Trimming our dog’s nails is sort of like oil changes—it’s super important, and yet most of us don’t do it often enough. But it’s not that big of a deal, right? Well, no, it kind of is—regular nail trimmings are crucial to the health and well being of your canine. In fact, if you fail to keep your pup’s nails clipped, you can really cause them a lot of pain. Long toenails lead to joint pain which, if left untreated, can cause lifelong arthritic complications. So whether you do it or a professionals does it, you really need to trim your dog’s nails at least once a month (at least!). But don’t sweat it, with the following tips and some patience, you’ll be successfully clipping your dog’s nails in no time.
First thing’s first, figure out what you’re doing. The worst thing you can do is wing it: you could end up injuring your pup, traumatizing them to nail-trimming forever. The best way is to ask your vet for a quick tutorial, but at the very least watch an online instructional video or read a how-to guide (kind of like the one you’re reading right now 😉). Take your time, be patient, and you’ll master this nail-trimming thing in no time.
Start Early, Start Slow
The earlier you acclimate your canine to getting their nails trimmed, the less likely both you and your dog will dread it. Before clipping any nails, start slow and get your pup used to being around the clippers and having their feet and toes touched. Introduce the clippers daily for a few days leading up to their first clipping session. Use plenty of praise and treats in the process.
Get the Right Tools
OK, so you’ve got a plan, now it’s time to get the right tools for the job:
- Nail clippers. There are three main types: guillotine-style, scissors-style and pliers-style. Unless your dog is abnormally large, it’s best to go with a relatively small pair of clippers—they’re simply easier to control, and therefore safer for your dog. We suggest using one with a guide to help prevent accidentally cutting into the quick (the sensitive inner part of the nail which contains blood vessels and nerve endings).
- Treats. Rewarding your pup throughout the nail clipping experience will make your life significantly easier. The better the experience is for your dog, the better the experience will be for you. In general, reward after trimming each nail.
- Clotting powder. Styptic powder, or a natural alternative like baking soda or organic corn starch, will help clot your dog’s blood in the event you slip up and snag the quick. If you exercise caution, hopefully you’ll never encounter this issue, but just in case an accident occurs, it’s best to have some handy.
Cut at a 45 Degree Angle, a Little at a Time
There’s no rush, so cut just a little at a time. A few tricks to remember:
- Trim nails in a well lit room.
- Hold the paw firmly but gently, separate the toes using your fingers, but don’t squeeze them—that can be painful.
- Cut at a 45 degree angle.
- Avoid cutting the quick by stopping as soon as you see the white inner portion of the nail. If you’re clipping the nail and it begins to feel soft or spongy, stop! You’re cutting into the quick.
- Don’t forget to trim the dewclaws, too, if your pup has them. If you don’t clip them regularly, they can start to grow back towards your dog’s leg and pierce the skin—ouch!
Don’t Slack—Keep Up the Good Work
Trimming your own dog’s nails is no small feat—pat yourself on the back! Now that you’ve got the process down, get ready to do it all over again in 2-4 weeks. Regularly maintaining your dog’s nails is a matter of quality of life, so don’t let it slip.
Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!
The cool chill of fall is here. Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner, but so are bugs—and they just can’t wait to get into your home. While summer pest control is more about weekly maintenance and daily prevention, fall pest control centers on safeguarding your home from the hundreds of pests now hoping to move indoors. Fortunately, there’s several natural steps you can take to batten down the hatches, so to speak. Don’t want a bunch of nasty new insect roommates? Follow these 8 tips to keep your home bug-free this fall.
Clean and De-Clutter Inside
Ants, fleas, flies, termites, roaches, mosquitoes—all seek shelter indoors as temperatures drop. These and other common pests can be deterred by taking the proper precautions. Follow these simple preventative measures to help keep bugs out of your home this fall:
- Keep your home clean and free of clutter—particularly the garage, attic, basement, kitchen, closets, all flooring, window sills and counter tops.
- Any items you don’t plan on using for the season should be organized and sealed in airtight plastic storage containers (cardboard boxes attract many pests).
- Seal or get rid of stacks of magazines and other paper: bugs such as silverfish and cockroaches are attracted to the smell of paper.
- Seal all food in tightly closed containers. Keep all food storage areas free of crumbs and food residues (Tip: wipe off all jam, sauce and honey containers, too).
- Never leave food remains or dirty dishes in the sink.
- Take out the trash regularly, and keep all trash cans clean and sealed.
- Most bugs are prone to moisture loss, and enter our homes to seek water and cool down. It’s important to remove any standing water and other sources of moisture, such as leaky plumbing, basements, crawl spaces and A/C units (do this outside, too!).
- To prevent bed bugs, be cautious about bringing used furniture, luggage, linens and clothing into your home. Treat all such items with a naturally sourced repellent to kill possible stowaways.
- Do not store lumber or firewood inside or right outside your home. Doing so attracts various types of bugs, including termites. Keep all woodpiles at least 20 ft. away from your home, and elevated if possible.
Clean and De-Clutter Outside
Keeping a well-maintained and organized yard goes a long way toward keeping bugs out of your home as autumn approaches. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove all clutter from your yard: woodpiles, yard equipment, brush, leaves, lawn clippings, tree stumps, unused dog houses, furniture, tires, and anything else that could collect water (moisture attracts nearly all pests).
- Engage in landscaping practices that expose your lawn to as much sunlight as possible (by trimming branches, tall grass, shrubbery, etc). Direct sunlight is lethal to many pests.
- Many bugs need vegetation to hide, so it’s advisable to regularly mow, edge, weedeat, rake, and trim the hedges until greenery begins to die for the season.
- When mowing, bag the clippings and dispose of them. Do not disperse them throughout your yard—doing so helps create a bug-friendly environment, especially for ticks.
- Change and clean bird bath water regularly, or empty entirely during mosquito season.
- Fix leaky hoses, faucets, sprinklers, A/C units, and clogged drainage areas to prevent pooling water
- Keep pools well-maintained
- Regularly check and clean pool covers and other tarps—these often hold water, attracting bugs.
- Seal all trash cans, dumpsters and compost areas.
- Clean out your gutters. As leaves begin to drop in fall, gutters can easily become clogged, leading to moisture buildup—which attracts pests.
Seal Your Home (Both Indoors and Outdoors)
With cold weather approaching, fall is often your final chance to ensure your home’s exterior is sealed and free of openings. Because most insects—and bug-carrying pests like mice—require only the smallest openings to enter our homes, this step is absolutely crucial to keeping your home pest-free this autumn. Checking both inside and outside, use caulk, cement or another suitable material to fill all cracks and holes.
Check the following: Baseboards, window sills, doorways, light switches, outlets, fixtures, vents, basements, roofing, utility lines, piping, attics, faucets, walls, and foundations. Screens or seals should be used to ensure windows and doorways remain firmly closed as well; be sure to repair or replace any damaged screens. For additional protection, consider installing a rubber seal at the base of your garage door, and weather stripping on any sliding doors in the home. Open drains can also be sealed using fine metal mesh.
Install a Chimney Cap
In addition to shutting out bugs, installing a chimney cap will help keep rodents, birds, bats and other insect-carrying hosts out of your home. This is important, because as the weather cools wild animals will look to enter your home in search of warm shelter.
Choose Decorations Wisely
Decorations come into play as we move through fall to the holiday season. Unfortunately, organic decorations like carved pumpkins, straw bales, wreaths, and garlands provide a food source and home for many pests. Going artifical with your Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations is one way to avoid this. Otherwise, it’s important to be extremely diligent with upkeep as far as natural decorations go: you’ll need to check them every other day or so for signs of infestation (Tip: Check decorations before bringing them home, too, as insects can ride these items directly into your home).
Use Plant-Based Indoor Pesticides
As fall approaches, it’s important to make your home unappetizing to any insects interested in moving indoors. Plant-based indoor pesticides are your best option, as they are both effective and non-toxic. These naturally sourced pesticides can be used as both a spot killer and a preventative repellent. Regularly spraying window sills, doorways, baseboards, countertops, attics, garages, basements and other possible entry points will create a repellent barrier against insects and other bugs (we recommend doing this at least once a month during fall, or more as needed).
Treat Yourself and Your Pets
Pets and people are a common vehicle for bugs to enter our homes—even in fall. Before and after going outdoors for walks, hikes, dog park visits, etc, it’s important to guard yourself and your pets against biting bugs like fleas and ticks (always check your pets for ticks, too!). Carrying a small bottle of non-toxic bug repellent in your purse or pocket makes this process easier.
Having holiday guests over? Remember bed bugs often enter our homes through visitors’ luggage or clothing. Treating the outside of luggage with a travel size bed bug spray is a smart way to ensure pests don’t hitch a ride into your guestroom. If you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to treat your luggage before returning home to prevent accidentally introducing a bug population into your house.
Use Non-Toxic Outdoor Pesticides
Making your yard inhospitable to pests will greatly reduce the number of bugs you find indoors during the fall months. We recommend treating your yard with a non-toxic outdoor pesticide. Here’s how to do it:
- Thoroughly spray the entire yard. Be sure to spray all hedges, shrubbery, flower gardens, bases of trees, and anywhere else bugs might hide.
- When spraying, pay special attention to the perimeter of your yard and home, including all fencing, foundations and brick barriers. This will prevent bugs from entering your yard or home after treatment.
- Spray front, back and side yards all in one session. It’s important that all areas are treated within a short window to prevent bugs from migrating to other sections of your yard.
- During the fall months, we advise spraying your yard at least once every 4-6 weeks, or more as needed
Tip: Cedarwood chips can also be used to create a repellent perimeter around your lawn and home. Simply sprinkle the chips along your home’s foundation and fence line, as well as any other insect trouble areas.
When it comes to weed-control, the world’s on edge. Monsanto—producer of the most financially successful weed-killer on the planet, Roundup—is currently locked in a mess of legal battles. Rumor and science have it that Roundup’s active ingredient, Glyphosate, causes cancer. As the most widely used herbicide on the planet—on average, a pound of Roundup is used on every acre of cropland in the U.S., half a pound on every acre of cropland worldwide—these findings should alarm all of us.
This is of course a reminder of the importance of non-toxic, all natural alternatives to chemical-based herbicides and pesticides. The truth is when it comes to weeds, you can go natural and still get the results you’re looking for: a weed-free lawn & garden. Whereas traditional weed-killers endanger our soil, our water, our family and our pets, the following eco-friendly, chemical-free alternatives threaten only one organism: Weeds!
The obvious tried-and-true method of pulling weeds by hand is still one of the best. This approach is easiest when the soil is soft and wet, like just after a light rainfall. For detailed instructions on how to properly pull weeds, click here
Sodium makes soil less hospitable to dandelions and other common weeds. To prevent weeds and other unwanted grasses from growing, use baking soda. Apply the baking soda at roughly 1 teaspoon per individual weed plant, being sure to cover the entire plant—including stem, leaves and flowers. Baking soda can also be applied by sweeping it into sidewalk cracks and other common problem areas. Tip: be careful and precise when using baking soda to eliminate weeds, as the sodium content can also kill surrounding plant life.
Salt works the same way baking soda does: sodium helps kill and prevent weed growth. Mix a solution of 1 cup salt to 2 cups water, and using a spray bottle, apply it to any undesirable plant growth. This solution can also be boiled and then applied for added weed-killing power. Caution: never use more salt than necessary, as considerable salting of soil can render it unhealthy.
Vinegar is a fast and highly effective natural weed-killer. While both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar will work, agricultural-strength vinegar is the most convenient and effective option. Using a spray bottle, thoroughly soak both the foliage and lower stem of each weed plant. Apply with caution, as vinegar kills most types of plant life, not just weeds. If it rains shortly after application, you may need to reapply once the soil has dried out again.
Have some extra vodka lying around? If so, you also have a free DIY weed-eliminator. Mix 1 oz. of your vodka with 2 cups of water and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture in the heat of the day, thoroughly coating the weeds’ leaves. This solution works by breaking down the weeds’ natural waxy coat, making them vulnerable to sun damage and dehydration. Note: this method does not work for weeds growing in shade.
Corn Gluten Meal
While corn gluten meal—a finely ground byproduct of the corn milling process—won’t kill existing weeds, it’s a miracle solution for preventing weed growth. In effect, corn gluten meal works by preventing weed seeds from germinating, and ultimately sprouting. Best of all, corn gluten meal is also a naturally nutrient-rich plant food.
When boiled, basic household tap water transforms into a weed-destroying formula. Simply pour the boiling water anywhere you’re experiencing weed troubles (careful—boiling water can also kill surrounding plant life if not applied directly to the weeds alone). Exercise extreme caution when using this approach—we don’t need to remind you of the dangers associated with boiling water.
As with any other plant, weeds cannot grow without sunlight. Kill weeds by denying them of this essential element. Using biodegradable newspapers (most are), completely cover the weeds, and then thoroughly coat the newspaper-covered weeds with a two-inch-thick bed of mulch. Note: any grass or plants similarly covered will likely also die, so apply carefully.
Toxic, unnatural oils like motor oil are a big no-no, but new or used vegetable oil is both eco-safe and effective at killing weeds. Entirely coat unwanted weeds by carefully pouring vegetable oil on both foliage and stem. The weeds will be gone in no time.
Like all living organisms, weeds have to compete for limited resources to survive (sunlight, soil, water, etc). Researchers at Cornell University have found that certain ground-covering plants are especially good at robbing weeds of these necessary resources. Install the following plants to help keep weeds out of your garden:
- Emerald blue moss phlox
- Thriller lady’s mantle
- Walker’s low catmint
- Golden fleece dwarf goldenrod
- Albiflorus creeping thyme
- Herman’s pride false lamium
- Majestic Lilyturf
It’s well documented that gardening is beneficial for both mental and physical health. Which is great news for those with ample lawn space, but not so great news for those living in cramped urban landscapes. Urban Gardening—essentially, just gardening in urban spaces like apartments—is a way for those without yard space to enjoy the rewarding and therapeutic qualities of gardening. Because of the decreased sunlight and limited square footage associated with urban environments, an urban garden can be an intimidating and difficult project to start. But with a little know-how, some careful planning, and several visits to your local garden center, you can have a flourishing urban garden in no time. Here’s some tips to get you started.
Survey Your Space
How much space do you have—just room for containers like pots, or enough sq. footage for a garden bed or box? How much sunlight does your growing space receive each day? Do you want flowers, or something you’ll actually eat, like vegetables and herbs? These are the questions that will determine what type of garden you can grow, and how best to do it. Taking careful notes on sun exposure, physical space, and the types of plants you’re hoping to grow are important initial steps to planning your first urban garden. If you decide to consult a gardening professional (which we recommend), these notes will be essential in helping you both determine what growing methods are right for you and your space.
Pick A Growing Method
There are three main approaches to urban gardening: raised bed gardening, square foot gardening, and container gardening. Sunlight availability and the physical limitations of your growing space will determine which method is best for you. Here’s a short outline of each approach:
Raised Bed Gardening—If you have adequate space, this method affords the closest experience to traditional gardening. Raised bed gardening consists of isolating your plants using a large, raised container made from wood or brick. This approach offers additional protection from pests and elements like wind due to its elevated exterior. Raised bed gardening also allows for dense planting, and is a great choice for heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers.
Square Foot Gardening—If you’re looking togrow as many plants/vegetables as possible in your small space, square foot gardening might be the option for you. While not entirely different from raised bed gardening, this popular approach uses strict guidelines, specific soil mixtures, and a carefully measured spacing grid to make the most efficient use of your limited growing space. For specifics, visit squarefootgardening.com.
Container Gardening—If space is your biggest concern, container gardening—which requires the least effort, space, and setup—is likely your best bet. Using containers like small pots, this method allows you to grow various sorts of low maintenance plants within a limited amount of physical space. However, because you’re planting in a pot and not the earth, this approach will require that you water and fertilize your plants more often. For more info on these growing methods, click here.
Choose the Right Soil
Because urban soils are typically filled with debris like rocks and sand, and tend to lack the required nutrients, organic potting mix is generally your best option. As far as fertilizer, organic is also the way to go. In addition to the known health risks associated with chemical-based growing practices, synthetic blends like Miracle Grow tend to overfill your garden with nitrogen, which can in turn attract more pests and reduce fruit and vegetable output. We recommend consulting your local garden center or nursery to determine exactly which organic growing mediums and fertilizers are right for you.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
The unique combination of your growing space’s size and exposure to sunlight will determine what plants can flourish in your urban garden. While choosing the exact right plants is best left to you and your local garden center, the following are low-maintenance plants that tend to do well in urban conditions, where sunlight and space are in short supply:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
For more info on growing vegetables in your urban garden, click here.
Go Natural With Your Pest Control
Synthetic, chemical-based pesticides are dangerous to pets, people and the environment. Choosing natural methods for killing and repelling insects is not only more environmentally sustainable, but healthier for your garden, too. Healthier plants are more resistant to disease and the effects of garden pests, so consistent watering and organic fertilizers are the first step to safeguarding your urban garden against damaging bugs like mites and moths.
While there are many effective approaches to natural pest control, an eco-friendly, outdoor pesticide is the easiest and most hassle-free option. (Tip: when choosing a ready-to-use all natural pesticide, be sure that it’s both plant-safe and water-soluble).
Looking for an outdoor pest control solution?
We offer two: PCO Choice and Yardsafe. Click here to learn the difference.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for most people, however, it’s not always a wonderful time of the year for our planet. With all of the buzz around the holidays, it can be easy to forget about sustainability and put recycling on the back burner. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to easily start making recycling part of your holiday plans, starting with your Christmas tree! If you choose to use a real tree, that is.
Christmas trees are an excellent source of renewable resources that can benefit many, such as local wildlife, the soil, or local organizations. Just remember to remove all lights, ornaments, and hooks before donating or using it for any other purposes.
Donate your tree somewhere they can reuse it.
Many local non-profits take Christmas tree donations and then reuse them for projects in the community. If you can’t drop it off at one these, check with your city and see if they have a program in place for removal. Some cities have a tree pickup services available for two weeks following Christmas.
Make a natural fish habitat.
Have you thought about dropping your tree in a lake or pond? Christmas trees are perfect for fish because they promote algae growth (food) as well as provides them protection. Just make sure all hooks, lights, and decorations have been removed. Also, if your tree has any preservatives or chemicals on it, then it’s best not to use it for this purpose, as a safety precaution. Save the fishies!
Make a bird feeder
Are you a nature enthusiast? You might be a bird watcher in the making if you re-purpose your tree appropriately. Once you’ve removed all of the decorations you can then string out bird friendly food such as unsweetened popcorn, fruit, nuts and seeds. Birds and potentially other small critters will certainly be grateful for the extra food and shelter during the colder months.
Use it as Mulch
One of the easiest ways to reuse your Christmas tree is in the garden. The tree branches make an excellent mulch because they dry out quickly and decompose slowly. Their needlelike shape also allows them to bond together, making them less likely to wash away like other mulches. The needles is not all you can use of your tree, you can also take the stump and have it ground up into chips and spread it across your lawn for the same purpose.
Christmas trees make excellent firewood, but only for outdoor burning. Because the branches are highly flammable, it’s unsafe to burn them indoors. A mere spark sent across your home could quickly turn into a blaze. Also, remember to let the tree completely dry out before you burn it. Lastly, always be aware if your tree has been chemically treated it’s best not to use it for this purpose.
Make Wooden Coasters
It may sound odd, but why not use the stump of your tree to make coasters? If your tree is large enough, you can make several and even give them out as DIY gifts. There are many great tutorials online such as this one that take you through step by step how to make them yourself. Since they will be exposed to moisture from beverages, it’s a good idea to use a natural wood preserver to keep the water from damaging the wood over time.
Make wreaths and decorations
Ready to get crafty? Making a wreath or household decorations is also a simple way to extend the life and use of your tree.
Buy live, potted Christmas trees
Did you know that you can buy potted Christmas trees that can be replanted in your yard? I know, why are more people not doing this? Not only will it benefit your soil and provide safety for animals, it’s ads more natural beauty to your landscape. This could also be a great new tradition to start with your family, instead of cutting down a tree every year, you plant one. Everybody, including the environment wins that way.