If you're a pet lover, this collection of tips is for you! Check out these clever and unusual ideas about how to make your pet happier, healthier and more comfortable, using items you'll find around the house.
In the summertime, a favorite destination for ants is often a pet's food bowl. Here's a simple way to keep them out of your dog or cat's food—set the dish in a pan of water. Not only does it keep the ants out of the pet food, but your pet can take a gulp of water from the pan whenever he or she needs a drink. Keep the rest of your home clear of ants, too.
Use a plastic storage bin for a dog house. A nice little doghouse that will hold up in the rain can cost $100 (though dog carpenters can cut down on labor costs). But you can make your own for a fraction of the price using a plastic storage bin. Cut a small hole in the bin, flip it over on its lid and stick a dog bed inside it. Your dog will love watching the rain from inside his snug little house, and you’ll save $85! Don’t be surprised if your cat likes it so much you’ll have to make one for her too.
Chew-Free Electrical Cords
Some dogs love to gnaw on electrical cords around the house. This is not only dangerous but also really irritating when they destroy your computer cables. Solve the problem by wrapping the cords with split flexible plastic conduit that you get at home centers and automotive stores. Just cut the length you need and push the cords into the pre-split slot. Your dog will soon lose interest in the cords (so you have time to fix them). Now if you could just get him to stop chewing up your slippers!
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Does your dog eat your cat's food? Put a stop to the double-dipping by moving your cat's dish into a different room that has a door. Attach adhesive-backed hook-and-loop fasteners to the back of the door and to the front of the trim. After filling the cat's dish, hook up the fasteners so the door only opens 5 in. Now your cat can come and go and eat his meal in peace. If Fido is itchin' to get in, you may have some other work to do, too.
Portable Water Dish
Use a shower cap as a portable water bowl. A long walk with your dog on a hot day will make you and your pet pretty thirsty. Before leaving the house, stuff a plastic shower cap in your pocket. That way, you can give your dog a drink from any handy tap, drinking fountain or your water bottle whenever she needs a slurp.
Wind-Proof Dog Dishes
How many times have you gone outside to fill your dog’s food or water dish only to find that it’s blown halfway across the yard? The really heavy pet dishes are expensive, but here’s a cheap dog dish that won’t blow away. Fill a plastic ice cream bucket with a couple of inches of sand, and then put a second container the same size inside it. Use the inside bucket as your dog’s dish and it’ll stay right where you put it. Next step: Build a chain link kennel for your dog.
Help your dog 'talk' to you with bells. Here’s an easy way your dog can let you know she needs to go outside without any barking or scratching at the door. Hang some bells from the doorknob and your dog will quickly learn to associate the sound of the bells with the door opening. Soon she’ll nudge them herself. You can speed things along by jiggling the bells and saying “Outside? Wanna go outside?” for a few days every time your dog goes out. Your dog will be able to “talk” to you about going outside even when you’re somewhere else in the house. It's definitely better than the alternative.
Easier Bath Time
For a calmer and easier bath time, make a dog washing station in your shower. Cover the drain with a hair catcher to prevent fur from clogging it. Cut a hole in a bath mat so it fits over the drain and lay it in the shower to prevent your dog from slipping around. Using a handheld sprayer gives you more control and lets you avoid spraying water into your pet's ears. Everyone involved will find bath day a whole lot more pleasant.
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Paint Tray Birdbath
Many pet birds love to take baths. Next bath time, try using a new plastic paint tray as a bathtub! The ribs on the bottom of the tray provide traction, and the tray's slope allow your pets to wade in the shallow water until they're ready to move into the deep end. Paint trays are cheap and easy to clean, and they also make great turtle pools (but don't tell your birds).
Does your dog's barking in the car drive you nuts? Try this trick: Every time your dog barks, close the windows (watch her head). She'll quickly learn that barking means no fresh air and no slobbery tongue flapping in the breeze. After a few car rides, you'll both be driving around in blissful silence.
Dog-Spot Lawn Solutions
Growing a neat lawn in an area frequented by dogs is difficult but not impossible. Here are a few tricks for keeping the grass green.
Apply lime or gypsum regularly to neutralize the acid in the soil.
Water the area heavily each week to dilute the urine.
Don’t fight it! Replace the grass with small round gravel (pea rock) bordered with stone cobbles or brick. Place landscape fabric beneath the rock to prevent weeds from popping up. And another plus—less grass to mow!
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Bunny Rabbit A/C
Hot summer days are tough on bunnies. Here's a great way to recycle plastic water bottles and keep your bunnies cool at the same time. Fill the bottles with water, freeze them solid and then set them out in the rabbit hutches. The bunnies love to laze against the bottles as the ice thaws. This works great with puppies, too.
Fur Filter for Dog Bathing
If you wash your dog in the bathtub or shower, you're begging for a clogged drain. Keep fur out of the drain with a mesh-type scrubbing pad. In a shower, clip the pad to the drain plate with a bobby pin. In a bathtub, wedge two pads under the stopper from two sides. The pads catch fur but let water flow through.
Enzymes Eliminate Pet Stains and Odors
Enzyme products are easy to use on pet stains—just spray or blot them on the stain according to the directions. The products contain harmless bacteria that "eat" the organic matter that causes the odor. When the organic matter is gone, the bacteria run out of food and die. The whole process will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some manufacturers recommend covering the area with plastic or a wet cloth to keep the bacteria moist and healthy. Get rid of other bad smells in the house.
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Ideas for Clean Birdbaths
Keep the birds happy! To clean your birdbath, put two cups of vinegar in the bath and fill it to the brim with water. Cover with a trash-can lid, and let the bath soak over night. Scrub and rinse well. To attract butterflies to your birdbath and avoid algae, put a layer of builder’s sand in the bottom of the birdbath. Add a pantyhose leg stuffed with oat straw inside to your water for an algae-free birdbath.
Photo: Leroy (Skip) Downum
Low-Fat Dog Treats
Is your dog getting a little chubby? Try replacing his high-calorie treats with plain rice cakes. Even if you think they're tasteless, dogs go nuts over them and vets often suggest them as a lower fat (and less expensive) substitute for regular dog treats.
The Big-Dog Diner
My dog is pretty big, and I hate seeing him strain his neck every time he eats from his bowl. You can buy a pair of elevated dog bowls for $20 to $40 at pet stores, but I decided to make my own out of a couple of cheap 2-gallon plastic buckets from a discount store. I just flipped them upside down, cut holes in the bottoms with a jigsaw and set a couple of 2-qt. stainless steel bowls into the openings.