How everyday products can cure your pet

Vicks VapoRub, ChapStick and Bengay may be grooming and behavioural godsends

How everyday products can cure your pet

iStock; Getty Images; Photo illustration by Lauren Cattermole

Here’s a tip for dog owners from the guy who once talked Jay Leno into shaving with peanut butter and convinced Barbara Walters to put a wet diaper on her head. “To ward off unwelcome, prowling male dogs eager to mate, rub a dab of Vicks VapoRub near your female dog’s tail. The pungent smell of eucalyptus and menthol masks the odour that attracts males,” advises Joey Green, who used to write TV commercials for Burger King but now makes a living finding alternate uses for everyday products.

In his latest book, Joey Green’s Amazing Pet Cures, he describes how he solved the problem of his neighbour’s dog leaving “unwanted presents” in his front yard. “The first time I left the evidence untouched and put up a sign that read, ‘Please clean up after your dog.’ Three days later, the sign and the proof remained on the lawn.”

Realizing he couldn’t retrain his inconsiderate neighbour, Green decided to retrain the dog, by liberally sprinkling his own lawn with cayenne pepper. “In fact, every other day for the next two weeks, I went out and peppered the grass to make sure the dog, with his acute sense of smell, got the message loud and clear. The dog never soiled in front of our house again.”

Green has more than 1,000 common-sense remedies to address everything from grooming to behavioural problems. For instance, to detangle matted fur, “dust the mats with Johnson’s baby powder,” he suggests, then “work the mat apart with your fingers until you can run a comb through the hair.” Another grooming tip: if you cut too close to the quick when trimming your pet’s nails, rub ChapStick into the nick to stop the bleeding.

If your dog encounters a skunk, fill a watering can with Coca-Cola and saturate your pet with The Real Thing, he writes. “Let soak for five minutes, then rinse clean with warm water. The acids in the Coca-Cola eradicate the heinous smell of skunk spray.”

For garden-variety foul-smelling fur, try putting two cups of Nestlé Carnation nonfat dry milk in the dog’s bathwater, to neutralize odours and soften your pet’s coat. Adding Downy fabric softener to the final rinse will leave your dog “smelling April fresh.”

Green has an organic plan for flea control: sprinkle crushed fennel seeds, which apparently repel the pests, in your pets’ bedding. And to deter ants from picnicking on pet food, sprinkle cinnamon around the food bowl.

Common behavioural problems are easy to solve, according to Green. If your cat leaves marks where she scratches at the door, tape sandpaper to the trouble spot, so that “instead of scratching the woodwork, your cat will file her own nails.” And if your dog is bent on chewing your favourite shoes, the smell from a dab of Bengay will be a deterrent.

In a section that deals with coprophagia, Green writes, “No one knows for sure why some dogs eat their own feces or the feces of other animals. Veterinarians conjecture that dogs may start eating feces out of boredom, to obtain nutrients missing from their existing diet, or because they truly like the taste.” Whatever the cause, Green claims you can curtail the behaviour by adding one teaspoon of Accent flavour enhancer to your dog’s food twice daily for three days. Why? It’s apparently a digestive enzyme that “prevents coprophagia.”

If your pet is flatulent, the cause may be too much bean content from the soy in its food; try switching to a brand with less soy. If that doesn’t work, try a quarter teaspoon of plain yogourt with Lactobacillus acidophilus, which “produces the bacteriocins necessary for proper digestion, decreasing flatulence.” Cats and dogs usually like yogourt, so you don’t even need to mix it into their food.

Another trick to lessen gas: put a tennis ball in your pet’s food bowl. “The ball creates a minor obstacle that forces your pet to nose around the bowl, stop wolfing down his meal, and cease swallowing air, which is one of the causes of flatulence.”

Cleanup, too, can be easier, says Green. Just spritz the caked-on food in your cat’s bowl with Pam cooking spray, to loosen the stuck bits for easy removal.

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