We humans take pride in our residences. We clean, we mow, we paint, we cook, we garden, we tinker. Some find these endeavors painful, others challenging, and still others enjoyable. Whatever your thoughts are about cleaning house, planting and maintaining gardens, tidying up the garage, or trimming the yard, keep in mind some of the items we use for those jobs can help our dogs and cats.
Throughout our homes, garages, and yards there are hazards. Below are six toxins found around our homes that are harmful to dogs and cats:
Securing these items, whether on shelf, behind a locked door, or fenced off, will help prevent dire illness, even death, of your furry friends.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains an extensive list of pet toxins. They also service a pet poison hotline; that number is (888) 426-4435. And, they provide a mobile app.
As summer arrives and we spend more time sprucing up our homes, yards, garages, and outbuildings, may we keep in mind the safety of our beloved animals.
Schools are dismissing, temperatures are rising, and the sun is shining, combining to chorus that summer is here! If you’re looking for a companion to share the longer days, warm nights, and great adventures that come with this season, look no further than your local animal shelter or rescue.
Adopting a four-legged friend can add fun to your summer! Hiking, camping, basking in the warm of your patio or deck, relaxing with an engaging book, beach combing, traveling to a state or national park or seashore, visiting family and friends – all of these adventures can be even more enjoyable with a dog or cat at your side (or on your lap!). The soft purrings from a feline friend; the excited woofs from a new canine companion, the joys of running, playing fetch, wading in water, or simply relishing the quiet of your own back yard, all with a new-found buddy, adds flavor of contentment and joy to summer season.
June is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month. Cat or dog, rabbit, hamster, horse, whatever animal delights you and adds joy, love, and friendship to your life, take to the internet and find that perfect companion for yourself and/or your family. Millions of dogs and cats are housed in animal shelters every year in America, and thousands more are cared for by volunteer foster families helping animal rescue groups. Horses, birds, rabbits, and other creatures also go into rescue; therefore, a person has a plethora of animals from which to choose.
Before adopting any animal, however, keep these tips in mind:
For resources and further information about adopting a pet, visit these websites:
Even if adoption of a pet is not an option for you at this time, there are many ways you can help homeless animals – find a valuable resource with a list of ideas here:
Enjoy your summer with your furry friend or by helping animals in need at your local rescue or shelter!
Last week, I highlighted some of the pesky pests that can harm our pets. With summer on its way and our anticipation of spending more time outdoors, I thought it good to focus on one of the most prevalent tick diseases that affects both people and pets: Lyme disease.
Lyme disease in humans
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease in humans are reported annually by health departments in each state and the District of Columbia. However, the CDC believes as many as 10x that number (or 300,000) could actually be infected.
The most prevalent areas for this illness are the New England and Mid-Atlantic states as well as the Upper Northern area of America, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. However, nearly every state has had at least one case in recent years.
Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the culprits of infecting someone with Lyme disease. Symptoms of this illness include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
Lyme disease in pets
This bacterial disease gets into the bloodstream through the bite and attachment of a tick. The bacteria often travels to various parts of the body, causing problems in organs, joints and other areas.
Veterinarians recommend pet owners check their pets for ticks every time the animals are outdoors and remove the tiny, pesky creatures as soon as they are found. Preventative care is also advised. There are many anti-tick products available, so please talk with your veterinarian about the best choice for the area in which you live.
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), symptoms of the disease in pets include fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, loss of appetite, and lameness. Our animals, however, may not show symptoms for two to five months.
Veterinarian use two different blood tests to confirm Lyme disease. Treatment for the illness includes use of antibiotics for at least 30 days. Some experts believe 50 to 75 percent of dogs in New England test positive for Lyme disease.
Although Lyme disease is not common in cats, if they roam outdoors for any length of time in tick-infested areas, felines can become infected if ticks are not removed. Lameness is a common symptom cat owners may notice, but sometimes cats don’t exhibit problems if they are infected.
Can people get Lyme disease from their pets?
According to the CDC, “Although dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they spread the disease directly to their owners. However, pets can bring infected ticks into your home or yard. Consider protecting your pet, and possibly yourself, through the use of tick control products for animals.”
There are other illnesses spread by ticks to humans and animals, depending on the area where they live and the type of ticks that inhabit those areas.
These are serious diseases for people and animals. Therefore, do your best to protect your beloved furry friends and yourself this summer from blood-sucking, disease-bearing ticks!
As warmer, wetter weather of spring wiggles its way into the season of summer, pet parents need to be more wary of the pesky pests that can harm our beloved pets. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes carry diseases that are not only harmful, but can be deadly.
These tiny creatures are believed to be the most common external parasite found on dogs and cats – and they can invade your home if not controlled. Fleas cause itching and are known to be the most common cause of pet skin disease. According to Web MD, though tiny, these irritating pests can eat 15 times their own weight in blood, causing anemia in a dog or cat. Fleas can also cause tapeworms. Therefore, keeping these little pesky critters at bay is well worth the time and investment.
There are many types of ticks found in the United States. Although some are more confined to specific regions of the country, the Centers for Disease Control notes the spread of ticks is increasing. Different species cause different diseases. For example, the brown dog tick, which is found throughout the country, causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, to which humans are susceptible, and the black-legged tick causes Lyme disease, which also affects humans. Our pets can also become sick from these and other tick-borne diseases. Check yourself and your dog thoroughly for these blood-sucking critters anytime you’ve been outside and learn to remove ticks properly to protect yourself and your furry friend.
Mosquitoes also transmit diseases, some of which are deadly. One of the worst for our pets, especially dogs, is heartworm. Your dog may be infected but shows no symptoms at first. Cough and fatigue are the first notable signs. This disease, once discovered, is difficult to combat and some dogs don’t survive. Therefore, prevention is critical to keep your furry friend safe. West Nile Virus is another terrible disease animals and people can contract from mosquitoes. Fur provides some protection from mosquitoes, but ears and noses are vulnerable. Living and spending time near a water source makes you and your furry friend more susceptible to swarms of these tiny pests.
Protection from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes is critical to keeping your pet safe and healthy. You can purchase preventive products from your vet directly or from a local pet supply store. You can find a good resource on such products here:
You may also want to consult the Pet MD website for more information on fleas and ticks, which includes a Flea and Tick Survival Guide: http://www.petmd.com/flea-tick-survival-guide#.
Spring and summer bring more outdoor activities for both people and their pets; those seasons also birth the onslaught of the tiny critters that seek the fur and skin of both human and animal. Therefore, take the needed precautions to protect yourself and your pet to better enjoy these warmer months.
With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, the onset of summer is soon to follow. The holiday weekend and upcoming outdoor season often lead to outdoor cooking and eating.
From gas and charcoal grills to picnics in the park, the enjoyment of cooking and eating outdoors is not lost on people or their pets. Sizzling steaks and burgers, hotdogs over the campfire, and fresh fruits and veggies on the table make everyone’s mouths water … including those belonging to our furry friends.
However, before you step out during the next few weeks to fire up the flames, here are five tips to keep your beloved four-footed companion safe during outdoor cooking ventures:
Enjoy the onset of summer and spending time outside but remember these tips to have a good, less worrisome time when it comes to outdoor cooking and pet safety. See more on the infographic below, created by Petfinder.com.
I vividly remember the first day I saw him – tawny brown eyes staring at me through the kennel fence. He’d been brought in by someone who thought she’d rescue him from a backyard breeder, but her two already-adopted dogs wouldn’t accept a still-intact male. So, the woman brought the 10-year-old cocker spaniel into the local animal shelter, hoping he’d find a new home quickly. However, the shelter manager told me, despite his pedigree as a purebred cocker spaniel, his age might keep him from being adopted very quickly. It didn’t. Cody came home with me three days later, after a neutering, bath, and groom. We traveled together, shared time on the couch together, and enjoyed walks and dog park adventures together. He lived more than seven more years after I adopted him; Cody was nearly 18 years old before he passed away in my home. He was a wonderful companion for me and for the blind dog also living in my home at that time.
Some animal welfare groups estimate nearly 25 percent of dogs that enter animal shelters and humane societies are purebred. Several groups also estimate that only 2 percent of stray cats brought in to such facilities are reclaimed by their owners. I’ve adopted both dogs and cats from animal shelters and pet rescue organizations since I became an adult. Adoption saves lives and provides individuals and families with a wonderful furry friend. Adoption is kindness in action.
This week is known as Be Kind to Animals Week, a time set aside by animal welfare organizations to remind us all that just as people need kindness in their lives, so do animals. Every year, nearly 1.5 million dogs and cats die in shelters across the United States because not enough people adopt; that number translates to nearly 2,000 EVERY SINGLE DAY. Kindness + compassion = adoption.
Pets and People Help Each Other
Pets not only bring joy to the lives of their human caregivers, but they also benefit people in many other ways: they help reduce blood pressure and weight, they help keep our cholesterol low, and they provide us with love and devotion like no other. Pets help us be more social – ever gone to a dog park where no one talks to each other? We laugh more, we exercise more, and we dote on our “fur-kids” with toys, treats, and costumes, bringing more smiles to our faces when they pose for us, lick our faces, and beg for belly rubs. In short, animals our good for our minds, bodies, and spirits. How can we NOT be kind to them?
Yet, every day, dogs and cats (as well as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, horses, and others) await loving, kind people to give them a forever home. Could that person be you?
Kindness = Adoption
It’s been about a month since our 13-year-old springer/cocker mix, Mary, passed; my husband and I are considering adopting another dog not only as an extra companion for us, but also for our beloved Shih Tzu, Jeremiah. Pets grieve the passing of other household members, and I’m sure Jeremiah would enjoy once again having a four-footed companion as much as we would. This week is an ideal time to get more serious about adopting another pet.
I hope you’ll also take time this week to consider adding a new pet to your household. By being kind to a pet in need you could be saving not just one life, but two: the animal you adopt and the one waiting to take its place at the shelter or rescue. You can find your next furry friend at your local animal shelter, humane society, or pet rescue organization, through Best Friends Animal Society or the ASPCA, through a breed rescue group, or at Petfinder.com, ShelterPetProject.org, and AdoptaPet.com.
Resources for Adopters
There are many wonderful resources for people who adopt animals. Below you’ll find three, two for being better prepared to add that four-footed companion to your household, and the other listing several great reasons to adopt a pet:
Our 13-year-old cat Bailey has a pooch – and I don’t mean a dog friend. Weighing in at nearly 15 pounds, our aging feline is chubby; in other words, she is obese.
Like many humans, pets can pack on the pounds as they age. And that extra weight can cause health problems.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, nearly 60 percent of pets in the United States are overweight or obese, a statistic that hasn’t changed much in the past few years.
According to veterinarians and other pet experts, there are several causes of obesity in pets. Those include:
Being cognizant of your pet’s weight will ultimately help manage health problems, such as diabetes, cardiac disease, and arthritis, among others. Sometimes pet parents have to put their furry family members on a diet; oftentimes, adding extra exercise can help; and many times, cutting down on the number of treats produces healthy weight. Perhaps a mixture of all three.
Talk with your veterinarian about how to slim down your overweight pet – or about how to keep him/her leaner and healthier before s/he becomes obese.
For further guidance on managing a pet’s weight, visit these websites:
For many people, dealing with life is difficult. Just like a batter in a baseball game, curve balls come our way – we may take a swing and miss. Or, we may stand there, not sure whether we should move the bat at all.
In the United States alone, anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) affect millions of people. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are one of the most common illnesses in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. More than 17 million people in the America are affected by depression, and depression is most prevalent in young people and women. Depression and anxiety can go hand-in-hand.
In addition to counseling and medication, there is another help for people affected by anxiety and/or depression. Many studies have shown animals, like dogs and cats, help people dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Pets encourage exercise, like walking and playing with toys. The simple act of petting a dog or cat can reduce stress and lift someone’s mood.
Mental health providers see a positive result when patients obtain emotional support animals. These animals help alleviate symptoms of an emotional or mental disability through their companionship and affection. Although not service animals, like guide dogs, ESAs do receive some protections under federal law. Learn more here: https://www.certapet.com/emotional-support-animal/.
Therapy animals visit hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, libraries, schools, and other places, bringing comfort to people during times of crisis or loneliness. For example, the Lutheran Church Charities K9 Comfort Dogs visit places where natural or human-caused tragedies occur and Read-to-the-Dog programs at libraries bring comfort and confidence to children who struggle with reading and socialization. The elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may feel lonely or rejected; therapy animals (which can be cats, rabbits, dogs, even guinea pigs) ease those feelings. People in hospitals may feel anxious or fearful as well as physically ill; a therapy animal can uplift their spirits and put their minds upon something else. Many school districts embrace the use of therapy and/or comfort dogs in public schools as a way to inspire and assist students. The studies which support pets as healers and comforters have impacted the way medical, mental health, and educational professionals view animals, especially dogs and cats.
Lowering stress and blood pressure are some of the benefits of dogs and cats, whether they’re our pets or they are trained as therapy and/or emotional support animals. Animals provide affection and companionship, and they help soothe the soul. They are helpful in human’s healing processes, whether in their own people or within a stranger.
Consumer Advocate offers a wonderful resource and blog post about pets and their ability to help people with mental or physical ailments. You’ll find that here:
If you experience depression or anxiety, or if you are feeling lonely or fearful, consider adding a pet to your home. If you already have one, take more time with your furry friend – you both will enjoy the extra attention and companionship.
How does your pet help you? Leave a comment below.
Do dogs and other animals feel pain and grief?
For decades, researchers have noted the mourning various animal species seem to experience when a family member dies. Elephants, for example, have been documented appearing to mourn the loss of a family member, whether an elderly matriarch or a stillborn calf. Chimpanzees and orcas have also been observed in mourning-like behavior.
What about pets?
As I write this, my husband and I are grieving the death of our beloved springer/cocker mix, Mary. We adopted her in 2013 when she was nearly seven years old. Although we didn’t spend her entire lifetime as her guardians and caregivers, Mary touched our hearts and lives in special ways. Sensitive, friendly, and kind, Mary was trained as a therapy dog, and her sweet disposition generated friends, both human and animal, during the years she lived with us. I wrote two children’s books about her, including A Kind Dog Named Mary, by which Mary reminds children that kindness is a great virtue. She exuded kindness and made impacts wherever she went.
That positive impact included the other pets in our house. From the aging Cody, who lived three extra years after Mary came to live with us, to puppy mill survivor Jeremiah, Mary was a true friend.
Now that Mary is gone, Jeremiah, especially, notices her absence. One day he didn’t eat at all. He is somewhat more lethargic, and he doesn’t play with his toys quite as much. He cuddles with my husband and I more. All of these are indicators, according to pet experts, that Jeremiah is mourning Mary’s death.
Well-known veterinarian Dr. Karen Shaw Becker states that dogs and cats “can experience sadness and grief at the loss of a beloved human or animal companion.” She cites the example of a military dog lying near the casket of its beloved human comrade (the television show, NCIS created an episode “Seek” which showcased a similar experience). Dr. Becker also states that behavior changes are common when pets grieve, so Jeremiah’s lack of appetite and desire for closer human companionship are not rare when a pet is mourning the loss of a beloved friend.
Before Mary, my husband and I had a blind springer spaniel named Sage. Like Mary, Sage developed cancer, and on the last night at home, as her breathing labored and her death drew closer, so, too, did the animals in our household. Cody, the cocker spaniel we’d adopted four years earlier, laid beside Sage in the living room. Our two cats also came into the room and stayed close by. They seemed to sense Sage’s near-demise and seemed to come to say goodbye to her. For several days thereafter, Cody seemed depressed. My husband and I took him on short drives and engaged in several walks a day. Keeping the surviving pets engaged and keeping a steady routine are highly recommended by pet experts after the passing of a beloved animal companion.
Perhaps you, too, have experienced the death of an animal companion – did you notice changes in the behavior of your surviving pets? Did they appear to mourn the loss? I’d be interested in hearing of your own experiences – feel free to leave a comment.
Getting another dog buddy is likely on the horizon, as Jeremiah probably needs another companion (as my husband and I). But, as many animal experts agree, doing so right away is not recommended. We will know when the time is right.
Meantime, we will share our grief as a family, and my husband and I will dote on the pets Mary left behind. Afterall, that’s what families do – help each other during difficult times.
Here are links to some articles on animal grief should you be interested:
“No one can truly understand why dogs are called “man’s best friend” until they have experienced the loss of one.”
“When the cat you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.”
(quotes from https://www.loveliveson.com/loss-of-pet-quotes/)
Every journey with a pet is unique. Each death of a pet is unique. As I research write these words, my husband and I are dealing with the final days of our beloved Mary. A springer/cocker mix, Mary has been our special companion for more than six years. We adopted her when she was almost seven, nearly a year after the loss of another much-loved dog. Mary’s former owner had passed away suddenly, and Mary went into rescue; we learned about her and drove 300 miles one way to meet and adopt her. She has brought much joy and comfort to us during the time we’ve been blessed to call her “ours.”
Trained as a therapy dog by her previous owner, Mary has positively impacted many lives. I’ve written two children’s books about her (and am in the final stages of completing a third), and together, we’ve visited libraries and schools. Mary’s kind, sweet nature won over children and adults alike. She provided comfort for elderly folks, and to my husband and me. Her intuition for people who were down physically and emotionally has been incredible to observe, and her patience and affection for other animals allowed us to bring in another dog 18 months ago who needed her guidance and friendship. My husband and I worry how Jeremiah, our rescued Shih Tzu, will handle Mary’s passing.
This is not the first time we’ve faced the death of a beloved pet. In our 20 years together, my husband and I have experienced the passing of two dogs and one cat, and before we met, we grieved the loss of animals as children and younger adults. However, the experience never gets easier. Each pet has brought love, fun, joy, and devotion to our lives, touching our hearts in their own special way. And, their passing leaves a void. Yet, their lives leave memories galore!
Each pet parent’s experience with the loss of a beloved animal is a personal journey. Some people grieve for months, even years. Just as the loss of a human friend or loved one pierces the heart, so does the loss of a beloved animal companion. And just as the journey of grief for another person is personal and unique, so is the journey of pet loss.
Experts note the stages of grief after losing a pet are similar to those experienced at the loss of a human loved one: denial, anger, guilt and acceptance. They also agree a person needs to grieve the death of a pet. Some adults may try to keep their sadness, guilt, and other emotions in-check, being embarrassed to acknowledge how their animal’s death affects them; however, bottling up those emotions isn’t healthy. A person needs to accept and acknowledge the depth of grief they feel in order to start the path of healing. Also, don’t let other people tell you how you “should” feel – as noted earlier, this journey is a personal one and other people are NOT you and you are NOT them. Talk with friends and family who are understanding and empathetic, those you believe will be of help to you and with whom you feel comfortable sharing. Some communities, either through veterinarian’s offices or other organizations, offer pet bereavement support groups; consider going to one. There are also online sites where you can share your thoughts about the loss of your companion, take part in a memorial service, and connect with others who are going through their own pet loss journey.
Whatever your pet loss story, whatever your journey, know that over time your broken heart will heal. And, perhaps one day, another sweet dog, cat, horse, hamster, or other animal will share your love and your life.
Here are a few websites that help pet parents deal with the loss of a beloved animal:
A POEM FOR THE GRIEVING
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die...
-Mary Frye (1932)