Life's Abundance | Makers of premium health products for dogs, cats and pet parents, too!

Infographic: Soothing Doggie Stress

Unless you’re truly tuned in with your canine companion, you might be missing the “tail-tell” signs that your puppy’s got stress issues.

By learning to recognize the symptoms and gaining a clearer picture of the potential causes, you’ll be well on your way to helping your canine chill out on a regular basis. If that weren’t enough to perk up your ears, Dr. V also drops some helpful tips for alleviating dog stress. Definitely worthy of further investigation!

Take a page out of our pet-care book and save this handy infographic for future reference … it might just help your dog find his way back to bliss!

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Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Happy National Puppy Day

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They're adorable and loving. They're hilarious and a bit clumsy. And they're so soft and cuddly! As much as they depend on you, we all really know who's really coming out on top in this relationship ... you! Whether you're celebrating National Puppy Day with fond memories of a past puppy, or you're living puppy day in the moment, these sweet creatures are special in every way.

To mark the occasion, we want you to share your puppy pics with us! Email your too-cute photos to blogfun@lifesabundance.com. Staff favorites will be added to this post in the coming days, so submit your pics now!

Cherry Limeade Fresh Whips

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The perfect complement to any springtime table setting, it just doesn’t get any better than this sweet treat! Not only does it double as festive décor, it's also loaded with nutrition. Packed with protein from egg whites, a super-health boost from Life's Abundance Minerals & Antioxidants and minimal sugar, the crowd will come running for more.

This simple recipe yields about 45 cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

2 egg whites

2 scoops Minerals & Antioxidants (Cherry or Tropical Fruit Flavor)

1/2 C confectioner sugar

1/4 tsp lime zest

DIRECTIONS:

Place the oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 (see overnight method) or 225 degrees (see alternate method). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form (about 15 minutes). Slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time and keep beating until stiff peaks form. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, sprinkle Minerals & Antioxidants one scoop at a time and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

Spoon small dollops (about 1-inch round) onto the parchment paper. Or, you can pipe the batter onto the parchment using a pastry bag and 3/4-inch tip. Dust each cookie with a sprinkling of lime zest.

Overnight Method (325 degrees):  Once the cookies are in the oven close the door and turn the oven off. Do not open the door until morning.

Alternate Method (225 degrees):  Bake the cookies for 35 minutes and then turn the oven off, allowing the cookies to continue drying as the oven cools.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Enjoy!

Is a Paleo Diet Right for Your Dog?

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As pet parents ourselves, all of us here at Life’s Abundance know just how overwhelming it can be to choose the right food for your dog. There is so much conflicting information out there: you have to be grain free! Your canine needs to eat like a wolf! You should be putting antioxidants on everything! Home made food is better than commercial! How do you possibly make sense of all the conflicting information from so many different sources?

One of my goals when formulating a new food is to keep up with the most current thinking in nutrition while making sure our foods live up to the highest standards possible. Two of the most popular buzzwords right now are “paleo” and “limited ingredient.” But what do these mean? Are paleo or limited ingredient diets what your companion animal really needs?

Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Paleo diets have been all the rage in human nutrition for the past few years. While there isn’t any one strict definition, the general idea is that if a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you (or in this case, your dog). In its most basic sense, the paleo diet avoids all processed foods such as cereals, pastas, and added sugars. The paleo diet also frowns on grains, keeping carbohydrate sources limited to those occurring naturally in vegetables and fruits.

Despite the fact there is no one true ‘paleo’ definition, we can certainly look at the overall concept and see something to like. A paleo diet is nutrient-dense, with every ingredient chosen for a purpose. The carbohydrates chosen are those that cause less peaks and valleys in blood glucose and energy levels throughout the course of the day. Given its reliance on unprocessed ingredients, a paleo food is going to avoid things like fillers and artificial colorings and flavorings. One of the major drawbacks to a classic paleo diet is the fact that it does not allow the use of legumes such as peas or lentils, which are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. 

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Limited ingredient diets came about due to a wave of pet parents being concerned their dogs had food allergies. The number of dogs who actually have food allergies is not as large as the number of dogs who have food allergy symptoms (there are complex reasons for this, which perhaps I’ll cover in a future post). Regardless, the idea for limited ingredient diets is to limit intake to novel proteins (meaning an unusual source that a pet has not eaten before), and novel carbohydrates, the diet is less likely to trigger a dog’s food allergy symptoms. This is how we ended up with diets like kangaroo and oats, or duck and peas. The most common food allergens in dogs are beef, chicken, lamb, wheat, corn, and egg. This correlates to the most commonly used ingredients in pet foods, which makes sense.

If your canine has a true food allergy, he or she is probably going to need to undergo an elimination trial and all sorts of testing to see what is going on, and then move onto a special diet for the rest of his or her life. But if he or she has some minor symptoms of food intolerance or if you are just trying to avoid the major allergens in dog foods, it can be cost prohibitive to put your pet on a novel protein diet; many are prescription-only or are not meant for all life stages. Some diets are based on hydrolyzed soy, which is as appetizing to dogs as it sounds! It just doesn’t make sense to seek out one of these diets if you don’t have to due to medical necessity.

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For many pet parents, their dog may not have food allergies but they still want to avoid the common triggers by feeding high quality, novel proteins that taste delicious and support optimal health. And it’s with these needs in mind that we developed the newest addition to the Life’s Abundance family of foods: our Pork and Venison Grain Free Recipe Dog Food.

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This formulation holds to the paleo ideas of being grain-free. The carbohydrate sources are peas and lentils, which are an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The protein sources are pork and venison, which are very rich, nutrient-dense protein sources that taste amazing. Canned foods are great for triggering the appetite because they have more potent smell. Trust me, we’ve all taken a whiff of the new formula and agree … the aroma is pretty yummy! Best of all, it’s formulated to be appropriate for all life stages, from weaning puppies to geriatric seniors, even if they’re missing some teeth.

We are so proud of this new formula and we can’t wait for you all to try it. As soon as you do, post a comment here and let us know what you think. We hope your dogs love it as much as ours do!

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals! And, happy feeding!

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

5 Common Signs of Mineral Deficiency

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Don’t take this the wrong way, but chances are that you’re deficient … in minerals. That’s because nearly half of the U.S. population receives less than the daily recommended levels of one or more minerals. Despite awareness campaigns to highlight the critical role minerals play in optimal body function, confusion persists about how to avoid a mineral deficiency and know if you’re affected.

Inadequate mineral intake has become problematic because our food supply simply does not provide the same amounts or variety of minerals that diets did 100 years ago. This is largely because our food is grown in increasingly de-mineralized soils. Plus, the more that we rely on processed food (even if it’s fortified), the fewer minerals we ultimately consume.

Other factors affecting mineral levels include pregnancy, dehydration-causing illnesses like those involving vomiting or diarrhea, and more serious medical conditions such as kidney disease. Certain medications and alcohol consumption are also common causes of reduced mineral absorption. For these reasons, in the U.S. nearly a quarter of all of dietary supplements are purchased based on a physician’s recommendation.

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That covers a lot of territory. So, how do you know which column you’re in – adequate or deficient? To help you make a determination, here are the top five most common signs of mineral deficiency and their underlying culprits:

1. Low energy or fatigue: If you’ve been waking up tired, relying on an extra cup of coffee, or generally wondering where the pep in your step has gone, it may be a sign that you are low in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, sodium, selenium, copper or chromium.

2. Aches and pains: If your limbs feel a bit wobbly after walking a flight of stairs, you are experiencing leg cramps or have unexplained joint or bone pain, you may have low levels of magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium or manganese.

3. Emotional or cognitive symptoms: Inadequate magnesium, iron, potassium, sodium, zinc or chromium contribute to irritability, confusion, brain fog, mood swings and even anxiety. Be aware that women’s mineral stores are regularly depleted. Experimenting with supplementation during ovulation can be a means to help with menstrual symptoms of an upcoming cycle.

4. Tummy trouble: We commonly associate bloating, gas, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea with food sensitivity, but low levels of potassium, sodium, zinc and magnesium can also lead to these same gastric issues.

5. Visible changes in your appearance: Calcium, iron, sulfur, zinc and copper all support the integumentary system which is the protective grouping that involves hair, skin and nails. The development of brittle, course or thinning hair, pale skin or brittle, yellow or spotted nails can all point to a long-running deficiency in one or more of these minerals.

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For precise information and advice on your mineral levels, talk to your doctor about adding these tests as part of your annual physical. If the results indicate a deficiency, be aware that even with supplementation and diet improvements, it may take up to a year to fully reverse depletions such that a blood test can confirm. That being said, your efforts will surely be rewarded!

To add a steady source of minerals to your diet without investing in half a dozen costly supplements, look for one product that provides a wide array of these life-sustaining substances. Life’s Abundance Minerals & Antioxidants drink mix fits that bill, containing 74 trace minerals including calcium and magnesium that have been sustainably sourced from sea vegetables. Plus, this product features a wealth of antioxidants from 11 super fruits and alkalizing, electrolyte-rich organic coconut water. This formula features aloe vera powder which provides a source of digestive enzymes to help maximize the product’s benefit. Plus, it’s absolutely delicious, which makes Minerals & Antioxidants a dream solution to give the entire family what they’ve been missing.

Our Non-Profit Announces Four New Grants

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Even though great progress has been made in the last 30 years to reduce the number of animals being euthanized, a recent report by Best Friends Animal Society puts that number at 5,500 per day. To put that in a historical context, in 1984 that total was well over 46,000 per day (approximately 17 million per year)! While that represents a huge decrease, we think everyone can agree that two million every year is still two million too many.

That’s just one of the many reasons why our non-profit’s work is so important. By supporting the vital work of animal rescue groups who are dedicated to saving all lives, we are truly making a difference.

As the charitable arm of Life’s Abundance, The Dr. Jane Foundation provides financial support to small and medium-size rescue groups who work to prevent animal homelessness, abuse and chronic neglect. Because charitable work is central to our mission of wellness, every order we process aids homeless animals. And all of those small donations add up to a significant force for good. In the span of several years, The Dr. Jane Foundation has awarded funding to over 150 groups!

In a very real sense, every one of our loyal customers helps to support the cause of animal rescue, regardless of what you buy! While your focus may be on the well-being of your companion animals, or even yourself, you can rest easy knowing that you're not only helping homeless animals become companion animals, you’re also helping to eliminate the need for euthanasia.

And now, we’re pleased to inform you that our Board of Directors just held a quarterly meeting on February 8th. They approved four applications, funding the grant requests of the following animal rescue organizations.

Snickers

Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team

Based in Illinois, this all-volunteer, no-kill organization only began last year and they’re already having an incredibly positive impact on their community. According to their charter, HART is “dedicated to meeting the physical, emotional and medical needs of all local homeless animals”, a claim easily backed up by their record. Amazingly, they have been responsible for reuniting dozens of lost pet kids with their families (46 dogs and 12 cats in 2016 alone!). Hundreds of animals came through their doors last year, and they take enormous pride in the fact that no animal is ever turned away, for any reason. They even operate an open-intake shelter, so they’re on the front lines of all sorts of pet emergencies. Thanks to the superior medical care they provide, some of their patients have made recoveries that are nothing short of miraculous! To see the before-and-after photos, and for more information about their adoptable dogs and cats, visit hartshelter.org.

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Pawsitive Tails

Pawsitive Tails is a non-profit organization focused on finding forever homes for dogs and puppies in Kansas City and Topeka. They are not a traditional shelter organization, but rather a network of foster homes. This all-volunteer organization puts special focus on finding the perfect home for each rescue dog. During their time in foster care, the temporary pet parents closely observe the behaviors and personality traits of the pups. Later, they will use this info to help match prospective adopters with their ideal dog.

Another new rescue group, in their first 12 months of operation they took in 379 dogs and 349 were placed in loving homes ... remarkable! And every penny they raise goes directly to the care of their rescues. Our financial award will go towards funding their spay-and-neuter program and to help provide food for the foster pups. For more information about their adoptable dogs, visit pawsitivetailskc.org.

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Schnauzer Rescue of Louisiana

Based in New Orleans, this foster group has been active since 2003 and was severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina. With a focus on purebred and mixed-breed Schnauzers, this small but dedicated rescue takes in dogs from local shelters and owner surrenders. Many of the pups in their care were made homeless when their caretaker passed away. They have rescued more than 300 Schnauzers since they began operations, and save as many as 38 per year. While some canines require months-long stays due to medical complications, this group attempts to place new rescues in loving homes in just a couple of weeks. Currently, they are working to expand their foster network and to provide rescue services in areas of Louisiana where shelters rely on euthanasia. Now that Schnauzer Rescue has built a reputation for their commitment and superior care, more and more rural areas are looking to them for help in dealing with homeless dogs. For more information about this rescue’s adoptable dogs, visit nolaschnauzer.com.

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West Tennessee Spay Neuter Coalition

Based in Jackson, this coalition works on multiple fronts to reduce pet overpopulation and to foster a culture of responsibility when it comes to pet parenting. Their primary focus is on providing low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for both dogs and cats in West Tennessee. We’re proud to contribute to this relatively new enterprise, which only began just last fall. While they have performed procedures on cats in feral colonies, the vast majority of their ‘clients’ are dogs and cats who have a home. Based on their research, making alteration surgeries affordable for low-income pet parents will have a dramatic effect in preventing overpopulation, thus reducing incidence of homelessness, neglect and euthanasia. Eventually, they hope to open a spay-neuter clinic, which will help them to make even more of an impact in their community. For more information about this alliance and the work they do, visit westtnspayneuter.org.

To all of these groups, we say "congratulations!" Your remarkable efforts to make the world a better place for companion animals are truly paying off.

Are you involved in an animal rescue, or know someone who is? We are currently accepting applications for 2017 funding. Our Board will be considering applications for the next round of funding in April, so try to have completed grant requests submitted by the end of March to ensure your group’s consideration.

For all those who actively support our non-profit, we can’t thank you enough. Thanks to your personal donations and continued patronage, we are taking real steps to help animal rescue groups across America achieve their goals. Together, we’re making a positive difference in the world, one animal at a time.

 

Whey Overrated

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Whey is a very popular ingredient in protein powders, especially in bodybuilding formulas. But is this commonly used ingredient all that it’s cracked up to be? In this post, we’ll look at the conventional wisdom and why whey might not be the best option for health-conscious consumers.

Let’s Talk Protein

It’s hard to understate the importance of consuming sufficient amounts of nourishing proteins. Your body needs quality protein to function properly, to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones and other key bodily chemicals. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of bones, cartilage, muscles, hair and blood. So, there’s no controversy here … protein does a body good!

What Makes Whey Popular?

In the last decade or so, the media began educating consumers about the importance of getting an adequate amount of protein in their diet on a daily basis. That created a demand for a convenient and inexpensive source of protein. That’s when whey protein powders started on their journey to popularity.

Whey-t a Minute!

Unfortunately, whey protein has significant shortcomings, especially for those with sensitive stomachs. First, it’s derived from cow’s milk. Specifically, it is the liquid left over once milk has been curdled and strained. Moreover, it’s a by-product of the cheese-making process. It’s precisely due to its dairy origins that many people experience digestive issues consuming whey, such as bloating, gas, cramps, fatigue and/or loose stools. Formulators in-the-know attribute these reactions to whey’s lactose content, and many adults have some degree of lactose sensitivity.

Plant Power

Here’s our take. Animal-derived proteins are good, but they also may carry the dubious additions of saturated fat, cholesterol, added hormones and antibiotics. However, you can source excellent protein directly from plants without any of those nutritional drawbacks! For example, pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids and therefore is considered an excellent source of protein. Since it contains no dairy or soy, it’s regarded as a “clean source” of protein with zero gluten content. Hooray for plant power!

So, if you’re up for supplementing your diet with a protein powder, but you’re not interested in dealing with the possible digestive distress commonly associated with whey, try a plant protein powder instead!

Dental Care 101

Does your fur kid have dental disease? If your dog or cat is over the age of two, then the answer is “highly likely”.

It’s February, which means it’s also National Pet Dental Health Month! If you’re wondering why the awareness campaign lasts for a whole month, it’s because periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed disease in dogs and cats. Veterinary dentists will tell you, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of two have some form of periodontal disease.

That number may seem awfully high, but unfortunately it’s also accurate. Plaque and tartar accumulate on our pet’s teeth just like it does on our own, but the vast majority of pet parents don’t brush their companion animal’s teeth twice a day. Or even once a day. (It’s OK to admit it, you’re in good company). By their second birthday, your fur kid is basically fully grown. And far too many of these adults have never had their teeth brushed.

“But his teeth look fine!” you might protest. That very well may be true. However, plaque (the gummy film that forms on a pet’s teeth within hours of eating) isn’t obvious to the naked eye. Over the course of several days it combines with minerals to harden into tartar. Over weeks and months, this tartar builds into a thick brown stain. Often referred to as “yuck mouth”, there are less familiar technical terms for it (such as Stage IV periodontal disease, the worst level). With routine care and attention, you should be able to prevent them from ever experiencing that stage.

Evaluating a pet kid’s teeth and gums begins with a visual inspection. I call it “flip the lip” because you really need to lift that lip up to view the back molars, which is where the really bad buildup occurs. During the visual exam, we check for tartar, any anomalies (like extra or missing teeth), and for gum inflammation. We also check for any unusual masses. Two of my dogs have had oral melanomas, both discovered during routine exams.

Even if you regularly brush their teeth, they will eventually need a full cleaning at the veterinarian. This dental cleaning will often include x-rays of the mouth, a vital component of an oral exam. Bone loss, where the root is diseased below the gum line is more common than many realize.

Cats suffer a unique condition that makes x-rays even more crucial. Three quarters of cats over the age of five suffer from tooth resorption, a painful condition where the body reabsorbs the protective dentin covering on a tooth, leaving the root exposed. The cause is unknown, and it can affect just one or many teeth. The worst part is, the entire lesion may be below the gum line, resulting a normal-looking crown but with a terribly painful root. The only treatment at that point is extraction of the affected tooth. As stoic as felines are, even the most observant pet parents won’t see any evidence of this problem. Scary, right?

The concept of “anesthesia-free dentistry” has become very popular over the years, but I would caution you to know its limitations. We anesthetize our fur kids because that is the only way we can be thorough in our examination, clean underneath the gum line where much of the bacteria and plaque reside, and extract teeth if necessary. I have seen many dogs and cats at my clinic just weeks after an anesthesia-free cleaning who are still suffering from significant dental disease. If you do use this option, just know that while it may remove tartar and plaque from the visible surface of the tooth, it does not provide the health benefits that a full cleaning under anesthesia would.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, treat your companion animal to the gift of health! Many veterinary clinics offer special deals or packages during the month of February, so if you’ve been putting off that dental cleaning, there’s no time like the present to schedule an appointment. And be sure to check out the Life’s Abundance dental-health products discounted for the month of February in celebration of National Pet Dental Health Month. We’re offering these great products at their reduced Autoship prices (up to 18% off retail!): Gourmet Dental Treats, Porky Puffs and Buffalo Bully Sticks!

By making just a couple of improvements to your care regimen, you could help to add years to your pet kid’s lifetime.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Smoothie

Really, do we need to provide any explanation for the taste sensation of combining chocolate and peanut butter? Even vanilla lovers look to this yummy combo when they want to be a bit naughty.

Now we’ve turned this world-famous flavor into a healthy and satisfying shake that you can enjoy as often as you like!

So, go ahead and treat yourself to this super simple, incredibly delicious and oh so healthy temptation.

Peanut Butter Cup Protein Smoothie

1 cup milk of choice
1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/2 ripe frozen banana
1 scoop Life's Abundance Chocolate Plant Protein
5-10 ice cubes (fewer cubes for thickness)

Blend for 10-15 seconds and serve in your favorite glass. What could be easier!

New Year’s Goals for Pet Kids

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Ah, January. A season for new beginnings, new resolutions, and some measure of regret for all the indulgences of the holiday season. If my gym is any indication, “get more exercise” is still on the top of most people’s list of New Year’s resolutions.

Fur kids don’t make resolutions, but if they did, half of them would be joining us in our pursuit of a healthier weight. Here’s a few facts about canine and feline weight you might not know:

1. More than half of dogs and cats in the US are considered overweight. It’s right up there with dental disease in terms of how frequently it is diagnosed. Because it creeps up slowly over time, many pet parents don’t even realize it’s happening until an annual vet check. Suddenly, your 12-pound cat is now 15 pounds. Yikes!

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2. Being overweight increases other health risks. Diabetes, joint disease, heart and lung disease, some forms of cancer and high blood pressure are all linked to excessive weight in dogs and cats. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same list we see in people. We all need to make an effort to go out and play, walk or run as a team!

3. Weight loss is a process. Some companion animals lose weight more easily than others, so it may take some experimentation to figure out the best course of action for your own dog or cat. One of the most common pitfalls is neglecting to measure food portions. When my dog Brody put weight on after my son took over feeding duties, I was shocked to realize that he was dumping food in the bowl without measuring. Brody was being overfed by almost 30%!

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4. Helping your fur kid be healthier can make you healthier, too! The Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that people who live with dogs are 34% more likely to walk at least 150 minutes a week. And if your fur kid is a puppy, guess what? You walk faster than people walking without a dog. Sometimes not in a straight line, am I right?

5. Pet kids at a healthy weight live longer. Dogs and cats at a normal weight have an average life expectancy up to 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight. So commit today and add more and better years to not just your own life, but your companion animal’s as well!

The great thing about weight, compared to other medical conditions, is that it is reversible. Talk to your veterinarian about the course of action that’s right for you. They can help you figure out your companion animal’s caloric requirements and ensure weight loss is done gradually and safely.

Here’s to a fruitful and healthy 2017, and successful squad goals!

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM