Tidying the Nest

Spring Clean with Your Pet’s Safety in Mind

With less than four weeks to go in my first pregnancy, the “nesting” instinct has definitely kicked in. I’ve been cleaning out cupboards and closets, washing windows, and throwing out pretty much anything that isn’t tied down—much to my husband’s dismay. However, it’s not just pregnant women in their third trimester who have the urge to clean. In many non-pregnant individuals, springtime can bring on the need to de-clutter and deep clean homes. But before you whip out the Windex and Febreze, keep in mind that certain products can be harmful to your pets.

According to Pet Poison Helpline (PPH), strong acidic or alkaline cleaners pose the highest risk. These types of cleaners include rust removers, toilet bowl cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, and calcium/lime removers.

PPH believes that general cleaners are safe in small doses. These cleaners include glass cleaners, spot removers, and most surface cleaners. These types of cleaners can still cause mild diarrhea and vomiting if ingested in small amounts. If these kinds of products touch your pet’s skin, they may cause irritation, so it would be advisable to keep these products locked away.

Make sure to always read the labels on your cleaning products and look for key words. PPH says labels with the words “danger” and “warning” indicate products with higher toxicity than those that only advise “caution.” I personally look for the warning “Keep out of reach of children” as an indication that a product has the potential to cause harm.

Certain animals are more at risk to being harmed by cleaning products than others. Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Helpline, cautions owners to be especially careful around birds. “Birds have a unique respiratory anatomy called air sacs, which results in particular sensitivity to fragrances and aerosolized chemicals,” she said. To be safe, aerosolized products should not be used in the same room as caged or free birds.

It’s a myth that Swiffer Wet-Jets are toxic. Most pet owners have probably seen the email circulating about claiming they are extremely toxic to dogs. According to PPH, there is no evidence to suggest that Swiffer products are dangerous to animals when used properly.

Always make sure cleaned surfaces have dried before allowing your pet access to them.

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

One way to ensure that your cleaning products are safe around your pets is to create your own. Here are some recipes for commonly used cleaning products.


• ½ teaspoon washing soda (can be found in the laundry section of most supermarkets)

• A dab of environmentally friendly liquid soap

• 2 cups hot tap water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a rag.


½ teaspoon liquid detergent

• 3 tablespoons vinegar

• 2 cups water

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up and use as you would a commercial brand.


• ½ teaspoon oil, such as olive or jojoba (most health food stores, such as Whole Foods sell jojoba oil)

• ¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely. The key is not using too much oil. I once used so much oil in this mixture that my husband looked at our wooden kitchen table and thought I had spilled salad dressing.


• ½ cup baking soda

• Small amount of liquid detergent

• 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (typically found in the first aid section of most drug stores)

Pour the baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

About Pet Poison Helpline

If your pet has an accidental poisoning, the Pet Poison Helpline is a service available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. Pet Poison Helpline experts can provide treatment advice for poisoning cases in all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals, and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $35 per incident includes all follow-up consultation. Pet Poison Helpline is available in the U..S and Canada by calling (800) 213-6680. Additional information can be found online at petpoisonhelpline.com.


April 30th is National Hairball Awareness Day!

Experts from the FURminator Company warn that coughing up a hairball isn’t a harmless, natural process for cats. They say that hairballs actually cause cats to choke, posing hazards to their health. This time of year many cat owners see an increase in hairballs, as cats tend to over-groom themselves during spring shedding season. In addition to diet and water consumption, proper grooming is an effective way to reduce the amount of hair ingested – and the FURminator deShedding Tool is a great way to reduce hairballs. Here are some other hairball tips from the FURminator Company:

Add a little canned pumpkin to a cat’s meal once or twice a week. The fiber in the pumpkin can help move any hair clods through their system. Specially formulated foods will have the same affect as well.

A cat’s water bowl should be kept in a separate location from their food bowl. Cats will drink more water and this increase will help their system clean itself of ingested hair.

A cat’s age can affect how they shed. As a kitten matures their coat changes in several ways — texture, thickness, curl and coloring. This transition may take up to two years depending on the breed. Once a kitten’s coat has matured they will begin to shed more by dropping their “kitten coat.” Consult with a veterinarian or groomer on when a cat’s grooming needs change and consider using the FURminator deLuxe deShedding Tool for cats once heavy shedding begins.

Keep cats active to stay healthy. A healthy cat can jump as much as seven times its height and yet 21 percent of are considered obese or overweight by their veterinarians. Interactive toys with feathers on the end will encourage cats to leap, stretch, and stay active. By keeping cats active it will help them maintain a healthy skin and coat and increase balance and coordination.

Ask your vet. If an owner is concerned about a chronic hairball problem it is recommended they consult with their veterinarian for the best course of action to help alleviate the problem. A veterinarian can also recommended additional fitness tips to help keep cats at a healthy weight.

For more information on the FURminator deShedding Tool, visit: furminator.com.

Jewelry Show to Benefit Dog Adoption & Welfare Group (DAWG)

Local jeweler Bryant & Sons has gone to the dogs. From May 6-8, the jewelry cases at their 812 State Street location will be lined with delicate dog charms created by the company Meche. A portion of the proceeds from the jewelry show will benefit S.B. no-kill shelter Dog Adoption & Welfare Group (DAWG).

A special cocktail party on Friday, May 7, 5-7 p.m. will feature appearances by the lost and abandoned dogs of DAWG who will model the jewelry, which is actually intended for people, and to perhaps find a home in the process.

Meche has had pets in their offices since they started designing jewelry in 1974. It was only a matter of time before they would start incorporating their passion into their pieces. Nice Doggies and Pretty Kittys, their beautifully sculpted line of dogs, cats, and accessory pieces combines gold, rhodium, platinum, diamonds, and precious gems in their charms representing all 52 recognized AKC dog breeds as well as about 16 cat breeds. The line includes bracelets, necklaces, earrings, cuff links, and key chains.

The dog and cat charms can even be personalized with spots and color markings. So, if your yellow lab has a dark mark on his nose, no problem. So will the miniature version. For more information, contact DAWG volunteer Lesley Bloomer at 450-0070 or bloomerwilson@aol.com, or Michael Bryant at Bryant & Sons, 966-9187.

Adoptable Pet of the Week


Penny is a beautiful eight-year-old female spayed boxer/chow mix who is friendly and playful with adults, older kids, and other dogs. Her prior guardian reports that two of the things she loved to do were to go the dog park and to the beach. Penny is no longer a puppy, but she is still very fit, energetic, and fun loving. You can see from her photo that this boxer/chow mix is always ready for a good time. Are you ready to have some fun with Penny? She would love to have you come by for a visit.

For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road (shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.); call (805) 964-4777; or visit sbhumanesociety.org.


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