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October Awareness

October Awareness: Menopause & Animal Safety and Prevention

I’m not sure if anyone has tackled the topics of menopause and animal safety and protection in the same blog, but they do have something in common. October is both World Menopause Month and National Animal Safety and Protection Month.

Okay, there are lots of other things to write about that occur in October — like Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month, National Stamp Collecting Month, National Pretzel Month, and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month — all topics important to us, but we chose these two.

All About Menopause

Those of you of a certain age may remember an episode of the beloved TV show, “All in the Family,” where Archie was told Edith was irritable because she was going through “the change of life.” He became frustrated when he found out she couldn’t complete it in 30 seconds. In the same episode, Edith has this great line: "When I was a young girl I didn't know what every young girl should know, now I'm gonna be an old lady and I don't know what every old lady should know!"

This 1972 comedy illustrated how little both sexes knew about menopause back then, but I’m not sure we’ve come too far in all the years since. Although the subject is a bit more mainstream, perhaps, it’s still somewhat shrouded in secrecy and a good many old wives’ tales.

You’d think that as a 60-year-old woman, I’d have some personal experience with menopause — but I don’t think I do. The reason I’m not sure is because no one ever told me what to expect, maybe because it’s different for everyone. Not to get too personal — but we are talking about menopause — it’s been a long time since I needed to purchase tampons, but I haven’t experience any of menopause’s dreaded symptoms.

I recall having a few nights where I was abnormally sweaty, but that was about it. I did wonder when talking to a slightly older friend if feeling a little warm was a hot flash; she laughed and said, “honey, you’d know if you were having a hot flash.” A few other friends have seconded that thought.

So, I guess I was among the lucky women who have no menopause horror stories to tell. Other than those few night flashes, I “missed out” on anxiety, insomnia, headaches, moodiness, weight gain, joint pain, low sex drive, increased cardiovascular risk and hot flashes. I am aware, however, that in the decade past menopause — which is defined as a full year without having a period — I’m more vulnerable to chronic diseases like osteoporosis, cognitive decline and cancer.

Raising Awareness

To spotlight women’s midlife health, the World Menopause Society and the World Health Organization have designated October as World Menopause Awareness Month. If the idea of a whole month is overwhelming, consider World Menopause Day, which is October 18; its theme this year is Testosterone for Women at Midlife. Probably won’t be any parades.

In the spirit of raising awareness, here are some things you may know — or not know — about menopause:

  • The average age for onset of menopause is 51, with the majority of women ceasing to menstruate between 45 and 55.

  • The most common symptom of menopause — experienced by about 75 percent of women — are hot flashes.

  • Avoiding triggers like consuming alcohol or caffeine, eating spicy food, feeling stressed and being somewhere hot may reduce the number of hot flashes experienced.

  • The symptoms of menopause vary from one woman to another, even in the same families, so it must be managed on an individual basis.

  • The benefits and risks of hormone replacement will also vary, so a doctor should be consulted before embarking on any such treatment regime.

The bottom line is this: Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle — when estrogen and progesterone levels decrease. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise to avoid unnecessary weight gain are two things that can be done to manage its symptoms.

Now let’s move onto something completely different — and close to my heart.

Keeping Pets Safe/Protecting Them

Many pet parents — including me — consider their four-legged friends to be their children. While I often joke with parents of human children that I’m spared from having to save for my doggie’s college, that doesn’t mean I can dodge financial responsibility for other aspects of his life, like his health.

Every month, I take Cubbie to our local Petsmart for a bath and to get his nails trimmed/grinded. I decided early on I didn’t want to be the “bad guy” for those tasks. While he’s there, they also check his ears, mouth, and anal glands — now there’s a job for sure I don’t want — and report any anomalies. Last week, the gal who did those checks said Cubbie probably needed his teeth cleaned.

Although I’m frantic when he goes under anesthesia, I know a dog’s dental health, like a human’s, can affect their overall health. Not wasting any time, I made an appointment with our vet for two days later, when she confirmed it was time for a deep cleaning. I knew this would cost me dearly — even though I have pet insurance, but that’s a whole other story — but I want Cubbie to live to be a healthy old dog, so I made arrangements to come back the following day.

It turned out Cubbie needed to get three teeth pulled. Thankfully, they weren’t infected, but without treatment we would have been in much direr straights. He came through the experience like a champ, and I forked over more than $600 to my vet.

National Animal Safety and Protection Month is a reminder of the responsibility that comes with domesticated animals and pets. Here are steps animal parents can take to be prepared and aware:

  • Be proactive. Keep all animals up-to-date on immunizations. Always follow the vaccination schedule set forth by your veterinarian.

  • Pet-proof your home and property. Remove or secure choking hazards and toxic chemicals. Make your home pet-friendly and safe.

  • Identify your animals. Place tags securely on collars and label them with your contact information. If you have more uncommon pets, take pictures in the event they get loose.

  • In a disaster, have a plan. Who will be responsible for locating each animal in the house? How will you transport them? If it’s a fire, human life takes priority. However, place decals on windows and doors with the number of humans and each kind and number of pets residing in the home.

  • Learn basic first aid. Caring for your animal at home will prevent a minor injury from becoming severe. Always call your veterinarian if you’re unsure.

  • Know your animal. If your animal’s behavior changes, watch for signs of illness. Is he injured or did he spend too much time in the heat? Contact your veterinarian before giving human over-the-counter medications.

  • In addition to making sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your pet(s) safe, the suggested way to observe National Animal Safety and Protection Month is to use #NationalAnimalSafety&ProtectionMonth when you post on social media. Again, no parades.

There — I’ve done it. Figured out a way to include menopause and animal safety and protection in the same blog. Do you have anything to say on either topic? We’d love to hear it.

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