South Bay’s Favorite Pet Sitter: 2018

Thank you to everyone who voted for The Vegan Petsitter in The Daily Breeze Reader Choice Awards this year.  We were honored to receive the title of Favorite Pet Sitter for the third time!

Stay tuned to veganpetsitter.com and our social media channels (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter) if you’d like to vote again next Spring, or look for your ballot in your newspaper if you are a Daily Breeze subscriber.  Your continued support of The Vegan Petsitter is truly appreciated!

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Keep your pet (and yourself!) cool this summer with cooling mats

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It was a hot week in Los Angeles, with temperatures in many areas reaching the triple digits.  For myself and many of my clients, our top priority during a heat wave is making sure our pets stay cool!

Since we’re usually blessed with beautiful weather here in the South Bay, many of us don’t have (or need) central air conditioning.  Instead, we rely on fans, closed curtains, and portable air conditioners to keep our pets comfortable while we’re away at work.  If you feel like your current heat wave regimen might not be cutting it, maybe your pet would enjoy a cooling mat?

I first tried these out two summers ago when my former roommate bought some for the animals to share.  They took to them right away, especially the cats, and would seek them out to nap on.  I’ve since moved, and last week was a reminder that I should order some cooling mats of our own.  I went with two from the Green Pet Shop brand, since that was what we had used previously and everybody liked.  I also ordered one of the Little Dove donut mats, because, I mean, obvi.

The donut mat came first, and the day it arrived was particularly hot.  I felt bad that I didn’t have enough to go around yet (more were on the way), but I put it out and figured whoever claimed it would get to use it.  But it was different from the mat they were used to, and I don’t think they caught on right away that it was meant to cool them down.  That night they left the mat alone, sought out their regular cool spots, and went to sleep.

I, on the other hand, kept waking up that night, uncomfortably hot.  The donut mat was still unclaimed.  Feeling a little guilty, I got up and grabbed it for myself – and I can tell you from experience, it works great for humans too!

The kids have since realized that this magic donut will help keep them cool, and have started using it.  It’s too early to say for sure, but I think they may have been more attracted to the Green Pet Shop mat, possibly because the exterior is a bit softer.  Both are great choices and will help your pet have a great summer!

Little Dove Summer Chill Mat

The Green Pet Shop Self Cooling Pet Pad


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How to pest-proof your pet food

From baby animals to butterflies, I really love how nature shows itself during the warmer months.  Unless by nature we mean ants, and they’re showing themselves to your pet food!  This is an all-too-common problem that can seem difficult to escape, but luckily I’ve learned some easy fixes.  Since many people are understandably a little panicked when combating an insect attack, I decided to put together this guide to make things easier.

The Vittles Vault

This is the only container I really trust to keep food fresh, and keep pests out.  The airtight seal even contains odors, so bugs won’t even be tempted.  It’s made to last, and comes in a several shapes and sizes to accommodate your storage needs (and shelf space).  I use a different canister for Bruce, but many of my clients use this product – if pests ever became an issue at home, I’d switch to the Vittles Vault ASAP.

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The Antser

This is another product that I haven’t personally used at home, but I’ve seen it in action with clients and it truly works!  This is great for pets who don’t eat their food as soon as you put it down, but prefer to graze throughout the day.  With their bowl securely on this raised tray, the ants won’t get to it before they do.antser

The BugSnub

I’m hesitant to recommend a product I haven’t actually worked with, but based on its design and great reviews, I think the BugSnub is a good alternative to the Antser.  (Side note: this list was fun to make just for the product names alone!)  The bowl and stand come apart for easy cleaning, and it includes enough USDA food grade BugSnub Insect Blocking Gel for over one year of protection.bugsnub

The Anti-Ant

This is another product I have not personally used, but is conceptually similar to my DIY method (shown below).  The outer ring gets filled with water to form a protective moat, with your pet’s food safely inside.  Upon first glance, I thought the moat was a little too small, and a few reviewers thought the same.  However, most reviewers seemed happy with this product and although it may not be 100%, I think it would be worth a try.

antiant

The DIY

If I walk into a client’s house and discover that ants have found their way to the pet food, without any of the special products above, this is usually what I do.  Just place your pet’s bowl inside of a plate with a slightly raised lip, and fill the larger plate with water.  If you don’t have a plate that works with your regular dog or cat bowl, a side plate inside of a dinner plate usually works well.  This can be a bit tedious to do on a daily basis, but if ants are only an occasional problem it could be all you need.  If you do decide to order any of the products above, this temporary method might help you out until a more permanent solution arrives.

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Diatomaceous Earth

I moved to a new house in January, and while I was still getting settled, some slightly terrifying 6-legged critters I’d never seen before (and definitely did not want in the house) revealed themselves on my patio.  After more entomological research than I’d really care to do, and researching pet-safe, environmentally friendly insect control, diatomaceous earth was the only thing I really felt comfortable using.  I ordered this bag on Amazon, but by the time it arrived, the buggos were gone and I haven’t had to use it.  I am still glad to have it on hand, because it’s very inexpensive and can also be used as a secondary defense against fleas.  As someone who works with animals, I do not mess around when it comes to fleas, and will definitely be putting this down if we see any this summer.

Okay, but what the heck is it?  Diatomaceous earth is silica dust from the fossilized remains of plankton.  It works by making tiny lacerations in the body of an insect, causing them to dehydrate and die.  Sounds brutal, I know.  Ants will usually disperse on their own once their food source is removed (which also makes cleanup easier for you), but you might draw a perimeter with DE to help keep them out.

Some notes about diatomaceous earth:

  • Because DE works on any insect with an exoskeleton, it can harm non-target insects as well, including those who may be beneficial or just minding their own bees-ness.  I recommend using it with discretion, and try to limit to indoor use only.  #savethebees
  • Make sure you are buying food grade only, like the product I’ve linked above.  DE used in swimming pools is not safe for this purpose.
  • Although food grade DE is safe and non-toxic even when ingested, it can be a skin and respiratory irritant.  It’s a good idea to limit exposure, and avoid breathing it in.

diatomaceous


Did you learn anything new?  Please let me know if you decide to try any of these recommendations; I’d like to know how they work out for you!

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Take the VegPledge! VegWeek 2013

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VegWeek is upon us (April 22-28) and we’re celebrating with a special VegWeek offer!  Enjoy a vegan meal at a restaurant this week and show us the receipt, and get $5 off your next daytime service or $10 off an overnight.

Now you’re wondering: “Where do vegans eat?”  Below, you’ll find a list of some of our favorite spots in the South Bay and what we like to eat when we’re there.  Try them out and be sure to let us know what you think!

This list is definitely not all-inclusive – you can also find delicious vegan veggie burgers at The Counter, Johnny Rocket’s, and Denny’s, and your meal at Chipotle can be made vegan if you order black beans and ditch the sour cream and cheese (which also cuts about 220 calories and 18.5 grams of fat)!  The prepared food section at Whole Foods also keeps us fed and happy when we don’t have time to cook – try a slice of their vegan pizza or a vegan chicken salad sandwich.  If you have any questions about dining out beyond this list, feel free to send me an email or check out a free copy of COK’s Vegetarian Guide to Los Angeles.

Torrance
Veggie Grill | 2533 Pacific Coast Highway
From burgers to salads and desserts, VG never disappoints!  Burgers can be made kale style or wrap style, and with so many customizable options, there’s always something new to try.  After 3+ years I just had my first wrap, the Buffalo Bomber, and it was amazing!  Another new favorite is the Baja Fiesta Salad, with the addition of their meatless carne asada.  Voted Best American Restaurant in the Los Angeles Times 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards – everybody loves Veggie Grill!

Babycakes Baking Company | 24205 Hawthorne Boulevard
We were first introduced to Babycakes by a client, and now we stop by whenever we want a sweet treat!  They usually have 1-2 kinds of vegan cupcakes each day, and my favorites (so far) are Oreo and chocolate raspberry.

Redondo Beach
Fresh Brothers | 407 N. Pacific Coast Highway
Not only is there great vegan food in the South Bay, there’s great vegan pizza you can get delivered to your house!  Just order with vegan cheese (they use Daiya brand), and ask for no butter in the pan if you go deep dish.  I also love the Farmer’s Market Salad with raspberry vinaigrette.  Make sure to follow them on Facebook for great deals and coupon codes to save some dough.  (Did you like that dough pun, or was it too cheesy?)

Happy Veggie | 709 N. Pacific Coast Highway
I’ve loved Happy Veggie since before I was vegan.  Lately I’ve been ordering the pho, but their curries, broccoli beef, and Szechuan chicken are also favorites.  They serve big portions, but start with the chicken drumsticks or Vietnamese chicken salad if you’re really hungry.

Hermosa Beach
The Spot | 110 2nd Street
My absolute favorite thing to order at The Spot is the Garden Burrito with tofu added, and half red sauce/half savory sauce.  If you want to keep your ordering a little less complicated (but just as yummy), try the blue plate or tamale combo plate.

Manhattan Beach
Fresh Brothers | 2008 Sepulveda Boulevard

El Segundo
Veggie Grill | 720 Allied Way

Long Beach
Zephyr | 340 E 4th Street
I wish I lived close enough to spend more time at Zephyr!  Delicious food, free WiFi, plus great coffee or kombucha make this the perfect spot to hang out, study, and grab a meal.  My favorites are the BLT, seitan bowl, and MF burger.  I also love their soups, daily specials, and friendly staff.

Veggie Grill | 6451 E Pacific Coast Highway

Inglewood
Stuff I Eat | 114 N. Market Street
I saved the best for last!  Stuff I Eat is my favorite vegan restaurant, even though I’ve only ordered two things off the menu.  The soul food platter is SO good that I have trouble ordering anything else, but after seeing pictures of friends’ orders, I am determined to try the Kilamanjaro Quesadilla and Nacho Salad ASAP.  “If you don’t want meat, try the Stuff I Eat!”

Be sure to check out USVegWeek.com for more information, tips and tools.  Have a great week!