At-Home Pet Grooming Tricks

My Standard Poodle, Wade, is a wonderful guy. He’s an expert cuddler, a social butterfly who loves all people and animals, and he’s always making my husband and I laugh with his funny expressions and mischievous antics; he’s only 1 and ½ years-old, so he still has a lot of puppy spunk!

He’s a really great dog. However, he’s also a big dog — 56 lbs. at his last check-up — and having a large dog comes with its costs, one of which is expensive grooming. Now, full disclosure: I live in Los Angeles, where prices may be higher because it is a big city. Nevertheless, the first time we took Wade to a professional groomer, they charged $70 for the works. As he’s grown and gained weight, that price has gone up, and a full groom now costs $100. Ouch.

Poodles need to be brushed and groomed regularly to keep their thick, curly, ever-growing hair clean and free of mats. Knowing that we were looking at spending $100 every 6 weeks or so, we decided to learn how to groom at home.

At first it was challenging; especially with a puppy, we dealt with a lot of wiggling and escape attempts.

Over time, however, Wade got more comfortable with being groomed, and we’ve learned some tricks along the way that make the whole process a lot easier. So without further adieu, here are 5 of our favorite at home grooming tricks and tips.

1. Brush First, and Use The Right Kind of Brush

Trying to brush out wet, tangled hair is no fun. The best thing that you can do for your dog’s coat is brush it out regularly (once a week or more, depending on what kind of hair they have), and you should also give your pal a thorough once over with a brush before bathing/grooming to loosen mats, tangles, and check for fleas, ticksfoxtails, burrs, or other foreign matter.

The kind of brush that you use is important, and will depend on your dog’s hair.

  • Slicker brushes have thin, stainless steel pins that work to remove mats and tangles. They are perfect for dogs with medium-to-long or curly-haired breeds (like Wade!)
  • Pin brushes look like brushes that we humans use. Pin brushes are less effective at working through tangles than Slicker brushes, so they are better suited to dogs with naturally smooth hair (like Yorkshire Terriers) or any dog that is brushed regularly and thus doesn’t have mats or tangles. They can also be used as a finishing brush.
  • Bristle Brushes can help to reduce shedding and can be used on all dog breeds, depending on the length and spacing of the bristles. For example, if you have a dog with a long coat, the bristles should be long and widely spaced.

2. Use A Detachable Shower Head

Once we figured this one out, we couldn’t believe that it hadn’t occurred to us before. Before using a detachable shower head, we would use a pitcher or Tupperware bowl to wet Wade down. Wade has extremely thick hair, so fully wetting his body and washing off soap required multiple, tiring scoops of water. We decided to pick up a detachable shower head for $18 at a home improvement store, and washing Wade has never been easier. Just be sure that you get one with enough length to reach your pup — ours has an 8 foot hose.

3. Get A Better Lather and Save Money By Diluting Soap

If you try to squeeze soap directly onto your dog, you’ll end up using a lot more than you need, and soap can be expensive (unless you make your own at home!) Instead, put a bit of soap into a squeeze bottle or container (like a Tupperware), fill it up with water, mix it around, and squirt or pour the mixture over your dog. You’ll get more mileage out of your soap and a much better lather, too.

4. Desensitize Your Dog To Clippers

Ah yes, clippers. Wade was NOT too pleased the first time he heard and felt clippers. Clippers are often noisy, and the sensation is unnatural — like a strange vibration. Before using clippers to groom your dog, get them familiar with the sounds and feelings so they won’t be afraid. Turn the clippers on and give your dog a treat. Touch the body of the clipper gently to different parts of your dog (without actually removing any hair) and offer a treat. Do this once a day leading up to grooming. One note: be sure to introduce the clippers to your dog’s legs at some point; the legs are the most sensitive parts of many dogs (this is certainly the case for Wade).

5. Use Corn Starch For A Nicked Toenail

Even with lots of practice and the best intentions, chances are you will draw blood from time to time when trimming your pet’s nails. You can stop the bleeding with styptic pads or powder purchased from the pet store, or you can do like we do, and use corn starch. Corn starch quickly stops bleeding by causing a clot at the site of the wound. Simply put some corn starch into a bowl and dip your dog’s nicked nail into it. Let the corn starch sit on the nail for a while before washing it off. To avoid a starchy mess while you wait, put a sock over your dog’s foot.

So those are some of our tips! What are yours? Leave a comment below and let us know! In addition, if you’re into saving money by grooming at home, you might also be interested in PetPlus. With PetPlus, you can save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies, and more.


3 Brilliant Box Hacks For Cats

Next time you receive a gift or get a package in the mail, don’t kick the box to the curb! Instead, turn it into a fort, puzzle feeder, or scratcher for your favorite feline. These hacks are so simple and satisfying that the whole family will want to join in. So come along! It’s time to think inside the box.

Box Hack #1: Cat Fort

Cats love to explore, climb, and hide, which explains why there is a such huge market for cat forts and cat condos. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to give your cat the playhouse of their dreams; all you really need is some boxes and a box cutter or X-Acto knife.

When it comes to designing a fort, the possibilities are endless. You can cut holes for your cat (or cats) to squeeze through, create small square windows for peeking, or fashion arched doorways for a fort that’s fit for royalty. Stack boxes, line them up side by side (secret tunnel, anyone?), or spread them out around the house.

If you really want to get creative, you can get out the art supplies and paint the fort to look like a little house, a castle, a hotel, or whatever you dream up.

Box Hack #2: Cat Puzzle Feeder

What if you could feed your cat, provide them mental stimulation, and satisfy their hunting instincts all at once? Puzzle feeders — games that require your cat to problem solve in order to get their food — do just that. There are plenty of cat puzzle feeders for sale at pet stores, but you can easily make your own at home.

What will you need? A small cardboard box and a box cutter or X-Acto knife should do the trick.


1. Seal up the box if it is open. If it is a box with a lid, tape or glue the lid so that it will not separate from the box.

2. Cut holes into the top of the box. The holes should be big enough that your cat can reach their paws through and fish out the food.

3. Give it a test drive. Put the box on the ground and let your kitty have at it. If they are having trouble reaching the food, make the holes a bit larger. You can also cut off the bottoms of plastic water bottles (make sure they are sanitized!) and stick them into the holes, then fill those with food. This will give your cat easier access, but will be less challenging.

You can also use the puzzle feeder for games that don’t involve food. Stick your cat’s favorite toys into the holes — a mini mouse, a bell, a fuzzy ball — and watch them go wild.

RELATED STORY: How To Play With A Cat

Box Hack #3: Cat Scratcher

Cats love to scratch, and sometimes, our furniture or pocketbooks suffer for it. Fortunately, making a cat scratcher at home is ridiculously easy. All you’ll need is some corrugated cardboard boxes, a ruler, a box cutter/X-acto knife, glue, and masking tape.


1. Cut strips of cardboard that are all the same width. You can make the scratcher as wide or narrow as you want. For a wider scratcher, you’ll need more strips.

2. Once you have all of your strips cut, you can make either a round or square scratcher. To make a round scratcher, simply wrap the strips around each other with a line of glue between each layer. Once you have all of the strips wrapped, seal the whole thing off with masking tape (you can even get a decorative kind with a fun pattern).

To make a square or rectangular scratcher, run a line of glue along the center of each strip, stack them all together, and then apply pressure for several minutes until they are packed tightly. Then, seal off the edges with masking tape, or place the scratcher into a box where it will fit snugly (like a shoe box).

Your cat will probably be waiting in the wings to get access to their new scratcher, but if they need a little encouragement, sprinkle some catnip on top.

RELATED STORY: Treat Your Cat To A Catnip Surprise

Making DIY projects at home is just one savvy way to save on your cat’s supplies. If you want to save even more, consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus offers discounts of up to 75% on pet medications, and ordering is so easy! Have any other money-saving tips for pets? Leave a comment below and let us know!


2 Great Healthy Homemade Treat Recipes for Cats And Dogs

Browsing the treat aisle at the pet store can be fun, but many of the tasty tidbits offered on the shelves come with a big price tag. This doesn’t mean that you should cut treats out of your pet’s routine (of course not!), but there are ways to save on indulging your furry friend.

Many pet parents have discovered that they can easily make pet treats at home. It’s not only a fun activity to do with friends or family (kids love it!), it’s also a way to cut spending. In addition, you’ll know exactly what healthy ingredients are going into the treats, so you can feel good offering your pal a reward when the time is right.

Here are two of our favorite dog-and-cat-friendly recipes from around the web. Check the ingredients to be sure that your pet isn’t allergic to anything, and then head to the kitchen!

Homemade Treats for Cats

Homemade Treats for Cats and Dogs

via PawNation

These treats are so, so easy to make, and they are also wonderfully healthy. The main ingredient — mackerel — is packed with fish oil that supports coat, skin, joint, kidney, heart, and immune system health. Fish oil has also been shown to provide benefits for some more serious health issues, such as cancer.


– 1 15-oz can of mackerel

– ½ to 1 cup whole grain flour

– 1 teaspoon baking powder


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Empty the contents of the mackerel can into a mixing bowl, and mash thoroughly

3. Add the baking powder and enough flour to make the mixture into a thick dough

4. Spread the dough out to about  ¼” thickness on a greased baking sheet

5. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into small squares

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown

7. Allow treats to cool and then break into squares

8. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months

RELATED STORY: The Best Dog Treats For Every Occasion

Turkeyballs for Dogs and Cats

by Dr. Karen Becker

These super simple treats are loaded with lean protein, and the added parsley will give your pal a fresh breath. Choose to include cheese or chopped veggies for added taste and nutrition.


– 1 pound ground turkey

– 1 egg

– 1 teaspoon chopped parsley

– ¼ cup shredded cheese (optional)

– ½ cup chopped veggies (optional; do not use onion or garlic, as they are poisonous to pets)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl

3. Shape the dough into small, bite-sized balls and place on greased baking sheet

4. Bake for 10 minutes or until brown

5. Cool and serve, or store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer

RELATED STORY: Cat Treats For Your Kitty’s Every Need

Have a favorite homemade treat recipe you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!


Pet Hack: DIY Pet Toiletries

Your pet’s hygiene is incredibly important which means they’ll need the proper pet toiletries! If you don’t brush your pet’s teeth, they will be at risk for developing dental disease. If your dog or cat has long, narrow, or hairy ears, you should clean them to prevent ear infections. And of course, every pet needs the occasional bath to keep their coat clean, healthy, and primed for cuddling. But what’s the cost of all of these primping products?

It can be minimal if you make your pet’s toiletries at home. Not only will you save money, you’ll also know exactly what ingredients are going into your pet’s products. In addition, kids love getting their hands dirty and learning new things, so get the family together and try out some of these DIY recipes.

DIY Pet Toothpaste

This recipe is incredibly easy. Your pet will love the delicious taste, and you’ll love their fresh breath that comes from added parsley. Always consult your veterinarian to be sure that this recipe is appropriate for your pet; pets with gum disease, dental decay, or other health issues may require special treatment.


– 2 tablespoons baking soda

– 1 tablespoon low-sodium beef or chicken broth*

– 1 teaspoon fresh or dried parsley

*You can also use 1 tablespoon of water and 1 low-sodium bouillon cube


1. Mix together the baking soda, broth, and parsley until it forms a thick paste

2. Use the paste immediately to brush your dog or cat’s teeth, or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week

DIY Ear Wash

This is another super easy and cheap recipe. It only requires two ingredients: vinegar and water. The vinegar reduces bacteria and the water dilutes the vinegar. Some pet parents choose to include alcohol in the mixture for its drying effect, but others omit it fearing that it will be too harsh or sting their pet’s ears. This recipe omits alcohol, but if you would like to use it, you can add a splash.


– ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar

– ⅔ cup water


1. Pour the ingredients into a small plastic bottle with a nozzle — the kind used to apply hair color. You should be able to find one at a beauty supply or craft store. Shake to mix.

2. Before cleaning your pet’s ears, check them for swelling, redness, a foul smell, pain, or discharge. If you see any of these symptoms, it may mean that your pet has an ear infection, and you should contact your veterinarian before proceeding with a wash.

3. If your pet’s ears look healthy, squeeze the solution onto a cotton ball or soft cloth, then wipe down the inside of your pet’s ears. Be sure to do this gently, as an abrasive touch can irritate the skin and cause infection.

DIY Pet Shampoo

Inexpensive + easy + natural = yes, please! Homemade pet shampoo is the perfect solution for pet parents who want to keep their pal smelling and looking fresh without emptying their wallets. Just be sure to follow the instructions closely; choosing the wrong ingredients or having the wrong balance of ingredients can irritate or harm your pet’s skin.


– 2 cups apple cider vinegar

– 2 cups natural, organic dish soap with a 7-8 pH (avoid soaps with strong scents or artificial additives)

– 4 cups water

– 4 oz vegetable glycerin


1. Mix the apple cider vinegar and dish soap in a large bowl

2. Mix in the water

3. Add the vegetable glycerin

4. Pour the mixture into a clean, empty bottle. You can use an old shampoo or dish soap bottle from around the house, or purchase one from a beauty supply or craft store.

5. Shake well to mix (and shake before every use)


Ready to give the DIY thing a shot? Leave us a comment and let us know which recipes you try!