Changing your flooring? Paws to consider

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Image by Fran__ from Pixabay

Once the noise is over, animals generally adapt to home improvements. If their humans are happy with the change, so much the better.

Unless you’ve changed the floors. Then, as Ricky Ricardo would say, you’ve got some splainin’ to do.

Here’s an example: A friend’s cat developed raw bald spots from over-grooming and retreated to a back bedroom instead of snuggling or playing the way she usually did. As it turned out, my friend and her husband had just replaced most of their flooring.

Flooring changes can be traumatic because cats and dogs navigate the world through their feet in a way we do not. Your cat or dog knows your carpet, tile, or hardwood intimately — its contours, textures, smells, and squeaks — and has left his scent with his paws. He knows how to walk on it so his feet don’t skid.

So when you rip out that carpet with years’ worth of daily debris, you’re removing part of what he knows as home. Whatever you replace it with might look and feel tons better to you, but to him it’s strange, smelly, maybe even hazardous.

Some distant Reiki, reassurance, and one-on-one time soon had my friend’s feline purring and playing again, and her fur growing back. But what if we could make these projects easier on our pets from the start?

This was on my mind last winter when my spouse and I swapped out carpet and linoleum for vinyl planking on most of the main floor. The planks were delivered ahead of time, so our dog and two cats had a chance to check the new stuff out. A day or two before the install, I told them the carpet and linoleum would be going away and the planks would go down in their place. As I spoke, I pictured the new look and texture, and how much happier the overall feel of the house would be. (A happier atmosphere, with happier humans, is a strong selling point.)

Our animals know and love Sam, the remodeler we work with, as well as his crew. So I pictured them when I told the animals who would be coming in to do the work. During this time, the cats would be kept in an upstairs room with water, litter box, and a view of the front of the house so they could monitor all comings and goings. I let the dog know she’d be allowed to say hello to the guys, and then she and I would keep out of the way in my home office behind a baby gate. I told all three there would be some noise and strange smells, but they would be safe.

During the two-and-a-half-day install, there were a few meows of protest from behind the closed door. The dog got tired of the confinement but refrained (mostly) from barking. As soon as the crew left for the day, I let everyone out to inspect what had been done so far. While they did so, I pictured all the furniture back where it was on the new floor, and them getting used to the new surface under their paws. Even when fully informed, animals are skeptical about change — but they went with it.

Once the work was done and everything back in place, they walked gingerly, especially in the rooms that previously had carpet and therefore better traction. Within a day or two, our older cat acted as if nothing had changed, and what were the other two edgy about? The younger cat soon discovered that skidding around corners just added to the fun of thundering through the house. For about a week, the dog stayed on area rugs as much as possible to avoid the new surface. Gradually, she figured out how to sit, lie down, and stand up on it without her feet skidding out from under her.

Still: no loss of hair, no behavior changes, and no pee-mail. The new floor did in fact improve the energy of the house. I call that a win.

If you plan on making changes to your flooring or floor covering, here are a few quick tips to help all family members keep their feet on the ground:

1. Buy the good stuff

It’s worth doing this right. Invest in eco-friendly, pet-friendly materials that wear well and clean up easily. Get information from unbiased sources (Consumer Reports is a time-tested one) and work with a contractor you trust.

2. Brief the troops

Using words and mental pictures, tell the animals what will change in which area(s) of the house, where they will be while the work is being done, about how long it will take, and that there may be some noise and new smells. If you have the new material or even a sample, let them sniff it. Hold a positive picture in mind of how much nicer the house will feel once it’s done, and assure them you will keep them safe. You may still face some resistance just on principle, but keeping them informed eases the overall process.

3. Create a safe space

Animals should be kept where they will not be in the way, get hurt, or get outside, and they should have access to water, a litter box, and maybe a blanket or favorite toy. I try to sequester the cats before the crew arrives and resist the temptation to open the door even a sliver to check on them. Paws can get injured in doors, and entire kitty bodies can slither through and be someplace they shouldn’t in the blink of a well-intentioned eye. For dogs, baby gates generally work better, as they don’t feel as shut off. Offer reassurance along the way.

Animals absorb and understand far more than we think, so it’s important to keep your own energy calm and positive — even as you’re corralling them for the day’s work. Progress of any sort can be messy, but you and your animal friends can help one another through it.

Four things to know before hiring an animal communicator

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A mischievous kitten might have some valuable insights for you. (Photo by Nancy Crowe)

Most people who contact me for an animal communication session are trying to solve a problem — a seemingly intractable behavior issue, adjustment to change, or painful end-of-life concerns. I’m sure many of them never thought they’d consult an animal communicator — what is animal communication, anyway? — but here we are.

It’s hard to make decisions when you’re upset, dealing with a million other things, or both … so here are a few points to consider.

1. You’re already on the right track.

Considering a discipline based on listening to the animal and his or her needs means you are willing to listen and learn. Maybe animal communication is a new concept, but you love your animal. You’re willing to at least think “outside the box” in order to help.

Even if you decide working with an animal communicator is not the right move at this time, you’ll be closer to finding what will help. So stop, take a breath, and give yourself credit for this alone. 

2. Do your homework AND trust your gut.

Referrals from people and businesses you trust are time-honored for a reason. You can also contact local metaphysical shops. Some, like Catalpa Tree Shops in northeast Indiana, maintain directories of healing arts practitioners. A worldwide directory of animal communicators, with paid listings and ads, is on Penelope Smith’s Animal Talk website.  (I am not currently listed here, as I did not find it especially helpful before, but you never know.)

Whether you get an animal communicator’s name from a friend, directory, or random Google search, spend some time on his or her website and/or social media pages. Pay attention to how you feel as you read. Are you calmer, or more anxious? Clearer or more confused? Does the person follow the Code of Ethics for Interspecies Telepathic Communicators, or any other code of ethics or guiding principles?

3. No one is 100 percent accurate.

I am human and can’t do everything perfectly. With God’s guidance and my own self-care, I can be present, clear, and helpful to the animal and his or her family. Any animal communicator claiming 100 percent accuracy is probably best avoided.

4. What you can learn will almost certainly be worth the investment.

There are no guarantees in this line of work. However, if you’ve chosen a communicator with whom you feel comfortable, chances are very good that you’ll find a valuable takeaway. It could be information you can act on immediately, such as moving the litter box to a quieter place or telling your horse where you’re going as you’re loading. It could be insight into how your animal views her place in your household, or his feelings and needs as his life on earth is drawing to a close.

Animals see our gifts and struggles in a way that even the humans closest to us cannot, so you may even learn something about yourself. Nothing is ever lost by listening.

 

 

 

 

CBD for pets? Five things to consider

A number of pet owners tout the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) oil for joint pain, anxiety, and even epilepsy. Some say it’s the only thing that helped after other treatments failed. 

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While there is little data to support the use of CBD for humans, and even less for animals, you can find it everywhere from gas stations and boutiques to specialty CBD stores, online retailers, and individual sales representatives. Some formulations are made specifically for animals.

As an animal Reiki practitioner and animal communicator, I often work with people who are trying to figure out how to help their sick, hurting, or inconsolably anxious animal companions. I’ve been there myself. As a journalist, finding accurate and unbiased information is also important. So if you’re thinking about trying CBD for your pet, I want to point you in a direction that will help you make an informed decision.

After doing my own research, asking around, paying attention to conversations on the topic, and talking with a trusted veterinarian, I suggest considering the following:

1. It’s legal, but veterinarians face restrictions.

As of March 2018, the cannabis-derived product is legal here in Indiana as long as it meets certain labeling requirements and contains less than 0.3 percent delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. (That’s the substance that produces the “high”). Cannabis laws vary by state.

On the federal level, the Drug Enforcement Administration still categorizes CBD as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe or recommend CBD. They can’t even discuss it unless the client brings it up. Check out this article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

2. Quality may vary, and interactions are unknown.

Do you know, or does the seller or manufacturer know, what’s really in your CBD oil? Is it less than 0.3 percent (the legal limit) THC? Where and how were the ingredients sourced?

There may well be some excellent animal CBD products out there with organic or responsibly sourced ingredients and airtight supply chains. Business owners and pet parents I deeply respect may be selling and using these products with due diligence and success.

With CBD relatively recently legalized and so many products hitting the market, there are probably a number of inferior, fake, or even toxic ones out there as well. The popularity and marketing of CBD products are outpacing research and regulation, Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club, told NBC News.

This brings up another unknown, and a question your vet cannot legally answer: How will even the purest CBD product interact with the medications or supplements your animal is already taking?

3. There may be better, safer alternatives.

CBD isn’t the only oil out there. Essential oils for animals are not without controversy, but you can at least discuss, say, peppermint oil with your veterinarian without legal restriction. The same goes for other supplements with more research behind their ingredients.

If you’re worried about the effects of traditional medications for pain or anxiety, talk to your vet about trying a lower dose, at least to start. With my own animal companions, I’ve found less can be more.

Reiki, a stress-relief modality which is part of my practice, can also help with issues such as pain and anxiety. I admit the research supporting this is not extensive, either. However, a 2017 Australian study, which looked at previous (human) clinical studies on whether Reiki provided more than a placebo effect, is encouraging. Reiki is non-invasive and substance-free, so even if you don’t see how it could possibly help, it will do no harm.

4. Trust is key.

Whether you’re giving your pet a prescribed antibiotic or considering a supplement such as CBD, you have to be able to trust 1) the person prescribing or selling it and 2) the maker of the product (whom the prescriber or seller presumably trusts).

Most important: Our trust in these folks needs to be worthy of our animal friends’ trust in us.

5. The research is ongoing.

Research on CBD for animals is in progress, so more conclusive information is likely to emerge. As it does, pay attention to what each study concludes (or doesn’t), who conducted it, who funded it, and whether any conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Also, see this story from Consumer Reports, which I consider a good source for unbiased consumer information, on the question of using CBD for animals. It includes guidance on what to look for should you decide to explore further.

What we know is expanding. In the meantime, I think caution is warranted.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay