Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring Cleaning

We Clean Cape Cod is taking the weekend off from blogging to clean its house but we have an update on fiddle head ferns. They're in the market! Last night we had a delicious pasta salad with these seasonal treats, prepared as below:

Wash fiddleheads and quickly saute in the water clinging to the coils, adding 1 t olive oil when the water has evaporated. Continue to saute in the oil, adding 1 T chopped garlic and the juice of 1 lemon, for 3 - 5 minutes. When fiddleheads are tender, add to a warm bowl of cooked pasta along with a can of kidney beans, some matchsticks of red bell pepper, and a handfull of fresh flat leaf parsley and tarragon leaves. Toss with any vinegrette and celebrate spring!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ticked Off!

It's tick season, which you already know if you have a dog or cat. Heck, you really don't even need a pet; I found a tick crawling across our sofa this week, just hiking along it seemed. I'm taking numerous ticks off the dogs I groom and I'm finding dead ticks regularly around the house where they've latched on to Grigri but fallen off after been killed by the tick preventive we use. Everyone I've talked to is having the same experience and we're ticked off!

A few suggestions for keeping your pets healthy during this trying season:

Dangers: Ticks carry some nasty diseases, even in New England. Both you and your dog or cat can be infected. Lyme's disease is the most well-known, but the entrancingly named Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other conditions are also serious and can be fatal to a pet.

Tick Removal: Growing up on Cape Cod we picked a millions ticks off our dogs - this was long before the advent of tick prevention remedies (see below) - and there were several local strategies for getting the whole tick out. My family advocated using the tip of a burnt, but still hot, match to make the tick back out voluntarily. Others use petroleum jelly or nail polish to suffocate the tick. Research has shown that it's very difficult to get a tick to voluntarily "back out" and no folk method for doing so is effective; in fact, the longer the tick is left on the skin the higher the risk of infection so waiting for the tick to decide what to do is counter-productive. Quick removal should be your priority. Acarologists (people who study mites and ticks) recommend using a tool such as hemostats, high quality tweezers or any of several commercial tick removal tools to grasp and gently pull the tick away from the body. These tools are effective at grasping the ticks and also keep your hands free of tick saliva, which can infect you as well. An
analysis of several tools appears on the University of Ohio's web site. Whichever approach you use, inspect and remove ticks daily.

Tick Disposal: I was talking to my neighbor about the tick invasion yesterday and we got to talking about how to dispose of them once you get them off. In my family we favored flushing them down the toilet but I would feel guilty about using all that water now so I wrap them up in a tissue and squish them before throwing in the trash. My neighbor had a method I'd never heard of, which is to throw them into a bowl of water with a little dish detergent. The detergent acts as a surfactant and breaks down the surface tension in the bowl of water, allowing the ticks to sink and drown. Sounds neat and tidy but I don't know if it works.

Tick Prevention: Where we live on the Cape is prime tick territory. Surrounded by woods, brush and long grasses, we find it difficult to avoid them. Theoretically, if you stayed strictly on the paths and roads you could stay tick free because ticks cannot jump. They wait on grasses and shrubs and latch onto passersby as they brush past. The only sure fire method to keep your pets tick free is to use a specially formulated topical preventive such as Frontline or Advantix.

Aussie Pet Mobile has these products on board so be sure to ask your groomer if your fluffy friend needs his or her monthly application. We can take care of it for you at the end of a groom.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trash Talk

We're becoming quite the connoisseurs of trash collection. I found the pictured beach buggy in a "free" pile by the side of the road and Jan came up with the idea of re-using heavy duty garbage bags in it. This shot is of Grigri and me setting off to clean Craigville Beach Road between Magnolia and Greeley. We don't usually take on cleaning the main roads but focus on the beaches and trails - there's just too much trash for us to carry - but this is our neighborhood and we wanted to give it a spring cleaning so between the rain drops we did the best we could on this mild spring afternoon.

As we worked I was reminded of our last dog, Queenie, who was a terrible trash dog and suffered from pancreatitis more than once after getting into a trash can. Although dogs seem miraculously able to ingest almost anything, in reality there are a lot of agents that can cause illness and death. Be careful what you discard, especially if your baby likes to investigate the garbage, and check out the ASPCA's list of 2010's Top 10 toxic substances that generated calls to their poison center:

Human Medications: Poisonings by our human meds topped the ASPCA's list, with over the counter pain remedies playing a major role. Don't give your dog any human pain pill without checking with your vet and if you drop a pill on the ground, make sure you find it before your dog does. Ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are both toxic to dogs.

Insecticides: These are ubiquitous around our homes so always be careful. One common problem is using flea control products on cats that are not safe for them. Check labels and make sure the product you're using is safe for kitties.

Mice/Rat Baits: This are highly attractive to cats and dogs. Even if you place them where your beloved pets can't reach them, the mice and rats can carry partly eaten bait into accessible areas. Make sure you keep bait and pets apart.

People Food: Did you know grapes, raisins, onions and garlic can make pets sick if enough is ingested? This doesn't mean that a bite of spaghetti sauce with a few onions in it is going to kill Fifi, but I can certainly visualize situations in which Queenie could have made herself sick getting into these foods if left unguarded.

Vet Meds: These are often made to taste good, so if your furry friend gets access he or she may eat more than one dose. Keep these items out of reach and contact your vet in a hurry if Fido eats the whole bottle.

Chocolate: I never used to believe that chocolate was toxic to dogs because my parents used to feed it to our poodles regularly, but this risk has been documented extensively, so beware. The darker the chocolate the more Methylxanthines it contains, which is the dangerous ingredient. Maybe my folks were just cheap and were handing out something with very little actual chocolate in it. Give your poodles a pet treat instead.

Household Toxins: Cleaners are perhaps an obvious risk, but also keep an eye on where your batteries and liquid potpourri are stored. What is liquid potpourri anyway? Doesn't sound like something I'd want around the house!

Plants: Both indoor and outdoor plants can be poisonous. Check the ASPCA's list of toxic plants out.

Herbicides: Apparently they taste salty. Who knew? Keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.

Other Outdoor Toxins: Antifreeze, ice melt products, fertilizers and many more products used around the house and garden are big trouble. Queenie would have eaten any of these and may not have lived to tell the tale.

Keep your trash secure and the poison control number handy - (888) 426-4435 (a $65 consultation fee can be paid by credit card) If you have litter in the car, by all means keep it away from Fluffy, but please don't throw it out the window either. We already have our hands full cleaning Cape Cod.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pawdicures and More

"Pawdicure" is a silly word for tending to your pet's nails, but nail care is not a silly topic. There are serious health issues associated with letting your dog or cat's nails grow too long, in addition to that annoying clicking long nails make on your floors. Long nails strike the ground when your pet walks and that puts pressure on her toe joints making it less than comfortable to walk and potentially causing soreness or arthritis in the feet and further up the leg.

How often should nails be trimmed? That depends upon your pet's lifestyle. If her most athletic effort is stretching after a nap on the couch, her nails will not get worn down and will need to be trimmed every few weeks. If you have a dog that's regularly exercised on pavement or other hard surfaces, she may not need to have toenails trimmed at all, but her dew claws need to be attended to. If not clipped they can and do grow right back into her flesh, causing pain and possible infection.

It's simple enough to buy a set of pet nail clippers at the pet store, but using them is more challenging, especially since your "pawdicure" customer is not going to sit quietly and gossip with you as you deliver the service - at least none of mine do :). More likely your pet will be pulling his/her paws out of your hand every two or three seconds while you try to determine where to clip.

White nails are far easier to clip because you can usually see where the quick is by looking sideways at the nail. You should see a crescent of pink extending from the pad toward the nail tip. Clip just beyond this crescent of live tissue. If you clip too short the nail will bleed briefly; application of a styptic powder will quickly stop bleeding but it may sting.

Black or multi-color nails are more difficult to cope with because the quick is not usually visible, especially on a wildly wiggling paw. For dark nails, patience and experience are your best tools. Clip off only the very end of the nail to square it off and then incrementally clip closer, watching for a small black dot to appear in the cross section of the nail. Once you see this dot, you're close enough.

If your customer is patient, you can finish off the pawdicure with a nail file or Dremel rotary tool with file attachment to smooth the edges. When I was a child growing up on the Cape, we had a neighbor who painted her Yorkshire Terrier's nails a florescent pink - we conservative New Englanders thought that was too much! Times have changed and nail polish is a popular option. Some pet suppliers carry nail pens that make it easier to apply polish to furry friends.

One tip for nail trimming is to wash your pet first so it's easier to see the nail. If your Labrador has just come in from a muddy marsh it's going to be hard to figure out where to clip. The good news is that if you're a kitty fan, it's relatively easy to clip those razor sharp claws.

Of course, the easiest path of all is to call Aussie Pet Mobile for a nail treatment. We offer simple nail clipping, pawdicures with polish, and pad treatments for senior pets and others whose pads are dry; this can cause them to slip on hard floors and cause injury. We'd be happy to schedule an appointment when we're in your neighborhood.