DIY sweet potato chews

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Bruce loves sweet potato chews, and they are one of my favorite treats to buy for him.  Unfortunately, sometimes the cost keeps me from buying them as often as I (and he) would like.  Then it occurred to me – they had to be fairly cheap and easy to make myself, right?  I mean it’s one sweet potato, Michael.  What could it cost?  10 dollars?

To make a batch of these for your pup, all you have to do is thinly slice a sweet potato about 1/4″-1/3″ thick, spread them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 250° for about 3 hours.  If you have a few too many slices it’s okay to overlap a bit; they will shrink during cooking and you can re-adjust them to fit.  Be sure to flip them over about halfway through cooking, and keep a close eye on them during the last 30 minutes so they don’t burn.  Your pup can enjoy these as soon as they are cool – feel free to taste-test them yourself, too!  They’ll be on the crispier side the day of baking, but the chewiness kicks in after refrigeration.  You can store these guys in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Bon appetit!

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.

vittles

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.

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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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