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Material Matters – Things to Consider When buying a Pet Nappy or Diaper

Being in the situation where you are trying to work out if a dog nappy is the best solution for the situation you and your pet are currently in can be one of confusion, misinformation and stigmatization. In this article we are going to cover why dogs might need nappies, different types of pet diapers, what the right type is for your pet and their needs and what materials are safe. At Dundies® we have delved deeply into the materials that make up pet nappies and diapers and the nasty side effects that untested and unregulated materials can have for your pet. We’re all about happy, healthy pets and creating homes of less mess, less stress and more cuddles, so let’s get into it!

Why do pets need nappies or diapers?

There are many different reasons you might be considering using a pet nappy for your dog, cat or even farm animal. Utilizing a nappy can help to protect your home and your health from pet mess. Nappies can allow you to keep your furry family member with you inside or extend their lifespan and life quality rather than having to alienate them outdoors or euthanize them when pet mess becomes too stressful to manage and you are not sure what else to do. There are many reasons an owner may choose to use a pet nappy but the top reasons that people most frequently use pet nappies or pet diapers are:

  • Female dogs in season
  • Senior pets suffering incontinence
  • Post-surgical and special needs related continence issues
  • Unwanted marking and urination behaviours and
  • Anxiety and travel urination

Each of these different reasons require different absorbency, protection and styles of pet nappies. When it comes to female and male animals, their anatomy differs. In dogs, a female pet vulvar is located close to the anus, and in male dogs, their penis sits along their belly under their waist. For this reason, it’s important to consider the gender of your pet when purchasing a nappy.

What are the different types of dog nappies and diapers?

To understand what the best choice of nappy is for your pet, you need to know your options. Currently on the market you can choose between disposable and reusable nappies for both male and female dogs. We are going to explore these different types of dog diapers and their pros and cons and things you need to consider when it comes to materials.

You can use this handy flow chart to work out what style of nappy or diaper you are going to need for your pet. In short, male dogs suffering from urine concerns only will require a belly band. Male dogs suffering both urine and faecal incontinence with require a male dog specific full coverage nappy or a combination of a belly band and a regular dog nappy. Female dogs on heat require a nappy designed for heat or incontinence and female pets with incontinence either urine or urine and faecal need a nappy designed specifically for incontinence.

The different types of pet nappies and pet diapers currently available and some of their positives and negatives. 

Materials and infections

So, what should you look out for in a pet nappy or diaper that could be harmful for your pet? The pet industry is largely unregulated, so unlike shopping for nappies or diapers for a human baby, you don’t have instant reassurance that the product you are buying for your pet is safe. Here at Dundies we live, breath and use our products every single day on our own pets, so safety is at the forefront of our companies’ beliefs. If we wouldn’t use it on our pets, we certainly wouldn’t want you to.

Through over 12 months of research and development, testing and trialling different materials in collaboration with vets, we quickly learnt that some materials are just not good for pet nappies. Certain materials can cause a range of issues from ammonia burns to thrush, urinary tract infections and even as severe as anal prolapse. We have personally experienced each and every one of these issues and we want you to avoid ever experiencing these things with your precious pet, so let’s talk through the major three no nos and things to look for.

Number 1. 

Microfibre directly against the skin. This material is found in the absorbency pad of every single reusable pet nappy that is manufactured in China. You probably have this material in your home already, it’s often used in pet towels and kitchen dish cloths because of its ability to draw up moisture. This might sound great, but against the delicate areas of your pet, microfibre can dry out the skin by pulling out the natural oils. This can lead to cracks, rashes and sores that urine can then enter and irritate which may need antibiotic treatments from your vet. In worst case testing, we saw microfibre pull so much moisture from the pet’s anus that it caused an anal prolapse. Although it’s great for absorbency, it has a tendency to cause compression leaks. If you have an incontinent pet and they wet their nappy, when they sit down, all the pee will pool and push out the sides causing leaks.

Dog anal rash after anal prolapse from microfibre direct against the skin.

Number 2.

Waterproofing. You’re buying a nappy or pet diaper to help protect you from pet mess, so you want to make sure that there is a waterproof layer that is going to prevent leaks. Dundies use an Australian made medical grade breathable waterproof material in our nappies and belly bands. You want to make sure the waterproof layer is breathable so that ammonia doesn’t build up causing smells and skin irritation. For this reason, it is best to avoid nappies or diapers that use pilcher plastic or a fabric called TPU, a cheap laminated fabric commonly used in Chinese manufactured nappies.

Ammonia burn rash caused by poor / no breathability in a dog diaper.

Number 3.

Natural and tested fibres. Looking for a nappy with natural fibres that have antibacterial properties is the best way to ensure your pets health. Here at Dundies we use a naturally antibacterial bamboo fabric in the absorbent core and inserts for our nappies. Bamboo is also a thermoregulating fabric, so paired with our breathable outer layers, your pets’ genitals stay cool. Having synthetic fibres, or materials such as bamboo or cotton batting, designed for quilting, will retain heat. This heat paired with urine or faecal matter creates the perfect breeding ground for bacterial infections and can cause issues such as urinary tract infections, skin irritation and ammonia burn that will cause suffering for your pet and require medical attention. It’s also important to make sure that only natural fibres or wicking fabrics that are undyed are in direct contact with your pets’ genitals. Some dyes in fabrics like printed cotton, flannelette or fleece can react with the PH balance of your pets’ genitals and result in bacterial thrush.

Inflammation caused by a heat rash of a diaper made with TPU and cotton batting fabric.

If you are finding your pet diapers are causing any of these issues, or you want to learn more about treating and preventing infection and inflammation, you can read our FAP and CCC principles of care developed in collaboration with vets here, and remember, if your pet is ever showing signs of infection, always seek medical advice from a trained veterinarian.