before trying a new supplement for your pet.)

Pet Acoustics: Pet Tunes

What to Know: Animals respond differently to sound frequencies, which is why what your pet hears matters—and affects his or her mood and behavior. Pet Acoustics creates recordings, known as Pet Tunes, to be played through a specialized speaker that can help calm your pet, whether it's a cat, dog, horse, or bird. From the website: "[This is] a natural and profound method that minimizes stress for health, which is clinically proven and repeatable."

Why We Chose It: “Better than just leaving on the TV for your pet when you leave the house, this music is created specifically for an animal's hearing range to calm and soothe,” says DiLonardo. "It's really relaxing, lovely music—even for people!"

Thunderworks: ThunderEssence Calming Spray

What to Know: Essential oils have been used for centuries in many cultures to treat various aspects of well-being. This blend from ThunderEssence, the makers of the ThunderShirt, is tailored specifically toward dogs, and comes in either spray or drop form. As reported in Treehugger, the spray is effective during car rides or when spritzed around a room where your pet is staying.


Why We Chose It: Some people have success calming their pet’s anxieties with certain essential oils. This blend is a mix of essential oils from lavender, chamomile, and Egyptian geranium. It can be spritzed on bedding, in the car, or on a collar or bandana your dog wears to help create a calmer, less anxiety-ridden atmosphere.

Best Organizations

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Treehugger / Photo Illustration by Catherine Song / Nonprofits below

Best Friends Animal Society

What to Know: Best Friends Animal Society is a leader in the national no-kill movement. It runs the largest animal sanctuary of its kind in Utah, established in 1984 and currently home to more than 1,600 animals needing lifelong care. It has a network of 3,100 additional shelters in 50 states, making it one of the most accessible pet rescue organizations out there. 

Why We Chose It: “Best Friends is an animal sanctuary and adoption center built on kindness, inclusion, and accessibility for all pets and the people who adopt them,” veterinarian Melissa Shapiro says. “Through community engagement, conferences, and fundraising events, Best Friends brings the animal welfare community together in a unique and very effective way.” Judy Duhr adds that the organization sends out much more detailed information than the state’s department of agriculture when animal laws change, which is very helpful. “They offer many training programs and tours to help everyone involved in rescuing animals.”

Snooty Giggles

What to Know: Snooty Giggles is a rescue organization that specializes in pets with special needs of all kinds. It has no restrictions on breed, size, or age, and strives to help any dogs that may have injuries from serious accidents, birth defects, or diseases. Some cannot see or hear; others require significant surgery and medical care. Some are extreme seniors and simply need a home where they can spend their last days with love and support.

Why We Chose It: DiLonardo explains that this Tennessee-based rescue focuses on finding homes for special needs pets—like those with neurological issues—that are often overlooked. “This is where I first fostered a blind and deaf puppy and realized how these pets just have ‘super powers' and they are all special.”

Cats Safe at Home

What to Know: Cats Safe at Home is a Portland, Oregon-based collaborative dedicated to humanely reducing outdoor cat populations through outreach and education. The campaign was created to help wildlife and wild birds (of which up to 2.4 billion are killed annually by outdoor cats in the U.S.) but also to help cats, whether stray, feral, or free-roaming. Cats Safe at Home is one of the best resources we’ve come across for all things catio, the wonderful enclosures that allow cats to have outdoor time without endangering wildlife or themselves. 

Why We Chose It: “After having lost cats to both coyotes and cars, I’m all in for the catio concept,” says Breyer, who also volunteers with Audubon during bird migrations. “Catios are a wonderful way to keep birds (and other creatures) safe from cats, while also keep cats safe from cars, predators, and disease. A great situation for all.” Breyer notes that Cats Safe at Home gives local catio tours to help spread the word, and has all kinds of other information for interested cat owners. (For some major catio inspiration, check out this tour of a spectacular one in Treehugger’s Instagram stories.)

Wings of Rescue

What to Know: With Wings of Rescue, volunteer pilots fly pets from overcrowded shelters to adoption centers where they stand a better chance of finding families. The charity was created in 2012 to move at-risk shelter pets from disaster areas to safe havens with empty kennel space. No other pets are displaced from their shelters when these imported ones arrive. Over nearly a decade, 57,000 pets have been flown to safety. These animals find families quickly: The average amount of time a pet stays at a shelter before adoption is only 3.5 days. 

Why We Chose It: Duhr says, “These types of programs and pilots are so important to the rescue community. It can be difficult finding transport for dogs who are in an area overrun with homeless dogs and are often forced to euthanize for space. Those who dedicate their time and planes to fly these dogs to rescues who are able to help are lifesavers!”

Petfinder

What to Know: Petfinder isn’t an animal shelter or rescue group; rather, it facilitates adoptions for thousands of animal rescue organizations across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Updated daily, its database shows listings from nearly 11,000 rescue groups and shelters, helping future owners connect with their pets. You can search by breed, age, size, and location, and set up email alerts to be notified when a potential perfect match appears. It’s considered one of the best and most comprehensive pet search tools out there. 

Why We Chose It: Shapiro says, "Over 250,000 adopted pets are listed on PetFinder's user-friendly site, making it the most well-known source of adoptable pets. Filters for location, species, breed mix, size, age, and special needs, as well as other resources on the site, optimize the likelihood of a good match and the chance of success for adopters and their new pets!"