30 gross mistakes you don't realize you're making with your pets

Make your pets’ lives — and your own life — a lot easier.

ByNikol Slatinska
Originally Published: 
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Pets are resilient creatures, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel guilty as an owner when you fail to ensure their well-being to the best of your ability. Much like parenting, being responsible for a dog or cat comes with its own set of stressors and challenges. Are they staying hydrated after long walks? Will that toothpaste upset their stomach? Is their collar too tight? If only your four-legged friends could talk, right?

Thankfully, solutions to most of your pet-related problems are just a couple of clicks away, whether you’re in the market for deodorizing wipes that get into every crevice of your dog’s face, a nail trimmer that helps prevent unwanted accidents, or a scooper that keeps the litter box spick-and-span. The best part? You can find these items and plenty of other helpful gadgets on Amazon for less than $40 each. It’s a worthwhile endeavor. After all, your pet makes your day-to-day so much better, so why not make their existence more comfortable in turn?

Below, you’ll find a curated list of items that will improve your best friend’s quality of life (and your own). All products have been selected for their countless positive Amazon ratings and ease of use, so there’s no worrying about whether you’re doing well with your pet. If anything, they’ll enjoy these purchases even more than you will.


Mistake: Not hydrating your dog during walks

Solution: A bowl that you can travel with

Temperatures might finally be cooling down a bit, but that doesn’t mean your favorite trail partner should go without H2O during a walk or playtime at the park. If you’ve ever tried sharing water from your own bottle, though, you know what a mess that can be. This collapsible bowl solves that conundrum, and its size is especially great for larger dogs. It expands to hold up to four cups of water. When finished, just flatten it, attach it to your pet’s leash, and you’re both ready to go.


Mistake: Not practicing regular grooming

Solution: A brush that mitigates excessive shedding

Going to the groomer should not be the only time Fido or Fluffy gets brushed. Regularly maintaining your pet’s coat with this silicone bristle brush will not only prevent far-reaching fur fallout, but it might also help them relax. You can even use this brush during bath time by adding soap to get a deeper clean. Later, simply remove the silicone screen to get the fur off.


Mistake: Using a leash that’s rough on your hands

Solution: A leash with a soft, padded handle

Walks should be enjoyable for both your dog and you. But it’s difficult to take in the surrounding sights and sounds if a scratchy leash is chafing your hand. This nylon alternative features a handle that’s padded with neoprene, so no matter how hard your dog tugs, your grip stays in control. The leash is also a considerable length (10 or 15 feet depending on your choice) and has a convenient D-ring for a baggie dispenser.

  • Available colors: 2


Mistake: Letting your pet get food and water all over the floor

Solution: A waterproof mat that catches stray drops

You can potty train your pup, but you can’t exactly teach them how not to get kibble and water on the floor during dinnertime. With this feeding mat, however, you no longer have to sop up wet messes from your tiles. The mat’s silicone surface, coupled with its raised edges, catches all fallout from your excited eater. Its raised diamond pattern also keeps bowls from sliding.

  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Using a regular towel after bath time, only for your pet to still be soaking

Solution: A super absorbent microfiber towel

If you’ve made the switch to a microfiber towel for your own hair, then you know that this accessory is an absolute game-changer. With this towel designed specifically for pets, you can also eliminate minutes of scrubbing and tugging with a regular towel for your dog or cat. The Hertzko towel soaks up water quickly but remains lightweight, simplifying a process that can otherwise feel like a wrestling match.

  • Available colors: 2


Mistake: Not cleaning between your flat-faced dog’s wrinkles

Solution: Anti-inflammatory wet wipes that clean and protect the skin barrier

Owners of pugs, bulldogs, or any adorably smush-faced dog will want to snag a pack of these wrinkle wipes, which can be used to remove the gunk from all those flaps and folds. In addition to cleaning hidden surfaces, these wipes are also formulated to calm and rebuild your pup’s skin and prevent microbial infections. And even if your dog doesn’t fall into the category of a “squishface,” you can still use this product to wipe away tear stains.


Mistake: Using the wrong tool for nail trimming

Solution: Nail scissors that prevent injuries

Is there anything that stirs up as much guilt as cutting your pet’s nail too close to the toe? Most pet owners would likely agree not. It’s important to invest in quality nail clippers, such as these scissors by Hertzko, because not only is such a mistake painful, but it can also lead to infection. These scissors have a safeguard to avoid trimming too close, alongside a comfort grip and anti-slip handle so that they’re comfortable for you to use. These also come with a free nail file.


Mistake: Not being able to see your pet’s nails while cutting them

Solution: An electric nail grinder with an LED light

If you feel uncertain every time you have to press down and clip your dog or cat’s nails, you might opt for an electric trimmer like this one, which actually grinds them down for a more precise shape. What’s more, a built-in LED light allows you to see the progress and pull away before the nail gets too short. This product works best for nails that are not too long and that just need a quick file. A USB cord is included for easy charging.


Mistake: Using an abrasive brush on your sensitive pet

Solution: A comb that’s perfect for short-haired friends

Sure, keep your brushes for your Persian longhairs and border collies. But a domestic pal who’s short-haired or tender-headed will need something gentler. This comb is just the thing. With only two rows of wiry teeth, it achieves a precise, thorough sweep through shorter coats. The comb is also effective when checking for fleas — which should be part of your routine — allowing you to carefully section off and inspect select patches of fur.


Mistake: Letting your cat track litter throughout the house

Solution: A mat that traps debris and keeps floors dry

Teaching your kitty to use the litter box is an achievable feat, but getting them to kindly clean their paws before stepping out so as to not spread the granules everywhere? Not so much. Fortunately, this non-slip mat cleans their paws for them, helping you maintain spotless floors. Simply place it under the box and vacuum or shake off the trapped litter.

  • Available colors: 5


Mistake: Using a flimsy cat litter scooper

Solution: A sturdy scooper that gets into corners

A pooper scooper is one product you definitely don’t want to get in plastic. This one is made of solid cast, non-stick aluminum, so you won’t have to worry about dropping anything or messy clean-ups. It also has grooves and a deep, wide shovel for easily reaching corners. “I hate to sound excited about a cat litter scooper, but this one really made the job easy!” an Amazon reviewer raved. “The handle is very comfortable and is the perfect length to lean against the inside of the box if you need to readjust the bag you are putting the waste in.”

  • Available colors: 2


Mistake: Not pet-proofing your car

Solution: A seat cover that protects your animals and your vehicle

Even the most relaxed felines and canines should not be left unguarded during car rides. If you find car seats a bit excessive, opt for a seat covering like this one, which has headrest anchors and anti-slip backing to keep your pets safe and secure. The fact that it also protects your vehicle’s interior from scratches and shedding is an added bonus.

  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Not picking up after your dog on walks

Solution: Leak-proof doggie bags for on-the-go

Part of being a good neighbor entails keeping your community clean of your pet’s droppings. These handy bags will do the trick. Not only are they fully leak-proof and extra thick, but they’re also scented. Basically, they make an otherwise gross experience as pleasant as possible. And you can get a pack of 900 for $36, so you’ll never be left empty-handed after a No. 2.

  • Available colors: 2


Mistake: Saddling your dog with a burdensome collar

Solution: A breathable, lightweight collar designed for comfort

Could you imagine living every day with a tight, oppressive device around your neck? This is an unfortunate reality for many dogs, but there’s an easy way to be kinder to your best friend. This collar, made with nylon webbing, comes in sizes S to XL and adjusts to your pooch’s neck for optimal comfort. They’ll barely even notice it’s on.

  • Available colors: 4


Mistake: Not thoroughly scrubbing your home’s surfaces after accidents

Solution: A carpet cleaner that eliminates stains and unwanted odors

When you walk into a home that’s had its fair share of urinary accidents, the smell immediately gives it away. It’s best to bust those bad odors on the spot, and this citrus-scent stain remover and deodorizer does just that. It works on virtually every type of surface, and the attached UV light ensures you never miss a spot. And it’s safe for both kids and pets.


Mistake: Letting strangers pet your skittish dog

Solution: Embroiderable vest patches that prioritize consent

These patches, which read “Ask To Pet” and can easily be embroidered onto a doggy vest, are great for service animals but also for nervous pups. Unfortunately, you can’t expect others to always be courteous when approaching, but these patches will at least give them pause. Life can be stressful, even for your buddy, so do what you can to make the day-to-day run a little smoother for them.


Mistake: Letting your pets roam freely in the car

Solution: A sturdy seat restraint that attaches to leashes

Sure, glimpsing a dog happily sticking its head out of a car window, tongue splayed, will quickly make your day better. But keeping pets securely restrained on drives is best — after all, accidents don’t just affect humans. This leash tether comes in five lengths and will keep a dog of any size in place should any jostling occur. Simply clip one end onto your pup’s harness and the other to one of your car’s latch bars, and you’re all set.


Mistake: Bathing your dog with an irritating shampoo

Solution: A hypoallergenic shampoo for pooches with sensitive skin

If your mutt seems to be frequently scratching itself, it might be time for a soothing bath. Be sure to use a non-abrasive shampoo such as this one that’s made of certified organic ingredients. No dyes, sulfates, or fragrances in this bottle! A neutral PH balance promises to relieve some of that irritation for your beloved dog.


Mistake: Not brushing your dog’s teeth

Solution: A breath-freshening toothpaste that won’t upset the stomach

Some dog owners are unaware that they need to brush their pets’ teeth. If you’re trying to avoid expensive and painful teeth-pulling, you’d be smart to pick up something like this enzymatic dog toothpaste. A daily sweep of those biters with this product, which comes with a brush, will keep them minty fresh.


Mistake: Not properly maintaining the litter box

Solution: An odor eliminator made with essential oils

Yes, it’s where your cats go to the bathroom, but that’s no excuse to have a stinky litter box. With this odor eliminator, busting bad smells is easier than ever. All you have to do is sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the granules into clean litter and mix well. That’ll keep the box fresh until the next scooping, when you’ll want to repeat the process. One customer noted that they went so far as to add some granules to their laundry to remove urine odors as well.


Mistake: Keeping your pet’s food open and unsealed

Solution: A locked container that keeps pests out

You keep your own cuisine sealed, and you should apply the same treatment to kibble. Not only will this airtight pet food container keep your four-legged housemates’ food from going stale, but it will also prevent bugs, rodents, and, yes, even your hungry pets from getting in. The container is made from BPA-free plastic, so it’s both non-carcinogenic and shatter-proof.


Mistake: Wrestling with your cat during bathtime

Solution: A shampoo spray that’s free of harsh ingredients

Cats can often bathe themselves, but sometimes they need a little extra help. This Burt’s Bees waterless shampoo spray will keep your feline’s coat clean and smelling like apples. The spray is free of sulfates and fragrances, so it’s gentle enough for kitties of all ages.


Mistake: Not stimulating your dogs’ curiosity and playfulness

Solution: A fun puzzle game that involves treats

Playtime can be tiring for both you and your pal. Like a toddler with an iPad, your dog will stay occupied with this interactive puzzle game without any involvement required from you. All you have to do is place some food or treats in the little compartments and let your pet go to town. For less than $15, it’s a cheap and easy way to indulge their hunter instincts.


Mistake: Letting your dogs track mud throughout your house

Solution: A transportable paw washer that’ll help prevent stains

Let’s face it, owning outdoorsy dogs can be a detriment to nice floors and furniture. But why should you have to give up one or the other? With the MudBuster in play, you don’t, This helpful gadget is essentially a plastic cup with a bristled silicone insert. When your little rascals are ready to come inside, just fill the cup with water, insert their paws into the opening, and give them a few gentle twists. Muddy catastrophe averted.

  • Available colors: 6


Mistake: Letting your anxious cat fend for itself

Solution: A diffuser kit that helps promote a calm environment

Prevent unwanted cat behaviors, such as scratching and urine spraying, with a simple wall plug-in. This diffuser emits a vapor akin to your cat’s natural pheromones, reducing tension between pets and helping them feel more relaxed. “I’ve had a kitten that was found on the street at 7 weeks old, and he would not let me approach him or touch him,” one reviewer shared. “After a day of having the plug-in, he electively came up to me and snuggled, purred, and slept.”


Mistake: Letting plaque build up on your dog’s teeth

Solution: A simple water additive that maintains oral hygiene

As we’ve established, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth — but, that’s not necessarily easy for some dogs. A great alternative is this Dental Fresh water additive. As the name implies, you just add some to your pet’s water bowl and allow the tartar-reducing formula to work its magic. $10 and you don’t have to lift a finger (or a brush)? Sounds like a worthy buy.


Mistake: Hosing down your nervous pet

Solution: A two-in-one brush and shower attachment that feels less forceful

Keep anxious bathers calm with the highly practical Aquapaw shower attachment, which slides onto your hand so that you can rinse your pets without spooking them. The silicone bristles are great for scrubbing and supportively petting your pooch during what can often be a stressful activity for them. Plus, being able to keep your hand close to their body will prevent a watery mess in the bathroom.


Mistake: Ignoring your pet’s frequent ear-scratching

Solution: Ear cleansing wipes that help prevent infections and eliminate odor

A somewhat common misconception is that pets’ ears don’t need to be cleaned. Although it’s true that you don’t want to go too deep inside the canal, the opening of the ear could benefit from an occasional swipe. These Pet MD ear cleansing wipes are perfect for that, removing wax and dirt to leave your dog or cat’s ears looking tidy and smelling pleasant. If your pet seems to constantly be scratching or shaking its head, these are a must.


Mistake: Relegating your small pets to an uncomfy bed

Solution: Soft pet bedding that your hamster or rabbit will want to snuggle into

Wood shavings are the traditional cage filler for mice, rabbits, hamsters, and other small pets. But, they’re neither the most comfortable nor the most absorbent option. This Kaytee Clean & Cozy pet bedding will keep your little cage dwellers' environment dry, odorless, and dust-free, meaning you don’t have to change the bedding out as frequently as you would otherwise.


Mistake: Not giving your dog a tasty dental dessert

Solution: Plaque-busting treats that leave breath smelling fresh

As a pet owner, you’d be smart to get some teeth cleaning into your dog’s daily routine in whatever sneaky way you can. With these dental dog treats, your pup won’t even mind. In addition to reducing the build-up of plaque and tartar, these chews also contain no artificial colors or flavors and no added wheat, grain, or corn. In essence, they’re healthy in every conceivable way.