6 Reasons Cleaning With Vinegar is Good For Your Dog And Your Home

My pup, Riggins, is an 11-year-old German Shorthair Pointer mix whose age hasn’t slowed down his ability to get himself and our house filthy! The struggle to keep him and our living space clean is real. What’s a dog mom to do? Cleaning with vinegar is the answer! This magic liquid is well-known for its ability to clean and disinfect. Plus, vinegar is a dog-safe household cleaner (unlike these household cleaners, which are toxic to dogs).

Here are some of the benefits of cleaning with vinegar:

1. Cleaning with vinegar is eco-friendly

A woman on a couch with her dog. Photography by ballero/Thinkstock.

Vinegar is a dog-safe and eco-friendly way to clean your home. Photography by ballero/Thinkstock.

You can safely use vinegar on its own or add it to your current products and cleaning routine to give them a boost. All vinegars are biodegradable, safe, and chemical free.

2. Vinegar helps clean your dog’s ears

Vinegar clears wax, helps eliminate bacteria, and restores normal pH balance necessary to keep away fungal infections. Acid leads the charge with a follow-up punch by the antiseptic properties.

3. Vinegar cleans pet urine from carpet

Due to its acidic nature, vinegar can neutralize the ammonia from dog urine, helping to eliminate the smell. You may need to repeat cleaning or add additional treatments like baking soda or even a commercial urine cleaner.

4. Cleaning with vinegar neutralizes odors

Spray it in the air, around areas your pup sleeps or hangs out in, or simmer it in a pot on the stove. Or, add it to your laundry detergent or carpet cleaning solution. When the vinegar smell dissolves, so will the stink!

5. Vinegar cleans mineral buildup

Sometimes the water bowl has that white buildup of lime and other minerals. The acid in vinegar helps break down that tough-to-remove substance. You can even add vinegar to your current dish detergent, and let the dishwasher do all the work.

6. Vinegar cleans glass

The acidic nature of vinegar helps break down grease and dirt to clean glass doors and car windows. Pair with a squeegee, and you’re almost guaranteed a streak-free finish.

Helpful vinegar recipes for dog owners:

  1. Ease itchy skin: The antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties of apple cider vinegar — or ACV — works especially well on itchy spots caused by fleas and ticks. It is also a natural repellent for those nasty little creatures.
  2. Make an all-purpose cleaner: Mix water and vinegar in a spray bottle. For the toughest jobs, use a one-to-one ratio. The easier the job, the less vinegar needed in the solution.
  3. Make a steam clean solution: Substitute vinegar for your store-bought carpet cleaning solution. Add vinegar or a vinegar/water mix to the tank in replace of your machine’s recommended amount of water.
  4. Remove dog smell from blankets: Throw smelly blankets into a warm-water wash using your detergent like normal. Add 1 ⁄2 cup of washing soda (not baking soda). Add 1 ⁄4 cup of hydrogen peroxide. Fill the softener dispenser with 1 ⁄2 cup of vinegar.
  5. Clean pet urine from carpet: Pour vinegar directly onto the stain until it is soaked. Add a small amount of baking soda. Allow to dry for a day or two. Sweep up and vacuum.
  6. Clean your dog’s ears: Mix equal parts vinegar (white or apple cider). Use a dropper to place in your dog’s ears. Rub ears and allow him to shake his head. Wipe excess solution using a cotton ball.

A note on apple cider vinegar for dogs:

Apple cider vinegar is made from apples, while white vinegar starts as grain or ethyl alcohol. The acidity in both makes them mostly interchangeable for cleaning. ACV’s color can cause staining on some surfaces, so test it first. ACV contains antioxidants, so it’s a better choice for a healthy solution.

Thumbnail: Photography ©John Mcallister | Thinkstock.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

April is Spring Cleaning month here at Dogster! Stay tuned for a few articles every week on all things spring cleaning and dog — whether that’s dog-safe ways to clean your home, spring-cleaning your dog’s grooming routine with advice on brushing and bathing — and much more.

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Everything You Need Before Bringing Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

Adoption day! Yes, it’s crazy exciting, but have you done your prep work?   Think of it like a new roommate is moving in. Only, in this case, you are responsible for supplying everything they need. And for footing the bill. And don’t count on any help with the dishes. Or the rent. Anyway, your […]

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5 Home Remedies For Fleas on Dogs

There are several medical flea treatments that work wonders at stopping fleas from wreaking havoc on your pup, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try some home remedies for fleas on dogs, too!

Fleas on dogs can be a real bummer for you and a health hazard for your dog. If you take your dog to the vet with a skin irritation one of the first questions your vet will ask will be, “what flea treatment do you have your pup on?” Let’s take a look at a few different home remedies for fleas on dogs.

1. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — treating your dog from the outside:

An itchy puppy.

Spring means sunshine, warmer temperatures and prime flea season! Photography by Dora Zett / Shutterstock.

We’ve talked about how vinegar is a great, pet-friendly cleaning solution, but it’s also a wonderful aid in getting rid of pests. It turns out that fleas don’t like the smell of vinegar and you can use that to your advantage.

What you need:

  1. A clean spray bottle, one that hasn’t had any chemical cleaning products in it.
  2. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar (ACV) both work. Pick your favorite, whatever is in your cupboard already or what’s on sale.

What to do:

  1. Mix water and vinegar together. The most effective solution is a 1:1 ratio. If your dog finds that smell offensive, you can dilute as much as 1:3, vinegar to water.
  2. Spray your dog, making sure to avoid his eyes and any open sores. Let your dog’s fur air dry. Repeat this at-home flea treatment for a couple of days.
  3. If your dog doesn’t like the spray bottle, soak a washcloth in the mixture and wipe your pup down with it.

2. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — treating your dog from the inside:

Apple cider vinegar added to your dog’s water bowl can give your dog’s skin an acidy taste that will make him less attractive to fleas.

What you need:

  1. Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  2. Water
  3. Dog’s water bowl

What to do:

  1. A good rule of thumb is to mix a teaspoon of ACV for every quart of water. It’s best to consult your vet to see what amount of vinegar a dog of your pup’s weight can safely ingest.
  2. Your pup may turn up his nose at this new liquid mix. If so, start with just a tiny amount of ACV and increase the strength as your dog gets used to the smell and taste.

3. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — keep your yard flea free and dog safe:

Keeping your yard flea free (but still dog safe!) is one of the most effective home remedies for fleas on dogs since it’s preventative. Here’s how:

  1. Diatomaceous Earth – Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a natural and safe product made from the fossilized remains of tiny organisms. The silica that make up these organisms absorbs into insects with an exoskeleton, like fleas, and causes them to dry out and die. When you use it outside, just liberally sprinkle it everywhere you think fleas may be hiding out.
  2. Sun – Fleas, much like their blood-sucking vampire relatives, don’t love the sun. Keep your garden as shade free as possible.
  3. Plant an herb garden – Planting strong-smelling herbs near your doors and windows can help prevent fleas from hanging around too long. Try thyme, sage, clove, basil, lavender or mint.
  4. Natural predators – Snakes, ants, beetles, spiders, frogs and lizards eat fleas. In fact, you can add natural predators to your yard! Nematodes are multicellular animals that are deadly to flea pupae and larval. You can purchase them online or at a local garden store.

4. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — keep your dog’s items flea free with heat:

Your secret weapon to keep your dog’s bedding, linens, clothes and toys flea free is heat. Anything that can be safely washed in hot water and dried on high heat, should be weekly. Fleas won’t survive the double attack of heat.

5. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — make your home unfriendly to fleas with natural house sprays:

Vacuuming is your best weapon against fleas, but you can also pay extra attention to your dog’s favorite lounging spots with one of the following homemade house sprays:

  1. Lemon – Cut up a lemon and steep it in water overnight. Add it to a spray bottle and you have a pleasant-smelling homemade flea repellant that can safely be used near your pup’s favorite spots or even on him.
  2. Salt – Clean hardwood floors and tile floors around your dog’s bed with a salt/water mix.
  3. Essential Oils – Rosemary, tea tree and lavender don’t smell good to fleas. You can use them to help keep your living space smelling nice — and staying flea free. But use essential oils with caution. Some essential oils are harmful to pets. Talk to a vet to ensure that the scent and the way you are using the oil are safe for your dog.

Hopefully you’ll only need preventive home remedies for fleas on dogs this season.

Tell us: What do you use at home to keep fleas at bay? What are your tried-and-true home remedies for fleas on dogs? Let us know in the comments below.

Thumbnail: Photography ©alexei_tm | iStock / Getty Images Plus. 

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Home Treatment For a Dog Abscess — If It’s a Visible Skin Abscess

When my Pit Bull Hudson developed an abscess, I didn’t really know what it was. The only kind of “abscess” I’d heard of was the one in my mom’s tooth. So, on the sudden discovery of the swelling in Huddie’s left front leg from shoulder to paw, I frantically jumped online to do research about how to treat a dog abscess at home before heading to the vet. I’ve found that you can often get quicker results with medical issues by searching by image. And there they were — pictures of mostly ruptured dog abscesses which could make the strongest stomach turn.

First, what is a dog abscess?

A dog looking confused or sad.

Yikes! What exactly is a dog abscess? Photography © JZHunt | Thinkstock.

An abscess is a collection of pus that occurs anywhere on your dog’s body. Causes include parasites, bites and bacteria. It’s actually protecting the body by localizing an infection. White blood cells move into the area and collect in the tissue.

You’ll usually see a swelling under the skin; if an abscess has formed on top of the skin or the skin has broken away, you would likely see a red, raised bump. And remember, an abscess is squishy and warm.

Abscesses can be painful, so your dog will let you know — but if you have a dog who is pain-tolerant, such as my Hudson, that may not be a good clue.

Does a dog abscess need to be treated by a vet or other professional?

Talk to your vet to determine whether the abscess can be drained and treated at home or needs to be done at the office. He’ll probably still need to see the abscess and do some tests so he knows what antibiotics to give your dog and discover what is causing the infection. Your dog will need professional treatment if you are not able to be very diligent about keeping things sterile and sanitary, or if it is very large and you cannot drain the abscess on your own. In this case, your vet will make an incision. Surgery may be necessary.

Even if your vet says you can treat the abscess at home, it’s best to have your veterinarian show you how to treat it first before you do it at home by yourself. When your dog has a visible skin abscess, it’s always good to have a complete blood test run. Sometimes samples of the pus will need to be taken to evaluate its cause. Internal abscesses must only be treated by your doctor.

How to treat an abscess on a dog at home

Close up of a dog abscess.

Close up of a dog abscess. Photography by Kelly Pulley.

I had my vet’s blessing to home-treat Hudson, even though his abscess was so huge. Remember that even if you just call your vet or send him pictures, you’ll still need your vet to prescribe a course of antibiotics, which must be finished. (And note that you should always check with your vet first rather than launching into any kind of home medical treatment.)

Home treatment for a dog abscess is likely okay if you are obsessive about making everything sanitary and sterile. Make sure you remember to flush the abscess and apply a wound cream several times a day. Also note that you are not likely to get sick treating the abscess because of the way it looks, feels and smells. Really! We’re talkin’ Essence de Dog Pus here! Often, skin and fur will fall off at first, too, so be sure you can handle that.

Your dog can be easily treated by you if, for example, he’ll let you flush the abscess with saline and stick your finger waaaaaay up into the pocket of the abscess to apply ointment.

Before you begin home treatment for a dog abscess, make sure you have the right tools:

  1. Alcohol. To sterilize your hands whenever you are going to touch the abscess or anything or any area that comes in contact with the abscess’ excretions.
  2. Sterile saline solution. To rinse all those pockets of the abscess.
  3. Wound ointment. My vet gave me an all-natural foam; yours may have a different solution. It also must be sterile.

Follow these instructions for dog abscess home treatment:

  1. Apply pressure and squeeze. If the abscess hasn’t ruptured on its own, apply a warm compress (a towel soaked in warm to hot water) and gently press down and squeeze the abscess. It will probably take quite a few applications to get it to drain depending on the size. Pus will flow like wine when it ruptures, so be sure to have another towel under the abscessed area.
  2. Keep it centered. You may or may not see an accumulation of pus in the center of a pocket. If so, be sure to remove all of this.
  3. Clean like a crazy person. An abscess on a dog should NOT be covered. It has to heal in the same way as a puncture wound, from the inside out. That means as pus continues to emit from the wound, you’ll have to clean up constantly at first.

More tips on treating an abscess on a dog yourself

  1. Follow your vet’s instructions. My vet told me to rinse the abscess twice a day, apply the wound foam once to twice a day, and to make sure Hudson took all of the antibiotic.
  2. Despite all the attention it needs, try not to obsess on the abscess. It takes a long time for an abscess to heal. It’s been a month since I started treating Hudson’s and it’s still got a way to go.
  3. You will get to know this abscess intimately. And don’t let the extreme grossness and shocking nakedness of an abscess deter you from treating it at home. Think of it as another opportunity to bond with your dog.

Tell us: Has your dog ever had an abscess? Did you treat it at home or at the vet? Let us know in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by pixbull / Shutterstock.

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Bad Dog Breath — 8 Home Remedies

I share my life with a pack of super-affectionate dogs who love bestowing kisses — and, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings by refusing a sloppy smooch, I’m motivated to keep their mouths healthy and halitosis-free. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few home remedies for bad dog breath that really work.

1. Prevent bad dog breath by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.

What are the signs of a dog tooth infection?

There are simple home remedies for that bad dog breath! Photography ©alexei_tm | Thinkstock.

It isn’t normal for your pup to have bad dog breath — it’s actually a sign of an unhealthy mouth. Left untreated, sick teeth and gums quickly lead to life-threatening health problems. So please, brush your dog’s teeth regularly — at least once a week.

If you have a dog with a small, pushed-in face, such as a Shih Tzu, you really need to be brushing those teeth every single day, because the conformation of their little mouths leaves them extra-vulnerable to decay. Ply your pets with treats to help them associate tooth torture with tasty treats, and use toothpaste made just for dogs. Pick a paste with a flavor you actually like — vanilla-flavored Triple-Pet toothpaste with tea tree oil is a great choice.

2. Dental chews help keep stinky dog breath at bay — just know which ones to choose.

Dispensing a delicious dental chew lets your dog help you do some of the work to keep his own breath smelling fresh. Not all dog dental chews are created equal, however: Look for one that contains breath-freshening chlorophyll, cinnamon and clove. (Don’t freak out when you notice your dog’s poop is a bit on the greenish side — that’s just the chlorophyll doing its green thing.)

3. Speaking of chlorophyll, wheatgrass is another good home remedy for a dog’s bad breath.

I clip off some of the fresh wheatgrass I give my cats and add it to the dogs’ food. That raw source of chlorophyll is an excellent breath-freshener.

4. Dogs can also drink their bad breath away.

A closeup of a dog drinking water.

Dog bad breath can also be solved with what dogs drink. Photography ©Chalabala | Thinkstock.

Chewing isn’t the only way pets can polish up their own teeth. Dogs can also drink their way to fresh-smelling breath with Healthy Mouth Dental Water, an all-natural cocktail made of enzymes, chlorophyll and other ingredients designed to blast away bad dog breath. Simply replace your pup’s regular drinking water with Healthy Mouth-spiked wet stuff, and you’ll notice a difference within days, as the active ingredients work to kill bad bacteria in the mouth.

5. Probiotics are another line of defense against bad dog breath.

Speaking of bad bacteria, you’ll want to be sure that your dog’s mouth is populated with beneficial bacteria that way outnumber the harmful, halitosis-causing kind. That’s where probiotics come in. Use a probiotic made especially for dogs, and you’ll notice a big difference — not just in your dog’s breath, but in its overall well-being.

(Helpful hint: Probiotics are also great for keeping human breath smelling sweet — take them every single day and you’ll swiftly see results. Oragenics, maker of EvoraPet, is a great brand for both pets and people.)

6. Coconut oil is one of those pantry items that can help a dog with bad breath.

It doesn’t just boost digestive, immune system, and metabolic functions — it also helps to combat canine bad breath. Put a lovin’ teaspoonful over your dog’s food every single day, and you’ll soon sniff sweeter breath — plus dogs love the taste; for them, coconut oil is a sweet treat. Some dog lovers even brush their pets’ teeth with coconut oil, making the chore an offer even ornery canines can’t refuse!

7. Neem is another good home remedy for dog bad breath.

Like coconut oil, neem (an extract of the neem tree) is one of those brilliant botanicals that have many positive effects on dog (and human) health. Besides being great for the skin and coat, neem is also excellent for promoting oral health in hounds and humans. My dogs take Supercritical Neem Leaf Extract by Organix-South; I add one little black capsule to their food twice weekly and take one every day myself.

8. Cinnamon is another common household item that will freshen up dog breath.

I add a sprinkle of breath-sweetening cinnamon to my dogs’ meals at every feeding.

Thumbnail: Photography © vadimguzhva | Thinkstock. 

Yikes! Dealing with bad breath yourself? Check out these bad breath remedies >>

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Best And Worst Spots to Place Cat Litter Box in Your Home.

A cat isn’t taken out for a walk for relieving itself. It uses  cat litter boxes placed indoors for defecating & urinating. However some cats may start avoiding their litter boxes simply because they do not like where their toilets are located. The placement of a litter box does play an important role in encouraging a feline to use it and avoid eliminating inappropriately. There are some litter box locations that can make your kitty a bit anxious wanting it to give it a miss!
A clean and well placed toilet is a prerequisite to purrfect litter box habits. Highlighted below are some worst and best spots in your home for your kitty’s toilet:

Spots to be avoided for placing Cat Toilets:

  1. Cats don’t prefer too much privacy while eliminating: Pet parents might view the process of excretion as one being private, since they try to link it with their own experience. But felines will view a private toilet as something that will place them in a vulnerable position. A litter box placed in a private corner, in a closet, behind a couch or bathroom door is perceived as a trap by the cat.

    Cat feels that a solitary place exposes it to a surprise attack by another animal even though you may just have one pet with you. This is an instinctual feeling and the cat prefers to use a toilet which is in such a location that does not obstruct its view. It wants to feel safe while doing its business and not private. Image - www.hillspet.com

    Cat feels that a solitary place exposes it to a surprise attack by another animal even though you may just have one pet with you. This is an instinctual feeling and the cat prefers to use a toilet which is in such a location that does not obstruct its view. It wants to feel safe while doing its business and not private. Image – www.hillspet.com

  1. Inconvenient or hidden location: Cat parents may get tempted to place litter boxes in such locations that is out of the view of visitors. You don’t want any foul smells and sights circulating in your home. But beautifying your home does not mean you forget about your kitty’s convenience. Choosing remote spots for litter boxes is a NO. Kittens, ailing and senior cats may not be able to make it to their toilets in time. Housing boxes in a basement will make it difficult for the kitty to reach in time from the top floor of the building. Garages and attics are some other distant spots to be avoided.

    You should ideally have at least two litter boxes for a single cat household. Those owning a young or an old cat may place a box on each floor of the house so that it can conveniently be reached by the mouser in a rush. Image-www.modernistcat.com

    You should ideally have at least two litter boxes for a single cat household. Those owning a young or an old cat may place a box on each floor of the house so that it can conveniently be reached by the mouser in a rush. Image-www.modernistcat.com

  1. Do not place litter boxes close to one another: Placing litter boxes close to one another would not help the cause of housing multiple litter boxes for your cat/s. Litter boxes placed next to one another are seen as one huge box by your cat.

    All you need to know about Cat Litter boxes

  1. Do not place the cat-toilet next to the pet’s feeding spot: Cats do not like eating and drinking in a space filled with the stink of their urine and poop. Cats have an evolved sense of smell and are quite sensitive to the odor emanating from their litter which to the human nose may not be that strong a smell. 
  1. Avoid noisy spaces and placing next to home appliances: Lobby area and corridors are frequented by people and other pets living in a house. Even visitors have access to these areas. Noisy appliances like a washing machine may scare the cat; therefore laundry room is also not a good choice for litter box placement.

    Positioning the toilet next to a heating system will only intensify the odor coming from the cat’s litter. Your kitty will not prefer eliminating in such a zone with strong foul smell and the same isn’t good for the humans of the house. Therefore never place litter box next to a heater. Image-www.karter.net

    Positioning the toilet next to a heating system will only intensify the odor coming from the cat’s litter. Your kitty will not prefer eliminating in such a zone with strong foul smell and the same isn’t good for the humans of the house. Therefore never place litter box next to a heater. Image-www.karter.net

Some Best Spots:

  1. Rooms with unobstructed views: A space that is quiet and has an unobstructed view of its surroundings will be highly preferred by your feline. Perhaps a corner of your living room or bedroom will be ideal.

    An expansive view will prevent the cat from feeling exposed to danger of being ambushed by another animal. Image -www.catster.com

    An expansive view will prevent the cat from feeling exposed to danger of being ambushed by another animal. Image -www.catster.com

  1. Multiple litter boxes are a good idea: But you need to place them in different rooms. If you have a multi-level home place one on each floor to prevent the cat from eliminating in an unsuitable spot. In case you have more than one cat then there should be one toilet each per cat and one extra litter box that should be a common one.

    When you offer choices to the kitty it is likely to choose one box that makes it feel safe and comfortable eliminating in. Choose a safe corner for the box without letting it become the center of attention in a room. Image - www.sheknows.com

    When you offer choices to the kitty it is likely to choose one box that makes it feel safe and comfortable eliminating in. Choose a safe corner for the box without letting it become the center of attention in a room. Image – www.sheknows.com

  1. A quiet corner: A room that is low on traffic and noise will be appropriate for litter box placement. Choose a clean corner away from your pet’s food and water bowls. We have stated above that cats don’t prefer private corners but they don’t appreciate doing their business in spaces with high activity either. 

giphy

There are certain health issues that may cause a cat to defecate or urinate outside of its toilet. If your cat begins to ditch its litter box, the first step should be to head to a vet to rule out any medical condition. In case the cat is absolutely healthy you can consider changing the locations of the litter boxes in your home. (GIPHY CREDIT – giphy.com)