Archive for January, 2012

The Grass is Not Always Greener—Or Cleaner: Problems with a Grass Dog Potty

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Indoor dog potties are replacing pee pads when it comes to giving your dog a place to relieve himself inside. Pee pads can make a good temporary solution, but long-term they are very costly and produce a ton of waste, on top of being stinky and unsanitary. An indoor dog potty is a cleaner and less wasteful option for potty training and for dog owners living in apartment buildings, homes without yards, or who are away from the home for long hours.

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Artificial and real grass dog potties are solutions to the need for a doggie litter box, but there are a number of problems with grass dog potties. First, they are very difficult to clean, permanently trap bacteria, and start to smell over time. They are not as cost effective of a solution because the grass must be replaced periodically. Even worse, they don’t dry out very easily, therefore, the dog’s paws get wet using the potty causing him to track urine and bacteria all over the house. The grass solutions are only recommended for use on a porch, which limits the number of situations in which they can be used.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the problems with grass dog potties:

Dirty and Hard to Clean: Grass dog potties have a tray underneath the grass that catches urine, but poop rests on top just like outdoor grass. If the dog goes number two while you’re away from the house, you come home to a stinky mess. Urine gets trapped in the grass every time the dog pees, so it needs daily cleaning to stay sanitary. The problem is you need to clean the grass outdoors with a hose to be able to get it clean, which isn’t always an option when you live in an apartment building or a cold winter climate. And the urine tray requires daily cleaning too, although this can be done indoors. Even with daily cleaning synthetic grass fibers still can absorb and trap bacteria that is easily missed or disguised and eventually becomes soiled over time.

Very Expensive: Because artificial grass dog potties are marketed to people who live in apartment buildings, the most viable option for keeping the grass clean and sanitary is to periodically replace it. The synthetic grass inserts run from about $50 to $75 dollars, while the initial investment for the grass dog potty system costs anywhere from $150 to $200. The system is really only cost effective for potty training and other temporary situations, because replacing the grass for the life of the dog—recommended anywhere from every one to six months depending on the amount of use—can really add up over time.

A Breeding Ground for Bacteria: Not all of the urine reaches the holding tray underneath. Some of it gets caught in the grass and eventually dries—if you’re lucky. The grass often stays wet, depending on how often it’s used, the number of dogs using it, and the size of the dogs. Not only does the grass become stinky and full of bacteria, but also your dog will track their wet paws around your living space if it’s used indoors. Most dogs won’t step in their own poop, but it still exponentially increases the amount of bacteria your dog is spreading around the home.

Best Used on a Porch, Balcony, Deck, or Patio: Grass dog potties can be great for dog training as a temporary solution while your puppy or newly adopted dog is still learning. They help dogs understand that the grass is the right place to go the bathroom, and when placed outdoors, they learn that outside is where the potty is. But because they are so unsanitary, hard to clean, and expensive to maintain, they do not make a viable option for people living in apartment buildings who need a place for their dogs to go when they’re not home or when using the bathroom outdoors means a long walk and/or an elevator ride in the middle of the night.

Not Like a Litter Box: While grass dog potties are sometimes marketed like a doggie litter box, they are very different from cat litter boxes, which are much easier to clean daily and more sanitary because cats instinctively cover their urine and feces with the litter. Grated dog potty systems like the UgoDog indoor dog potty are more like litter boxes because they are made for use indoors, don’t stay wet or trap bacteria, and are easy to clean on a daily basis.

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10 New Years Resolutions for Dog Owners

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The New Year is a time to make positive changes that improve lifestyles for both you and your pet. Coincidentally, dog owners make many of the same resolutions for both themselves and their pooches, with common resolutions such as more exercise and a better diet. You can work with your dog to improve both your lives at the same time for a happier, healthier home.

 1. Spend more time with your dog: The most common resolution for a dog owner to make is simply to give their best friend more time and attention, especially in families with children that often trump time spent with pets. Luckily, dog owners can fulfill a number of their other doggie-related resolutions by spending more time with Fido.

More time doesn’t always have to mean more play time. You can spend extra time with your dog with more grooming, training, or cuddling, in addition to exercise. And families can spend more time with their dogs by including them in family outings and planning more family outings in the great outdoors.

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 2. More exercise: This is the number one human resolution made each year, and it’s often easier for people to stick to this goal when there’s a dog involved. While you won’t be able to bring your dog to the gym or walk him on a home treadmill, you and your dog will both really benefit from daily walks or jogs around the neighborhood and a weekend hike in the woods, giving you both the advantage of fresh air from exercise outdoors. You can also resolve to give your dog a greater variety of exercise and socialization with other dogs by including play time and trips to the dog park.

       3. Get your dog spayed or neutered: This is a task that’s easily put off by dog owners with limited time and/or money. But you can really help limit the number of homeless pets by spaying and neutering your own. Spaying and neutering also helps pets calm down and makes them easier to train, so it may help you with your other dog-related resolutions. There are a number of state-funded programs around the country that give financial assistance to low-income pet owners to help with spaying and neutering expenses. You can check online or with your vet to learn about programs in your area.

4. Get doggie identification: Whether it’s a microchip or an old-fashioned ID tag on the collar, you’ll greatly improve your chances of reconnecting with a lost or stolen pet by giving them an ID. Microchips are fairly inexpensive theses days and can be instantly scanned by vets around the country to identify you as your dog’s owner, as long as you keep your contact info current in the database.

5. Take your dog to the vet for regular checkups: Many pet owners only visit the vet when there’s something wrong, but just like humans, dogs need well checkups too. Dogs need to see the vet for maintenance such as shots and teeth cleanings, and regular visits to the vet can include blood work and a professional opinion about your dog’s health that can prevent or deter more serious problems and illnesses.

       6. More or regular grooming: Dogs and their owners are both happier when they’re clean. Regularly grooming or brushing your dog can curb shedding by up to 95%, depending on your dog’s breed. While regular grooming can become costly, you can do most or all or the work on your own at home. Even including just five minutes of brushing a day in your dog’s routine can significantly limit shedding and a smelly coat. You can bath your dog outdoors in the warmer months and splurge on some professional grooming when it’s cold outside, in addition to taking advantage of a number of DIY dog-washing stations that are popping up around the country

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7. Better training: Even good dogs can usually become better trained, while working with a poorly behaved dog can significantly increase your happiness together and decrease the chances that you’ll put your dog up for adoption because he refuses to listen. There are a number of options for dog training, depending on your dog and his behavior, including books, videos, classes, and professional training camps. And don’t forget that getting your dog a sufficient amount of exercise can curb a lot of his bad behavior by giving him a proper time and place to release his energy.

8. Better potty training: When older dogs continue to go to the bathroom in the house, it can indicate a greater problem such as incontinence. If your younger dog refuses to potty train completely, it may be because he doesn’t have enough opportunities to go to the bathroom in an appropriate place. If your dog is alone for long hours at a time, you may consider asking a neighbor to let him outside, hiring a dog walker, or purchasing an indoor dog potty.

9. Adopt a homeless pet: Pet owners are healthier, happier people because pets improve quality of life in a number of ways when they’re properly cared for. Single people, people who live alone, and childless couples can really benefit from the company of an animal. Pets are also wonderful for families with children when they include the pets in their daily lives as part of the family.

10. Don’t forget the kitty: While cats generally require a lot less time and energy then dogs, they need love, attention, and exercise too. There are a number of ways that you can apply the above resolutions to your cats to help improve their lives and yours. 

“Cuddle Monster” Photo Credit: ramsey everydaypants

“Jeanne’s Dog Grooming” Photo Credit: windygig

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