Sh*t Show – or My Pooper Scooper Review!

 

 

No one enjoys dealing with poop. It’s just part of life, and dog owners know it’s just something you have to deal with.

I’ve tried to teach Cali to poop in the woods, but apparently that’s just for bears, and she’s not into it. She likes a nice patch of grass, usually right in a path where we want to walk around in our yard.

So I scoop the poop, because poop happens.  I’ve been using a connected scooper thing that I guess I should have taken a picture of, because I’m not finding pictures online. My old one was pretty beat up and dirty so I thought I’d spare everyone the pictures. It was just two wooden handles attached to a rake and a flat scoop. You separate the handles, use the rake to push the poop unto the flat part, then you can hold it closed with one hand and bring it to wherever you need to dump it.

I just bought this scooper set  to try something a little different. I thought having two pieces might be a nice change, and I really like it. Instead of fighting to make sure the pieces line up properly to scoop like I used to have to do with the old one, now I just put down the little scoop part and use the rake to push the poop into the scoop and carry it off to be dumped.

Cali is little, so she doesn’t make giant poops. I’m not sure this little set would work all that well for a Great Dane, but for a little Morkie it works great. I can even pick up a couple of piles at once with it.

The surface is non-stick or lovely slick coating that rinses clean very easily. The rake part clips to the scoop part so they are easy to store together. Another bonus is that the scoop part has a flat bottom, so it sits nicely near the wall.

The unit went together easily. Each part was well marked and they just screw together. I saw some reviews that people said the parts kept coming unscrewed, but I’ve used mine about a dozen times now, and haven’t had any problems.

I can’t say that this new scooper has made me enjoy cleaning up the yard, but on a nice Spring day when the sun is out, it definitely isn’t the worst chore.

Always Be Prepared

The Boys Looking for Trouble

Bean and Puck have been super busy lately. Not sure if they are sensing a change in the weather or what, but there is lots of running, climbing, pouncing, and wrestling. Bean has become obsessed with watching hockey. We worry he is going to take down the TV one of these days!

Go Bruins!

The other pets are doing well. Cali had her spring Cytopoint injection last week, and is feeling so much better! The Dragon is eating everything in sight!

“Pretty Birdie”

Hector is doing great. She’s been very vocal lately and often whistles back and forth with me in the afternoon. Sometimes it is distracting trying to get work done, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Clipping Hector’s nails shouldn’t be that big of a deal. She’s really good about being held in a towel. I don’t have to trim her nails all that often as she does wear them down on her different perch surfaces, but it has been time to cut them for a couple of weeks. I’ve been putting it off because I need help. I can towel her, but I need a second person to actually clip her nails. We had some time this weekend, so I convinced the husband to help me.

Everything was going well. We got the first foot done in no time. Hector was calm, even making her cute little psss, psss, psss sound, like she is whispering a secret. We got to the second foot and Hector was curling it up tight, so we had to separate out her toes. Second to last nail accidentally got cut too short, ugh. It wasn’t too bad, so we clipped the last nail, and I got some cornstarch.

It seemed like the bleeding was stopping, so I kept holding her and talking to her, I started rubbing her head. Well, silly me, she had a bunch of new pin feathers coming in, and I guess I rubbed one the wrong way, now her head was bleeding!

Thankfully, I’ve read that the best way to stop a pin feather from bleeding is simply to pull it out, and this was a super tiny feather on her head. I was able to grab it with tweezers and pull it out and the bleeding stopped immediately. One problem solved!

Of course during all that, her short nail started bleeding again. Every time I thought I had it stopped, Hector would decide she was done being held, she’d try to get away, and the nail would start bleeding again.

My husband went to look for a Styptic pencil, but we couldn’t find it anywhere so he headed to the drugstore. I’m busy trying to keep poor Hector calm. I brought her outside because she loves to hear the outdoor birds, and that worked for a few minutes. As long as she was still, the nail was fine, but as soon as she struggled it started bleeding again.

Drugstore number one didn’t seem to know what a Styptic pencil was! Off to store number two!

I had the idea of making a cornstarch paste with some water and kind of encasing her nail in the paste. It seemed to be working. By the time Dave headed towards the second store, the bleeding had been stopped for awhile and I was feeling better about not having to rush to the emergency vet. I didn’t want to take a chance on putting her back in her cage and messing with her toe until the Styptic pencil was in sight. I continued to hold her, offered her some water, took her outside again as a distraction. 

She seemed to be doing well, so I finally put a towel in the kitchen sink and let her stand on her foot. Success! No more bleeding. I offered some of her favorite snacks while she was hanging out in the sink, but she wasn’t interested in any of them.

Hector was NOT happy about being in the sink. After a few minutes, I didn’t want to stress her out anymore, so I put her back on her cage. She was pissed at me, and made some of her nasty loud coach-whistle sounds, but she seemed OK. I checked on her constantly over the course of the afternoon, and by dinner time she seemed totally over it. She was holding up that one foot at first, I’m sure that nail was a little sore, so she got lots of extra nuts and even two banana chunks to distract her. Today she is acting totally normally, other than not wanting me to pick her up, I can’t say I blame her.

Although I can trim Hector’s nails at home, next time I’ll leave it to her vet. Birds are so delicate, and we were very lucky yesterday.  I’m thankful that I’m not a panicky kind of person so I was able to stay calm and take care of her, but next time I’m going to trust in the professionals so if anything does happen, she is already in the right place to get help. It’s also a good idea to take her to the vet for regular check ups, so I can just do both at once.

We also have a brand new Styptic pencil in the medicine cabinet that will hopefully be handy and easy to find nice time we need it!

Hector bowing her head to show me she doesn’t want to be picked up!

Review – PetSafe Healthy Pet Food Station & Acne Wipes

 

Yawning – Photo by Skylar Hamilton

Little Puck is s a super sweet and affectionate cat. Unfortunately, he also seems to be pretty delicate. He’s had urinary issues in the past, he’s allergic to seafood, and now he has acne on his chin. The poor guy is super itchy! I did some research and discovered that using a metal food bowl instead of plastic is recommended for cleanliness. Apparently plastic can harbor bacteria no matter how much you wash it. I already use a ceramic fountain, so his water shouldn’t be an issue.

After some research, I ended up buying a new feeder from PetSafe, the Healthy Pet Food Station. It’s working out great!

I bought the Medium which holds about 4lbs of dry food. With two very different sizes of dry food, the feeder has proven to work well with both. The cats get a mix of Science Diet Oral Care formula (big chunks) and Iams Urinary Health Formula. The food flows freely into the bowl and doesn’t get jammed up at all.

Our old feeder would often get stuck and the bowl wouldn’t refill. Puck is a bit challenged when it comes to sticking his paw in the bowl to knock down more food. The other cats could do it without any problem, but Puck just sits next to the feeder and stares at us until we do it for him. My daughter thinks it’s because he doesn’t like to get his paws dirty, and she may be right. Thankfully, with this new feeder, the food flows easily and Puck doesn’t have to wait for us to knock it into the bowl for him.

The stainless steel insert is great. Super easy to remove and clean. The whole container comes about easily and can be run through the dishwasher for a quick and thorough cleaning.

The small or 2lb size would probably be fine for most people, but with three and sometimes four cats in this house, I like the 4lb size so I’m not refilling quite as often. The top screws on to the container keeping the cats from knocking it off, and also helping to keep the kibble fresher.

The top is easy to grab and twist, so refilling is easy. I like that the whole container is BPA free.

After three weeks of use, I’m still very happy with this product. The price was very reasonable, it’s easy to use, quick to clean.

The other part of Puck’s acne treatment has been wipes. I purchased the Pet MD Chlorhexidine Wipes and they aren’t Puck’s favorite thing, but they are helping.

Puck’s little chin looked dirty and scabby. He was itching it on everything. After changing his food bowl, and using these wipes for just a few days, he is itch-free! I started using the wipes twice a day, then moved to just once a day. They are just thin, medicated cotton rounds, super easy to use. I just grab one and wipe it all around on Puck’s chin. He gets pats and cuddles for a couple of minutes while his fur dries, then of course he eats some treats! I used them daily for about 8 days, now I’ll just use them about once a week, or as needed if he gets itchy again.

My son’s cat, Marty, was also having similar issues. He tried the same things I did, the new PetSafe feeder, and these wipes, and Marty is also itch free now, happy boy!

Marty – Photo by Lucas Hamilton

While I bought these wipes for Puck, they will be a handy thing to have on hand for all the cats and the dog as well. They can be used for many different types of pet skin issues including hot spots, cuts, insect bites, etc. They can also be used for cleaning and will help dry out any skin areas that need it.

Doggy Stick Review and Hector Story!

Captain Hector

It’s always amazing to me to find connections to Hector D. Byrd’s past. Last week I received a message on Facebook from someone who had been a Hector fan back in her Ambrosia Software days. He was such a fan that he named the family’s cat after Hector! After reading an article that reminded him about Hector, he googled and found the Petmomma.co Facebook page and was happy to see that Hector is still thriving. I feel so lucky to have this girl in my life and it is always special to hear from others who have been impacted by Hector in the past! Any other Ambrosia software fans out there?

   

Cali girl has been lucky enough to test out Doggy Sticks recently, and we’ve both been super happy with the results.

We have two Doggie Sticks, Moisturizer and Prevent Itchiness.

Cali has skin allergies and is often itchy. We’ve been using Cytopoint injections recently with good results, but she still has itchy paws, especially in winter. I’ve been using the stick on her paws whenever I see her chewing on them, and she instantly stops. The stick is super easy to apply, just pull off the top and twist up the stick. I hold her paw in my hand and rub the stick on her paws, easy as that. I use my hands to rub it in a little, but I haven’t noticed any issues with the product getting on floors or carpets, it sinks right into her skin. I really like that the stick doesn’t have any strong odors.

 
According to the company, the formulas are handmade each day.  Ingredients are natural: “The original moisturizer is made with organic, sweet almond oil and bamboo. The itch-free formula is made with coconut oil and a specialized bamboo mix for anti-itch that also recovers the skin.”
 
The key seems to be the bamboo used in both formulas, the company says it is a great natural anti-fungal solution. Original formula treats dry skin with bamboo as well as Vitamins E and A.  The Anti-Itch formula also uses Coconut oil.
 
With its all natural ingredients, Doggy Sticks can be used as needed. For Cali, I sometimes used it morning and night when her itchiness was really bad, but other times I didn’t need to use it every day.
 
I know with road salt I end up washing Cali’s paws quite a bit in winter, and I’m excited to have the Moisturizer Doggy Stick to help combat winter dryness and cracking. I’m guessing it will also be handy to keep her paws dry and comfortable in summer. The Anti Itch stick will be something I always keep on hand for her. It’s so nice to be able to give her some relief when she is chewing at her paws.
 
You can find Doggy Sticks at Doggy Stick.com . The regular formula is currently selling for $5.99 and the Itchiness formula for $8.99.
 
 

Litter Boxes – the Continuing Saga

Does anyone with cats not hate their little box? If so, let me know your secret!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats, but I HATE litter boxes. They smell, litter scatters everywhere, it’s dusty, the cats don’t want to use the box, etc. Depending on the day, I have all these complaints and more.

With three indoor cats in the house, litter boxes are always an issue. Most recently, I’ve kept two large boxes downstairs, and a third up in my laundry room. It has worked out pretty well, except that for some reason, the cats were peeing in the upstairs litter box, but pooping just in front of it, and not in it. It drives me absolutely crazy. I’ve tried different boxes, various kinds of litter, even different trays under the litter box. No matter what combination I chose, pee goes in the box, poop goes in front of it.

Yesterday, the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and I realized something! With the two boxes downstairs that are side by side, the cats usually poop in one and pee in the other, not always, but most of the time. Upstairs, they only have one box. Maybe that is why they pee in the box and poop in front of it? Could the fix possibly be that simple? Two litter boxes in my laundry room is definitely not ideal, but it’s better than cleaning up poop from the tray in front of the box all the time.

My garage stash had an extra litter box, so I put it upstairs next to the other box. Imagine my surprise when I checked it this morning and there was poop IN THE LITTER BOX!  Woot! Small victory for me. Also, win for the cats, because now they have two boxes upstairs which is apparently what they wanted. Does anyone else have cats that poop in one box and pee in the other?

I’ve given up on fancy boxes. Downstairs where I have plenty of room, the litter boxes are actually $7 cement mixing trays from the hardware store. They work great! Cheap enough to easily replace them when they get gross. Deep enough to help contain the litter, and the insides are rounded, so they are super easy to scoop. Upstairs I’m just using two plain plastic litter boxes.

My new favorite litter is OKO Cat brand. It’s made from wood, there’s no noticeable dust. With my old clay litter, I realized I would cough when cleaning the box, not good. No coughing with the new litter. The switch was very gradual, I mixed a little of the new litter in with the old and just kept adding more of the new litter until there wasn’t any more clay litter. The cats don’t seem to have any problems with it. I found this litter by accident. Although I’m usually well stocked on pet supplies, I ran out of cat litter a couple of months ago. The local hardware store only had the OKO Cat brand, so that’s what I bought. It’s been great! I did try their long haired cat version, but it was more like a pellet, and while it did track a little less, the pellets were harder to suck up with the vacuum, the cats didn’t like it, and I seemed to go through a lot of litter.

For the moment, there’s peace in my litter box world. I do want to try one of the fancy robotic litter boxes one of these days, but I’m not sure one of them would be all that helpful, and I’m not buying 3-4, $400+ litter boxes. My $7 boxes work just fine!

Anyone have any good tips for litter boxes? Types of boxes or litter that you really like? How about the LitterRobot any thoughts? Like it? Worth the money?

Kitties and Cali

#With the colder weather, Logan and Puck have been snuggling more. Usually, Puck finds himself a cozy spot, and Logan works her way in. Bean is a solo guy, I don’t really find him snuggling with the other cats or Cali.

Puck was happily enjoying his cozy spot until Logan moved in.

Eventually, he figured out that she wasn’t leaving, and he went back to napping.

My new Sundays food for Cali shipped, so I’m still waiting on that. Looking forward to seeing how she likes it and sharing my thoughts on it. They have been sending me emails, and I’m intrigued about it being a dehydrated food, and having a “jerky-like” texture. I think Cali might really enjoy that.  We’ll see!

 

Welcome to Fall

Puck, popping out to say hello

 

First of all, I miss this blog! Not sure why I’ have gotten out of the writing habit, but hoping to get back to it regularly!

I just heard about a new dehydrated dog food called Sundays Food. Looks like a premium food, no fillers. I got a discount code to try it out, so I’ll check it out and post a review. Cali is doing pretty well with her Cytopoint injections, but maybe a healthier food option will also help. Let me know if you’ve tried it.

Not exactly pet related, but sort of… I got a new tattoo. I had a vision of some kind of tattoo that could incorporate a bunch of my present and former pets. I had the idea of a footprint path, and my amazing tattoo artist, Benjamin Jeness at Summer’s End Studios,  helped bring my idea to life.

From my ankle heading down, there are parrot claws, 4 sugar glider feet, then two each of rabbit, turtle, lizard, rat, chinchilla, ferret, cat, and dog. We simply had to include 4 glider feet since their fronts and backs are so different. I love the way it came out! I really wanted a horseshoe or two in there, but it just didn’t work out design-wise.  Maybe I’ll find a way to add one another time. They are good luck!

This handsome boy is Marty. While I consider him part of our family, he is not my kitten, he is my son’s. He is living at college and loving life. Marty is keeping my son company, helping to relieve college stress, and even providing lessons on responsibility. Marty will join our crew when my son is home on breaks.  Looking forward to getting to know him better.

Marty loves to go for walks on his leash, and loves meeting new people. He expects everyone he meets to pat him!

In general all the pet-family is doing well. I’ll post more detailed updates soon, and of course a review of that Sundays Food when Cali gets a chance to test it.

 

 

 

Always Be Learning Part 2, The Dragon

Wena’s Tank -Before The Make Over

About three years ago, I got a text from a friend who knew I had kept reptiles in the past. I used to have two snakes, and she has been pet sitting for me for years. She had a friend that needed to find a new home for a snake and a Bearded Dragon. Was I interested in either?

I definitely knew I did not want another snake. I like snakes, I think they are really interesting creatures, but I can’t stand feeding them. I didn’t really know anything about Bearded Dragons, so I told her I needed to think about it.

Dexter the Ball Python

Delilah the Western Hognose

Time to research! Bearded dragons are omnivores, so they need veggies and bugs. I can deal with that. I don’t love feeding bugs, but I won’t have any more pets that need to eat other pets (mice, rats, etc.) This particular dragon came with a tank, lights, pretty much everything I would need. Why not?!?

When I started researching, it seemed that many people believed bearded dragons shouldn’t be housed on a loose substrate, so no sand, dirt, etc. I lined my tank with some plastic shelf liner that had a little bit of texture to give my lizard some grip. The reasoning was that lizards could eat the substrate and it would cause a bowel impaction.

For over two years, I kept her on the shelf liner, she had hammocks to bask in, branches to climb, caves to hide in. Eventually, the shelf liner started to wear out, and I started researching again. Should I just replace the shelf liner? It is easy to keep clean, inexpensive, easy to replace. I started thinking it would be really nice if Wena could have some real plants instead of the fake ones I had in her tank. I researched lizard safe plants.

I came across some websites, particularly Josh’s Frogs, and The BioDude, that had articles about bioactive enclosures. More info was definitely needed! This seemed like such an amazing idea to me. My lizard could essentially live in a terrarium, live plants, bugs to live in the soil and keep the tank clean naturally!

The research told me I needed a mix of soils, sands, etc. that would help maintain the right humidity, and allow the cleaning crew insects to thrive and do their job. Josh’s Frogs offered a mix ready to use, so I purchased a bunch of that. More reading to learn what plants were safe. I found that many of the succulents I already had would be perfect for the tank, so I used a bunch of what I had and bought just a couple of bigger plants to fill in.

This is Wena’s tank today. It’s a work in progress. She has killed many plants by eating or crushing them, so I’m still replanting, and trying to figure out what works best, but here’s the thing… I LOVE this tank! It’s nice to look at now. I enjoy seeing all the plants instead of the ugly plastic tank.

It’s SUPER easy to take care of. There are springtails and isopods living in the soil. I almost never see them, but they clean up lizard poop, leftover dragon food, and decaying plant matter. Bearded Dragon poop smells awful. It is enough to stink up the entire room, but now, it just gets buried in the soil and the bugs take care of it. For maintenance, I spray the tank down with a mist of water every morning when I feed Wena. I’m sure in a few months I’ll want to do a deep clean, maybe change out the substrate, or at least some of it, but that’s it.

Top Down View

Here’s the best part of all, Wena is a totally different creature. She used to scratch at the glass of her tank when she saw me. I thought it was cute that she wanted attention, but in hindsight, I think she was bored and restless. Since switching to the bioactive tank, she eats better, she poops more regularly, she climbs, and digs, and eats some of the live plants in her tank. She hunts for bugs. She no longer taps on the glass. Sometimes when I look at the tank, it takes me a minute to figure out where she is. She has choices. Wena no longer basks in the same spot all day, every day.

I love having pets, but I do sometimes worry about them being in captivity. I think about poor Hector who never really learned how to fly. I always do what I can to enrich my pets lives and keep them mentally stimulated. I truly believe that my dragon is happier and living more naturally now. She’s more relaxed. She doesn’t just sit in the same spot all day. She made herself a nice bed of dry leaves where she sometimes naps. She has branches to climb and leaves to nibble.

Back to the reason for this article, always be learning. Three years ago when I set up the dragon tank, I thought it was the best thing for her. I didn’t want to risk impaction with a loose substrate. Now, I’ve read more. I’ve learned that with the right lighting and diet, there really isn’t a risk from the substrate. I’ve seen how happy my girl is to be digging, foraging, nibbling live plants, climbing, basking, all these natural activities are now available to her. It’s amazing to see the change. Part of being a responsible pet owner is being willing to learn, grow, and change. Take care of your pets physically and mentally. Enjoy them!