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

Futuristic Pet Technologies & Gadgets

smart-dog

Fans of Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know of the amazing convenience offered by the T.A.R.D.I.S. and Babel fish, both of which offer real-time translation of any form of communication, from humans to animals to aliens. A device allowing for instantaneous translation has long fired the imagination of many.

The language barriers have been breaking down since the launch of the internet’s first translation website (interestingly enough, called babelfish). We haven’t gotten to the point Douglas Adams envisioned just yet, but technology inches us ever nearer this holy grail of communication.

These days, all you need is your phone to get around the world. For example, Google’s Translate app allows you to translate road signs and blocks of text with nothing more than your camera phone!

While such advances are remarkable, we’ve only gotten as far as other humans. Cat meows, dog barks, bird chirps, and whale songs are just as much of a mystery to us as they have ever been … but that may soon change. According to a report commissioned by Amazon*, pet translators could be on the market within the next decade. What would that even look like?

The obvious problem with the concept is that dogs and cats don’t rely on verbal communication the way we do. Cats don’t even meow to other cats, just to people. A collar that claims to translate vocalizations therefore isn’t going to give us a whole lot of useful information. Therefore, one would ideally require some sort of technology that would evaluate body language, which is integral to the way that so many pets communicate.

lap-dog-ball

For the past decade, wearable tech has struggled to come up with a device that pet parents actually find useful. Smart implements claiming to translate barks fell by the wayside quickly, due to impractical tech. GPS trackers fared a bit better, but most people find they don’t lose track of their dogs and cats often enough to need them. But the final path to progress, at least based on how the technology has evolved recently, seems to be in devices that capture and interpret a pet’s movement.

Fitbit-like devices that simply tell you how much exercise a pet is getting aren’t that popular. Rather than responding to the tracker’s complaints by upping daily walks with the dogs, most people simply put the trackers in the drawer to avoid the guilt. But rather than focus on the amount of movement, pet trackers are now trying to determine patterns of motion. The newest trackers claim to recognize not only the length of physical activity but the type. Consequently, they’re able to differentiate between an itchy dog scratching all night from an anxious dog pacing around the house. Even better, these trackers could even help pet parents determine if that new allergy drug is helping, or if a dog on arthritis medication is feeling any better. Actions speak louder than words, right?

At the end of the day, as researcher John Bradshaw points out**, technology shouldn’t replace pet parents simply doing a better job of understanding the needs of their dog. A person who lives in a small apartment and works 12 hours a day may run into problems if they adopt a Weimaraner puppy. Knowing that your dog spends the first 15 minutes after you leave the house running at warp speed or tearing up the cushions is useless unless you realize this likely indicates separation anxiety, which can’t be resolved without some sort of behavioral intervention. The true benefit of these technologies is in getting a better handle on what is going on when we aren’t present.

canine-buddies

If you’re an early adopter of pet tech, you’ve probably accumulated all sorts of gizmos. Dog cameras that spit out treats with the push of a phone’s button. Remote tennis ball launchers. Specialized collars that can track a dog’s respiratory rate throughout the day. One of the more popular pieces of pet tech is the Nest camera. Many a canine and feline mystery has been solved thanks to the watchful eye of hi-def video monitoring.

The path to technological advancement is by necessity littered with castoff items that fail to meet their potential, but that’s the nature of innovation. For all the times we try out a new gadget and never use it again, there are occasionally bursts of technical genius that truly makes life better for us and our companion animals.

So, what do you think Life’s Abundance reader? Are you itching to try out mind-bending future tech to communicate with you companion animal? Or are you content with your own tried-and-true methods when it comes to canine interactions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Online References:
* gadgetsandwearables.com/2017/07/21/amazon-shop-the-future
** theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/21/dogs-talk-tell-home-truths-technology-pets-feeling

The Real Reasons Why People Prefer Cats

majestic-white-kitty

On August 8th, we celebrate International Cat Day. To mark the occasion, Dr. V takes a look at why millions of pet parents are more inclined towards cats than dogs. Enjoy! 

Ask any pet lover if they consider themselves Team Cat or Team Dog, and you’re probably going to get some strong opinions. Although the number of U.S. households with dogs exceeds those with cats, felines win in measures of overall numbers. According to the latest survey, about 94 million felines live in the U.S. right now. Clearly, plenty of people play for Team Cat. 

After a long dark era where cat lovers were given a hard time (crazy cat lady stereotypes, anyone?), I’m pleased to see the merits of living with cats far outweighing any negative remarks. In fact, we seem to be enjoying a great renaissance of cat appreciation! Even in the virtual world, cats rule the internet thanks to endless YouTube videos. They're beautiful, mysterious creatures who share a deep and abiding connection with us mere humans. What’s not to love? 

kittens

If you spend enough time talking to people who consider themselves cat people, a few common themes emerge. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons people find themselves gravitating towards Team Cat … 

  1. Ease of Care. When you bring home a puppy, you wind up with a 10-page list of requirements covering training, harnesses, toys and socialization. Cat parents view such lists with mild amusement. By comparison, cats are pretty low-maintenance. Once you cover the basic necessities such as food, water and a litter box, the rest is just bonus points! 
  1. Independence. Cats are naturally independent, unlike dogs who long to be part of a pack. Of course, certain cats are more social than others, but overall they aren’t as stressed by alone time as your average dog. To many people, this laid-back relationship can be very appealing! Like the cool kid in school who's a bit aloof, you almost love them just a little bit more.
  1. Big Personalities. Interestingly enough, both dog lovers and cat lovers mention personality as one of the reasons they chose one over the other. Clearly, they’re both right. It’s all about who meshes best with the family!

On a purely personal note, certain types of people tend to gravitate towards feline companionship. Folks who describe themselves as introverted, laid-back, shy, refined and independent seem to be naturally inclined toward the feline temperament. There are some who also claim intelligence as a trait of cat people, but as a dog person myself I’m not going to touch that one!

napping-in-bed

As for the notion that it’s mostly women who love cats, nothing could be further from the truth! Cat dudes are loud and proud with their love of all things feline. A few feline fans who just so happen to be famous guys include Christopher Walken, Macklemore, James Franco, Gilles Marini, Russell Brand and Tom Hardy!

Of course, there are many among us who simply can't pick one over the other. In fact, more than half of cat households are also dog households. My son and I are Team Dog while my husband and daughter are Team Cat. We're fortunate enough to have one of each, and we all love them both equally! While it’s fun to play up the differences between dog people and cat people, we’re all animal lovers, and that’s what matters the most.

So, how about you? Are you a charter member of Team Cat? Share your reasons why in the comments section below.

All my best to you and your lovable companions!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Supporting Military Service Members

soldier-dog-companion-service

This week, one of our military veterans received a hero’s farewell. In Muskegon, MI, hundreds gathered to witness the passing of Cena, a black Labrador who retired in 2014 after serving three tours of duty sniffing out explosive devices in Afghanistan. After his recent diagnosis of terminal bone cancer, his caretaker made the decision to end Cena’s life with dignity, and some well-earned fanfare. Cena was one of many military service animals who have saved countless lives for decades.

We reflect with gratitude on the history of those who have served, both human and companion animal, alike. For those of us who don’t serve and are fully entrenched in the civilian way of life, military life can feel like foreign territory. Given that so many have given so much, we’re left to wonder, “What can we do to help?” To that we say, “We’re glad you asked” and we encourage you to open your heart to these following possibilities.

Foster During Deployment: If you answer “no question, my dog/cat” when asked who you’d want with you on a deserted island, fostering an animal for service members deployed overseas may be the role for you. Like anyone, active military service members can and often do have doggos and kitties. They also have the unique hardships of extended out-of-town training, deployments and living far away from a network of family or close friends. Lest these difficulties bar service men and women from being pet parents (or worse, surrendering a pet), there are organizations that exist to “matchmake” service members with volunteer pet boarders. These groups seek private homes and boarding facilities that would care for a military foster pet for as short a period as a couple of weeks, up to one year and everything in between. If you live near a military base, check for a regional service in your area or visit one of the national services like DogsOnDeployment.org.

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Adopt a Hero: In an ideal scenario, a retired military working dog (MWD) is to ultimately be adopted by their handler partner, but this is not always possible. If you are a fan of dogs who demonstrate a real drive and purpose, perhaps you have a place in your home for a retired hero! The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act was cause for great celebration because it means that retired military working dogs are now, for the first time, assured of being returned to the U.S. Previously there was tremendous advocacy and expense required on the part of the handler or other caring humans to get these dogs back home. Some adoption organizations currently have waiting lists for MWDs, but this new act could mean an increase in the number of retired working dogs seeking forever homes. To learn more about retired MWD adoption, please check out U.S. War Dogs Association and Mission K9 Rescue.

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Make a Contribution: There are approximately 2,500 U.S. Military Working Dogs currently in service around the world. Consider spending the time to assemble a care package for one, two or even a few of these remarkable canines and their handlers. A little bit of comfort can go a long way towards helping service members endure conflict hardships and feel connected to home. There are also a handful of non-profit groups that facilitate medical care, housing and adoption for retired military dogs – all of which need financial assistance. And let’s not forget our local law enforcement agencies! These groups are often under-funded and under-equipped for their K9 officer programs, relying on grants, private donations and out-of-pocket contributions from their officers. Project Paws Alive works to centralize fundraising efforts for departments actively seeking help. Or simply contact your local fire rescue, sheriff or police department to learn about their specific needs and how you might be able to help.

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Become an Advocate: As ‘excess and out-of-service equipment’, Retired MWDs do not receive government funding to support their integration into civilian home life. It’s not uncommon for them to have costly medical needs, or to be without a safe place to heal from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress. Others simply need temporary housing or even just transportation to their new forever home. There are also ‘guardian angel’ volunteers who keep track of MWDs re-apportioned to private contract companies in hopes they may be assured a loving home when their service finally ends.

In light of everything our service members do for us (human and canine), embrace that patriotic spark and let your gratitude inspire action. And be sure to share your own stories in the comments section below!

Read more about Cena here:
www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/27/military-dog-cena-jeff-deyoung-michigan

The Surprising Benefits of Plant Proteins

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It's not an exaggeration to say that more people are worrying about their health (especially, their healthcare) than ever before. Some could argue that all of this increased worry is actually having a negative impact on the health of Americans! While the latest effort by Congress to change our nation's healthcare system appears to have stalled, it doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking active measures to protect our own health. So, let's try to put aside the worry - and the politics - and focus on some really exciting science!

Thanks to a long-term study supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes for Health, we could all start doing something today that could have a real, measurable impact on our long-term health. Is it a miracle drug? No! Is it the latest fitness gadget or exercise program? No! In fact, it's simply a minor change in what we eat. That’s it! To understand why the medical profession is abuzz with the radical implications of the latest news, we need to come to terms with one simple, undeniable fact. As Americans, we're eating way too much meat. So much, in fact, that it's making us sick.

Researchers at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital recently announced findings of a groundbreaking study, one of the largest of its kind. Nutritional scientists examined the effects of regular consumption of high levels of protein from animal sources compared to vegetarian sources. Much of the animal protein came from processed red meats. And the results were nothing short of astonishing! They indicated that heavy meat eaters had a higher mortality rate. Participants in the study whose diets had a higher percentage of plant-sourced proteins experienced a lower risk of death.

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The researchers analyzed two massive sets of data, one encompassing more than 30 years worth of information from NHS participants, and another that captured 26 years worth for HPFS participants. The combined total amount of reviewed data was a whopping 3.5 million person-years. Over the course of the data collection, more than 36,000 participant deaths were recorded. Those who perished fell into three major groups: 9,000 from cardiovascular disease, 13,000 from cancer and about 14,000 from other causes. When adjustments were made for competing risk factors, researchers found that eating protein primarily from animal sources (meat, eggs or dairy) was associated with an increased rate of death. The same adjustments were made for those whose consumption of protein came primarily from plant sources (breads, cereals, beans, legumes, etc.), and the results were highly significant … they uniformly had a lower mortality rate!

The data was unambiguous and clearly supports what vegetarians have been talking about for decades. The full report will appear in the August 1st edition of the Journal of American Medical Association – Internal Medicine (citation provided below).

happy-couple

Fortunately for Life’s Abundance customers, we offer the perfect solution to this widespread dietary problem. It’s never been easier, more convenient or more delicious to boost your plant protein content thanks to our innovative supplement powders, now available in both Chocolate and Vanilla!

References:

Edward Giovannucci et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182

sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160801113654.htm

msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/50-easy-habits-that-help-you-live-longer-according-to-science/ss-BBByzg6?li=BBnb7Kz

civileats.com/2017/06/29/eating-less-meat-is-a-prescription-for-better-health

Four Common Skin Problems in Dogs

scritches

Skin problems are some of the most common complaints in veterinary medicine, right up there in the top three. Surprised? It shouldn’t be too shocking when you consider that the skin is the body’s largest organ, one subjected daily to the elements. And for dogs, skin is one of the organs most frequently affected by allergies. With well over 100 different causes of canine skin problems, it can be hard to sort out why your dog is red or itchy. So, how do you even begin to understand why your pup is scratching? Easy … you start with the basics. Today, we’ll take a look at the most common skin problems veterinarians see at the clinic.

In order to understand skin disease in dogs, we need to know the difference between symptoms and causes. The cause of skin disease is the underlying condition that predisposes a canine to the problem, such as a surface infection or something more serious, like endocrine disease. The symptoms are the outward physical manifestation of those causes. Common symptoms include itchiness (pruritus), hot spots, hair loss (alopecia) and scaly skin. Pet parents often feel frustrated when they very carefully and completely describe a set of symptoms but their vet can’t definitively determine the source of the problem. That’s because for every itchy dog, there are many experiencing multiple causes! Getting to the root cause of a symptom is the only way we can provide complete diagnosis, and hopefully provide your doggo with some relief.

Happy-Shiba-Inu

The most common causes of skin disease fall into four distinct categories: infection, parasites, endocrine and allergic disease. While this is not an exhaustive list, these categories account for the vast majority of problems.

1. Infections: Multiple organisms can take root and cause disease in the skin. We see bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus, yeast such as Malassezia, and fungus such as Dermatophytosis (which causes ringworm). These infections can cause a variety of symptoms such as hair loss, itchiness or redness. In order to determine the cause, the veterinarian often needs to look at a sample of skin cells under the microscope or send hair to culture. It is very important to know which organism is causing the infection to minimize time to resolution and make the patient comfortable as quickly as possible. Guesswork just doesn’t cut it very well! The right treatment makes all the difference.

2. Parasites: You only signed up for one dog, not the hundreds of bonus fleas or mites they can sometimes bring in. In addition to being gross, parasites can transmit infection to our companion animals (and sometimes to us), possibly leading to irritation and secondary infections when the itchiness becomes unbearable and dogs start chewing away at their skin. Some of the most common skin parasites are mange mites (Sarcoptes), fleas and ticks. The good news is, once we identify the parasite, treatment options are pretty straightforward and will eliminate the problem.

3. Allergies: Lick, lick, lick, chew, chew, chew. If you’ve ever been woken up at 2 am by the incessant sounds of a dog attacking his own skin, you know just how affected pets can be by the intense itching of allergies. In dogs, allergies fall into three major categories: flea, food and atopy (environmental allergies). Those three distinct causes all look very similar from the outside, so it can take some solid detective work and diagnostics to definitively name the culprit. While time-consuming, it’s obviously well worth it! Because allergic disease is a chronic condition, it’s one that we manage rather than cure. The more specific we are in our knowledge of the cause, the better we can manage the problem over the long term.

4. Endocrine: Disorders of the endocrine system can manifest in the skin in a variety of ways. Hypothyroid dogs may have thickened, greasy skin, while canines suffering from Cushings may have a distinctive pattern of hair loss on the trunk. While these skin symptoms are secondary to the main disease process, they offer important clues as to what’s really going on.

So, what can we as pet parents do to avoid doggie skin problems? Causes such as parasites are fully preventable with the right medicines, but allergies can be very difficult to prevent. You can, however, work on maintaining the health of the skin by giving your pet proper nutrition, adding essential fatty acids through skin-and-coat supplements. Perhaps the best first line of defense is by using dog-appropriate shampoos and conditioners that don’t strip the oils from the skin with harsh chemicals.

little-squirt

Life’s Abundance takes canine skin and coat health seriously. The first time you use Revitalizing Shampoo, you may already notice a change in your dog’s appearance after the first bath. Thanks to its unique formula, coats will be shinier and fuller, with less dander and no more “doggie smell”. With moisture-activated odor neutralizers, our shampoo features antioxidants and organic herbal extracts that penetrate into the hair shaft and promote coat health. Also included are kiwi and mango essences, selected because they too enhance the health of the skin, as well as leaving your dog’s coat smelling clean and fresh. 

Unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian, you should not bathe your dog more than once every 2-3 weeks. If your dog’s coat could do with some freshening in between baths, use Bath Fresh Mist to neutralize odors and condition the skin and coat. And it’s so easy to use … simply spray and brush into in the coat. You will love the aroma and your dog will enjoy being pampered!

Golden-sheen

Nothing is lovelier than petting a dog with a beautiful, soft coat and healthy skin. With vigilance, premium nutrition and regular veterinary care, your dog can have the skin of a movie star! And, perhaps best of all, your pupper will enjoy the sweet, sweet relief of life free from itching.

All my best to you and your lovable dogs!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Infographic: 5 Ways Cats Improve Your Life

If you're lucky enough to share your life with a cat, you'll know that regardless of personality, felines make life better. Whether they're low-key couch potatoes or frenetic, live-out-loud adventurers, it really doesn't matter. Each kitty finds a way to bring happiness and companionship. But that's not all! They add a fullness of experience to life, in five amazing ways which we've outlined in the following infographic!

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your cat-loving friends and family ... or better yet, those who still need convincing!

PDF Document
PDF Document

Summer Harvest Citrus Bites

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Across the country, spiking heat indexes have everyone looking for ways to cool down. What better way to chill than with the robust nutrition of our latest premiere recipe!

Made with our signature Greens Blend, these bite-sized treats are sure to satisfy. Thanks to its delicious, yet subtle, berry flavor and silky smooth texture, our non-GMO blend of raw, certified-organic grasses and mushrooms delivers a robust burst of nutrients to these fun, summery delights.

This quick-and-easy recipe yields 24 scrumptious servings, so it’s ideal for impromptu social gatherings.

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1 scoop Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
Zest of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 orange (approx 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional alternate topping)

Instructions

Place the almonds and cashews into a blender or food processor and pulse to finely chop. Add the Greens Blend and pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add the dates, orange zest and juice, and blend until the mixture starts to clump together.

Transfer the dough to a bowl. Form small round balls by rolling the dough in your palms. If opting for a chocolaty topping, melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler or microwave on low power. One by one, roll the balls in coconut flakes to coat or drizzle melted chocolate over top.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for a month.

Five Ways to Make the Fourth Less Frightening

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In 2012, my husband and I took the kids down to the San Diego waterfront for the annual “Big Bay Boom” Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. As we staked a spot on the grass, I was surprised to see a couple with an Australian Shepherd puppy. Surely they’re planning on leaving before the fireworks began, I thought to myself. But as the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed, it became clear the dog was staying for the show.

Unfortunately for all of us, someone had made a grave mistake. The entire stockpile went off simultaneously. Eighteen minutes worth of explosives detonated in 15 seconds. Even for those of us expecting a fireworks show, it was terrifying. With the blinding lights, resounding booms and the ground shaking, there was mass confusion. As the smoke cleared, I turned around and saw that poor little pup cowering as his shell-shocked owners packed up their belongings. Now, this was an extreme case, but I tell this story to make crystal clear, dogs do not belong at fireworks celebrations.

July 5th is one of the busiest days in both veterinary hospitals and shelters, for many reasons: panicked pups bolt over fences, leading some to become lost and others injured; unattended food gets scarfed down, causing gastric problems; overheated canines experience heat exhaustion; and the list goes on. The good news is we know what to anticipate, which means we have the opportunity now to plan ahead to help keep the Fourth fun and safe for everyone. Here are my top five tips for a great Independence Day.

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1. Watch out for “counter surfers”! Summer barbecues are delicious for us but full of hazards for pets. High-fat foods like burgers and hot dogs can cause pancreatitis, kebab skewers can wreak havoc in the stomach, corn cobs are a leading cause of GI surgery and ribs have bones that can splinter and pierce the intestines. Make sure all your people goodies are securely out of the way of nosy pets, and keep an eye out for party guests (especially kids) who accidentally leave plates in precarious locations.

2. Avoid glow-stick accessorizing. Resist the urge to put a glow stick around your pet’s neck. They really aren’t designed for pet use, chiefly because the liquid they contain can be quite irritating if ingested. Fortunately, there is another option! If you want your pup to look bright and patriotic, LED-lighted collars are designed to be both adorable and perfectly pet-safe.

3. Confirm your pet’s ID info. Is your pup’s tag and microchip up-to-date? If you’ve recently moved or your phone number has changed, getting a new dog tag and calling your vet to update a microchip are inexpensive forms of insurance for potentially scary problem. When fireworks go off, even well-behaved, mild-mannered pets can panic and bolt. One of the main reasons pets languish in shelters after the 4th is due to incorrect or missing identification.

4. Provide a happy distraction. If you must leave your companion animal home alone when fireworks are likely, take some precautions to help minimize anxiety. Some may even surprise you! For example, some dogs find classical music soothing (check out ‘Through a Dog’s Ear’ online), while others enjoy TV. There are non-drug calming options such as the Thundershirt or a pheromone collar. And, last but not least, try the tasty distraction offered by a treat-dispensing toy filled with Life’s Abundance kibble or treats!

5. Consult your vet before the 4th. If your doggo is prone to levels of anxiety that over-the-counter remedies can’t address, your veterinarian might prescribe medications to help him or her through the night. Here again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead for this holiday! Vet’s offices are often slammed on July 3rd with pet parents in a panic asking for a new prescription, and it may not be available on short notice.

While the Fourth of July can be a source of stress for many canines, it doesn’t have to be! As you can see, just a little bit of planning can make a world of difference.

Be sure to check out the handy companion guide in our infographic post Fourth of July Safety Prep.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Infographic: Fourth of July Safety Prep

We’re only one week away from the Fourth of July! And while we may be ready to celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s one of the hardest times of the year for our companion animals.

Every year, pet parents all across America deal with the emotional toll from fireworks. They’re loud, scary and unpredictable. Even dogs who typically have totally chill personalities can go a bit bonkers at the “bombs bursting in air.” The extreme fear felt by canines can be both traumatic and shocking.

And the patriotic displays aren’t just limited to a single evening. In the days running up to Independence Day, fuses will be lit everywhere from stadiums to cul-de-sacs. So, what can we do to protect our furry friends from explosions of anxiety?

Here’s a handy infographic to help you begin making preparations now to help make this year’s festivities safer, and thus much more pleasant, for everyone! To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

PDF Document

Womansplaining Men’s Health

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File this post under ‘Tough Love’. Even though it’s technically addressed to women, it really is about helping men to improve their health. If you’re a guy reading this and you really do some soul-searching, you may end up not only being healthier in the long-term, but also impressing the women in your life for being totally on the ball.

Ask any woman, men are quick to offer to fix things. Guys uniformly seem willing to tackle just about any sort of problem, whether it’s plumbing, electrical or automotive. Unfortunately, this can-do spirit doesn’t always extend to emotional or health-related concerns. Because healthcare often has an emotional aspect to it, it presents a double-whammy for guys who’d prefer to ignore both. And that ends up being a big problem for men.

The problem isn't restricted to certain kinds of health issues. It’s common in the event of preventable sickness and even risk-related diseases. From incidences of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, men have significantly higher mortality rates. In terms of life expectancy, men also get the short end of the stick, with women living on average several years longer.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s a lesson some men still have yet to take to heart. So, ladies, we’re depending on you to give some urgency to what turns out to be a global problem. But don’t worry, we’re here to help talk to that important guy in your life. So put on your flak jackets, because it’s time to drop some truth bombs.

together

What’s the number one reason why people don’t like going to the doctor? Getting bad news. Here’s the shocker … when your doctor tells you that there’s a problem, it doesn’t begin in that moment. You had that problem already! 

Is your significant other afraid of or angry at the scale because it revealed a specific number? Stepping on the scale does not cause weight gain! Powering through a bag of candy or a six-pack every few days is a much more likely culprit. Similarly, postponing a medical checkup to avoid getting bad news just doesn't make sense.

And yet, this widespread belief ends up creating the very problem people are trying to avoid! In that respect, it reinforces unhealthy behavior. "No bad news" does not translate as "I get to keep doing exactly what I'm doing." This unspoken notice can lead to other negative beliefs.

In hopes that we can change some of these unhelpful perspectives, we're offering up some simple strategies to help that special guy in your life, even if he’s incredibly resistant to change. We’ve tried to frame these positions in ways to minimize anxiety and keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

conversation

1. HAVE “THE TALK”. It starts with a simple and direct question. “Do you want to be around for your child’s high school graduation or for your grandchild’s college graduation?” If the fellow in question doesn’t have kids, then put it in terms he’ll understand. For the most part, everyone wants to live a long life, and even those who don’t think about it expect most of their future years will be healthy ones. 

2. THE ATTITUDE. According to a comprehensive, global study by the World Health Organization, masculinity stereotypes play a critical role in the disparities of wellness between genders. Too often, men behave like their favorite fictional character, emulating risky behaviors that are perpetuated in film and television. As much as it might be enjoyable to watch heroic antics where nothing can stop the good guy from his noble task, the truth is that this ‘walk it off’ mentality is having a horribly negative effect on actual good guys.

cradling-child

3. THE HOMEWORK. In order to take preventative measures, you have to first know what might be wrong! Given the incredible advances in genetics and medicine over the last 50 years, it’s easy to make the case that by knowing something about your genetic background will go a long way to understanding yourself. Ask him to compile a comprehensive family medical history that includes parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents. This is something doctors routinely ask for and most people provide a halfhearted summary. Some even just leave that section blank!

Such a review will prove immensely helpful for doctors. And doesn't your fellow deserve the best possible healthcare? And remember to preserve this homework, because someday it could play a vital role in the healthcare of future generations.

long-life

4. BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. The bottom line is this … a huge amount of suffering can be prevented, alleviated or cured by doing things we all know we should be doing. Here are four simple steps to help jumpstart healthier living for men.

Regular Check-Ups

Commitment to annual wellness exams is a great way to establish a baseline and troubleshoot any developing problems. But to get the most out of these visits, he'll need to be forthright with his doctor. We say that because men are actually less likely to be honest with their physicians regarding the extent and severity of symptoms than women!

Eat Right

If he always says “no way, Jose” to fresh fruits and vegetables but “yeppers” to beef, butter, beer and Ben & Jerry’s, then he's asking for trouble. So much has been written on the topic, there’s hardly a reason to cover good dietary choices here other than to say, eat more fruits and veggies, and avoid fatty and processed foods.

Take a Pill, Dude

The issue for men here seems to hearken back to the ‘walk it off’ philosophy. If it hurts badly or just feels wrong, see a doctor and follow directions. And, yes, that means being open to prescriptions. But it’s not enough to obtain a prescription if it’s medically necessary … it needs to be taken following the directions. Men are much more likely to deviate from prescribed dosages of medication, whether it’s skipping a dose or doubling up. Both can be much more problematic than people generally think, and can result in severe consequences.

Move More

If it’s been years since he's gone for a run or rode a bike, stamina should gradually be built up. As we age, exercise has more and better benefits when it’s done carefully and appropriately to actual ability (not based on "what I used to do"). Bottom line, don’t go overboard! Walk if you don’t have too far to go. Or, if it’s too far to walk, ride a bike instead of driving. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise daily can make a tremendous difference not only in his health, but also in how good he feels!

embrace

If at any point the conversation starts veering off-topic, be patient but firm. If you get an outsized negative reaction as a result of sharing these strategies, try and steer the conversation away from feelings and back to fact. Finally, if they’re just too overwhelmed by the topic at-hand, leave them a copy of this post to read and reflect on.

If you’re having trouble getting through, use an analogy. For instance, remind them that just like cars and trucks require routine maintenance to perform at peak efficiency, so too does the human body. Whatever tack you choose to try and reach him, come back to the same point as many times as you need, until you get the sense that they’re on the same page about why this conversation is necessary … because they’re loved. And that you would like to have them around for a long time!

This is a problem that affects men of all ages, races, demographics, financial standings, etc. It’s not your guy in particular, and it’s not all guys, but it’s so widespread that the benefits of cultivating a proactive mindset will be better for everyone ... each individual, each family, each community, and maybe even for the world as a whole.

“The men’s health gap: men must be included in the global health equity agenda.” Peter Baker, Shari L Dworkin, Sengfah Tong, Ian Banks, Tim Shand & Gavin Yamey. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2014;92:618-620. www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/8/13-132795/en/