Changing Our (and Our Pets’) Daily Lives Through Innovation

My Animals

Innovation. It happens all around us transforming our lives everyday through the formulation of new ideas and the creation of products that simplify and become the basis of our daily routines. Two of the most ever-changing and evolving fields of study are science and technology where new ideas, research, and discoveries are regularly formed and shared through groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). So, why not take these quickly advancing ideas and continue to apply them to problems common problems for pet owners that could use some sort of tool to solve them.

While I can think of many ideas that might help me personally in my daily life. One of the most important and central figures in my life are and have always been my pets. These have included, dogs, cats, small mammals, reptiles, fish, insects, and most recently crustaceans. So, for this post I will be including some ideas that have crossed my mind as I was caring for these various creatures, each with their own unique needs.

The first animal that I ever met as a child was our family’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Max. Towards the end of his life, our vet diagnosed him with a type of bone cancer that ended up resulting in a $2,000 surgery to amputate his back leg. While this did prolong his life for several more months, the cancer eventually spread to his lungs and we were forced to put him down in order to prevent further suffering. But one thing that might have made it easier for Max to move around and reduce stress on his front legs would probably have been the incorporation of some sort of prosthesis to help support his weight. While this isn’t a new concept, it could prove to be a practical addition to amputation surgeries on pets if the ideas were more widespread and taught to prospective and practicing vets.

Max after amputation

Another idea that I thought of while dealing with the massive fish casualty/plague that swept through our oldest tropical fish tank, was some sort of more detailed diagnostic test that could be quickly run to determine what kind of disease or toxic chemical was suddenly killing all of the fish. Current tests generally only allow for the testing of ammonia, nitrites, pH, and salt content which usually come back clean even when a highly contagious disease is spreading. It would make determining what kind of medication or neutralizing agent should be used to hopefully prevent complete eradication of all aquarium life and improve the odds that your fish and tank won’t suffer another attack or secondary infections.

As you saw in the last post, I recently added a Cardisoma Armatum to my pet family (more commonly know as a Rainbow, Patriot, or Soap-Dish Crab) and while I did responsibly establish the nitrogen cycle in my tank, the introduction of such a large animal significantly impacted this cycle. Fortunately, now there are products available like “Stability” by Seachem and “Quick Start” by API that provide the necessary bacteria in order to start and maintain this cycle but although they do help to speed up the process, it still takes awhile for the colonies to establish and grow and for the ammonia and nitrites to stabilize. For this reason, it seems like it would be extremely helpful if gravel and similar aquarium equipment were sold soaking in water containing this beneficial bacteria. Not only would it mean that larger colonies would be already established but this would help to much more quickly begin the cycle or even save a tank from “un-cycling”.

photo 1

My last idea is probably something that would be most helpful for those who feed crickets to their reptiles. If you don’t have a reptile, here’s how feeding crickets usually goes: you go to the store and pay around 10 to 13 or more cents per a cricket depending on size (I get the small ones for my anole), once you bring them home you either dump them straight into the terrarium or into a “cricket keeper”, the cricket keeper or you fail at keeping them inside the plastic container, now there are crickets running all over your house, you buy glue traps and set them down to try to solve the problem, as you’re walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you step on one, now there is a sticky mess stuck to your foot not to mention the dead crickets too. Sound familiar? But what if there was a trap that was extremely successful but didn’t kill them (or get stuck to your feet)? You could save tens of dollars each year and go to sleep without your whole house chirping like you’re camping in the middle of the woods.

What other ideas and inventions would make your life simpler? Do you have any suggestions for existing products that might be helpful to me? Please feel free to let me know!

Semi-Unrelated Note: If anyone knows what disease or toxic chemical/metal to tropical fish could spread rapidly and then kill nearly all of them in less than 12-24 hours, please let me know. We introduced two balloon rams about 2 weeks before this occurred but upon purchase they had no visual signs of disease or poor health. Whatever killed the fish caused them to show signs of a neurological attack (seizure-like behavior, unbalanced swimming), bloating, and only one had small white specks over his body/tail (possibly ick/ich?). The 26 gallon tank contained (age equals time of possession): 2 buenos aires tetras (8 years), 1 lampeye tetra (7 years, 9 months), 2 balloon rams (2 weeks), 3 albino glowlight tetras (6 months), and 1 plecostamus (8-9 years). Only the lampeye tetra and pleco are still alive and currently being treated with 1/2 dose of Ick Guard and a full dose of Fungus Guard by Tetra. Any ideas?

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