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Ensure Your Pets Are Cared For

Steps to Ensure that Your Pets are Well Taken Care of When You Can No Longer Provide Care

By guest blogger Jessica Brody

The average life expectancy of a Labrador Retriever is 12 years. Overall, pets have a shorter life span when compared to that of humans. Even though you know this fact, it is still difficult to cope with their death. Have you ever wondered how your pets would feel when you are no longer here? What will happen to them in case they outlive you?

Senior pet owners consider pets a part of their family. Which is why it becomes your responsibility to make plans to secure the future of your pets. Some of the steps that you should take to ensure that your pets are well taken care:

Choose caregivers from among your friends and family

Have a talk with your friends and family, and choose at least two caregivers (people who are willing
to take on the responsibility). In case something happens to you or there is an emergency, these people will act as emergency caregivers. Ensure that you give them all the details such your veterinarian’s name and any special instructions about feeding and caring for the pet. Remember to give them spare keys to your home, and let them know about whatever permanent provisions you have made.

  • Keep your neighbors informed

You may be close to your family and friends. However, if you live alone, they are not the ones that are always around you. Your neighbors can be a great help in situations where you are incapacitated. Therefore, see to it that your neighbors are well informed about your pets. Tell them how many pets you have and what their names are. Provide them with contact numbers of your temporary caregivers as well as your emergency contact details.

  • Find out more about organizations that take care of pets

Most of the organizations cannot take care of your pets after you are unable to because they severely lack funds. They may be able to look after them for a while, until they are handed over to your permanent caregiver. However, there are some sanctuaries and pet retirement homes that dedicate themselves to take care of pets whose owners are no longer around. All you need to do is pay them a small donation, and they will take care of your pets. However, this must be used as a last resort as pets may very well be distressed because of the confinement.

  • Include pets in your will

Your lawyer can help you draw the kind of documents needed to include pets in your will. While this will ensure you have taken care of all the legal details related to your pets, you should be aware of its downsides. For one, your will may come under dispute, and it may take weeks or even months to resolve it. For another, it may actually take some time for your pet care instructions to be carried out.

  • Set up a pet trust

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 47 percent of pet owners are willing to spend any amount of money to save their pets. So a trust fund doesn’t seem that far-fetched, does it? A pet trust is a legal document that can provide for your pets when you become ill or incapacitated. In fact, you can choose when the trust should come into effect. The best thing about these trusts is that during the probate process, certain assets can be excluded.

It is always good to be prepared for worst case scenarios. Making future plans for your pets makes certain that they don’t suffer much after you can no longer take care of them.

We have created a short booklet that walks you through setting up a plan for your pets should you become unexpectedly ill and can't get to them. We'll send one to the first 50 people who email haley@bogobowl.com. 

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Help your dog with its cough using natural remedies

 

By Marilyn Miller

Dog with a bag of cold water on his head

Your best friend went to the bark park or doggie daycare and now he has a little cough. Of course, the first thing you’re going to do is call your vet and see if the dog needs to be seen or requires professional treatment.

But what happens when it’s a simple cough that will go away in its own good time? What if your dog’s coughing is keeping not only him awake, but you, and oh by the way, you have to go to work in the morning.

Here are some natural remedies you can try. Again, clear these with your vet before you try them.

A spoon of (preferably locally-sourced, raw, dark) honey can give both of you several hours of blessed relief. We know in humans honey not only calms a cough but gives some pain relief from the sore throat caused by coughing. Not too much, now. Too much will give your dog loose stool and nobody wants that. Try a teaspoon for a 40-pound dog, see how it goes.

Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that reduces inflammation and swelling. Some dogs like to chew on the core of a pineapple, and some stores selling fresh cut pineapple will sell you the cores for pennies. The core is fibrous and will keep them occupied for a few minutes. Otherwise, a bite or two of fresh pineapple as a treat or with food. It has to be fresh pineapple, not frozen or canned, because processing destroys the enzyme. Again, too much will give the dog some loose stool, so start slowly.

What do you eat when you have a cough or cold? Chicken soup, of course. Put some chicken broth in your dog’s wet food, or even serve it in a bowl as a first course or snack. It’s soothing to the throat.

Keep the air in the house from being too dry. Especially in winter, the humidity level in our homes can seem lower than that of the Gobi Desert. This dryness will cause your dog’s (and your) mucus membranes to crack, causing discomfort and more coughing and possibly leading to more infection. If you don’t have a humidifier, try skipping the clothes dryer and hang your damp clothes up to dry, or put a tea kettle on the stove to barely simmer (watch the water level, don’t want a fire). Even setting cups or glasses of water around will help a little bit.

Similarly, steam may give your dog a lot of comfort. Run the shower with the bathroom door closed, and then let your dog sit in there for ten minutes or so.

If you smoke, please don’t smoke around your dog when it’s coughing. It’s an irritant.

Ask your vet if there is an over-the-counter cough syrup you can give the dog. Opinions on this seem to vary among vets and it’s not suitable for all dogs. Do not give a cough suppressant without your vet’s okay.

Coconut oil may have some anti-viral properties and is soothing. Most dogs will lick it right out of the spoon. Try a tablespoon for a 40-pound dog and see how it goes.

Take the collar off and replace it with a harness. You don’t want pressure on the throat.

An internet search will show there are a number of herbs that may be useful, but please talk to your vet before trying them. Some of them can make underlying heart, kidney, or liver disease much worse. Please don’t experiment.

Of course, if the dog doesn’t want to eat or drink or seems listless or worse yet, weak, get him to the vet pronto. Kennel cough can turn into pneumonia, and some types of cough aren’t viral at all, but are symptoms of other health problems. But in the normal course of things, this cough will pass and your dog will be back to his usual happy self.

What have you used to relieve a simple cough in your dog? Let us know in the comments section. Thank you!

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Service dogs for children and adults with autism

By Marilyn Miller

Kai's mom watches as her autistic son leans against his new service dog, Tornado. (http://4pawsforability.org/kai-and-tornado/)

Kai's mom watches as her autistic son leans against his new service dog, Tornado. (http://4pawsforability.org/kai-and-tornado/)

Autism is a disorder — actually a large spectrum of slightly different disorders — for which there is no diagnostic test, no known cause, and no treatment or cure. People on the spectrum generally have difficulty in communication and social interactions, exhibit repetitive behaviors and obsessions, and are easily overwhelmed and even pained by the ordinary stimuli of daily life. They have difficulty interpreting other people’s tone of voice, body language, or facial expressions. Even small changes in daily routine, for example, a favorite shirt being unavailable for the time it takes to wash and dry it, can cause tremendous emotional reactions.

Caring for a child or adult who falls somewhere on the autism spectrum is a moment to moment challenge. Every person is different and there are so few givens. You love them to infinity and more, but the exhaustion and frustration are real. Fortunately, they are now training service dogs to help people living with autism.

To begin with, the dog adds structure to the day. It must be fed, watered, brushed, taken out to potty, and exercised at regular, dependable times every day, even on the inevitable more difficult days. This kind of structure is essential to the person, helping them feeling safe and centered. Moreover, the dog is a friend who never fails. It demands nothing. It gives everything. The dog is a good social icebreaker and also a reliable social protector.

Jonny and his girl Xena

Jonny and his girl Xena

Here are just some of the benefits that have been identified by research. People with autism benefit from having a service dog in the following ways and more:

  • The dog has an overall calming effect. The value of this cannot be over-emphasized. Being able to stay calm and centered can make the difference between having a decent day and having a string of exceptionally difficult days or even weeks until calm is found again.
  • The dog can be trained to find a person who is lost. (People with autism tend not to identify potentially dangerous situations correctly, and wander off readily.)
  • The dog can be trained to stay in one spot to prevent the person from wandering off.
  • If the person’s repetitive behavior can lead to self-harm, such as repeatedly striking him/herself in the head, the dog can be taught to interrupt these behaviors so that the person focuses on petting or otherwise interacting with the dog.
  • People with autism sleep longer and more soundly when they have a dog.
  • Because the dog needs verbal direction, the person’s speech and use of complete sentences improves.

People on the spectrum often have excellent memories and often are skilled in music, the arts, and math. They often have wizard computer skills from toddler age. They have much to contribute. And has they have for thousands of years, dogs are helping humans, asking no more in return than a place in the den and a friendly pat.

Here are some links to videos or Facebook pages so you can see the daily small miracles these dogs are performing.

Sources:

  • Journal of Pediatric Nursing. 2014 Mar-Apr;29(2):114-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Oct 16.
  • Grandgeorge M, et al. (2012) Does Pet Arrival Trigger Prosocial Behaviors in Individuals with autism? PLoS ONE 7(8): e41739. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041739
  • O’Haire, M. E., et al. (2013). Social Behaviors Increase in Children with Autism in the Presence of Animals Compared to Toys. PLoS ONE, 8(2), e57010.
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