This Amazon-Favorite Dog Toy Is Supposed to Soothe Your Dog — Is It Worth It?

published Sep 17, 2021
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My eight-year-old dog struggles with anxiety, which worsened during the pandemic. He’s become more reactive to new people entering our home and mopes whenever either of my parents is away for too long. And according to Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, the Veterinary Medical Advisor for Rover, my dog is not alone. 

“An entire cohort of pandemic puppies is pretty much used to near-constant human companionship and stimulation,” Dr. Greenstein tells Apartment Therapy. But even dogs who have been members of the family and household prior to widespread shelter-in-place orders and work-from-home mandates will likely have a tough time adjusting. “As we all start to contemplate post-pandemic life, when pet owners will no longer be home 24/7, one of the biggest pet health issues I see on the horizon is separation anxiety,” she says. 

When researching options to help calm my dog, I came across the Calmeroos Puppy Heartbeat Toy, a plush toy meant to ease a pet’s anxiety and comfort them by mimicking the experience of cuddling with their mama or former littermates. While intriguing, I was somewhat skeptical of the product’s effectiveness. However, the 1,000+ rave reviews on Amazon were encouraging. After contemplating the purchase for a few months, I decided to test the product on my pup. (For full disclosure, Calmeroos sent me a plush, which typically retails for $39.95, to try.)

The 11-inch plush toy came in a box with a battery-operated “heart” that pulsates like a heartbeat; two disposable heat packs; and two instructional cards. The large card directed me to switch the heart “On,” remove the air-activated heating pack from its packaging and place both inside the Calmeroos plush. The small card featured a special note, which instructed me to place the heat pack and heart on separate sides of the styrofoam divider to prolong the heart’s battery life, which can last three weeks before needing two AAA battery replacements. After doing so, I closed the inner pouch with the product’s surprisingly thick and durable velcro. 

Before introducing the toy to my dog, I waited 30 minutes for the heat pack to warm up. He was already laying on his dog bed, so I placed it beside him. At first, he confused the product for a dog toy. If your dog does the same, Calmeroos suggests removing the heartbeat toy for 30 minutes and reintroducing it, which I did. My dog quickly caught on and began to snuggle with the toy before walking away from it after about 10 minutes. 

Over the past week, I’ve caught him cuddling with the toy during his downtime, but he rarely does so for long periods. The heartbeat toy does help him settle down and relax during the day, but doesn’t alleviate stress during uncomfortable or fearful situations. “While no peer-reviewed scientific evidence exists to demonstrate how effective heartbeat toys really are in the management of severe anxiety, their premise is simple: pets may find reassurance in plushies that mimic the shape, coziness, companionship, and heartbeat of their moms and littermates, who they once slept beside,” Dr. Greenstein explained. 

In turn, the toy may provide more comfort to a newborn than an adult dog, and product reviews suggest that the Calmeroos plush may be better suited for puppies transitioning away from their mother’s care and littermates’ company into a new home. Customers note the heated heartbeat toy helped stop their puppy’s whimpering and soothe them to sleep. 

Overall, Dr. Greenstein suggests utilizing a heartbeat toy as just one tool of a multimodal strategy to improve and manage a pet’s nerves or behavioral issues. More importantly, Dr. Greenstein advises pet parents of anxious dogs to consult with a veterinarian to explore all management options available.

The Calmeroos Puppy Heartbeat Toy might be a great option for new pet parents who want to smooth the transitional period for puppies. However, it’s a riskier purchase for parents of anxious adult dogs. Still, the toy itself is high-quality — it’s soft, comforting, and safe for dogs of all ages due to its plush and plastic-free exterior. It isn’t an all-in-one solution for soothing an anxious dog, but it’s a high-quality option for diversifying your dog’s comforts, and better preparing them for spending more time at home solo.