10 min read

Introducing The Dodo Paw Of Approval

The first and only award tested by real cats and dogs 🐾

the dodo paw of approval logo

Here at The Dodo, we don't just love animals — we love our own dogs and cats more than life itself. They’re members of our family just like our kids, moms and dads. We take them on vacations, throw them birthday parties and are constantly on the lookout for the very best pet products that they will become obsessed with. That's why we launched The Dodo Paw of Approval, a new seal of approval designed to recognize and reward the absolute best cat and dog products in the world. It’s also the only pet award that’s literally judged by real cats and dogs.

How We Find The Best Products

We often start with a product that has changed a Dodo pet's (or her parent’s!) life for the better — things we wish someone had told us about years ago. The joint supplement that finally allows our senior dog to play ball again without limping, or the genius pet hammock that magically keeps our car’s backseat free of fur. Other products are just the things our pets choose to use every single day — the cat bed that mimics the security of a cardboard box, or the plush toys without stuffing that give heavy chewers a chance to have their very first stuffed animals. And if our pets love it, we think yours will too.

How We Make Sure They’re Awesome

Our Paw of Approval selection team then reviews every product carefully to make sure they’re up to The Dodo’s standards, which we refine with help from our expert advisory panel of vets, trainers and other pros. We look for things like:

  • Quality — Is this item made from safe, pet-friendly materials or ingredients? Does it look clean and modern, and is it something we want in our homes?
  • Safety — Has this item been associated with any known safety issues? Does it follow current veterinary best practices?
  • Reputation — Is this company known for making awesome products? Are the reviews on any third-party retailer overwhelmingly positive?

Our initial screening weeds a LOT of items out. But if an item makes it through, we select a group of Dodo dogs and/or cats (from our pool of more than 100 testers!) with similar needs to try it out. Their goal is to make sure every item is a must-buy, and is a product we’d recommend to our own friends and family.

The Only Award Where Pets Literally Pick The Winner

During this final judging process — which can take up to several weeks depending on the item — every toy, treat, harness and litter box is sniffed, tasted, scratched and pawed at until we know exactly how our pets feel about it. Nothing passes our judging panel unless it genuinely makes our own pets do a full-body wag or become a purr machine. Just some of the things we look for include:

  • Pet response — Did our dogs and cats absolutely obsess over it? Was this the most exciting toy they’ve ever seen, or the yummiest treat they’ve ever had?
  • Durability — Was it destroyed in 15 minutes? Can it hold up to real pet wear-and-tear?
  • Value — Will we actually keep buying it forever, and would we tell our friends to do the same?
  • Safety — Are there any safety issues we missed in our initial review? Did our pet parents feel comfortable giving it to their cat or dog?
  • Authenticity — Did any marketing claims hold up to real-world testing? Can this product actually calm our dogs’ anxiety, or finally get those stinky cat pee stains out of our carpet?
  • Style — Whether it’s the fit of a pittie sweater, or the packaging a food subscription came in, how excited were our pet parents to receive it?

While companies may provide us free samples once we select their product for testing, they can’t pay for placement. All product opinions are 100 percent our own (and our cats’ and dogs’)!

We Have A Winner!

If a product passes our judging, only then is it awarded the Dodo Paw of Approval — a seal designed to mark the most innovative, exciting, must-have products in the cat and dog retail space.

Once a product is awarded a coveted Paw of Approval, we publish a full review with detailed recaps of our pets’ behavior with the product — along with obsessive details about our pets’ personalities, backgrounds and needs — so that other parents can accurately decide whether a product is right for their best friend.

Why Do We Do This?

We're not a laboratory, and we're not trying to batch test every product on the market. We want to ferret out and celebrate the hidden gems in the overwhelming pet market space — those products you text your friend about because they’re just that good, and the ones you try once and know you’re going to purchase forever.

The Dodo is made up of pet parents who have built the #1 animal brand on understanding exactly what makes animals feel happy, safe and loved. For years, our content team has personally vetted every organization we’ve partnered with to make sure they have animals’ best interests at heart. We talk to our own vets, trainers and trusted rescuer friends whenever we have a question about safety or welfare. When we look at footage to use in our videos, we always put the animal first, making sure his agency is visible. We ask questions like, “Does the animal look happy?” and “Is he choosing to be in this situation, or is a person making him?” Now we’re bringing that same rigor and passion to the pet product world.

Our dogs and cats are family, and we are always looking for new ways to keep their days interesting and their lives long. We’re here to honor the products that do just that.

Do you have a product you love that you want to share with our testing team? Send a tip to dodopaw@thedodo.com.

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