Honest Reviews

Honest reviews from dog owners who have bought and tried products.
We don't get paid by anyone for these reviews, but if you see your product here, we're open to getting freebies... just sayin.

Bissell Quicksteam Powerbrush

Updated:  It died a horrible death shortly after purchase.  I'm guessing the amount of imbedded husky fur did it in and it pretty much leaked all over the place and refused to suck.  We are downgrading to 1 paw.

I’ve owned quite a few steam cleaners out of necessity with huskies. For the most part I’ve tried to get the top of the line, ultra scrubber, ultra sucking models that cost a lot of money, only to have them succumb to the clots and clumps of hidden husky hair in the carpet that no amount of vacuuming will suck up.

After the nearly $300 Bissell Proheat steam cleaner died (fur had wrapped so tightly around a vital bolt that it cut the bolt in half, rendering it useless), I threw up my hands at expensive steam cleaners.

Generally I don’t need a steam cleaner to clean the entire carpet, but one that is geared more to cleaning certain high traffic and “trouble” areas. After Sam’s spine surgery, he’s still leaky, so we have some pee areas that need to be dealt with on a regular basis, so dragging out the big steam cleaner for these spots is time consuming and overkill. Dragging out the Little Green Steam Cleaner for a larger high traffic area doesn’t make sense, and is hard on the knees, so I wanted to find something in the middle of high end, to hand held.

Enter the Bissell Quicksteam Powerbrush. I went with a Bissell cleaner only because we had about 50 gallons of Bissell steam cleaning fluid left over and didn’t want to dump that and buy new fluid. Yes, I realize that the manufacturer warnings all say to ONLY use their fluid, and I’m sure that’s just marketing hype, but why chance it after blowing money on a new steam cleaner having the fluid ruin it before you get your money’s worth out of it.

The Quicksteam Powerbrush got good reviews on epinions and other opinion sites, even from pet owners, but I’ve found that regular pet owners don’t have the blizzard of fur to deal with as Northern Breed owners, and I take their reviews with a grain of salt. Cleaning after a Lab is nowhere close to the fur issues that a Northern Breed owner has to deal with.

The Quicksteam Powerbrush is available locally (I got mine at Lowes) which is an added benefit, and it cost only $80. I figured that if it died on the first round of cleaning, I’d de-fur it and drag it back and mark it off as a no go.

The QP was easy to put together and seemed quite spindly and downright fragile. I didn’t have high expectations for it.

The container for fluid and clean water pulls off the handle. A small dab of fluid and then fill the rest with warm water, plop the container back on the handle. The dirty water container is on the bottom and attaches with two flip locks. Until I got use to it, I could see where spillage would be a most definite possibility, but its actually easy to unhook and lift up without spilling, which is surprising.

Once put together and I had the fluid in, I went to work. Its loud and annoying. It almost sounds like its eating itself to death and that’s a bit disconcerting, but it actually does an amazing job! Very light weight, easy to carry up and down the stairs, long cord to reach almost any spot, that sucker really sucks.

For a smaller machine, of course you’ll have to dump and fill for a large room, but I was amazed at how well it sucked up the water from the carpet, it was actually much better than the more expensive Proheat in that regard.

What about the fur? Oh yeah, it sucked up a good amount of fur, but unlike the Proheat, which would spit out clumps of wet fur along the way, it just seemed to suck up what it could, and if it couldn’t suck it up, it would collect on the brush and in the intake portion. After each dumping, I’d simply tip the machine back and reach in and pull out clumps of wet fur and wrestle the fur off the brush and it was ready to go again.

I’ve used it a few times and it keeps working just fine. Just remember to de-fur it after each dump. Except for the annoying noise it actually fun and very easy to use.

I fully expect it to die a horrible death much quicker than the Proheat, but for only $80-90, its easier to break it and replace it than having the more expensive steam cleaners only lasting a year.

I wouldn't recommend it for Northern Breed Owners, or any pet owners... or anyone for that matter.  Save your money

Bissell Little Green Steam Machine

Yet another item that a husky owner shouldn’t be without, the Little Green Steam Machine is heaven sent.

We’ve gone through a myriad of spot remover steam cleaners in the past. They either didn’t do the job or died horrible fur-laden deaths quickly. We were VERY unimpressed with one of the older Dirt Devil products, and felt that if we threw a bucket of water on the floor and soaked it up with a towel, that would work better than the Dirt Devil.

Having owned one of the original Little Green machines and being impressed with its simplicity and sucking ability, when it died we immediately went out and got another one. The newer ones are easier to clean out and easier to use, along with some pretty good tools, but we mainly just use the one brush attachment and it works just fine to get out that deep down yuck that sometimes occurs with huskies (horka, a diarrhea incident, etc.)

There are two versions of the Little Green, and both work equally well, but we do recommend the unit that includes the water heating feature, as it seems to clean a lot better.

Very simple to add the cleaner and water, and dumping out the icky water is also very easy, simply lift the lock and pull out. There can be some residual gunk if the gunk water container isn’t seated properly, but its easy to reach and clean out after use.

I would even venture to say that it cleans spots and sucks water up better than regular large steam cleaners, mainly because you can really press down hard and make sure the spot is removed, and also make sure the water is sucked up.

Although our model came with the turbo brush, we pretty much threw that one away, because if you press down hard enough to get into the fibers, the brush stops rotating and its worthless. We just use the regular brush that comes with it and it works great. Another downside to the turbo brush is that invariably it’ll get clogged with fur and stop rotating, so you spend more time cleaning out the brush so it’ll turn than actually cleaning, so dump the rotating brush and just go for the regular wand attachment.

The wand also allows you to spray on a good soaking amount of solution and water onto a deep down spot, where you can let it sit for a bit, then suck up all the water.

Lightweight, easy to carry, and it comes with a very long cord so you can reach spots where you might not have a plug.

We give the Bissell Little Green Steam Machine:

Dyson DC07 Animal Vacuum Cleaner

How much do I love the Dyson DC07 Animal? Let me count the ways.

About 4 years ago, while vacuuming with our Hoover bagless top of the line model, which was a few years old, we noticed just how much dust settled on our furniture, and to our horror, if we smacked the carpet with our hands, they came away gritty and dirty, and dust flew in the air. All this time we though the Hoover was a pretty good vacuum, but apparently not so much.

We had heard other pet owners raving about the Dyson, and finally around Christmas-time we girded our loins and checkbook and bought the DC07 Animal.

When we got it home, we actually marked up a square spot and spent a good 10 minutes vacuuming that spot with the Hoover. Confident that the Dyson was just a bunch of hype, we fired that thing up and vacuumed and was HORRIFIED at the amount of sand, grit, dog hair, dust, dander and who knows what that thing picked up in the same square we had just vacuumed with the Hoover. TWO canisters full of crud came up.

The Dyson is everything the ads say it is. The attachments actually work very well and the vacuum has the same mind-blowing amount of suction going through the hose as it does when vacuuming normally. Using the crevice tool to get under the couch, it picked up chew bones and wouldn’t release them without yanking on them, and you don’t even want to know what we got out of under or stove.

The tube on the attachment wand is easy to use and reaches all the way up the stairs without having to cart the whole vacuum up. Once again, the suction is fantastic. The Animal version comes with a stair rotary brush tool that actually works great, a bare tool attachment that works great... everything works great on the Dyson.

One of the added bonuses of the Dyson is that it doesn’t spew out hot, dusty exhaust when you are vacuuming like most vacuums. Its is a bit heavy and clunky, and there’s no light on it for those who like to vacuum in the dark, but when it comes to picking up dirt and husky fur, its uncloggable.

They’ve added more tools that you can buy and I recommend the dusting tool and the flexible crevice tool, very nice for getting behind fridges and around corners.

After 4 years, my hose broke, but I was able to order another and with quick shipping, I was able to snap the old one out and replace it with the newer sturdier hose and back in business we went. The filter is great, no replacing it, just rinse it out in cold water and let dry, which takes about a day or two. Most Dysons are now sold with two filters, so you can use one while the other dries.

Once in a while its a good thing to check the brush bar, because the fur can get collected there, so a quick cleaning on that is all it takes. Its never clogged on fur, no matter how big of a pile I run over, its easy to clean and emptying the canister is a snap, just pull a trigger with the canister aimed over the trash and the fluff and gunk just falls into the trash can.

For a husky owner, the Dyson is a MUST HAVE item to keep the fur piles in check.

Pricey? At $500 it isn't a drop in the bucket, but ours has cleaned continuously for over 4 years now with only having to replace a hose. Our other vacuums have cost about $200 and have only lasted 1-2 years, and as we saw, really didn't have the pick up power as the Dyson.


Simple Human Butterfly Lid Trashcan

The age old dilemma with huskies and other northern breeds is: How do you keep them from getting into the garbage?

We tried the flip lid trash cans, and even a heavy duty garbage can with a screw lid, and it was either too easy for them to break into, inconvenient for us to throw stuff into it, or a decorating nightmare. At one point we caught Meeshka rolling the screw top lid trash bin into the living room in an attempt to get it open.

After rearranging our kitchen, we were in need for a thin trash can that would fit between a chest freezer and some shelving, so off to Bed Bath and Beyond we went. Sure enough, there was the Simple Human Butterfly Trash can. It was the perfect size for fitting where we needed to, and the amazing butterfly lid didn’t become apparent to us as the perfect anti-husky garbage can until we got it home.

Stainless steel outside with a plastic container inside that you can use regular kitchen garbage bags in with ease, you just step on the pedal, the doors softly open, you can pull the plastic container with the trash out, throw out the bag and put a new one in, and place the plastic container back inside. Very easy to wash out the plastic container if the bag leaks. The best part (we soon learned) was that the butterfly lid closes slowly and silently (no clanging) and that there is absolutely, positively nothing a husky can do to get it open.

Pricey? Oh yep it is. We paid about $180 for ours, but its one of the best garbage cans we’ve ever had as far as matching our kitchen appliances, looking nice, fitting where we needed it, and no cleaning up a ton of garbage or running a dog to the ER Vet when they get into cooked chicken bones.

While the finger-proof version wasn’t available when we bought ours, we’ve had very little problem keeping ours clean thanks to a trick we learned about cleaning stainless steel: use a soft, non-scratch pad to get off the gunk, then take a paper towel and a bit of olive oil and rub the olive oil all over the stainless steel. The olive oil gives it back its shine, and its non-toxic to the dogs... but you may get some tongue prints on the trash can when they lick it.

So, in all, its pricey, but well worth it!

We give it:

Champion Canine Seatbelt System

Update: Apparently several customers have not received their orders and the company is not responding to their e-mails or phone calls. While they have one of the best products out there as far as safety restraints for dogs, we do NOT recommend them at this time. Hopefully they will either get their act together soon, or another company will start making a quality product that we can recommend.

Everyone should know that letting their husky run loose in a vehicle is not only dangerous, but getting them out of the vehicle is also an opportunity for escape.

I know some people who put crates in their vehicles to safely contain their huskies during travel, but with three, we just didn't have room for three crates, and we weren't going to buy a HUGE SUV to have enough room, so we looked for alternatives to crating.

We found a highly recommended company called Champion Canine Designs and their Champion Canine Seatbelts.

I will admit to you right now that their customer service SUCKS! I waited months for my order, and had to pester the company on an almost daily basis after a month before I got my order, but it was worth the wait and aggravation.

We purchased the following:
Champion Canine Seatbelt system
Survivor Big Dog Leads w/Commander Grab Handle and Bull Snap

The Harness
The harness is really thought out well, and is very adjustable. The Web site shows you how to measure your dog to get the right fit, but we purchased larges for all of our dogs (at the time ranging from 40lbs to 65lbs) and the large was so adjustable that it fit all of them just fine.

The harness has padding on the front (to cushion the dog in case it gets thrown forward in an accident) and fits securely but is comfortable for the dogs. Ours wore theirs for 24 hours during Tropical Storm Isabel (in case we had to quickly evacuate our house) and had no problem sleeping and walking around with them on.

The harness has two snaps on the back to secure it, and the back snap has a double D ring where the leash attaches. WARNING: if you don't get one of their leashes, you will have a hard time finding a leash in a pet store that will clip onto the double D rings.

Restraint Strap
The restraint strap can say in your vehicle at all times if you wish. It consists of a locking ring that can be connected to an SUV ring or simply snap your seatbelt on and connect it to the seatbelt. It can be adjusted to allow your dog to sit, stand, or move around a little depending on how much mobility you want to give them. It connects to the harness' double D rings with a bullsnap connector, and that thing is very sturdy and husky escape proof.

The leash is a bit shorter than what we are use to, but allows you to have complete control of your dog at all times. The loop near the clasp allows you to get even more control if you need to rein in an exuberant husky and keep them close. The leash also has the bullsnap connector, which you have to pull out instead of push in and is virtually husky escape proof.

How it Works
You put the harness on your husky, attach the leash and walk them out to your vehicle where the restraint strap is already in your car and ready. Once the dog is in the vehicle, you simply use the restraint bullsnap to connect the restraint system to the harness. You can either leave the leash on, or take it off, but at no time is your husky off leash.

When its time to get out of the vehicle, simply open the door, as your husky is secured inside the vehicle, attach the leash (if you took it off) unhook them from the restraint strap and you are on your way, and at no time is your husky off leash and able to escape.

If you want to attach your husky's tags to the harness on the D ring, you won't be able to use the standard tag rings that usually come with tags. Go to a home improvement store and find a larger key ring and use that to attach the tags to the D ring.

If probably adjusted, your husky shouldn't be able to back out of this harness. Loki did manage to back out of his while in our SUV, but the front part had not been adjusted properly. After adjustment, he tried, but couldn't back out of it again.

Customer service sucks, but its worth the wait for this product. Well thought out, made for a dog, and it works fantastic giving a husky owner peace of mind while traveling, or just out taking a walk.


Bissell Proheat Steam Cleaner

 July 2012 Update: Bissell has retooled their Proheat steam cleaner, and it is much better, we will provide a new review shortly.

We bought the Bissell Proheat Steam Cleaner from Costco about 2 years ago.

The first one we bought lasted one cleaning and then the motor burned out. Ok, we figured that it was a fluke, got a bad unit, so we returned it and got a replacement for it. This one seemed to work much better than the first one, but then after about 5 uses, the unit stopped sucking up water and wouldn't dispense the fluid.

We checked out the user manual and found that if it did this, then there was a chance that one of the belts had broken or slipped loose. We followed the easy instructions on how to remove the side panel and sure enough, one of the belts had slipped off... due to all of the fur that had collected on the internal parts.

We own three huskies, so there's a lot of fur in our house, but we also have a Dyson vacuum cleaner (highly recommended) and vacuum before we steam clean. Regardless, the act of spraying fluid on carpet has a way of releasing that deep down husky fur, so we'd get big clumps of wet husky fur whenever we steam cleaned.

After removing as much fur clumps as possible and reseating the belt, the Proheat worked fine, but we soon discovered that after the second or third time we used it, we'd have to take it apart and remove fur and reseat the belt, which got to be very annoying.

The Proheat lasted about two years until today when the fur became its total undoing. I had just started steam cleaning and it make its usual strange noise that signaled that the belt had come off. I took it apart, only to find that husky fur had wrapped so tightly around the brush attachment that it had actually snapped the bolt in half, rendering the Proheat totally useless.

R.I.P. Proheat

For a steam cleaner that we paid about $250 for, we figured it would last longer than two years and wouldn't require us to take it apart every 2-3 uses to reseat the belts on it.

Some of the other aggravations with it included the fact that sometimes it would pick up water very well, other times not so much, so it would take a while for the carpet to dry. We did like the separate container for fluid, clean water and dirty water. It was a pain to thoroughly clean the clean/dirty water container, and dumping the dirty water was precarious at best. We never used the upholstery attachments, so I can't tell you how well that worked, nor did we use the hard floor tool that came with it (we lost that soon after we got it because it came with a bunch of attachments, but no place to store them on the machine... another annoyance).

I give it: