Archive for the 'Home Remedies & News Bits' Category

23rd Sep 2011

Dog Beds, Cat Beds, Pet Beds – Economical and Healthy

Many dog and cat beds are commercially available. But, quite a few that we’ve looked at are too bulky to wash on a regular enough basis to keep them sanitary and healthy, and some are simply too bulky to throw into the washer in the first place. Others are made from materials we don’t consider healthy, including synthetic or nanoparticle-containing so-called ‘dirt- or liquid-repellent’ materials. Moreover, many beds that are made from healthy organic materials are also too bulky to keep clean.

We’ve found a simple solution (we like to call it the “econodog” or “econocat” bed) that is not only easily washed, versatile, and comfortable, but also economical: quite simply, a good quality pillow or seat cushion made from natural materials that’s covered with a pillow case.

You can easily wash all components. If the pillow case is too large for the pillow, you can easily adjust its size with a few simple stitches, or just fold the excess fabric under the pillow itself. You can repurpose or reuse what you have or buy something new or second-hand (in both cases, make sure you wash the pillow and/or pillow case before letting your pet use it/them). This way you can be sure of the quality and safety of the material your animal sleeps on, keep his or her bed safe and clean, and stay well within your budget. If your pet needs more or less support, you can easily modify the bed to his or her specific requirements. The bed components can be easily adjusted to your pet’s size. And, since its cover can be changed regularly, the bed need never become a boring piece of furniture. So, to sum up: keep it safe by keeping it simple!

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01st Sep 2011

Dog at Work …

An amazing video of an amazing dog.

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25th Aug 2011

How to Help an Itching Pet

ItchSometimes, dogs, cats, and other pets itch. This can be due to a bite, a bad diet, or a side effect to several popular drugs.

We saw a severe reaction to a very common heartworm medication. The day after the first (and last) dose of the drug, both dogs who received the medication, started to vomit ‘empty’ which was unusual for them; occasional vomiting continued for several days. The skin of both animals became inflamed and pinker than usual. After a few days, the skin of one of the dogs started to break out so harshly, that the animal bit herself ‘raw’ in one area. A few hours later, she developed red spots on her now red-hot skin which soon turned into blisters. She itched terribly and scratched fiercely. That evening, she was truly miserable.

At this point I started to give her the homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron (Rhus tox.) which is an effective remedy for many skin ailments. I gave her several rounds in two hours (per mouth), and her skin started to return to normal; the blisters vanished within a few hours. It was obvious that her itch was gone as well, since she stopped scratching herself. The next morning, I gave one more dose although her skin was already almost normally colored with only faint pinker spots where the blisters used to be.
A happy dog
A day later, the skin was normally colored, and the former blister areas were almost invisible. The skin of her brother, who received a few does of Rhus tox. as well, also returned to its normal color. Curiously, both animals also stopped vomiting after they received the remedy.

Thankfully, homeopathic remedies are readily available and I had the right one at home. It is amazing how powerful these remedies are in both humans and pets.

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23rd Aug 2011

Pet Insurance

There are many pet insurances available to provide coverage for cats and dogs. Years ago, we insured our pet rats with VPI and found that in their case, the insurance really didn’t pay off. Rats aren’t good candidates for insurance; they are too short-lived and almost every health problem can be classified as either a preexisting or congenital condition. Pet rodents also usually don’t have that many accidental injuries as they can occur with pets that have access to the outdoors.

Although the following video seems to be made by one of the featured pet insurance companies, it highlights how different the coverages through pet insurance companies can be.

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06th Jul 2011

Summer, Heat, Overheating, and Heat Stroke in Pets

Overheating and Heat Stroke

….can kill a dog (and other animals) in a matter of minutes.

A dog’s normal temperature is 100.5-102.5F. When the temperature rises to 105 or 106F, the dog is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. At 107F, the dog is highly susceptible to heat stroke.

The inside of a car can reach 160F within minutes, even if the windows are open.
Dogs can get overheated when exercising on hot, humid days; they can overheat even when they are well hydrated. Keep your dogs safe - Keep them cool

Unlike humans, who can sweat, dogs depend on panting to cool down. They breathe in through their nose and out through the mouth. This way, the air is pushed over the mucous membranes of the trachea, throat and tongue, which facilitates cooling by evaporating fluid. Additionally, dogs’ blood vessels open in the surface of the skin which also dissipates heat.
If these cooling mechanisms are overwhelmed, the dog is in danger of overheating and heat stroke.

Heat-related illnesses affect the following dogs most:
Puppies, old, or ill dogs. Overweight dogs. Overexerted dogs. Flat faced animals such as pugs.

How to recognize overheating:
Overheated dogs often appear sluggish, disoriented, or unresponsive. They may drool excessively, have difficulty breathing, panting may be excessive and gums, tongue and eye lids and membranes may be very red. The dog may collapse, vomit, have bloody diarrhea, suffer from seizures or fall into a coma. If you suspect that your pet suffers from heat stroke, contact your veterinarian immediately and cool your pet with drinking water if she’s alert enough to drink, spray or bathe her with cool water or place wet towels on her.

How to avoid overheating:
Keep your pet away from heat; never leave her in the car or outdoors if the weather is hot and no cool shady areas are available.
Don’t go for extended walks on streets which can heat up fast in hot weather.
Don’t over-exercise your pet in hot weather.
Keep your pet well hydrated; always keep fresh clean water available.
Give her a proper summer haircut (not too short to prevent sunburn). Grooming helps to remove loose hair which can trap heat.
We provide our pets shallow containers with fresh water in which they can step and play with safely. Our birds, rats, and dogs really enjoy this simple comfort.

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20th Jun 2011

Clean Without Chemicals – Keep Your Pets Safe

Did you know…

“Everyday household cleaners can poison, harm, or kill a pet. Imagine your pets are like children and they can get into anything.” – Pet.tips.net

“Phenol – a chemical often found in floor cleaners is toxic. It is rapidly absorbed by the skin, and can cause damaging effects on the central nervous system, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and kidneys.” – National Institutes of Health

“A recent study done by the Environmental Working Group found that dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemical tested, including 43 chemicals at levels higher than those typically found in people.” – Environmental Working Group

Most products out there just mask odors- they don’t get rid of the odor – and there are so many ‘natural’ claims that are nowhere near close to being completely natural.

In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “toxic chemicals found in common household cleaners, often dispersed in fumes, are three times more likely to cause cancer than other air pollutants.”

Protect yourself and your furry loved ones!

Aussan Natural is a new all-natural line of safe cleaning and odor eliminating products made completely from plant-based materials. I had the pleasure to try some of Aussan’s cleaning products and was really very happy with each of them (they also have a pleasant natural smell which is very different from the ‘chemical’ smells of the usual cleaners). Here are the products I tried out:

Floor Cleaner Concentrate
This is a great product to clean floors! It worked very well on our hardwood floors and did also a great job to spot clean ‘accidents’ below our birds’ day hangout.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Botanically Sourced Glycerin, Citric Fruit Extract, Potash, Sodium Gluconate, Lemongrass Oil, Plant Bioflavonoids, Octanoic Acid, Lactic Acid

All-Purpose Cleaner
This cleaner safely and effectively cleans just about anything from any hard, washable surface. For tougher spots, allow product to stand for a few minutes before wiping. It really does a wonderful job, even on mirrors which were ‘streak-free’ after one application and without struggle!
Ingredients: Purified Water, Botanically Sourced Glycerin, Citric Fruit Extract, Potash, Sodium Gluconate, Lemongrass Oil, Plant Bioflavonoids, Octanoic Acid, Lactic Acid

All-Purpose Pet Cleaner
I applied this cleaner in our pets’ dining and playing areas and simply and simply wiped them clean. For a few tougher stains I waited for a few minutes before wiping. This effective product has a very faint, pleasant smell, which is great for both me and our pets.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Botanically Sourced Glycerin, Citric Fruit Extract, Potash, Sodium Gluconate, Lemongrass Oil, Plant Bioflavonoids, Octanoic Acid, Lactic Acid

Small Pet Odor Eliminator
After removing pets and bedding from their cage and other living areas, I generously sprayed all surfaces. I wiped the surfaces clean and allowed the cage sides to air dry. I used this product on our birds’, dogs’ and rats’ sleeping areas. I was pleasantly surprised to see how effectively this product removed otherwise hard to remove spots on our birds’ cages. The solution has a somewhat stronger smell than the other Aussan cleaners I tried, but the smell is also pleasant and quickly disseminates.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Eucalyptus Oil – Steam Distilled, Vanilla Bean Oil, Peppermint Oil, Botanically Sourced Glycerin, Plant Bioflavonoids, Octanoic Acid, Lactic Acid

Aussan Natural products are third party verified all-natural, non-toxic products which are indeed among the safest possible alternatives to toxic chemical cleaning products. I am grateful I had the opportunity to try these safe and effective products!

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08th Sep 2009

New Rat Species Discovered in Papua New Guinea

A BBC crew has discovered a new species of giant rat! The animal captured was at about cat size, a good 3.3 lbs heavy and 32 inches long.

Read more about this and watch the BBC video of this gentle giant rat, who is not (yet?) afraid of humans at all.

Earlier in 2009, a rat described as ‘nightmarish’ with its 6 pounds was caught in a residential neighborhood in Fuzhou, China . This appears to be a species of the bamboo rat, which is indigenous to southern Asian countries.

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13th Aug 2009

Animals are Amazing – An Elephant Artist

Please visit this amazing video of an elephant painting her self portrait. You can purchase prints of this wonderful elephant art and support the people caring for these animals on the fair trade website which put up this video.

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24th Jul 2009

Studies on Genetically Engineered Foods

As you know, only organic certification guarantees that a pet food is free of genetically engineered (GE) (or ‘modified’) ingredients.

Scientific America’s latest issue just published an interesting article about independent studies on the safety and properties of GE crops.

Proponents of genetically engineered foods state that genetic modification of GE food crops 1. yields higher harvests which are required to feed more people (and livestock), 2. reduce pesticide use and tilling that erodes land, 3. will be superior to survive heat waves and droughts, and 4. are as safe as non-genetically engineered foods.

The problem is that none of these statements can be verified by an unbiased party.

If independent researchers want to work with GE seeds, for example to test for safety, growth requirements or resilience of crops, they need to sign a legally binding agreement “for proprietary reasons” that assures that no research results are published without the agritech company’s approval.

This means of course that any published research about these crops has been filtered by the companies which developed and sell these crops.

This may explain why there is so little negative data about these GE foods available to the public. Not good.

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27th Jun 2009

Fruit Flies

If you have small pets and feed them fresh raw pet food, you may notice that fruit flies start invading your home. What can you do?

You can buy commercial fruit fly traps or you can make them yourself.

Mix some sugar in vinegar and pour this mixture into an empty bottle and place a small diameter funnel on the bottle. The smell will attract fruit flies which have a hard time escaping from the bottle. Some people like to use hot sauce, wine, or add a piece of ripe banana to the bottle.

You can place these (for you and your pets harmless) traps into the kitchen and/or close to where you serve fresh food to your small animal.

Aside from keeping your pet’s area clean, it is also important to remove all fruits or vegetables that might compete with your trap from the kitchen. You should also keep your counter tops and stove clean and remove all dirty or wet dishes from your sink as soon as possible.

I hope this simple way to control fruit flies will help you as well as it helps us and our pets.

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