4 Natural Ways to Keep Ants out of Your Pet’s Food

ant pet foodIt’s the scourge of many a pet parent: the ants come marching each springtime and don’t let up until the weather turns cold again. The ants’ target? Your pet’s food bowl!

Worry no more. You don’t have to just put up with these pesky invaders trying to snack on your beloved’s goodies. You can fight back, and without poisons. Here are five non-toxic ways to keep ants out of your pet’s food.

1. How to Remove an Ant Infestation From Pet Food Without Throwing it Away

If there are already ants in the food, then place the food in the freezer. Wait until the food is frozen and the ants are dead. Then, working in batches if necessary, use a strainer over the sink or a trash can to sift the dead ants out of the food.

2. How to Use Peppermint Oil to Repel Ants and Other Pests

I discovered the wonders of peppermint oil when crews broke ground near my apartment to construct a new line of the Washington, DC metro. Almost immediately, our home was infested by mice that presumably came inside to escape all the excavation and major construction that disrupted the environment.

We’d always entertained ants, which wasn’t ideal, but mice? Aw, heck no. I was not having it! After lots of research to find a non-toxic way to repel mice, I discovered that 100% peppermint oil (that’s 100% peppermint oil, not extract) works wonders. In a spray bottle, I mix a tablespoon of oil for every 1 cup of water, which is a potent potion.

Both mice and ants are guided keenly by their sense of smell, and 100% peppermint oil seems to completely bungle their olfactory operations. Since occasionally spritzing peppermint oil near my HVAC vent and having the smell delivered all throughout my apartment, I have seen nary a pest, and certainly no mice and no ants. Refresh with more spritzes anywhere you think pests might enter your home, and you should largely be pest-free in no time.

3. How to Disrupt the Ant Trail

If you don’t want to try peppermint oil, then do your best to disrupt the ant trail to throw them off your pet’s food’s scent. You can keep a placemat under your dog’s food bowl, and after each meal, wash the food bowl and wash off all the crumbs from the place mat with soap and water. You can also wipe down the floor with a gentle cleanser along the trail where you’ve seen ants marching, leading up to the space where you feed your pet.

Another option is to sprinkle baby powder where you’ve seen ants enter your home. Sprinkle talc lightly in a circle around your pet’s food dish. (Make sure your pet isn’t around to inhale the talc.) Ants can’t seem to stand being around baby powder and will beat a hasty retreat in its presence.

4. How to Create a Moat Around Your Pet’s Food Bowl.

Ants will drown in water and won’t be able to cross water to get to your pet’s food. You can use an aluminum baking dish that you would buy in the grocery store. Place your pet’s food bowl in the baking dish, and then fill the dish with just enough water to create a moat around the food bowl so that ants can’t access the food.

Of course the moat won’t prevent ants from entering your home in the first place. My favorite method has been peppermint oil. After the initial inconvenience of purchasing the oil and mixing up a bottle of 1 tablespoon of oil to one cup of water, it’s been so simple to just spray it around any time I notice an ant scouting out our kitchen. He runs for the hills, and I never have to host him or his friends again.


4 Ways to Keep Your Pets off Your Furniture

pet furnitureKeeping pets off furniture is one of those debatable priorities among pet parents. Some pet parents want to cuddle with their pets on the furniture, even if it means having a stinky and hairy sofa.

Other pet parents love their pets equally well, but feel that furniture is for people, and they don’t mind taking whatever measures necessary to enforce the no-pets-on-the-furniture rule. If this describes you, here are four ways to keep your pets off your furniture.

1. Teach your dog the “off” command.

While you obviously don’t want to teach your dog to “jump on” the furniture to begin with, it’s handy to know how to teach your dog to jump off so they will at least understand what you’re saying as you attempt to keep them off the sofa.

2. Make your furniture unappealing.

One major reason it’s notoriously hard to train pets to stay off furniture is that your couch is just so darn comfortable. If you do a little bit of work to make your furniture unappealing to your pet, this will go a long way to squashing the forbidden allure of your sofa.

There are various methods on the market you can purchase, such as a spray repellent to deter dogs and cats. You can also consider a product like a Scram Mat, a pad with a noisy alarm. The sound will annoy your pet right off the furniture.

Or you can just cover the surface when you aren’t sitting there with upside down laundry baskets, plastic or cardboard. If you don’t want to cover the couch, then upend the cushions, or put the cushions in the closet.

3. Get your pet their own furniture.

Here’s the other side of the coin: while you’re busy making your furniture unappealing, entice your pet with a place of their own. You can create a pet sanctuary to keep your dog or cat comfy, safe, and cozy. Don’t forget to spring for a nice bed for your pet, like this DreamZone Fleece Pet Bed. If they have a comfortable bed of their own, yours won’t seem so magical.

4. Use a homemade noise maker.

Cats and dogs both are reported to hate the sound it makes when you shake a can of coins. You can use a regular old soda can, and tape the mouth shut after you’ve dropped some coins in there. Whenever your pet makes a move towards the furniture, just give the can a little shake. Leave the can sitting on the furniture when you’re gone as a reminder.

What about you? Do you let your pets on the furniture? To keep your pet safe and healthy, sign up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.


5 Questions With Author Nikki Attree, Founder of Wooftastic Books

wooftastic banner3ndNikki Attree, co-author of the dog-perspective memoir Nobody’s Poodle, is originally from the UK. Since moving to Tenerife of the Canary Islands, she’s been producing calendars and educational poster campaigns to help local animal rescue centers.

Nikki also runs Wooftastic Books, a web site that features dog-friendly authors and books in a wide selection of genres, from memoirs, to children’s books, to non-fiction and fiction – the unifying theme of all the books featured being DOGS in all their glory.

We interviewed Nikki to learn more about her and her mission.

1. Where did the inspiration to start Wooftastic Books come from?

The idea came about as we (myself and my husband) were thinking of ways of marketing our own book, Nobody’s Poodle, and we realized that perhaps if we pooled resources with other authors we might reach a wider audience. So we set up the website WooftasticBooks.com to promote authors and books that feature dogs in an ethical way.

Our aim is to get together a group of authors online to collaborate on promoting their books and to tap into the huge potential market of dog-lovers worldwide. It’s open to any author with a wooftastic dog book, whether written to inform, educate or entertain; factual or fiction; for children or adults.

Membership is free and all that we ask is that our authors agree to the principle of pooling resources to promote ethical dog books, and will help to spread the word via their own networks. As you might expect, once the site was up and running we had a lot of requests from authors wanting to join, but not all of them fully got the idea of reciprocal promotion, or the importance of social networking, so occasionally I have to remove a book if I see that an author isn’t pulling their weight, so to speak!

As the site starts to generate more interest and traffic we’re hoping for wooftastic media coverage, best seller rankings,  block buster movie deals, dog biscuits for life sponsorship … The sky’s the limit. 🙂

2. Can you tell us more about the community of authors on Wooftastic Books?

It’s a very international community. Authors come from all over the world: UK, USA, South Africa, and we ourselves are based in the Canary Islands, Spain. Their books are the result of the authors’ experiences with dogs in many different ways: helping in refuges, being a search-and-rescue team member, running educational programs, and even rescuing dogs from war zones.

From canine celebrities such as Uggie — star of multiple-award-winning movie The Artist, Haatchi (hero of the hugely popular Haatchi and Little B), to real-life stories of rescuing dogs from Afghanistan’s killing fields, these books are all, in their own way, about our special relationship with man’s best friend.

3. How did you come up with Nobody’s Poodle and the heroic Gizmo?

Well Gizmo is a Labradoodle that we adopted from a local rescue center here in Tenerife, and Nobody’s Poodle is his story. He’s really more street Doodle than swanky Poodle, and he’s very much his own dog. He’s all about standing up for the underdog, and it gets him into a fair few scrapes on the mean streets of Costa del Scorchio.

I am involved with helping the refuges here and Gizmo became the poster pooch for (local dog rescue) Accion-del-Sol’s educational program. This involved visiting local schools, telling the children about the plight of stray mutts in Tenerife, and teaching them how to look after their pets properly. Before you could say “wag a tail” he’d been signed up by one of the local newspapers, Island Connections, to be their intrepid news hound – doggedly sniffing out the breaking news and giving the pooch perspective in his regular column “Life According to Gizmo (It’s a Dog’s Life)” and this gave us the idea for a book.

4. What advice would you give to pet lovers who want to break into books?

Don’t expect to earn a lot of money from your book. Do it for love, not money. Make writing a passion. There will be readers for your book, but to reach them, you should expect to spend many hours marketing it, so engage in that passionately as well.

Many authors now self-publish, as we have done with Nobody’s Poodle. This is a wonderful way to get your book out there, and it does give you total control of the book, the marketing, and in fact a higher portion of the royalties. Of course you don’t have the back-up of a publisher to help with editing, designing and producing the book or marketing it. Having said that, I have seen many published authors complain about their publisher’s lack of interest in promoting their books, so even if you do manage to find a publisher, I don’t think you can just sit back and wait for them to make you the next best seller. You still have to be very pro-active in bringing your book to your readers’ attention and selling it.

Anyhow most of the authors on wooftasticbooks are not concerned with sales or being a famous author; they just love writing. Saying that, one of the authors on wooftasticbooks is an international best-selling writer.Wendy Holden has written Uggie the Artist and Haatchi and Little B, and she obviously makes a very good living. However, most have other employment and what they do have all in common is a love of dogs, which shows through their writing.

5. Finally, what are you working on now?

Well besides my ongoing promotional work for the local animal refuges and Wooftastic Books, we are working on our next novel, Somebody’s Doodle. Gizmo appears in it, but not this time as the narrator. It’s more of a comedy crime thriller about a bungled dognapping set in North London (rather than Tenerife) and the human characters are as, if not more important, than the dogs. I felt it was important to move on from purely dog stories. After all, how many ways are there of describing the world from dog’s point of view?

Thank you Nikki, for all you do for dog-book lovers the world over! For the dog in your life, sign up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more and register at PetPlus.com.


Top 5 Ways to FInd a Lost Pet


One of the best ways to increase your chances of finding a lost pet these days is to have had the foresight to get your pet microchipped so that in the case your pet is found, their address can be traced back to yours.

Of course a good collar with a sturdy and clear ID tag can do the same thing, as long as your address and phone number are visible and your pet doesn’t lose their collar.

If you want to get more immediate knowledge of your pet’s location, collar clip-ons like Tagg and Pocket Finder stream GPS information on your pet to your laptop or phone.

But let’s say your pet is lost out there, microchipped or not, and you want to take action to bring your pet home. Here are some tips in finding a lost pet.

Here are our best ways to help finding a lost pet.

1. Search nearby.

Your first step is to fan out with friends and family in the area where your pet was last seen with treats and your pet’s favorite squeaky toys. You can also leave clothing or a pillow that has your scent on it outside your house.

2. Distribute a flyer.

Create a flyer with your pet’s photo, name, and your phone number. Distribute the flyer to your neighbors, plus local businesses, vets, shelters, and rescue organizations. Post flyers wherever you can in a one-mile radius.

RELATED ARTICLE: Runaway Beagle Found; Shelter Refuses to Return Dog to Family

3. Visit your local shelters.

Call local vets and visit local shelters in person every one to two days.

To avoid the chance your pet could be euthanized if brought to a shelter, be vigilant about visiting the shelter in person in case your pet was found and the shelter staff on duty at the time isn’t aware of your case.

4. Use social media.

You can start a Facebook page for your lost pet and spread the word quickly by sharing with all your friends, like this family who lost their dog, Harley.

You can also search for a local Facebook page that specializes in lost pets, like LostFoundDogsVA, and post your pet’s photo there.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Find a Lost Pet

5.  Register your pet as lost.

Look online for places to register your pet as lost. Whether your pet is microchipped or not, you can add your pet to some lost pet registries. Some options are:

Pet Key

Pet Amber Alert

Fido Finder

The Center for Lost Pets

You can also place an ad on Craigslist with a photo of your pet and details on where they were last seen, and how to return the pet to you.

Have you ever recovered in finding a lost pet? Let us know how in the comments, and consider signing upfor PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


6 Tips for Getting Great Photos of Your Pet

It can be tough to get a frame-worthy photo of a subject who doesn’t understand the concept of photography. Here are a few tips for getting some shots of your pet that you can proudly show off, both in your home and on your Facebook page.

1. Bribe your subject to sit still.

Don’t have a willing subject? There’s nothing like a little bribery to grease the wheels. Come armed with your pet’s favorite treats to get that “at attention” look from your pet.

RELATED ARTICLE: Celebrities Who Go Above and Beyond for Pets

2. Select a favorite toy.

Whether you want an action shot, a still life, or you don’t care which – you just want a good picture! – then bringing a favorite toy along for your photo shoot is bound to get some good shots of your pet cuddling with or gnawing on their lovey.

3. Aim for the golden hour.

You will get the best photos if you shoot outside in natural lighting either early morning soon after sunrise or late evening around sunset. This is known as the golden hour amongst photographers because the photos look – you guessed it – golden. If you’re shooting an indoor pet, then hopefully you have a room in your house that’s flooded with either early morning or late evening light.

RELATED ARTICLE: Make Your Cat the Envy of the Neighborhood

4. Get eye-to-eye with your subject.

Get down on your belly or knees to take some photos right at your pet’s level. We all know how odd those photos look when someone takes a photo while standing above their pet. You will get a much more interesting and engaging shot if you can see your pet head on.

5. Invite a playmate.

If you want some great action shots, then invite a friend to toss balls to your dog or to wave a bird on a stick for your cat. While it’s tempting to man both the toy and the camera, you are far more likely to get a brag-worthy photo if you enlist a buddy to play with your pet while you shoot. Or better yet, get your friend to take some action shots of you and your pet while you play together.

RELATED ARTICLE: Fun Times Ahead for You and Your Best Friend

6. If all else fails…wait for naptime!

Who doesn’t love seeing a pet all curled up for sleepy time? You certainly won’t have to worry about framing your subject or dealing with blurred action shots when you’ve got a sleeping pet on your hands.

Do you have a favorite photo of your pet? Let us know in the comments, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


Tips for Bathing a Pet Who Hates Water


Some pets just love water, but let’s be honest here: it’s a rare pet who is really excited about getting into the bathtub. What do you do when bathing your pet has turned into a wrestling match worthy of a reality TV crew? Here are some tips.

1. Stick to a professional.

Let’s just go ahead and get the “last resort” out of the way. When all is lost and you’re tired of getting scratched up and your pet is tired of getting traumatized, then take your pet to a groomer. They know how to deal with difficult pets and how to be very efficient and calming during the grooming process so that your pet won’t have to suffer too much, even if your wallet begs to differ.

2. DIY, but not in your house.

Take your dog to a DIY dogwash. The anchor leash will help keep your dog’s head still to eliminate struggle. Better yet, between no scuffling, the raised tubs, and the hand-held spray, this should entirely eliminate back strain while you give your pet a very thorough washing.

3. Use a hand shower at home.

Many DIY instructions about bathing a pet include filling buckets of water to pour over your pet to wet and rinse them, but we’ve had the experience of a dog who was much more amenable to being bathed at home once the pet’s parent started using a hand shower for wetting and rinsing the pet’s fur.

4. Use dry shampoo between washings.

If you want to extend the time between trauma – I mean bathing – then try using this Dry Shampoo For Dogs and Cats to make dirt removal gentle and simple without water, and while preserving essential oils in the fur.

You can also try Bio-Groom Waterless Bath No Rinse Shampoo, which contains anti-microbial tea tree oil. Along with cleaning your pet’s fur, this spray can also detangle fur and relieve itching.

Do you have any tips or tales about bathing your pet? Let us know in the comments, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.


6 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Dog or Cat


As cuddly as your pet may be, there are a few sicknesses that can spread from felines or canines to humans and it helps to be careful. Any infection that can spread from an animal to a human is referred to as “zoonotic.” Here are the details, and how to protect both your pet and your family from these diseases.

1. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis in an infection caused by salmonella bacteria; it can infect cats, dogs, and spread to people. Dogs and cats who are immune-compromised, or who are very old or very young, are most at risk of picking up this gastro-intestinal distressing bug.

Feeding your pet raw or undercooked meat can cause the infection, or they can catch the disease from another sick animal. If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea, then thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and hand-washing are all important precautions you can take to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

2. Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis, a parasite, is problematic for those with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. “Don’t clean the litterbox!” many an obstetrician has told pregnant patients who are cat-parents.

Although millions are infected and don’t even know it, Toxoplasmosis is most known to humans due to the increased risk it poses to pregnant women in the form of miscarriage or birth defects to the fetus.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Truth About Toxoplasmosis in Cats

3. Cat Scratch Fever

You might have heard of Cat Scratch Fever due to the popularity of the Ted Nugent song by the same name. Also known as Cat Scratch Disease, Cat Scratch Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the saliva of infected cats. While mostly asymptomatic in cats, swollen lymph nodes are the main symptom of the disease in people.

Cat Scratch Fever is normally mild and resolves on its own, although it’s possible to experience other symptoms such as a slight fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, rash, sore throat, or general malaise. To keep your cat from being infected, make sure you use a good flea preventative, since cats catch the disease from fleas.

 RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Common Skin Issues in Dogs, and When to Worry

4. Roundworm

Roundworms are parasites that can infect a dog or cat’s intestinal tract and cause malnourishment as the parasites consume the pet’s food and block the intestines. Diarrhea is the most common symptom as roundworms latch onto the intestines. When the worms travel through the lungs and throat, dogs and cats can exhibit coughing.

If your pet shows symptoms, take them to the vet to get diagnosed and treated with a deworming medication. If transmitted to humans, most cases of roundworm won’t cause severe symptoms.

RELATED ARTICLE: Parasites and Worms in Dogs and Cats

5. Hookworm

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that feed off of your pet’s blood. Prevention is easy! Keep your pet on a once-monthly preventative medication like Heartgard to prevent hookworm, heartworm, and other parasites. There are some great treatments out there for hookworms if your dog or cat is already infected.

While hookworm in humans is uncommon and generally clears up on its own, it can cause an itchy skin disease called “creeping eruption” (ew!)

RELATED ARTICLE: How Parasite And Worm Treatment Works

6. Ringworm

Scaly or inflamed circular bald patches on your dog or cat can signal ringworm, which is actually a fungal infection. While it’s not technically serious, ringworm is highly contagious and should be treated immediately to avoid infecting other pets or people.

Has your pet ever come down with a yucky infection and then given it to you? Let us know in the comments! Prevent and treat infections by signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.


How to Make a Great First Impression on a Dog


It’s a common tactic to try to decode a pet’s body language, but what if we want to talk back? How does the way we hold and carry ourselves communicate to a dog we don’t know well? Here are a few tips to get your messages across loud and clear, without saying a word.

1. Keep your hands to yourself.

When meeting a dog for the first time, it might feel natural to extend your hand, whether it’s to let the dog sniff it or to offer a friendly pat on the head. However, many dogs, and especially a dog who isn’t familiar with you, would really rather you kept your hands to yourself because extending your hand can be perceived as an invasion of space or an act of aggression.

Instead, let the dog come to you and sniff at their leisure. Dogs love to sniff hello, so just relax and let it happen.

RELATED ARTICLE: Reading Dog Body Language

2. Avert your eyes.

When you look a dog in the eyes, they perceive it as a sign of hostility or an attempt to dominate them. If you’ve ever tried to make eye contact with a dog, you might notice that they look away. They are either being polite or submissive to your gaze. It’s best to give the dog the once over without locking eyes.

3. Pet strategically.

While it’s normal to think dogs don’t mind a pat on the head, it’s not quite right, especially as you’re getting to know a dog. As your hand travels above their eyes and out of sight, many dogs start to feel pretty nervous. Instead, keep your hands in plain view, and pet a pup where they can turn their head and see your hand. Many dogs enjoy a good scratch on the rump.

RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Dog Commands You Need to Know

4. Get on your forearms to play.

If you know a dog’s owner well enough to engage in some physical play with their pup, then ask permission first just to rule out the chance their dog has some issues with aggression or rough behavior. If it’s okay, then get down on your forearms with your tush in the air. This is the signal for “Let’s play!” in the dog world. Get ready to rumble!

How do you communicate with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 


7 Ways to Puppy-Proof Your Summer BBQ

Summer parties are a blast, and what better way to introduce your dog to your clan and friends than hosting a BBQ? To make sure everyone stays safe and has fun, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Create a Puppy-Only Lounge

Dogs need a lot of sleep, and it’s exhausting to get passed around all day long. Make sure there’s a VIP spot your pup can retreat to when he needs a time out; create your set-up so that your dog may be gated away from the festivities when he needs to rest.

RELATED STORY: Create a Special Space for Your Dog

2. Keep a Dog’s Eye View When Setting Up

Imagine what this party is going to look like from your dog’s point of view, and set up accordingly. Don’t place hors d’oeuvres on end tables, coffee tables, or anywhere else that’s within reach of the dog. Resist the urge to use candles, especially on low tables where a tail-wag could knock a candle over, or on a table with a tablecloth in case the dog ever decided to climb or pull on it.

3. “Don’t Feed the Dog!”

Spread the word far and wide: Do Not Feed the Dog. There are too many people foods that are poisonous for dogs, and besides, many pet parents don’t want their dog to learn obnoxious begging behavior by being fed people food at every turn. It’s a great idea to place a sign on the food table telling guests not to feed your pet so that you don’t have to nag.

RELATED STORY: The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs

4. Puppy-Gate the Grill

Avoid painful burns by keeping your dog away from the grill. All that sizzling food smells delicious, but spare your dog from splatters by making sure he can’t get near a hot grill, bon fire, or other cooking surfaces.

5. Lifeguard Your Pup

It’s a common mistake to think that all dogs are strong swimmers. Drowning accidents are quite common amongst pets, so be sure to supervise the pup around the pool.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dog Safety Around the Home

6. Watch the Dog Around Kids

Dogs and kids just seem to go together, except when they don’t. Some kids can get a little too rough around pets. Likewise, many dogs might bite when provoked by behavior that’s perceived as aggressive or unpredictable. Make sure an adult keeps an eagle eye on the situation anytime kids and pets mix.

7. Bus the Tables

Parties are really fun for dogs, especially when food scraps are left unattended! Make sure you have a crystal clear system for bussing the tables and making sure leftover food isn’t left where the dog can nab it. Clear scraps immediately, and also don’t let trash overflow.

How do you plan on enjoying the warmer weather with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.