Aware in August
Things to know that will help you and your animal friends this month. I never have to look at a calendar to know that August 1 has come around again. Why? Because the media invariably blows up with BACK TO SCHOOL SALES madness…So much so, that it’s almost a National Holiday. (In fact, I’ll just declare that it is.) But August is far more than just a glum reminder for our kids that the clock is counting down their summer break. There are a number of things to be aware of in August…Things that can benefit you and the animal friends in your life. To begin with, August is Clear the Shelters Month, “a nationwide pet adoption and donation campaign that helps find loving homes for animals in need” that was started by NBCUniversal Local in 2015 (www.cleartheshelters.com). NBCUniversal Local—“the only TV station group serving local audiences in English and Spanish in more than 31 markets, coast to coast”—has worked with hundreds of shelters all across the nation, and successfully, too. Nearly 900 thousand animal friends in need have been placed in good homes since 2015. Clear The Shelters in August 2023 promises to be no different. What will help is the fact that an app—the WeRescue app—has been developed to help users find their dream animal companion. WeRescue has a dedicated tab for nearby participating rescue organizations by zip code. “That way,” the Clear the Shelters site notes, “you can see listings for all of the animals available for adoption.” And as the old commercials used to say: But wait! There’s more! “There’s also a news feed feature in the app which now gives users the ability to upload pictures of their pets to share with the entire WeRescue community,” the website explains. But that’s not all… A WeRescue website will be up-and-running by August 1 this year. “You can search the WeRescue website for adoptable pets near your location—and the site will be accessible to iOS and Android users alike,” Clear the Shelters says. Check out the website https://WeRescue.pet to search the web for new animal companions and to download the WeRescue app. So, okay…Let’s say you find the perfect animal companion to live with you during Clear the Shelters Month. But let’s say your new friend suffers from itchy skin. Well, you’re in luck…because August is also Itchy Pet Awareness Month! No, I’m not kidding (but thanks for asking). How might you know if your animal friend has itchy skin? Well, here are a few tell-tale signs: Your pet frequently licks, chews, scratches, or bites his/herself Your animal friend is losing hair Your companion excessively rolls, rubs, or scoots Your pet suffers ear problems…a lot You notice that your animal friend isn’t smelling too good You see rashes, redness, or scabs Your pet has greasy skin If any if these symptoms are severe, of course, it’s best to get your pet in to see your Vet. Itchy skin can be a sign of internal issues. It could be a parasite. It could also be an allergy. Or you may be dealing with an infection—bacterial or fungal. None of these are things you want to treat on your own. In many cases, the underlying cause of your pet’s itchiness can be treated effectively with anti-itch meds, medicated shampoos, topical ointments, or antihistamines. Your Vet will help guide you in the right direction. Once your friend is stable, you can take a few preventative measures to keep her…well, comfortable in her own skin. Flea prevention is a big one. Those pesky little insects can really get under your pet’s skin…so regularly preventing the invading fleas from landing at all is a great thing to do. And so is regular grooming. A lot of potentially annoying foreign substances can be combed out before your friend starts scratching. Other home remedies include CBD for dogs and oatmeal baths. Also, check for mold in your home and keep outdoor play areas clean. A little prevention goes a long way. And speaking of prevention… August is also National Immunization Awareness Month! If you’ve ever been on a plane, you’ve heard the drill about oxygen masks: “In case of emergency, put your oxygen on before you attempt to help others.” And you know why. You can’t help anybody if you pass out. The same holds for helping our animal friends. Most if us never forget to get our pets the shots they need to stay healthy, and that’s admirable. But do we do the same for ourselves? National Immunization Awareness Month was established by the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) to remind us if just that: “This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life” (www.aai.org). Let’s face it…Most of these last three years, the focus has been on COVID-19 shots. And it was often very difficult to get routine medical care during the pandemic thanks to COVID protocols. But those protocols have been mostly rescinded by now, and the focus this year for the AAI is to encourage everyone to check with your doctor and get “caught up on routine vaccination” (www.aai.org). And since I’ve decreed that August 1 marks the beginning of National Back to School Sales Month, you might want to check up on your children’s shots before they head back to school as well. Make it a priority to get them in for a visit with their primary care provider as soon as you can. Oh, and don’t forget to thank your favorite retailers for participating in National Back to School Sales Month. The confused looks on their faces should be priceless!