I help people take care of their pets every day. Most people know that they have to do estate planning "someday". Most people also put it off because it is daunting to face your own mortality. So, instead, most people hope for the best and don't plan at all. But, what happens to your pets when you aren't here anymore? We hope that a family member or friend will step in and care for our pets. But hope is not a plan. For most pets, they will end up in a shelter and either be adopted by strangers or euthanized due to overcrowding. Animals don't grieve the same as humans but I have seen them grieve. When my mother was sick, her dog knew. He stayed by her side every day until she was admitted to the hospital for the last time. Her doctors allowed him to visit her on her last day. You never saw such a sad face as the face on her dog that day. He was the last reason she smiled though. She loved him dearly and he loved her. The night after she passed, he slept with me practically burying himself under me. It was as though he couldn't get close enough. My mother asked me to take care of him and I have. She also spelled it out in her will. I am happy to honor my mother and care for him. He is a great little dog.
I had a dog that got "bloat" which is a stomach that twists internally. It can be fatal if not treated by a veterinarian immediately. This is what happened that day. It was a day like any other in the summer of 2007. I got home early (around 7;30p.m.) and was greeted by my dog with her same happy attitude that she always had. She was a happy, healthy Labrador retriever of about 3 years old at the time. I loved coming home to her. I poured her dinner from the kibble bag and went to check the mailbox. She always ate her food like it was a race so she was gobbling up her food when I went to check the mail. Something odd caught my attention when I came back and looked at my dog. She seemed uncomfortable and really BIG. All of a sudden she had bloated in size to that of a fully pregnant dog. I was shocked.
I have a Border Collie named Betty that I rescued from the Border Collie Rescue Group of the Ozarks (when I lived in Arkansas in 2015). There are rescue groups for the breed in most states. These beautiful smart dogs are adorably cute puppies. Many people do not fully comprehend their need for exercise and training when they gather them up as adorable puppies. This means that many end up at shelters and rescue groups. As smart as they are, they are not the lowest maintenance dogs that you can bring home.
These dogs are not going to be happy lying on the couch all day. They are bred to work. They need regular daily exercise. When I first got Betty and was researching the breed, I kept reading that they are dogs that need a job. What does that even mean? It means they are happiest when they are working. The breed was bred for herding livestock. They love to run in circles around other animals that are running. When sheep are not available, squirrels, bunnies, birds and small children will be herded. They also like things to be fairly calm. My dog loves a dog park. But, I have to watch her closely because if a fight breaks out , she will run over to the fighting dogs to break up the fight. This can be very bad for Betty so we don’t go to dog parks often. When other dogs are playing ball, she likes to chase them and herd them away from the ball. Its her version of keep away. This can be very frustrating for ball obsessed dogs like labradors and spaniels. She plays best with other herding dogs that are happy to chase each other in circles. Dog parks can be very dangerous places for small children as they can be easily knocked over by rambunctious running dogs.
I would caution against over exercising border collies unless you are prepared to be consistent. If you create an athlete out of them, you will need to train them as an athlete or they will become very stir-crazy. When they become stir-crazy, they will get into things and run around the house. Betty gets the zoomies and will run as fast as she can from one end of the house to the other. My family knows Betty’s crazy look. Her eyes bug out a little and her pupils dilate and she starts running around sometimes tossing toys in the air and catching them all by herself. Betty gets regular exercise. She is also fairly mellow as far as Border Collies come. We started in a house with a yard and went hiking regularly. Now we live in a condo and her exercise is primarily on leash. Times change and she has adapted very well. She is best on leash when we are running.
Border Collies can be wonderful dogs around children with proper training of your kids AND your dog. This is also true for all family dogs. Border Collies are known to be among the smartest of dogs. This makes them easy to train. Betty was completely untrained when I brought her home and she learned all the basic obedience training commands in about 15 minutes. No joke. She is smart. They are also very loyal and generally pretty sweet tempered. They enjoy a lot of attention. They have a ton of energy and can run around with kids all day long.
So, you love animals and you want to be responsible because you love the environment? Maybe you have children or grandchildren and you want them to be able to enjoy the things you have enjoyed? You have studied the science and realize that pollution and climate change are both real crises that we are facing. That is me. I am a grandmother and I love hiking and camping. I love pristine beaches and watching seals and sea lions basking in the sun at the local beaches. I want my grandchildren to be able to enjoy these things too. I want to do my part to clean up the mess we have made as a society. This article is not for people that think climate change is not real. It is real and we are running out of time to limit the damage. This is a scientific fact.
You would think that loving animals and having them in your home would not conflict with being environmentally responsible. But, the pet industry creates a lot of waste. A LOT - pet food containers, plastic single-use poo bags, flea and tick plastic pill containers, dog toys, collars, leashes, brushes, shampoos. Much of it made cheaply out of non-biodegradable or non-recyclable plastics or packaged in even more plastic.
For anybody that has tried to go zero waste, you know it is nearly impossible in most locations. So, the goal here is less waste. Let’s start with doing what we can and striving to do more and more after we have changed some basic habits. Where to start? Wherever you can! By being mindful before you make a purchase, you can make a huge difference. The first step to lessen your waste is to think before you buy. There are four basic principles of reducing waste. These principles apply to everything you use in your daily life. Let’s look at how they can apply to pet care and I’ll even add a couple bonus tips that apply just for dogs.
Photo by Ian Williams on Unsplash
Here in Los Angeles, mountain lions also known as California cougars or pumas can be spotted frequently in urban neighborhoods thanks to the prevalence of surveillance cameras. The estimated cougar population in California is 4000 - 6000 as of 2018. It is just an estimate though as the animals are very elusive and hard to locate and count. Adult males weigh up to 200 pounds and 8 feet long. The females average around 120 pounds. They are usually shy around humans and will avoid you. Attacks on humans are rare. They will eat your dogs or cats without hesitation though. Mountain lions are filmed often in local backyards. More than half of California is considered to be mountain lion territory. Although, they can be found anywhere in California. They are considered an apex predator at the top of the food chain. An adult female will have 1-2 kittens that will stay with her for 1-2 years before breeding again. The mother will teach them all of their survival skills. Fewer than half of all kittens survive to adulthood. Predation and forest fires are major risks to kittens. They generally live anywhere there are deer but they will eat other animals and pets. Deer are also very adaptable and can survive in most parts of California. Many animals scavenge the leftovers of mountain lions. Mountain lions keep the deer population in check. Their biggest threats are car accidents and depredation permits which allow them to be killed if they have killed a pet or livestock by law in California. Trophy hunting is illegal in California. They play an important role in our ecosystem. They are also a sentinel of contamination. Many mountain lions have rodenticide present in their system during autopsies.
A few months ago, I inherited a canary. My neighbor, an avid pet lover, asked me to care for her pet canary often while she was still alive. She had owned many birds during her lifetime and somehow knew that Happy, her canary, and I would be good together. My neighbor and friend, Margaret, had loved animals her whole life. She had horses, dogs, cats, birds, and chickens when she was younger. When I met her, she only had her bird, Happy. I enjoyed visiting with her and hearing her stories about life on the ranch with her horses and other pets when she was younger. When she became ill, she often asked me to help take care of Happy. He was the one thing that she would worry about when she would be admitted to the hospital. Since I lived next door, I would volunteer to check on him so she could relax. I didn’t know anything about birds. Margaret would tell me to feed him a teaspoon of birdseed and to make sure he had water. She would remind me to cover him up at night and to uncover his cage in the morning. I had never had a bird. I was more of a dog and cat type of person. Happy scared me a little. He was so small and fragile looking. I didn’t want to hurt him. After Margaret passed away, her brother and sister didn’t want the responsibility of her bird Happy. Instead, they were going to find him a good home. But they didn’t know where to find it. I started having dreams about Margaret’s reaction to Happy going to a strange home. In the dreams, she would come to me with Happy and frantically beg me to take him. In the dreams, she was adamant. She was worried that he would end up being neglected or mistreated. I would tell her that I didn’t know anything about birds and was afraid of not being able to take care of him properly. In the dream, she would tell me that I would be fine. Then she would disappear and Happy would remain and he would start singing. I had a couple nights of these dreams before I told her brother that I would take Happy. He said, “great! You want him right now?” The dreams stopped after Happy moved in to our home in August 2019. Betty the Border Collie was fascinated by him.
Dogs can get diabetes just like humans do. Here I will go over what diabetes is, what causes it, the symptoms, diagnosis and care of a dog with diabetes.
First, what is diabetes and how does it affects dogs? Diabetes in dogs is a common condition that affects the amount of glucose, (sugar,) in your dog's blood. Diabetes occurs when your dog's body doesn’t make enough insulin, stops making it entirely, or has an abnormal reaction to insulin. Insulin affects how your dog's body uses food
When your dog eats, carbohydrates are converted into several types of simple sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, where it travels to cells throughout the body. Insulin is required for the transfer of glucose from the blood into the cells so it can be used for energy. If there's too little insulin available, glucose can't enter cells, and instead builds up to a high concentration in the bloodstream. This is known as hyperglycemia. As a result, there is not enough energy for the cells to work normally and they are "starved." Over time, weight loss happens despite an increased appetite. The build-up of glucose in the blood spills over into the urine and utilizes large amounts of water, resulting in increased thirst and more frequent urination. A common side effect of diabetes in dogs is cataracts and can lead to blindness if left untreated. I am not a veterinarian. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, please take your dog to your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, diabetes can cause blindness, and death.
Most dogs are diagnosed with diabetes between the ages of 4 and 14 years of age. Younger dogs can get diabetes though. This is just the average age of diagnosis.
How Common is Pet Diabetes? Canine diabetes is more common in middle-age and older dogs, but it is also seen in young dogs. While believed to be under-diagnosed, diabetes affects approximately one in 1 in 300 dogs. Unspayed female dogs are twice as likely to get diabetes. The primary cause of canine diabetes is unknown, but many suggest that genetics may play a role. This is why some breeds are more prone to diabetes because of genetics. Female dogs are also more prone to diabetes than male dogs.
Many people wonder why dogs eat grass and, more importantly, if it is safe to allow them to eat grass. The short answer regarding the why could be a variety of reasons that are covered below. It is usually safe as long as the grass is untreated and clean.
If you have a dog that behaves differently than usual, always check to make sure the dog is not sick. If eating grass is unusual for your dog and they start eating and vomiting, it is always wise to rule out any underlying health issues. Do they have a bloated stomach? This can be worms. This can be life threatening to older dogs and puppies. A bloated hard stomach that seems to happen suddenly can also be a twisted stomach also known as bloat. It can kill a dog in a short amount of time. It is a medical emergency that needs to be handled by a veterinarian immediately. I had a dog several years ago that had this happen and I talk about it more here. Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. If your dogs seems sick, always check with your veterinarian.
Healthy dogs eat grass for several reasons.