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10 Practical Life Hacks for Dog Owners

Caring for our dogs can sometimes be a challenge. They each have their own personalities and their own quirks. While we wouldn't trade our pets for anything, we can try to make things a little easier! Here are ten practical, useful, and easy life hacks for all of us who share our lives with dogs.

1. Dog hates having his teeth brushed? Use a piece of gauze.

Brushing our dog's teeth regularly is something that we're supposed to do to keep his teeth and gums healthy. But I've yet to meet a dog who enjoys this... even though most enjoy the taste of that enzymatic chicken or beef-flavoured dog toothpastes (note: never use human toothpastes on pets!). Instead of using a toothbrush, wrap a piece of gauze around your finger and squeeze some dog toothpaste onto that. Use your wrapped finger to 'scrub' your dog's teeth.

2. Use a rubber glove or brush to get pet fur off the couch.

Dishwashing gloves work great. A rubber brush or glove work great too! Dampen the glove or brush with water (shake off any excess) and then simply wipe or brush away the fur. The fur will stick to the rubber. This will work for any furniture upholstered with fabric, even great for cleaning off the dog bed. Much easier than vacuuming!

3. Use a window squeegee to get fur out of the edges and corners of the carpet.

You know how fur seems to gravitate to the edges of the carpet, right up against the wall? Those icky places are hard to reach with the vacuum. Use a window squeegee instead. Fur will stick nicely to it. Attach an extension pole to the squeegee if you don't want to bend down.

4. Stop your dog from eating too fast.

If your dog likes to inhale his food in a matter of seconds, you can slow him down by putting a tennis ball in his food dish. This will force him to eat around the ball (at least until he figures out how to push it out of his bowl). You can also buy slow feed bowls that do the same thing, and help make meal-time even more interesting.

Other ways to slow down your dog's eating is to water down his food (you can even use some warm water to soak the kibble for a few minutes)... or feed him part of his meal inside a kong, which will force him to 'work' to get his food. This will also provide him with mental stimulation at the same time.

5. Make your own pill pockets.

Trying to feed a dog a pill can be an exercise in frustration. Make these homemade 'pill pockets' to help ease the process. Thoroughly mix together 1 tablespoon of milk, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour. This makes a flexible dough. Store this in the refrigerator. Whenever you need to give the dog a pill, pinch off a small piece of this mixture and wrap it around the pill. Most dogs love peanut butter so they'll snarf it right down.

Note: make sure that the peanut butter you purchase does not contain the sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

6. For sick dogs - keep chicken broth and baby food in the pantry.

Dogs who are feeling ill understandably don't feel like eating or sometimes even drinking. To entice a dog to drink, mix some low-sodium chicken broth into his water. Grocery stores often carry individually-wrapped chicken bouillon 'cubes' that only need to be mixed with water. This can cut down on containers of wasted broth.

For dogs who have diarrhea, have an upset stomach, or just aren't feeling so good, the old standby is to cook up some plain boiled chicken & rice, a mild combination that won't upset his tummy further. But sometimes you might not have chicken or rice in the house. Just in case, buy a couple of cans of chicken & rice baby food to keep in the pantry for emergencies.

7. Keep a can of pumpkin handy.

Pumpkin is magical. It helps with both constipation and with diarrhea. If your dog is experiencing either, add a tablespoon or two to his food (most dogs like the taste). His condition should clear up quickly (if it doesn't, or if he seems distressed, lethargic, or otherwise unwell, take him to the vet - it could be something more serious than an upset stomach). Be sure to buy pure, canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.

8. Make your own skunk odour remover.

The oily substance left on your dog's body after he's been blasted by a skunk are hard to get out. Commercial odour rinses, tomato juice, etc... don't always work that well and you'll still smell a good strong whiff of skunk.

Instead, mix this up: 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda (not baking powder!), and 2 teaspoons dishwashing liquid. You might have to make more, depending on the size of your dog and how badly he's been doused by the skunk. This solution needs to be made fresh just before you apply it to your dog. You'll also need dishwashing gloves to protect your own skin from the oil/smell.

Put your dog in the tub, but apply the solution to his dry coat. Work it in from his neck down to his tail using your fingers. Rub it in well for several minutes until the smell starts to go away. Use a sponge for the face area and carefully stay away from the dog's eyes. Make sure you don't get it in his ears either. Rinse well with clean water (tilt your dog's face up and be very careful that none of the solution runs into his eyes).

Now lean towards your dog and take a good whiff. Re-apply more solution if there's still a smell, paying special attention to areas that smell the worst. You might need to repeat the process a few times, making sure to rinse thoroughly each time. After the final application, you might want to give your dog a quick shampoo and rinse as well.

9. Make your own doggie cooling vest.

Hot summers days can be hard on dogs. Here are some instructions on making a dog cooling vest using old cargo pants - a great idea for re-using and re-cycling! If you don't have cargo pants, pick up a cheap pair at a used clothing store. Look for light-coloured pants (darker colours absorb more heat).

10. Protect your computer cables and power cords from sharp teeth.

A simple way to keep pets from gnawing on cables is to thread them through a length of PVC pipe. You can buy PVC pipe from any home improvement store. As a bonus, hiding the cables makes it look so much neater too - no more messy tangle of cords!


"A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won't be too bad." (Robert Wagner)

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