Hygiene after the SHTF

I’ve seen hundreds of articles about how to survive the apocalypse by using specialized skills, and/or living off a hoard of food. However, one of the most important skills most people learn during childhood doesn’t get the attention it deserves… Hygiene!

How will you stay healthy to use those skills and enjoy all that preserved food if you can’t practice basic hygiene? Keep in mind that going to the grocery store for more soap and toothpaste probably won’t be possible. That means you’ll need to be creative when it comes to your hygiene needs[1].

You’ll find alternative methods for maintaining good hygiene after the SHTF in this article. If these methods don’t appeal to your tastes, do some research and find what works best for you. However, I think the substitutions and methods listed in this article are more practical in a survival situation.

Dental

There are many things you can do to maintain good oral health. You can conserve the supply of toothpaste or replace it entirely.

If you absolutely must have toothpaste and need to make it last as long as possible, you’ve got to stop using so much toothpaste. According to most dental experts and manufacturers, adults only need a pea-sized “dollop” of toothpaste[2],[3].

That’s a blob of about half a centimeter or a quarter of an inch!

If you have a healthy mouth, it may be a good idea to further stretch your supply of dental products by alternating your brushing and “washing”. You can double the life of your toothpaste and mouthwash if you don’t use both products every time you clean your teeth. Some dentists claim that rinsing the mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing, wastes the benefits of fluoride in toothpaste.

To do this, brush your teeth at night and spit out the foam. Allow the teeth to absorb the leftover fluoride as you sleep. And then rinse your mouth out with mouthwash in the morning, after breakfast.

But what if you run out of toothpaste?

Humans have been cleaning their teeth long before modern toothpaste was invented. Most ancient cultures used devices or solutions to get food particles out of their teeth, but I must warn you that none are going to be as minty-fresh as the manufactured paste most of us are addicted to. Be aware that some of these alternatives may cause irritation, and it may be necessary to temporarily switch substitutions.

Below are 3 lists of oral-care substitutions which may help ensure your teeth stay healthy[4],[5].

Teeth Scrapers

  1. Toothbrush (by itself, or with “paste”)
  2. Floss
  3. Toothpicks
  4. Spun Thread or “Sewing String” (substitute for both floss and toothbrush)
  5. Frayed Twig as a substitute toothbrush

Toothpaste

It’s easy to make a basic toothpaste by combining: 2/3 cup of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and enough water to turn it into a paste. You can add peppermint essential oil to freshen your breath as well. Making and storing toothpaste may not be possible for some people. The following can be used individually:

  1. Baking Soda
  2. Chewing Sesame or Flax Seeds (then brush)
  3. Charcoal[6],[7]

Survival Mouthwashes

There are a few mouthwashes you can use as well. The theory behind these mouthwashes is to pull food particles out of your teeth and/or make bacteria residing in your mouth inert.

  1. Coconut Oil
  2. Salt & Water
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide (diluted in water)
  4. Essential Oil & Water (mix in salt for extra abrasiveness)

It’s probably a good idea to switch over to alternate dental hygiene methods when you realize civilization has collapsed, long before supply forces you to make the switch. Doing so gives you an opportunity to experiment with new methods, and it maintains that supply so you can switch back to a tried-and-true product if you suffer any side effects. If you don’t notice any side effects, you can save the minty toothpaste for when you’re going to be intimate. Or, if the new hygiene practices are working, and dates aren’t a possibility, you can trade that leftover toothpaste with someone desperate.

Soap

I wanted to be a nurse in my early 20s, before deciding it wasn’t the best profession for me. The most memorable lesson I have from nursing school was watching classmate after classmate fail the sanitary exam regarding soap and water. According to medical standards of the early 2000s, soap isn’t technically needed to make your hands sanitary between patients. Friction is what kills germs and bacteria, and you only need to rub your hands under running water. Washing with soap creates suds which generate more friction and trap the dead microbes, making it easier to rinse them off.

I did what I had to and pass the exam, but never trusted friction ALONE to maintain cleanliness.

After the SHTF, washing with soap and water will be even more important than it is today because it’s a valuable tool to ward off infectious illnesses. It may be an essential item to stock, but storage space isn’t infinite and you’ll eventually need to make your own.

There’s only one way to make soap and that’s by using lye[8], oil, and water. Making soap requires a lot of time and can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle lye. You’ll also need some practice to perfect your recipe.

Below is a basic description on how to make soap in a survival situation, without refined materials.

  1. Make lye by collecting white, powdery wood ash in a bucket or container with holes on the bottom. Make certain there’s a water-tight container beneath the ash bucket.
  2. Leach lye out by pouring water over the ashes and allow the mixture to drain into a container below. Leaching may take an entire day, but doesn’t require much attention. The captured lye-water should be light brown.
  3. Boil the lye-water down for several hours until it’s incredibly thick. If you have 1 gallon of lye-water, the refined lye will be about 1 cup.
  4. In a separate pot, melt or warm about 1 cup of leftover meat fat or cooking oil (or both).
  5. Add the warm lye into the oil/fat and mix while boiling for about 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat and stir for a full minute, every 10-15 minutes. Do this repeatedly until the soap is golden-brown and has a thick consistency (this can take hours).
  7. Optional: Now’s the time to add any extra ingredients, such as: herbs, essential oils, coffee grains, or salt.
  8. Pour mixture into a mold and cover with a towel.
  9. Allow to cure for at least 1 week.
  10. Remove from mold and cut soap into bars. Consider using cupcake molds or something similar to eliminate this last step.

That’s the basic soapmaking process. I loathe providing specific recipes because there’s no telling what materials you’ll have after the SHTF. Search the web if you need detailed or specific recipes.

I’d like to mention a couple alternatives to soap:

Sand

People in desert cultures have used sand to clean themselves for millennia. Even in modern times, sand baths are common in poverty-stricken desert communities, because water is too precious to waste on bathing. This may sound gross to westerners, but the abrasiveness of sand does work to absorb or scrape off body oils and dead skin.

The primary problem with a sand scrub is it can’t effectively kill and remove microbes. That means your hands may not be sanitary for cooking or first aid. Another problem with sand baths is it takes much longer to cleanse an entire body, than it does with a soapy bath or shower.

Oil

Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians once bathed using oil. They slathered oil onto their bodies and scraped it off to remove dead skin and dirt.

Roman gladiators sold their oil scrapings to fans because it was thought it enhanced sexual vigor in men and was an aphrodisiac to women. Who knows, if you’re young and sexy maybe you can sell such scrapings. If not, then I’d probably reuse the oil as a fire accelerant or an ingredient in… soap.

Soap wins in the end! (Just kidding.)

Feminine

If your family includes females at or around menstruating age, you should be prepared if/when they have a period. Women have been going through menstrual cycles since the dawn of time, so this isn’t a new problem. We’ve coped with periods long before tampons existed and will continue to do so after the SHTF.

Tampon substitutions may include:

  1. Washable cloths, rags, or clean clothes you don’t care if they stain (like socks).
  2. Unused or sterilized sponges.
  3. Toilet paper or paper towels.
  4. Gauze bandages[9].
  5. You can also learn to live with it and use nothing.

Even if your family doesn’t need them, it’s a good idea to stock a couple boxes of tampons to trade with desperate people.

***

I’ll close this article by quoting a phrase my father repeated throughout my childhood: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Good hygiene is immensely important during a survival situation because it helps stave off illness. And, if you’re single, maintaining good hygiene may help attract an intimate survivalist partner.


[1] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor, dentist, or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.

This article is part of a series about survivalism and being prepared for anything, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore established medical practices or avoid potentially expensive treatments. Always survive to use your skills another day by using the medical services currently available.

[2] Harris Dental. (2013, January 28). How Much Toothpaste Should You Be Using? Retrieved from Harris Dental: https://www.harrisdental.com/blog/how-much-toothpaste-should-you-be-using

[3] Arm & Hammer. (n.d.). How Much Toothpaste Should You Use? Retrieved from Arm & Hammer: https://www.armandhammer.com/articles/how-much-toothpaste-to-use

[4] Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care. (n.d.). Find out 6 easy ways to keep your teeth clean in a natural way. Retrieved from Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care: https://gcholisticdentalcare.com.au/top-6-to-naturally-clean-teeth.html

[5] Smilepoint Dental Care. (n.d.). What can I use instead of toothpaste? Retrieved from Smilepoint Dental Care: https://www.smilepointdentalcare.com/what-can-i-use-instead-of-toothpaste/

[6] Charcoal: Extra caution must be used when using this method of oral hygiene. I reluctantly list charcoal as a toothpaste substitute because it requires skill to safely produce. The lye in ash, which may be present in charcoal, can harm your teeth and gums.

[7] CBC Life. (2019, June 19). Surviving in the wild: How to transform campfire charcoal into a teeth-cleaning powder should you need to. Retrieved from CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/life/video/surviving-in-the-wild-how-to-transform-campfire-charcoal-into-a-teeth-cleaning-powder-should-you-need-to-1.5181928

[8] Lying Lye-less Recipes: There are lye-less recipes available online, but they’re lying or misleading you. Most of these recipes call for a “soap base”, which is basically soap that’s been through the dangerous lye reaction. Soap bases may be concentrated allowing for other ingredients (fragrance or dyes) to be added.

[9] Gauze Tampon: I personally don’t like the idea of using a wound-care product you may need later for something that’s not life-threatening.

Bird Flew

We’ve been hearing about how all these chickens are testing positive for bird flew. Chickens don’t typically fly, but they’re fully capable of flying for short distances to find food or reach a perch. 

We don’t normally see these flights because it rarely happens. When such a flight is witnessed, it scares the fuck out of humans! Early intervention is important because if one chicken can learn to fly, even for a short distance, it means others can too.

That knowledge can spread like a virus.

The standing policy for farmers or bird-factories is to report the possibility a chicken may have “flew”. Once the government receives the alert, it triggers a rapid response:

  1. The entire facility is locked down by special forces and the employees are sworn to secrecy.
  2. A team of inspectors is dispatched to do a psychological interview of the witness.
  3. Once it’s verified the worker didn’t hallucinate the incident, all camera footage is examined to verify if the bird or birds did indeed fly.
  4. The birds test positive if flight is verified and the entire stock must be exterminated.
  5. The special forces team is reassigned from containment to extermination and uses flamethrowers to sterilize the facility.
  6. The smell of cooked chicken always draws a crowd, so it’s important to have a cover story. To hide the fact a bird flew, the media is told of a bird flu infection.

Our entire food supply could fly the coop if rapid intervention isn’t taken to eliminate the infection and ensure information of the incident doesn’t make it to the media. If animal rights activists were to learn a bird flew, those hippies will demand better conditions for the chickens.

It won’t stop there. 

If chickens can learn to fly, maybe they can read and write too. Activists will demand the chickens be tested to prove if they are intelligent. As with most controversial studies, there will be mixed results and people may demand a moratorium on chicken consumption. Those social agitators will go even further and push for chickens to have rights and legal representation. Before you know it, Chicken-Scratch will become a grade-school subject!

Chicken-Scratch!

Food prices will spiral out of control while these social reforms are debated. Our civilization will be further polarized between two radical factions. Those who believe chickens are sentient, and those who can’t believe dinner can talk.

We’d end up fighting a neo-civil war on CHICKENS!

If the Independents aren’t forced to pick a side, they’ll watch the war play out in sports bars over a plate of wings. People who probably haven’t touched a gun their entire lives will try to defeat those who own 2 or more. Regardless of who wins the war, the battlefields will be stained a shade of red similar to buffalo sauce.

All because a damn bird flew.

***

Author’s Note: I intentionally inflated the government and social responses to emphasize the fictitious nature of the story. However, bird flu (avian influenza) is a serious disease our nation should take seriously. Humans don’t have much of a natural defense against this zoological version of Influenza, and the majority of human cases are terminal.

Bird flu is usually spread by migrating birds and if it’s here in the United States, it’s probably here to stay. We couldn’t even stop a bunch of rich old birds from carrying Covid-19 from their cruises and vacations from China and East Asia. So, what makes you think we can stop ACTUAL birds from flying into the country. 

Don’t shun food made with chicken just yet, because according to studies, an infected chicken is still safe to eat if cooked thoroughly[1],[2].

Which shouldn’t be a problem because I don’t know anyone who likes a rare chicken.


[1] Eileen Haraminac, W. S. (2022, March 11). Humans cannot get avian influenza from properly cooked poultry and eggs. Retrieved from Michigan State University Extension: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/avian_influenza_poultry_eggs_safe_food

[2] United States Department of Agriculture. (2015). USDA Questions and Answers: Food Safety and Avian Influenza. USDA.

Survival Petcare

The first thing I need to say on this subject is that I’m not a veterinarian[1]. This article isn’t intended to be the animal version of Gray’s Anatomy and won’t discuss every possible ailment to befall pets. The objective is to provide a few examples to serve as reminders that pets can become ill or suffer from infections, and reiterate that it’s your responsibility to treat them as best you can. 

Treating illnesses isn’t going to be easy because our pets can’t speak and tell us what’s making them sick. A dog can’t walk up to you and say my tummy hurts like a child would. The only warning you may have of a stomach problem will be when the dog pukes on the ground. Similarly, animals can’t complain about having chest pains and there won’t be a warning until a heart attack happens.

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to realize early-on that you may lose your furry family member without any notice. Fido could be fine and dandy when you leave the house to forage, only to return to find him on the floor… dead. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but you should be prepared for it nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got the morbid part out of the way, let’s assume there’s nothing terminally wrong with your pet. What happens if he gets sick?

There probably won’t be many veterinarians around after the fall of civilization. If there are, those specialists will likely be repurposed to serve as human doctors and won’t have enough time to help household pets. Depending on the rules of the community, they may be forbidden to “waste” resources on non-essential animals. 

Even after things calm down, I don’t think veterinarians will be able to commit resources to household pets. If vets are allowed to work on animals at all, they may be forced to restrict their services to the maintenance of productive farm animals. 

This ultimately means you will have to treat your pet as best as possible, with what’s available. 

Pet Meds

After a civilization-ending event happens, many veterinarians will close shop and you won’t be able to get specialized pet medicines. So, what do you do if your fur-baby gets sick?

You may be limited to treating the symptoms and hope they naturally recover. Thankfully, a lot of the medicines designed for human consumption can be used on animals without many side effects. It may be a simple matter of changing the dose. 

For example, if a pet is licking one patch of skin, it may indicate an allergic reaction. Most vets advise owners to give Benadryl (or generic equivalent) to treat such allergies. The vet normally advises how much medicine to give, but if the trained professionals don’t exist, it’s your responsibility to estimate the amount all by yourself. 

The directions for drugs are based on human consumption and caution must be used when giving such medicines to an animal. If your pet weighs about the same as your kid, the child dose may be appropriate to use. If smaller than that, you may need to use half the suggested child-dose. 

A few words of caution:

  • If your pet’s the size of a squirrel, maybe you shouldn’t risk an overdose. 
  • Do not use topical creams because it may not be safe for internal consumption, and you almost certainly won’t be able to prevent pets from licking it off. 

Generally, use the common-sense most ordinary people possess.

What about fleas?

How do you treat your dog for fleas? From what I’ve read, the best method is prevention, prevention, prevention. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Bathe your pet regularly (not a viable option for cats).
  • Plant flea-repelling plants like rosemary and mint.
  • Make an herbal flea collar.
  • Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into your pet’s drinking water (test to ensure the pet doesn’t shun the water).
  • Don’t let your pet outside.

After a Flea Infestation

If you have a furry pet, a flea infestation may be inevitable and it’ll seem like you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts when it happens. Not only do you have to eliminate the infestation from your pet, but also from the environment. Many natural remedies for the home require sprinkling baking soda or salt into fabrics to kill the eggs and larvae[2],[3].  

Below are a few of the direct home remedies for treating dogs with fleas:

  • Spraying it with essential oils such as: eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary.
  • Bathing it with any of those same oils, vinegar, and water.
  • Spraying it with vinegar & water.

Vinegar seems to be the most effective treatment according to most of the websites I’ve browsed. If none of these treatments are possible for your household, you may be forced to keep your pets outside… or learn to live as a flea-bitten rascal.

What about Heartworms?

You need to accept the possibility there may not be anything you can do about this parasite. We’ve been told for years that heartworms are inevitable, and that’s why vets tell us to treat dogs monthly for this parasite[4]. If those normal treatments aren’t available because of disaster, that means over time an infected dog will die because the infestation will become so great it can’t properly pump blood through its body. 

With that said, I’ve read from various sources it’s possible to treat your pet for heartworms by feeding it: Pumpkin seeds, carrots, coconut, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and chamomile[5],[6]

If you run out of regular dog food and/or make your pet’s food, adding these ingredients to your pet’s diet can be done with little effort. 

Below are some common symptoms of an uncontrolled heartworm infection[7]:

  • Mild Symptoms: Occasional cough or tiredness after moderate activity.
  • Severe Symptoms: Dog may look unwell, cough persistently, and get tired easily. Dog could have trouble breathing or even show signs of heart failure (wheezing coughing, bloated belly[8]). 

I’d like to finish by reminding readers that if your pet has a life-threatening condition, nothing can replace the medical expertise of a veterinarian. You are responsible for your pet’s medical treatment nowadays, and that will be the case if civilization were to end.

It’s your responsibility to use the professionals if they are available. I hope this article serves as a reminder of your responsibility and that alternative options exist if the SHTF. You are their “first responder” and will have to treat them as best you can, with the materials you have. 


[1] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor, veterinarian, or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you or any other person (and/or pet) has a medical concern, you should consult with a health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on a blog, website, or in any linked materials.

[2] JetPet Resort. (2021, March 1). 30 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs. Retrieved from JetPet Resort: https://jetpetresort.com/blog/dog-care/30-ways-to-naturally-prevent-and-get-rid-of-fleas-on-dogs/

[3] DePino, M. (2022, March 31). 9 ways to get rid of fleas on your dog naturally. Retrieved from BetterPet: https://betterpet.com/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-naturally/

[4] Heartworm Hoax: Some websites I’ve seen have veterinarian authors who claim your dog probably doesn’t even have heartworms. That’s because heartworms are transmitted between infected animals via mosquitoes. Dogs in a major city way not be susceptible because of all the pesticides and chemicals, whereas a dog in the country probably has heartworms given the swarms of mosquitos in rural areas.

[5] PetPartners. (2021, February 10). 6 Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Worms. Retrieved from PetPartners: https://www.petpartners.com/blog/pet-health-and-safety/6-natural-ways-to-treat-and-prevent-worms

[6] Chamomile: Chamomile may help treat or prevent other types of worms and parasites.

[7] Henriques, J. (2021, December 12). DIY Heartworm Treatment For Dogs. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-heartworm-treatment/

[8] Bassingthwaighte, D. E. (2021, December 12). Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs: A Holistic Approach. Retrieved from Dogs Naturally Magazine: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/congestive-heart-failure-in-dogs-holistic-treatment-options/

Survival Dog Food 🐕 

We love our fur-babies, but they often slip our minds when making plans or stockpiling food and supplies. Just like humans, our pets have the same basic needs for: food, water, and shelter. Most “Preppers” have water and shelter already, but what about petfood?

Before moving forward, I’d like to warn readers this article is heavily focused on dogs. Many families have other types of pets, but more families can relate to owning a dog than other pet species. The information in this article may be interchangeable if you own a cat.

What can you do to prepare? 

It’s best to continue feeding your dog the same food it’s accustomed to. Buy a surplus of dogfood and use or rotate your stockpile as supplies age. Dry dog food has a long shelf-life, and stays fresh even after you open the bag. According to a few articles I’ve seen online, the average shelf-life of unopened dry dog food is 1 to 1.5-years, and maybe longer under pristine conditions[1].

The same articles claim dogfood will stay fresh about 1-2 months after you open the bag[2]. I think it takes my dog the same amount of time to go through a bag of food. We’ve got another bag of food at our vacation retreat, but I’ve got no clue how old that bag is. He eats it just like the kibble at home, so it must be fine.

My dog has never complained about his kibble being stale…

What about when it gets desperate?

You’re running out of dog food, but pet stores were looted a long time ago. You know there’s no interest in resupplying or reopening stores based on living luxury items (pets), especially when people may be desperate enough to eat dog food! What can you do?

Can you make dog food and/or switch your pet’s diet to something else?

Making Dog Food

You can make “dog food” yourself, but it won’t look like the old kibble you used to feed your dog. It’ll look more like human food and the dog may not know the difference. 

I looked at the list of ingredients from my dog’s bag of food[3], and the first 11 items seem normal enough. They are: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp.

The rest of the ingredients are vitamins and additives to enhance flavor or extend the shelf-life. With this in mind, it probably won’t be too difficult to make something your dog can eat from scraps and common pantry items.

To me, the ingredient list roughly translates to:

  1. Meat
  2. Chicken Meal (Ground Bones & Skin or Scraps)[4]
  3. Puréed Vegetables
  4. Egg
  5. Animal Fat and/or Oil
  6. Rice (Most people don’t have access to barley)
  7. A finely ground multivitamin

I don’t like providing recipes in my articles because there’s no way to know what ingredients you’ll have after the SHTF. Specific recipes can be found online, but be prepared to adapt the recipe to fit what supplies you have access to.

Changing the Diet[5]

Dogs evolved to be carnivores and scavengers, so it’s theoretically possible to transition them from kibble to meat-based scraps. Be aware that transitioning to a new diet will require a lot of patience and care.

Switching your dog’s diet can be as simple as 3 steps:

  1. Gradually introduce food scraps or homemade dog food to the kibble. This has the added benefit of extending your supply of dog food.
  2. If the dog doesn’t have a negative reaction, gradually increase the scraps being substituted per serving.
  3. Continue the process until only a small percentage of food is kibble.

A few things to keep in mind regarding changing a dog’s diet:

  1. Don’t replace kibble with meat-scraps overnight. Transitioning from kibble to a different diet “cold-turkey” could make your dog sick, and may cause unnecessary food waste if the dog can’t handle the sudden transition.
  2. If your dog gets sick during the transition, it may be because the process is moving too fast for it to handle[6]. You may need to reduce the ratio of new food per serving. Find a happy medium and maintain that ratio for a week before moving forward with the replacement process.
  3. You don’t want to waste supplies, so continue using a small amount of kibble with each serving until the manufactured food completely runs out.
  4. You may be tempted to start converting your pet’s diet immediately after the SHTF, if only to extend your dog’s food supply. This may not be a good idea if you have several hundred pounds of dog food stockpiled. After all, you’ll be supplementing your dog’s food with your own. Also consider that you don’t know how long your dog will live. If it dies suddenly, you’ll be stuck with a bunch of pet food you can’t consume.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your dog can’t successfully switch over to a new form of food without getting sick. Some of the nutrients are getting absorbed into their system, but it may not be enough and you need to be prepared for the possibility your dog may not survive. On the flip-side, don’t be hard on your dog either. It’s not the dog’s fault the world has gone to shit.

DO NOT Ration Pet Food 

You must feed your dog the same amount of food, at the same time of day. You can brag about how smart “Fido” is to your neighbors all you want, but he is not capable of rational thought[7] and won’t understand why you aren’t feeding him enough.

Rationing dog food will force the pet into survival mode and it will compete with you for food. The behavior of a starving dog will change quickly. First, it will scavenge for scraps or other food to make up for the deficiency. When that doesn’t work, the dog will seek targets of opportunity and attack weaker family members to get their food. There’s nothing scarier than seeing a loving pet, suddenly bare its fangs against a vulnerable child eating or playing on the floor. 

***

It can be difficult to prioritize what to stockpile in preparation for an emergency or disaster. It’s easy to focus on human needs over our silent partners, so don’t panic if you haven’t done much to ensure your pets are taken care of if the SHTF. Just remember that you can take steps to address this issue if disaster strikes.


[1] Spinney, K. (2019). Dog food does go bad, but there are ways to help keep it fresh longer. Retrieved from Fansided: https://dogoday.com/2019/02/12/dog-food-goes-bad-keep-fresh-longer/

[2] Cammack, N. R. (n.d.). Pandemic: Considerations for Pet Food Bulk Buying and Shelf Life. Retrieved from NorthPoint Pets & Company: https://northpointpets.com/npp-journal/pandemic-considerations-for-pet-food-bulk-buying-and-shelf-life/

[3] Full Ingredients List: Hill’s Science Diet for dogs with sensitive stomachs:  

Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Brown Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Flaxseed, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Oat Fiber, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.

[4] Nestlé Purina PetCare. (n.d.). What Is Chicken Meal in Dog Food? Retrieved from Purina: https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/what-is-chicken-meal-in-dog-food

[5] Medical Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. The information presented is for educational and informational purposes only, does not constitute any professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

[6] Sick Dog: Transitioning food too quickly may cause illness. However, the dog could have eaten something it wasn’t supposed to like: grass, a small toy, dirt, etc. It can’t hurt to scale back the transition process to be certain the new diet isn’t the cause.

[7] Rational Thought: Social media constantly provides us with examples showing that some humans don’t possess the ability to think rationally.

I’m Not Stressed!

Stop asking if I’m stressed!

I’m not.

Yes, I’m aware that almost every one of my muscles has a knot. People have been saying that for nearly 3 decades, back when I was still in my 1-digits. I’ve been told I’ve got knots all over my body so many times, you’d think my knots have knots.

I may be one massive knot with a face. I’m a knotty boi[1].

I’ve been asked over the years if I want a massage, or if I want to go have a spa day.

No, but thank you. Having strangers or strange people touch and rub my body is not relaxing to me. The one time in my life I asked someone to give me a massage, they went full deep-tissue on me. The pain was so unbearable, I had to put a stop to it.

Speaking of painful massages, they really should anesthetize, or at least numb, those extreme cases who need such a deep therapy. I supposed that’d require a doctorate, so it’s too much effort for an industry with an education credentialing system based on certifications.

Not that I’m bashing the industry, masseurs, or massage professionals in general. I’m merely pointing out a possible improvement to the industry as a whole, and a new business opportunity for doctors who can prescribe the sedatives and numbing creams or injections. There’s an untapped market for that service, and charging insurance shouldn’t be that much of a problem either[2].

Anyways, I’m not stressed!

I may clench my jaw shut all the time, but it doesn’t mean I’m stressed. I’m just more cautious of how I sleep because I witnessed practical jokes being played on classmates during nap-time. And I’m not going to leave myself open for a bug to crawl or drop into my mouth while sleeping

Are you sure you’re not stressed? All that subconscious clenching can’t be good for your teeth.

If we ignore the tea-stains, my dentist claims I have the healthiest mouth he’s seen. He mentioned that my jaw muscles are so developed, I can probably bite several fingers off with little effort.

That’s probably a great ability to have in a fight or survival situation.

I’ll say it again, I’m not stressed!

I’m happy most of the time, so why would people think I’m stressed?

Aside from having an alarm scare me awake each morning… I think the only stress my body experiences is from a sudden fear I experience when getting caught checking someone out. Everyone’s gazed at a beautiful person a little too long and got caught. It’s normal and part of what makes life fun.

The only thing that grates on me emotionally is socialist media. You can post the most innocuous comment on a trending post, like: “water is always wet, even when frozen”, or point out how an image appears to be edited. And I kid you not, some special snowflake will find fault with the comment and claim you’re a horrible piece of shit for saying such a thing. Why does such an innocent comment trigger certain people to the point they try to “cancel” you?

It’s only socialist media. Trolls can get annoying, but you can always ignore or block them…

I’ll close by reiterating that I’m not stressed, so please stop asking why I’m so tense.

It’s not my fault I have good posture.


[1] Boi: “Boi” used to be the gay spelling for “boy” back in the early 2000s.

I was there Gandalf. I was there, in the year 2000.

[2] Insurance: I’m not a medical billing specialists, nor an insurance professional.

Pesky Pescatarian

I was supposed to be a Pescatarian last year, but that didn’t work out so well. I actually enjoy fish more than other meats such as beef, pork, or lamb. So, you’d think being a Pescatarian would be easy for me, but it wasn’t.

I’m a pretty healthy eater, so it’s not like I eat junk food every day[1]. I’m fortunate my tastes in food aren’t like most other people: 

  • I love salads and enjoy eating green leafy salads without dressing. 
  • I don’t like sweets, but will indulge if I feel like treating myself. 
  • I have mixed tastes when it comes to bacon. Sometimes it tastes good, but most of the time it’s… meh.
  • I will never turn my nose up to a good soup, stew, or gumbo.
  • I love pasta and bread. This is bad if you’re on a no/low-carb diet, and I try not to eat either very often. I love pasta so much, I became a Pastafarian.[2] 

So why didn’t the Pescatarian diet work out?

I simply don’t like the inconvenience of having to worry about what fits in a selective diet. I eat out a lot, and every time I went to a restaurant, disappointment would set in when I realized I couldn’t eat things the business was known for. I quickly began “forgetting” I’m a pesky Pescatarian and ate whatever I found appetizing on the menu.

Early in the diet, I had forgotten about the diet and had lamb for lunch. I was really excited about eating my lamb shank, but was reminded that we’re supposed to be Pescatarians. I quickly countered that I’m sure the sheep I’m about to consume was born a Pisces.

As I feasted on the flesh of the land-animal, I thought to myself:

Those pesky Pescatarians, always are discriminating against the other creatures of this earth. Just because my sweet little lamb might have had to swim once in his or her life, by accident, doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a protein than that snooty salmon he’s eating.

Just because that salmon can breathe underwater, doesn’t make it any better than my luscious little lamb. My lamb can breathe underwater too, but only for a few minutes before transcending to a higher plane of existence and becoming my lunch.

I bet if my little lamb and his salmon were in a prison together, my lamb would shank[3] his salmon in the cafeteria.

I’m jerked back from my daydream when I hear someone ask, “What are you thinking about, sweety?”

I can’t tell him what I’m really thinking and quickly reply, “How much I love you.”

“Aww! That’s sweet. I love you too.”


[1] Healthy Eater: I’m naturally a healthy eater, aside from my favorable taste in beer and wine… and the empty calories found in those alcoholic beverages.

[2] Pastafarian: Pastafarianism or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). It makes light of some of the established religions and was born in opposition to teaching intelligent design in public schools.

When Pastafarians die they live on an island and can go sailing on their own pirate ship. The island has a “Beer Volcano”, which provides other beverages based on individual tastes. And there’s a stripper factory, which also builds strippers based on your tastes. The religion is inclusive and worshiping the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just a suggestion. You simply have to have the spirit of a pirate, and try not to be an asshole.

[3] Lamb shank: Get it? You do, right? (Yay to awkward middle-aged man humor…)

Also, I do not condone or promote violence of any sort.

“I’m Poz”

I’ve been fully vaccinated and had a booster. I should be fully protected from Covid, so I don’t fear catching it as much as I did when this all started. I interact with coworkers normally, but tend to stay about 6-feet away from anyone regardless of their vaccination status.

I think I do pretty good with risk mitigation and prevention.

  • I got vaccinated.
  • I wash my hands regularly and don’t touch my face.
  • I never get close to anyone outside of my immediate family.
  • I even take my shoes off at the door and shower before unwinding for the night.

I don’t have many opportunities to go out and socialize, and when I do, I don’t get close enough to anyone to risk catching anything. Actually, I think the closest I’ve been to another person was while passing someone in a shopping isle.

My Covid-risk is pretty damn low, so I didn’t think twice when a coworker chatted with me one night before the office shut down for Christmas. It felt nice hearing how great of a job I’m doing and wishing each other well and happy holidays. I left soon after and did my normal work-night routine (shower, eat, play videogames, and sleep).

Sometime that night, I got a message from that coworker saying he tested positive for Covid-19.

My heart went cold for a few seconds after reading that message. I immediately recalled how he hung out around my cubicle just before leaving work that previous night. He even hovered over me as I pointed to something on my computer screen.

Uh oh!

I did what any reasonable person would do… I tried to get tested.

Unfortunately, with only a few days left before Christmas, everyone in the city was trying to get tested before seeing their families. It seemed like there were absolutely no Covid tests available in all of Harris County, unless I went to the ER and pay the equivalent of $10,191.

I don’t love anyone enough to pay that. There will be other holidays.

While I was riding around town trying to find a Covid test, my mind kept going back to the beginning of December when I saw a couple boxes of those test sitting on the checkout counter of a CVS. I thought they were a waste of money at the time. Just that week, I started seeing people proudly post their at-home test results and joked at how they looked like pregnancy tests.

Well, I guess the joke’s on me.

Failing in my attempts to get tested, I did what any responsible person should do.

I told my family I was exposed to someone I know is positive for Covid. I told them I didn’t feel sick, but had to miss out on the Christmas party. I said I’d show up wearing an inflatable spacesuit costume to drop off the family’s Christmas gifts.

I couldn’t help but follow up that message with a joke I had just thought up:

As a gay man in his mid-30s, I thought the fear of a late night or early morning “I’m poz” text was behind me[1]

I was still feeling healthy when I arrived wearing a spacesuit costume (closest thing to a hazmat suit I could find) to drop off presents. I even did a moon-jump!

I’m not upset with my coworker for “ruining Christmas”. Not in the slightest. He did the responsible thing by telling me he tested positive, and I’m thankful for that[2].

It’s been a few days since Christmas and I’ve finally been able to get tested for Covid, but the results won’t come for another day or so. I’m glad I did the responsible thing by avoiding family, because now I’m exhausted all the time and my lungs feel like I’ve got a mild case of bronchitis.

Being ill and having to wait on my test results, are causing thoughts to creep into my mind:

Imagine what could have happened if my he hadn’t told me he was poz for Covid[3]. Without that warning, I would have unknowingly contaminated everyone at the party.

Imagine what could have happened if I did the irresponsible thing and shrugged off that warning, and went to the Christmas party without telling anyone.

Imagine what probably happened all across the nation… and around the world.


[1] HIV Poz: Thankfully, I’ve been lucky with my love/lust-life and have remained HIV negative.

[2] Ruining Christmas: I’m not a “socialist” and loath social events, even family get-togethers. Which means he may have done me a favor.

[3] Notify when Positive? There’s no law requiring your coworkers to inform you if they’ve, personally, tested positive for Covid. If you work at a large business, the infected person(s) are supposed to inform their supervisor or HR, and it’s recommended that the company/firm alerts workers who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive.

Also keep in mind that it takes a lot of courage to tell someone you are positive for an illness or disease. The person has to overcome the immediate fear of rejection, and risks being stigmatized as being “dirty”. I’m glad my coworker told me because it shows that he’s a good person and that he cares for my wellbeing.

He could have easily kept quiet about his test result.

Using a Public Toilet 🚻 A Ritual 

You walk into the restroom and smell that first waft of stale piss, but that doesn’t stop you. No. You are on a mission to sit and expel solid waste. You rush to the toilet not knowing who or what has sat on it before you. You don’t even know if the toilet has been cleaned recently.

It doesn’t matter. There’s a golfer trying to bore its way out and you absolutely must use this toilet.

OR…

You enter the restroom to the pleasant scent of Pine Sol and walk to the nearest stall. A heavenly sight awaits you as you open the stall. The water is still dyed a deep blue from the cleaning detergent used by the janitorial staff. You’re the first person to use this toilet today, and it’s as clean as it’s ever going to be.

This is a virgin toilet! 

Regardless of how clean the toilet may be, you still have a cleansing ritual to perform before your cheeks will touch that seat. The ritual is:

  1. Grab some toilet paper and wipe the seat. Some people use sanitizer to clean the seat.  
  2. Use even more toilet paper to cover the seat.  
  3. Only when the seat is covered to the point it looks like a flat bird’s nest, do you sit to lay your rotten “eggs”.

Don’t lie, you’ve done this ritual.

We all have our reasons for doing it. It may have been a learned habit from walking into public restrooms and having to clean the seat so many times. Maybe you remember missing the bowl yourself and are pretty sure everyone else pees on the seat too. Or maybe you’re a germaphobe and feel an extra compulsion to clean the seat. My father drilled it into my head that public toilets were disgusting sources of disease. 

Some restrooms have those thinner than paper seat covers mounted on the wall. Those seat covers are psychological constructs designed to keep people from wasting valuable toilet paper. They’re so flimsy you run the risk of destroying the cover while trying to get it out of the holder. You end up wasting not just the liner, but the precious few seconds remaining before that gofer runs out of your hole.

Lifting the Seat

If there’s no urinal and you only need to pee (and if you’re male), it’s polite to lift the seat so you don’t dirty it when the next person uses it. This type of situation is becoming more common now that unisex public toilets are appearing in restaurants and coffee shops.

But I don’t want to touch that thing, and then touch my junk!

If we bother to lift the seat, we use our feet which are protected by “germ-proof” shoes. We balance on one foot and use the other to lift the seat. It sort of looks like a martial art’s fighting stance.

***

We all share the same cleansing ritual to help put our minds at ease about using a public toilet of dubious cleanliness. We clean the seat, cover it, and sit on it. And once we’re comfortable, or are sitting and there’s no turning back, most of us will whip out our phones to brows our news feeds.

Who knows, you may be reading this story while on the pot!

Phantom Hair Syndrome

You know that feeling you get after shaving your nose hairs? The feeling that a single hair survived and it’s scratching the inside of your nose. That’s what I call phantom hair syndrome[1].

You shaved the hairs growing in your nose, wipe the inside of each nostril with a tissue or toilet paper, and are pretty sure you got everything. But with each breath, you feel a hair fluttering in the breeze like a lone flag on a battlefield. You better check it out before leaving for work.

You walk back to the bathroom and examine your nose, yet see nothing where the itching sensation is located. You grab the clippers and run it over the location just to be sure. Maybe you even hear a satisfying “clip” sound and think: There, I got it.

You’re getting into the swing of things at work, when you notice a tickling feeling as you breathe! You try to satisfy the tickle-itching sensation, but end up looking like you’re picking your nose. You can’t feel the hair, nor can you alleviate the itchiness, so you go to the nearest bathroom.

If there’s someone in the restroom, you pretend to pee before examining your nose.

You go to the mirror and poke your nose up as though you’re making a pig’s snout. You use your phone’s flashlight to shine light into that deep dark cavern as you lean closer, and closer to the mirror. You’re so close, your humid breaths are fogging the mirror. It kind of reminds you of the velociraptor peeking through the kitchen door on Jurassic Park[2].

Your careful spelunking adventure yields no pesky stalactite.

You can still feel the hair as you breathe, and wonder if there’s a loose clipping irritating your nose. You grab some toilet paper and thoroughly clean the inside of each nostril. But, to your surprise, the toilet paper comes out clean. There isn’t even a booger!

The feeling must be in your head… literally.

You go back to your desk and work some more. The itching sensation seems to have worn off and you forget about the hair altogether. But when you’re halfway through an extra-long email, a tickling sensation returns…

That goddamn hair is still there!

You resign yourself to living with this hair for the rest of your life and try to ignore it. Your hand keeps subconsciously rubbing your nose throughout the day. You notice people shooting concerned glances your way as though you’re sick and should have stayed home.

You try to distract yourself with more work.

You try to forget it.

Nothing works, and the sensation is driving you CrAzY!

You somehow manage to make it through the day and just got home. You rush into the bathroom with a flashlight in one hand and the clippers in the other. You’re determined to find that accursed hair.

You find a hair… inside the wrong nostril.

You clip that newly discovered hair.

You run the clippers through both nostrils several more times.

You lean closer and closer to the mirror and peer into each cavern. You’re so close to the mirror, you keep knocking your forehead against the mirror-version of yourself, and he’s starting to look pissed.

You make a pig’s snout out of your nose to get a better look into each nostril.

You make a ghoulish O-face with your mouth to help you see the bottom of the nostrils too.

You spend half an hour with this examination and are finally satisfied, without a shadow of doubt. There isn’t a single hair inside your nose.

You notice that your forehead left an oily smear on the mirror, and clean it before leaving the bathroom.

You have a great evening. You eat leftovers for dinner and sip wine while binge-watching your new favorite show. You don’t even check the mirror when using the restroom one final time before going to bed.

Now, you’re lying in bed and are relaxed in your favorite position. Your brain is just about to switch to sleep-mode, when a single hair starts tickling the inside of your nose.

The rest of your night is fucking ruined.


[1] This is comedic story. This story is not intended to “make fun of” or “pick on” those who suffered the tragic loss of a limb. Nor, people who have prolonged suffering because their nervous system is trying to reestablish a connection with a lost limb.

[2] Spielberg, S. (Director). (1993). Jurassic Park [Motion Picture].

Swine Flu vs. Covid-19

This is an old sociopolitical commentary I recently found tucked away in a safe from about 12 years ago, when Swine Flu[1] was a thing. 

I think Americans need to be terrified of Swine Flu, because, Americans are pigs.

  • Americans are pigs because we eat and eat till our glutenous bodies expand. We are such pigs, that over half of the population is overweight or obese. 
  • Some men are pigs because of the way they chase after sexual partners.
  • Politicians… oh there’s a lot of swine there. Pork-barrel spending is evidence they are feeding their piglet constituents.
  • I really don’t like calling the police pigs, but the old nickname has been around for decades, so I must include it. 

Most Americans are swine, and should be terrified of the Swine Flu.

It turns out the Swine Flu didn’t amount to much back then, but now we have Covid-19, also known as the Coronavirus. Us freedom-loving Americans really know how to manage a pandemic. Enough so, that people have gone out of their way to help our society as we fight the Coronavirus. 

  • People have shared video on social media of them pouring Corona beers down the drain.
  • People wore lingerie on their faces when told to wear face coverings.  
  • Common people have tried a psychosomatic approach to treating the disease by providing their expert analysis to convince people Covid-19 is a hoax. How can you get sick from a disease that only exists in the minds of others? Many of these experts shared “evidence” from their conspiracy-theorist uncle whose brain is so powerful, he has to hide from the government in a basement, at an undisclosed location. 
  • As a show of support, many people assembled, unmasked, in large groups for parties. Similarly, many others assembled for protests or riots (depending on who you ask). Both had the gall to blame the inevitable surge of cases on 2020’s Memorial Day Weekend when there was little evidence to support their claims. 
  • When a vaccine became available, many Americans graciously allowed others to take the vaccine before them. Many people think these are the real reason why they don’t want to get vaccinated.
    • Some thought it would impinge on their civil liberties. 
    • Some theorized about a massive tracking program to keep tabs on them. (If you’re that worried, stop using your phone. The number 1 way to track you and your activities is through your phone. Also, what criminal activities are you involved with that makes you so scared of being tracked?) 
    • Some stated they were worried the vaccine was a massive medical experiment and they were being targeted because of their ethnicity. While, on the same breath, the same people bemoaned that other communities had higher vaccination rates. 
    • Some said the vaccine was rushed and were worried about side effects (cue the memes ending with: “… you may be entitled for compensation”). 
    • All want the vaccine when it’s too late. All ask for the vaccine when they are carted into an ICU for contracting the hoax disease.

I was wrong back in 2009. It wasn’t the swine flu Americans needed to worry about. It’s not Covid-19 we should be worried about either…

It’s our own stupidity.


[1] Swine Flu is also known as H1N1.