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Pamper Your Pooch: DIY Dog Cologne

I love my dogs dearly, but most of the time they smell… well, like dogs.  With four pooches running around, I’ve been on a quest to find non-toxic ways to keep my home from smelling like a small kennel.  Over the years, I’ve found that one of the easiest and cheapest ways to sustain a dog-friendly cleaning routine is to make my own products.  One of my favorite items is a dog cologne/deodorizing spray that you can make with items found either online or in most health food stores.  But first, an obligatory disclaimer…

PLEASE NOTE:  The recipe featured below is intended for use on DOGS ONLY.  Cats DO NOT metabolize essential oils in the same manner as dogs, therefor this recipe would not be safe for use on our feline friends.  Additionally, I am a “people nurse,”  and NOT a veterinarian, so please consult with your vet first if you have any questions regarding the safety or efficacy of this recipe for your pet.

DIY dog cologne ingredients
I like to use essential oils that are known for their flea-repellent properties.

Now for the fun part!  Gather your supplies from the list below.  I have noted optional ingredients that I find helpful, but are not necessary for your spray.  Many of the ingredients shown in the picture above were purchased online from Bulk Apothecary.

Ingredients:

  • Distilled Water
  • Essential Oils
  • 8-ounce Spray Bottle
  • Floral Water (optional)
  • Aloe Vera Liquid (optional)
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil (optional)
  • Small Pipette (optional)

Add approximately 5 to 6 ounces of distilled water to your spray bottle.  I like to use a mix of distilled water and either rose or lavender water as they are soothing to the skin.  Next, add 5 to 6 drops of the aloe vera liquid, if you are choosing to use it.  Next, add  approximately 5 to 6 drops of  fractionated coconut oil (also known as MCT Oil).  This step is also optional, but I like to use the MCT oil because I feel it helps my essential oils disperse better, plus it’s an excellent moisturizer for the skin and coat.

dog cologne how to

Finally, add whatever combination of dog-friendly essential oils you would like to use.  I tend to stick with a combination of three different oils, utilizing 2 to 3 drops of each oil.  Keep in mind that your pup’s sniffer is far more sensitive than yours, so what smells pleasing to you, may be a bit overwhelming for your dog.  The following is a list of different oils I have used in the past and a few of their benefits:

  • Carrot Seed: Anti-inflammatory with mild antiseptic effects.  Also good for dry or flaky skin.
  • Cedarwood:  Antiseptic, flea-repelling, and circulation-stimulating.
  • Chamomile:  Anti-inflammatory.  Great for calming itchy or inflamed skin.
  • Eucalyptus: Anti-viral ,anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory.  Avoid use on very small dogs or puppies.
  • Geranium:  Gentle, anti-fungal, and tick-repellent.
  • Lemongrass: Smells wonderful to humans and is off-putting to fleas.
  • Lavender:  Antibacterial and anti-itch properties.  Also thought to be effective for calming nervous or fearful dogs.
  • Sweet Orange:  Excellent for odor control and is flea-repellent to boot!
  • Vetiver: Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and tonic properties.

Once you have added all your ingredients, securely fasten the top of your spray bottle, shake to disperse ingredients, and spray your pup, avoiding the face and eyes.  Since this recipe only utilizes natural essential oils, it will not leave your pup with an overly strong smell, but mine seems to last about 4 to 6 hours, depending on what my boys get into that day.   The whole project should take less than ten minutes from start to finish, but if you don’t want the hassle of finding the ingredients yourself, you can grab a bottle from my Etsy store here.  I call it “Shaggy Chic” (hardy har, har…), and 50% of store proceeds are donated to dog rescue in the Tampa Bay area.

More tips and recipes to come!  Thanks for checking out our blog 🙂

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus; Not as scary as you think!

Walter Croncat arrived to the Isle as a stray. Luckily, he tested negative for FIV.

Also known as FIV, the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a disease that affects up to 3% of healthy cats in the United States every year, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The disease attacks a cat’s immune system and can leave carriers vulnerable to secondary infections.

It’s important to have strays checked for FIV prior to adoption. Alice Cooper, pictured here, tested negative for the virus.

FIV is primarily transmitted via deep bite wounds and, less commonly, via transmission from a mother cat to her kittens during birth or through infected milk. Similar to the AIDS virus in humans, FIV must replicate inside white blood cells known as T-lymphocytes. The virus then spreads through the lymphatic system and may cause enlarged lymph nodes, fever, and lethargy as it progresses. Since the primary method of transmission is via deep puncture wounds, it is less likely for the virus to be passed amongst cats in households where a stable social structure has been established. In fact, many shelters now house well-socialized FIV positive and negative cats together without fear of transmission.

Should I adopt an FIV+ cat?

Many people are understandably concerned when they first hear that an adoptable cat has tested positive for FIV. They are concerned that other animals in the household may be exposed to the virus or that their newly adopted pet will come with a host of expensive medical needs.

One-Eyed Jack tested positive for FIV shortly after arriving to our rescue.

Luckily, FIV+ cats that receive the proper care can live relatively normal lives. It is recommended that you take your FIV+ cat to your veterinarian every six months for routine wellness exams, but typically there are no maintenance medications or treatments that are required. Most vets recommend that FIV+ cats avoid raw diets to avoid the risk of parasitic and food-borne infections. Be sure to keep all cats in the household up to date on vaccinations, and watch your FIV kitty for signs of weight loss, decreased appetite, or lethargy.

The FIV virus can only live outside the body for a few hours in most environments. Additionally, it is only transmissible between cats, meaning other pets and human family members need not worry about contracting the virus.

Our FIV+ cat, Jack, when he was still living life as an abandoned stray.

Although there is currently no cure for FIV, with effective management, cats living with the disease can live relatively normal lives. I highly encourage anyone looking to adopt a cat to check out the FIV kitties at your local shelter, as they are often passed over by adopters. We currently have an FIV+ cat named One-Eyed Jack living here at The Isle. He is as happy and active as any other cat in our rescue, and is currently looking for a forever home. If you think you might be interested in adopting Jack, see this post for more information. If you live in the Tampa Bay area and would like to check out other FIV+ cats available for adoption, check out the adoptable over at Friends of Strays Animal Shelter or Pet Pal Animal Shelter.

Meet One-Eyed Jack!

This is the excerpt for a featured content post.

On April 6, 2019, the Isle of Misfits welcomed handsome One-Eyed Jack! After his previous owners moved away, Jack was left all alone as a stray in Largo, FL.  Poor Jack had a rough time on the streets, as he was attacked by other neighborhood cats, leaving him with a torn ear and punctured eye.  A kind neighbor took Jack in temporarily and placed an ad on Craigslist in an attempt to find Jack a new home.

Jack’s ad on Craigslist.

The Craigslist post was emailed to me by one of our Instagram friends, and by 9:00 AM the next day I was on my way to pick up Jack.

I brought Jack home and quarantined him in my guest bathroom until I could get him in to see my veterinarian. Jack was incredibly shy at first, and barely left his crate for the first two days.

During his first vet visit, we learned that Jack was positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). You can learn more about FIV here. Our vet surmised that Jack likely contracted the virus when he sustained his ear and eye injury as a stray.

Jack at his first veterinary visit.

The rest of Jack’s labs came back completely normal, and the vet estimated that he was about a year old. After receiving a clean bill of health, we scheduled a neuter surgery and prepared to find Jack a forever home!

It didn’t take Jack long to settle in here at The Isle, and before long he had assimilated into our pack of misfits. Jack now spends his days playing with our other resident cat, Walter Croncat, and sunning his buns in the living room window. He’s an absolute joy to have around and would do well in just about any home. To inquire about adopting One-Eyed Jack, email islandofmisfitchihuahuas@gmail.com for more information!

Handsome One-Eyed Jack is available for adoption!

Peter Jennings

I have chihuahuas.  A lot of them.  More than a couple…. Okay, four.  I have FOUR chihuahuas.  Don’t judge me, I can explain.  It all started with Peter Jennings…

I was 22, fresh out of college, and working as a waitress in Lexington, Kentucky, when I met the love of my life.  He was six weeks old, and only weighed 1.5 pounds when I met him.  He was a tiny Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix that was brought to the restaurant by one of our regular customers.  The customer’s female dog had just had an unexpected litter of puppies (this is why we spay/neuter), and he was looking to either give the pups away or ditch them somewhere.  Naturally, I took them all.

baby PJ
He looked like a kitten!

I brought the pups home in a box that had formerly housed a crock-pot.  They looked like little black hamsters scrambling around the bottom, and as soon as I sat them down, Peter began to trample his smaller siblings in an effort to get to me.  He was handsome and debonair, just like my favorite ABC news anchor, and I knew immediately that he was “the one.”  I was able to find homes for his siblings, and “PJ,” as he came to be called, stayed with me and became my constant companion.  That was ten years, and about five dogs ago.

 

pj life jacket
Doesn’t he look just thrilled to be in that life jacket?

Since that time, Peter Jennings and I have been inseparable.  I had always considered myself to be more of a “big dog” kind of girl, but one look from those bugged-out chihuahua eyes, and I was done.  When PJ was only three, he herniated a disc in his back and was temporarily paralyzed.  I was still a fairly inexperienced dog owner at that point, and was seriously considering the possibility of putting down my best friend.  Surgery was expensive and risky, and it was not  guaranteed that Peter would ever fully recover.  After much debating, and many vet visits, we decided to put PJ on a 6 week crate confinement and steroid regimen.  Once he was out of “crate jail,” I started taking him swimming in the lake to regain the strength he had lost in his hind legs.  Over time, PJ made a full recovery, and to this day, is able to enjoy walks and swims with his brothers.  I formed a deep bond while taking care of my inured little buddy, and as the years went by, more and more “handicapable” dogs found their way into my family.  There was the geriatric and morbidly obese “Tito,” followed by one-eyed “Abraham,” then paraplegic “Charlie,” and finally hairless “Harvey” with the autoimmune disease.  Tito passed away a few years ago at the ripe old age of 13, and the rest of the boys and I now live in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida.  There is definitely never a dull moment around here, and I sometimes feel as though I’m running a one-woman kennel, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  Taking care of these specially-abled pups is one of my greatest joys, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

UPDATE:  Peter gained his angel wings and crossed the rainbow bridge in the Fall of 2017.  He was a beloved companion for 11 years, and I will continue to adopt the “un-adoptable” in his memory.

 

Wheelie Good Tips for Wheelers

This is the excerpt for a featured content post.

Bringing a “super dog on wheels” into my household was one of the best the decisions I’ve ever made.  Charlie has brought joy and light into my life on even the darkest days, and I just can’t imagine life without my rolling sidekick.  It was a long process getting Charlie acclimated to his wheels, but it was well worth it.  I hope this post is able to help fellow wheelie parents who are having a difficult time getting their pups adjusted to their adaptive equipment.

When I first adopted Charlie, his amazing rescuers at Limbo Chihuahua Rescue had already obtained a set of wheels for him.  His wheels were sent from Walkin’ Pets and were adjusted to fit his measurements, but Charlie didn’t exactly take to his cart right off the bat.  In fact, he was initially terrified of it.  The sound of the wheels spinning against the concrete, or even the light noise caused by the fastening of the velcro straps sent poor Charlie into a case of what I like to refer to as “The Chihuahua Shakes.”  (If you’ve ever lived with a chihuahua, you know exactly what I’m talking about).   Charlie would tremble in fear if I tried to put on his harness, and if we ever actually made it to the point where Charlie was strapped into the cart, he would just stand there, frozen in fear and confusion.  It broke my heart.

10570452_10103205578841230_7685234165082496600_n
This looks like a good place to leave my wheels…

I so desperately wanted my sweet boy to be able to run, play, and go on walks with his brothers, but at first, it didn’t look like this would ever be possible.  If you are dealing with a “new wheeler” in your house that hasn’t taken to his or her wheels right away, don’t get discouraged!  Every animal takes to their cart at a different pace.  Some dogs hop in the cart and run off into the sunset as though they were born with wheels.  Others, like Charlie, take months to get acclimated to their new equipment.  The following is a list of tips and tricks I used to help Charlie adjust to his cart, and I hope they prove helpful to any other paw-rents struggling with the same issue.

  1. Start slow.  Really slow.  Like, baby steps slow.  For us, the first two weeks literally consisted of nothing but picking up the cart and placing it next to Charlie to allow him to sniff and get used to it.  Every time I would place the cart next to Charlie, I would also give him a treat.  Within a week or two, Charlie would start getting excited and doing his “happy dance” any time he saw me pick up the cart, because he now associated the cart with yummy treats 🙂
  2. Once he was comfortable being near the wheels, I started trying to get Charlie accustomed to the noise the wheels made.  I would take him out on my back patio, and would slowly roll the cart back and forth next to Charlie, feeding him treats the whole time to keep him calm.  This stage lasted maybe 4-5 days for us, but again, don’t place any time limit on you or your pooch.  Every pup works at their own pace, and some will become comfortable with the cart quicker than others.  Charlie had come from an abusive environment, so noises were a BIG issue for him initially.
  3. After Charlie got over his initial fear of the wheels, we moved on to actually fastening him into the cart.  This is the part where many “pawrents” become frustrated.  When Charlie was in his wheels for the first time, he just stood there looking at me with this expression of, “And what, exactly, do you expect me to do now?”  Again, treats were the great motivator, and I literally laid a trail of treats from one side of the patio to the other to coax Charlie into trying to move forward.  This stage took quite a while–maybe two weeks or so of daily cart training with “treat trails.”
  4. Once Charlie understood that he could self-propel in his cart, it was time to introduce the leash.  Charlie and I started on very short walks (think 10-20 yards) down the alley behind our home.  Progress was slow at first, and I had to occasionally coax him with treats to get him to move, but eventually we got to the point where we could walk all the way down the alley and back without Charlie stopping or freezing in his tracks.
  5. It was at this point that I made the decision to head to the dog park to try this wheelchair thing out in the “real world.”  I took Charlie to a neighborhood park, and fastened him into his wheels on the side walk.  That’s when the unexpected happened—he took off!  It was like everything from the last two months suddenly clicked with him in an instant, and off he went.  I will never forget that day.  I was so excited to see him running, that I started bawling my eyes out in the middle of a public park like the crazy chihuahua momma I am.

 

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Photo by Meghan Browning with Ruff Days Pet Photography,

 

 

Once Charlie took off, that was that.  He has been rockin’ and wheelin’ through the streets of St. Petersburg ever since.  Charlie’s cart has given him his mobility  back, and now he goes on walks absolutely everywhere with his other brothers and sister.  In fact, with his wheels on, Charlie is actually the fastest chi-chi in the pack!  He is now able to wheel along the beach, up hiking trails, and through the aisles of Home Depot with ease.  If you are struggling to help your pet adjust to life on wheels, don’t give up!  Just remember that every dog (and human!) progresses at their own pace, and there is no need to box yourselves into any kind of a “time frame.”  Be easy on yourself, offer your wheeler lots and lots of treats, and roll on friends!