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Pet Tips & Tricks
When we're camping we attach a glow stick to our dog's harness so we can see where she is at night.  She disappears without one!
We've learned some stuff over the years, despite ourselves!  A lot of the credit for the ideas on this page has to go to our clever customers and their awesome problem solving skills.


We like to share information, but you should take our advice, advice from groomers, breeders, other owners etc... to your Veterinarian for approval.  They are the true pet experts and can often save you and your pet some grief with thier expertise.  We've run everything we've posted here by our Veterinarian friends, and we'd encourage you to do the same before following any of it.  One size does not fit all.


We hope some of these ideas can
make your life easier!


How to keep ants out of your pet's food

Time to get medieval. You need a moat! Simply put a shallow pan (almost anything will do) under your pet's food dish and fill it with an inch or so of water. Ants and other bugs will not be able to reach your pet's food dish. You can put something- a small stick, short rope, maybe a rock- near the edge to help them climb back out should they fall in.

How to stop your dog from pulling

Choke collars don't work without damaging your dog's throat. Ever use one and heard your dog cough? It's because they will pull against the collar to the extent that they can take the pain. The trick is to make pulling less rewarding by changing the angle, let physics work against the dog. All you need is a basic harness.


The standard way to attach a leash to a harness is via the metal ring on the dog's back. Harnesses are far superior to collars- you can pull your dog out of traffic, back on the trail, or back into the boat with one, all without pulling on the dog's neck or head.

There is a second ring on a harness, it is where the straps meet by the dog's chest. Attaching the leash here instead changes the dynamic of pulling- when the dog pulls, he turns himself sideways. It makes pulling less rewarding, and doesn't hurt the animal the way a choking collar does.
How to carry an old dog

Carrying an old dog can be difficult, but a proper hold can make a big difference.
Stand next to the dog and place your front hand under the chest and between the front legs. Gently grip the front leg / cradle the chest and shoulder area. You should take the dog's weight on your forearm / wrist area, which will be under the ribcage. This is a strong area on an animal- never lift from the belly or neck areas!
Reach over the top of the dog and around the rear legs, gently gripping the leg closest to you.
You are creating a cradle for the dog to "sit" in. Do not squeeze or bend the dog, this lifting style should not be painful to the dog in any way.
Bend your legs and lift.
Hold the dog close and firm, take short controlled steps.
 
If you have trouble lifting your dog, don't do it.

Falling while carrying your dog can cause injury to both of you.
Hardwood floors and your old dog

Hard floors- wood, tile, etc. are tough on old dogs. The biggest problem is repeated falling where the dog injures the same area over and over by falling the same way repeatedly. The simplest solution is to put down a mat or area rug, but these can be pricey and if the dog has an accident they can be ruined. Our solution comes from Harbor Freight tools, they are very inexpensive and durable floor mats that can be configured in many designs and can be hosed off without worry. We've seen these from $6.99 to $10.99 per 4-pack; Harbor Freight always has coupons online or in magazines, search for "Harbor Freight Coupon Code". Harbor Freight also has a flat $6.99 shipping fee for most orders.  They have two stores near NW Denver, one on Colfax west of Ward and another on Sheridan south of I-36.

Here's two pieces put together to make eating easier. They come four pieces to a pack and include various edge pieces to give it a finished look in various configurations.
Here are 3 sets put together under some workout equipment-
they're very tough and durable, but also cheap enough to dispose
of when they get gnarly.
Item #94635 harborfreight.com

From Harborfreight.com:

This set of anti-fatigue foam mats gives your aching feet a rest indoors or out. Waterproof, lightweight and easy to clean, these anti-fatigue mats lock together in multiple configurations, great for placing in front of work tables or any area where you might be standing for extended periods of time. The foam mat set is impact absorbent, adding both comfort and safety to your work area.

  • Impact-absorbing textured nonslip surface
  • Resilient neoprene rubber is waterproof, easy to clean
  • Interlocking squares form multiple configurations
  • 1/2 in. thick
  • Each square: 25 in. x 25 in.
How to build a ramp for your pet

Stairs can be rough for old pets, but a ramp can help a lot. We build a lot of these for our customer's pets. The most important thing with a ramp is to make it as long as possible to minimize the angle. Secondly, minimize the transitions at either end by mounting the top as close to level as possible with the next surface, and bury the low end into the ground or landscaping when you can.
Basic ramp construction- three 2x4s as the frame, with two cross braces and a diagonal brace on the bottom. Railing braces are 2x4 as well. Tread boards are cut fence boards, as are railings. All connections are done with deck screws and waterproof glue. We prefer to use cedar deck boards with small gaps rather than a solid board so rain and snow can easily drain.
This is how to build the frame for the stairs. Three 2x4s support the treads, and a Z brace of 2x4s is added to the underside.
Railing height is determined by the dog that will be using it. The railing should be squared up with the meaty part of the dog's shoulder. If your dog is prone to splaying legs a rail towards the bottom can prevent her feet from sliding off the ramp- however, it is useful for snow removal to have an opening if you can.
How to measure stairs for your pet
Stairs have two components- the tread and the rise. Both of these can be tailored to your pet's body with two simple measurements.
With your pet standing still, measure the distance between the front and rear feet. 1/2 of that distance is the correct tread length for your pet.
Measure from your pet's front elbow to the floor. 1/2 of that measurement is the correct rise height for your pet.
Family Owned & Operated Since 1999
How to cut a cat hole in a door

A cat door can be handy for a door you want to keep closed to keep the dog out or the litter box odor in. To make a cute mouse-style doorway all you need is a coffee can and a book.
Take the door down and lay flat. Place anything round in the center of the door near the bottom- measure your cat's height to get an idea of where it should be. Trace the circle.
Use a straight edge to mark the sides- if you don't have a tool, a book or magazine will work to make straight lines. Just make sure it's squared up with the bottom of the door before you trace the lines.
Cut the hole with a manual or powered jigsaw.
Foods your pets should avoid:

Alcoholic beverages
Apple seeds
Apricot pits
Avocado- toxic to birds, mice,
rabbits, horses, cattle, & dairy goats
Cherry pits
Chocolate (all types)- poisonous to dogs, cats, and ferrets
Coffee
Hops
Macadamia nuts
Moldy foods
Mushroom plants
Mustard seeds
Onions and onion powder
Peach pits
Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
Raisins
Rhubarb leaves
Salt
Tea (caffeine)
Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
Walnuts
Yeast dough
How to get cats to drink more

You want your cat to drink as much as possible to avoid renal failure. We see more cats pass from renal failure than anything else, it is the "old age" disease of cats. The best preventative is drinking, and here's some ways to do it.
Tuna Juice- buy tuna in water and drain the water into a bowl for your cat. You can add a small amount of additional water as well to dilute it and increase the volume.
Extra Water in Canned Food- you can add a lot of water to canned food, and some cats love it! Even if you cat won't eat soup like this guy, adding a tablespoon or two usually goes unnoticed.
Lactose Free Milk- cats are lactose intolerant, but if your vet approves, Lactose free milk can be a good choice for your cat's diet.
Fountains- cats like moving water. There are a lot of different types of fountains, like this cool egg shaped one that can go inside any bowl.
New & Different- Cats like new things. If you put water in new places, in new dishes or cups, there is a good chance your cat will try it and hopefully like it. Sodium-free broths are worth trying too, some cats like them.
The best litter box

Isn't a litter box at all, it's a cargo box from the Home Depot. Target and other places carry them too. The sides are tall so male cats don't spray out, and they have handles built into them that make them easy to move and carry. We generally don't recommend a liner- to clean one of these you can put a half gallon or so of hot water with some cleaner in it, put the cover on and swish it. Then take it outside and hose it out. Easy! When it gets gnarly dispose of it, or put it in your alley- for some reason even nasty used ones of these seem to get taken for reuse.
The best litter scoop

We have used them all, the Petmate Ultimate is the best one. It's well sized and strong with a long handle. Click on the image for their website; you can buy them at Target, Petsmart, just about anywhere.
Things to do before traveling:

1. Turn off the water to your washing machine, ice maker, and any other appliance you can.  The water hoses on these appliances bursting is the number one source of water damage when folks are away- fortunately, it's easy to avoid! If you don't know where the shut-offs are, most of the time you can see the hose coming from the appliance and follow it to the valve. You can buy burst-proof hoses at the Home Depot for about $30.00. They have built-in flow sensors that shut off the water in event of a leak.

2. Leave extra water for your pets. 
If you come back later than expected, or a huge snow storm hits, or if the key you gave your sitter doesn't work, it's good to know your pet has enough water until someone can make it there. Water is more important than food. A nice big bowl can give you peace of mind.

3. Give extra keys. 
One set with your sitter, one with a relative or friend that lives close enough to drive over, and give each the other's phone number; or leave two keys with your sitter, incase one breaks or fails. We've gotten many bad keys over the years, especially brand new copies, and a locksmith is about $100.00 to $150.00, plus wait time can be uncomfortable for your pets.

4. Use your alarm system, locks, light timers, motion sensors and sprinkler systems. 
These all help protect your home and make it look occupied, both very good ideas! Detached garages are vulnerable- unplug automatic openers to lock down the big doors, and lock all windows and doors.

5. Toys, toys and more toys. 
Bored pets do damage- a bag of rawhides, given one per visit over the course of a vacation, can save your home. Cats love catnip, and will often sleep for hours after playing in some.

6. Clean out the fridge, take out the trash. 
Old food and old trash stink, try not to come home to them. They also invite pets to be bad.

7. Unplug stuff. 
Go around the house and unplug whatever you can. We once found a blow dryer knocked to the floor in a bathroom, running on the high setting; the guilty cat had been trying to drink from the sink, we think (that rhymed). Fortunately it was only heating up the side of the tub, but the potential for trouble is there.

8. Tell your neighbors, family and friends. 
Let them know you will be gone, when you'll be back, and who should be coming around.

9. Check your home for the following items, and make sure your pets cannot gain access to them: 

Antifreeze containing ethylene glycol has a sweet taste that attracts animals but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities; one teaspoon can kill a seven pound cat. Look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is safer for animals if ingested in small amounts.

Chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as insect control products, fertilizer and plant food.

Cedar and other soft wood shavings, including pine, emit fumes that may be dangerous to small mammals like hamsters and gerbils.

De-icing salts used to melt snow and ice are paw irritants that can be poisonous if licked off.

Fumes from nonstick cooking surfaces and self-cleaning ovens can be deadly to birds. Be cautious when using any pump or aerosol spray around birds.

Human medications such as pain killers (including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen), cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins, and diet pills can all be toxic to animals.

Poisonous household plants include azalea, dieffenbachia (dumb cane), geraniums, mistletoe, philodendron, and poinsettia among others.

Strings, yarn, rubber bands, and even dental floss are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages or strangulation.
A Portable Pet Step

We found this folding step stool at Harbor Freight tools (Colfax west of Ward) for $19.99 with the coupon pictured, and it's great for helping our dog in and out of the car.  In the pics you can see it behind a 2012 Forester, it's pretty well sized for most SUVs.  The surface is textured, but more for shoes than paws; Home Depot, Lowes, Ace all sell spray paints that adds a non-slip surface.  It can support 350lbs and folds to a smaller (not flat) size.  The legs lock open as well.  We always keep a grip on her harness when we use it- so far so good! 
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Guidelines For Hiring A Pet Sitter