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Gert’s Dirt: Creature comforts

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opinion Two Harbors, 55616
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

Donna Bellino

Keeping your pet’s home fresh and clean is important for their health. It will help your home look and smell better, too.

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Be certain that Fido and Tiger have a clean place to sleep. Shake out the bed, rug or blanket on which they sleep. It can be machine-washed in mild detergent, but don’t use fabric softener. Use a large washer at the laundromat if necessary. For a fluffy final product, dry it in the dryer.

Water and food dishes should be washed regularly in the dishwasher or by hand. They should be rinsed well and dried before refilling. Keep newspaper or a place mat under the bowls.

As for the nasty litter box, make sure to use clumping litter. To make a discard box, line an old bin with a plastic bag. Scoop waste out daily and then add clean litter. Every few months, dump it all out and scrub the box clean . Replace with fresh litter.

If you have birds, there are plenty of ways to keep their habitat clean. If feathers are flying around the room and there is a nasty odor at the birdcage, you know it is time to clean. A good investment would be a second cage so you can put your bird in one while you clean the other. First, remove the paper from the bottom. Wipe the whole cage with a solution of vinegar and water, rinse and air dry. After the cage, the swings and toys should be washed. You may even rearrange the toys for some variety for your bird. Then, the food and water dishes should be washed by hand or in the dishwasher. When they are completely dry, they can be filled with seed again. The cage should be lined with newspaper only in black and white print, because some color inks can be toxic to birds. If you use several layers of newspaper in the cage, it may be possible to remove just the top layer when soiled. A thorough cage cleaning should be done at least every month.

Outside birds need care, too. Bird feeders should be cleaned frequently to prevent the spread of diseases in the wild bird population. Hummingbird feeders should be washed with hot, soapy water before each filling. Use hot soapy water and rinse well.

Feeders that hold seeds should be cleaned monthly. First, the feeder should be washed with soap and water and then immersed in a weak bleach solution. The solution should be no stronger than one part bleach to nine parts water. Cleaners should always wear gloves when working with bleach and bleach should not be mixed with any other cleaning agent.  The feeder should then be rinsed well and dried completely and refilled with fresh birdseed -- never use moldy or damp feed. Keep the area under the birdfeeder clean, too.

Many families have hamsters as pets, and their cages also need special care. First, throw the bedding from a hamster cage into a garbage bag. Then, wash everything just as you would for bird cages and put fresh bedding in the bottom of the cage. The water bottle should be filled with bottled water and the food bowl filled with fresh food. Unlike birds, hamsters don’t like big changes in their cage, so toys and accessories can be placed just as they were before the cleaning.

When pet’s quarters aren’t cleaned, the whole house can become stinky and unhealthy. Cleaning frequently can keep disease away and reduce behavioral problems of pets.

Our pets are members of our families. They appreciate clean, comfortable surroundings and so will you.

Donna Bellino is a registered nurse and owner of Gertie's Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie's: Naturally Clean!

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