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

Top Five Amazing Cat Facts

Russian Blue cat

I used to think I was a dog person, which lasted right up until I adopted a cat. While I’m still a huge dog fan, I no longer believe you have to prefer one over the other. There’s a reason cats are the most popular pet kids in North America!

Yes, cats are nothing like dogs: they are enigmatic, independent, sometimes aloof and always entertaining. Their completely unique natures are, in my opinion, their most endearing feature. It should come as no surprise that in addition to their one-of-a-kind personalities, they also have some pretty exceptional physical features and roles to play in our society. As a veterinarian, writer and cat enthusiast, it pleases me to no end to learn more about these fabulous furballs. Here are just five of my favorite unique cat facts!

1. Cats can use their mouth to smell

Have you ever seen your cat take a big sniff, then pull their mouth back in what looks like a sneer? That’s called the flehmen response, and it’s one of the wonderful, weird things that makes cats so unique. Cats have a special organ called the vomeronasal organ wedged up between the hard palate and the nasal septum. The vomeronasal organ is used to analyze pheromones, which is an important means of communication in the feline world. If you’ve ever gotten a good whiff of cat urine, you may make the same face … but unlike us, cats are actually gaining extra information from that stimulus.

2. Cats are well adapted to high-heat environments

Have you ever seen a cat pant? Hopefully not, because they aren’t supposed to. We all know that dogs use panting to dissipate heat, while humans sweat. Aside from a negligible number of sweat glands in the paws, cats do neither! Evolved from desert-dwelling creatures, cats have extremely efficient kidneys that can concentrate urine to a very high degree, meaning they can survive longer than other mammals with less water without becoming dehydrated. I watch my dark-coated cat Penelope seek out blocks of sunlight all the time … like many cats, she thinks “The hotter, the better!” Meanwhile my dog is laying on the coldest spot of floor he can find.

Striped Cat

3. You can’t top a cat’s night vision

Cats are unusual in that they have both predator and prey adaptations. One of their most unique features is their slit pupil, which allows the pupil to contract more quickly than the circular pupils of dogs and humans. This means they adjust more quickly to changes in ambient light. They also have the largest eyes of any mammal relative to their size! They have several other adaptations meant to ensure they can see well at night, including more rods in the back of their retina as well as a tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer of tissue that gives their eyes that eerie green glow.

4. Cats could have changed the course of history

In the Middle Ages, the Black Death swept through Europe, killing off an estimated 25% of the continent. The causative agent of bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis, was found to be carried by fleas who moved about the countryside on rodents. During the Spanish Inquisition, cats were condemned as evil and killed by the thousands. This cat depopulation allowed the rodent population to explode, extending the effects of the plague. Who knows how many lives could have been saved if only cats had been spared and out hunting the plague carriers.

5. Hissing is a unique feline vocalization

Have you ever heard a happy cat hiss? Probably not. Though not all cats hiss, those that do are invariably upset or frightened. Experts believe hissing may actually have evolved as a mimicry of a snake hiss, a way to warn someone that whatever they are doing, the cat is not at all happy about it. If you have a cat who hisses, consider yourself lucky! It’s a clear warning to stop whatever is upsetting them before they escalate to the next level, something usually involving claws or teeth.

Pet Kids Totally Acing This Halloween Thing

Pet Costumes

Earlier this week, we asked our readers to submit photos of their dogs and cats celebrating Halloween. So many of you responded and now we’re happy to share some of the spooky fun with you!

Adorned in a flattering ensemble, Kinzie is rocking a look she calls ‘Candy Corn Witch’.

Kinzie the candy corn Witch

No Halloween would be complete without a great pumpkin, and they don’t come any cuter or sweeter than Pumpkin Vasquez.

Pumpkin Vasquez

Oliver being totally chill and owning his role as Scary Biker Dude.

Ollie Biker

By far, our most highbrow submission goes to the classically inclined Ludwig 'von Big Boy' Beethoven.

Elise Big Boy

Granny Zelda was caught wearing her unmentionables, saying, “I can’t talk now, my stories are on."

Granny Zelda

Stella’s costume definitely raised some eyebrows.

Stella Groucho

Is it a bird? A plane? Nope, it’s Copper doing an excellent imitation of Superman! Looks like this Kal-El is hangry.

Copper Superman

Well, Hello Kitty! We’d trade all of our Beanie Babies for a few minutes holding Buttercup.

Ty Hello Kitty

Even though he’s not from Baskervilles, this hound is definitely on the case. Now we just need to find him a suitable Watson!

Wilford Sherlock

Simple, but always spooky, Wendell looks particularly ethereal in his ghostly garb.

Wendell Ghost

Slow and steady wins the race, says Luna, pulling off her turtle costume with aplomb.

Luna Turtle

It’s barely November, but Coffee is already gearing up for Christmas!

Coffee Reindeer

For all of you who sent evidence of just how awesome your companion animals are, we thank you from the bottom of our candy hearts! And to all of the dogs and cats who participated, we hope your bags were full of yummy, healthy treats!

Just because Halloween is over, it doesn’t mean that your companion animals don’t deserve high quality treats all year ‘round! Be sure to check our big selection of dog treats and our gourmet cat treats.

Keep in mind that we’re always interested when your pet kids do something cute, sweet or funny. Email your awesome pet photos to blogfun@lifesabundance.com.

Show Off Your Pet Kids' Costumes

Fonzi Dog

Dressing up for Halloween isn't just for humans anymore! If your dog or cat is donning a costume this year, we want you to share the adorable photographic evidence. Email your costume pics to blogfun@lifesabundance.com. Staff favorites will be posted the first week of November, so tell your four-footers to say "CHEESE!"

Easy Bliss Bites: Recipe

Chocolate Bites

Who says healthy living can’t be irresistibly delicious? Definitely not anyone after sampling the latest Life’s Abundance recipe!

Judging by the reaction this recipe got here at our home office, you might want to throw caution to the wind and whip up a double batch of this fudge-inspired delight.

Be sure to share this delectably sweet and coolly refreshing treat with friends and family!

Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 Cups toasted rolled oats

1 Cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 Cup slivered almonds

1/2 Cup virgin coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

1 Cup almond butter

2/3 Cup raw honey

1/2 Tsp. almond extract

2.5 Scoops (approx. 1/4 Cup) Life's Abundance Greens Blend

3/4 Cup chia or flax seeds

3/4 Cup mini chocolate chips

Bake

Directions:

Spread oats and coconut on cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Use a mixer to combine the almond butter, honey, almond extract and the softened coconut oil. If needed, add more coconut oil by the tablespoon to reach the desired consistency. Once these ingredients are well mixed, add the remaining ingredients and mix until evenly blended.

Spread and press the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan (line with parchment paper for easy removal and clean up) and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Cut into bite-size delights and enjoy!

On the very slim chance you have leftovers, be sure to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Four-Legged Heroes: Dogs in the Military

Dogs in the military

I’ve always wanted to attend the annual New Year’s Day Rose Bowl parade, but when I finally got to attend it wasn’t even the floats that wowed me the most … it was the dogs.

That year, I had the pleasure of meeting several service members who were riding on a float supporting the US Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, which made its debut in 2013. It was there that I met Sgt. 1st Class Charles "Chuck" Shuck and his dog Gabe, who had just received the American Humane Association Hero Award for his work in Iraq.

Both Gabe and Sergeant Shuck challenged my preconceived notions about working dogs in the military. Gabe wasn’t a stern, antisocial dog but a sweet yellow Labrador, trained for explosives detection after being rescued from a shelter in Texas. He participated in 170 combat patrols and racked up 26 “finds”, saving potentially hundreds of lives! After his retirement in 2009, he was adopted by Shuck.

You might imagine the relationship between handler and dog to be all business, but when Shuck and Gabe looked at each other, I saw the same adoration and love all dog parents know and recognize. Dogs in the military have important jobs to do but also serve as vital emotional support for many soldiers. I also learned that veteran dog handlers haunted by having to leave dogs behind in Vietnam are responsible for the current stance on canines in the United States military, which is this: dogs are to be treated with the same regard as any other soldier. They are not treated as commodities, but are accorded respect and reverence for their work and sacrifice. When they are injured, the medics are sent in just like they would be for a wounded person.

Gabe

After meeting Gabe and several other distinguished canine veterans, I wanted to learn more about the eventual landing place for the memorial: The US Military Working Dog School, located at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. While researching the training facility known more affectionately as “Dog School”, I also learned some other amazing facts about dogs in the military:

  1. Dogs have served with US soldiers in every major conflict since the Civil War.
  2. The school trains dogs to work for all branches of the military as well as for the TSA.
  3.  Worldwide, about 1,400 dogs are working in service of the United States Military at any given time.
  4. The most commonly utilized breeds are German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Sporting breeds such as Labradors are more frequently utilized as needs for explosive detection have increased.
  5. Congressional Bill HR-5313, signed into law in 2000, recognizes the value of canine life by allowing retired military dogs to be adopted into loving homes.

A month after I met Gabe, he sadly passed away from liver cancer. I sent Sergeant Shuck the photo we took at the parade along with my condolences. It was an honor to meet such an incredible team, a handler who grew into a dog parent and loved his hero dog with all his heart. They represent the best of what dogs and people can accomplish while working together.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Why is This Adorable Duo So Happy?

Michele and Max

Meet Michele Dobos and Max. While attending an enormous pet adoption event co-sponsored by Life’s Abundance in West Palm Beach, Florida last month, Michele took a chance and entered our Free Pet Food for a Year Giveaway. And we’re so glad she did!

Michele is smiling because she is the winner of our drawing! Max is smiling because he’s just a happy guy, plus he was given a basket full of tasty goodies.

Max

When asked what motivated her to attend the Countdown 2 Zero Adoption Event, Michele said, “I went to support the rescues. A friend and I filled our pockets with bills and dropped donations into each rescue group’s jar at the event. As a former rescue volunteer, I know how important this event was for all 32 of these groups.”

Michele Max and Lester

Life’s Abundance CEO Lester Thornhill took our winners on a red carpet tour of the headquarters. Within minutes Max and his broad Shih Tzu grin dominated the day and won the hearts of everyone who met him. He’s a seven year old with spunk and now that he’s eating Life’s Abundance All Life Stage Dog Food we’re certain to see an extra spring in his step.

Congratulations to Michele and Max, and welcome to the Life’s Abundance family!

The Amazing, Intuitive Empathy of Dogs

When I was 12 years old, fully in the throes of junior high angst, I had a difficult time telling others about painful events. Being called hurtful names by other kids. The time my backpack was stolen and thrown over a fence. About the bullies who teased me. I didn’t want to tell my parents because I didn’t think they would be able to change anything, and I worried that it would end up just making them sad. So … I told my dog.

At the time, I thought I was kind of a weirdo for confiding in my dog. But as I grew older and devoted my life to working with animals and people, I found to my delight that dogs are some of the world’s best counselors. They give veterans with PTSD the strength to venture outside. They help shy children work on their speaking skills. They sit in courtrooms while victims testify about terrifying events. They lie quietly next to people in hospitals who simply need a soft head to pat. They are sometimes as effective as medications in controlling anxiety.

I’ve often heard it said that dogs can sense when someone they love needs extra support, but until I witnessed it firsthand, I had no idea just how powerful that connection could be. When my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last year and came to live with us, I was beyond petrified, as was the entire family. It was so hard to simply sit there and be present without bursting into tears, which would only upset Mom more.

My dog, on the other hand, had no hesitation about inserting himself in the middle of it all. Brody became an ever-present companion by her side, a steady escort that helped to keep her upright when her balance was off, a head on her lap while she tearfully signed her Hospice admission papers, and a gentle snorer at her side every night. When she peacefully passed with my father by her side, Brody was also there to see her off.

How can I possibly explain what burden he bore during that time? He was not just there for my Mom but also for me, the kids and especially my dad. With my mother gone, Brody immediately transferred his watchful attention to him in a way that he never had before. Together, they went on long thoughtful walks during that period. There is no possible explanation other than the fact that Brody knew exactly what we needed from him.

Dogs see us at our worst and, unlike many people in our lives, are unafraid to be right there in the thick of things without judgment or discomfort. They are such a gift to us! I feel so fortunate to be able to give back and help their lives be long and wonderful in return.

Have you ever had a dog who went above and beyond the call of duty in a time of pain or need?

Tell us your remarkable story of canine comforting in the comments section below. And be sure to share this post with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Record 334 Pets Adopted at Massive Event

Life’s Abundance is very proud to report our recent involvement as Official Sponsors in Palm Beach County’s third annual Countdown 2 Zero adoption event. Held on September 10th at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, hundreds of adoptable cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs from dozens of rescue groups overtook the arena. The goal was to find forever homes for hundreds of these hopeful pet kids.

Countdown 2 Zero is a county-wide initiative harnessing the expertise and resources of both local county government and private animal rescue agencies, with the stated mission of completely eliminating the euthanasia of adoptable pets by 2024.

Throughout the day, a dozen Life’s Abundance staff members worked from our booth and mingled with the crowds. Altogether, we personally greeted several hundred event attendees. Our company was one of many co-sponsors in attendance, along with a whopping 32 animal rescue groups. Thanks to corporate sponsorships like ours, all of the non-profit rescues were able to participate at no charge, allowing them to focus on what really matters … finding the perfect homes for their companion animals.


Life's Abundance sponsors Countdown 2 Zero adoption event.

The visiting crowd consisted of nearly 3,000 wonderful people, all united by their desire to adopt a homeless animal (maybe even two!). Making sure that everything went off without a hitch were 220 event volunteers, plus all of the animal rescue workers. Truly a remarkable group of people! But the real stars of the event were the 900+ adoptable pet kids, ranging in age from four months to twelve years.


Ready to meet their new family!

This was the third time this annual extravaganza has been held, and thanks to a great deal of planning and boatloads of caring, an amazing number of pet kids were adopted into their forever homes. The final tally was 334 adoptions, which broke their previous record!


All hands on deck at the Life's Abundance booth with CEO Lester Thornhill, Customer Care Manager, Delphia Brown and Project Manager, Dawn Tate.

Life’s Abundance CEO, Lester Thornhill said, “We really wanted to focus on our neighbors and do something beneficial for our community. Being a co-sponsor afforded us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our willingness to invest in the lives of both people and companion animals. The life-saving changes being made here on the local level are nothing short of heroic. We could not be more pleased to play a role in this incredible event.”


Volunteers and adopters couldn't resist a little cuddle time.

Everywhere we looked, inspirational acts of spontaneous kindness were happening in every corner of the 50,000 square-foot space. There were tears of joy and loads of laughter. The mood in the room was simply over the moon, everywhere people beaming big smiles … even the dogs! In just a few short hours, we witnessed hundreds of heartwarming unions.

To everyone who participated in Countdown 2 Zero, we can’t thank you enough for your interest in adoption and for giving all of us the chance to meet you in person.

We congratulate the event hosts, all of our fellow corporate and non-profit sponsors, but most of all, we applaud all of the thousands of participants and every single adopter. By opening your homes, and your hearts, you have all made the world a better place for your new pet kid.

In the short term, your participation will have a very real impact on our community, as far fewer adoptable animals will be euthanized in Palm Beach County. Not only that, but each of you helped to further our county's long-term goal of eliminating euthanasia altogether. That’s a big deal!

For all of us at Life's Abundance, helping to improve the quality of life for animals in need isn't just a one-off event ... it's part of our DNA. In fact, supporting animal rescues is part of our business model. If you're new to Life's Abundance, you should know that every order results in a small donation to our company non-profit, The Dr. Jane Foundation. All of those little donations add up to big change. Since 2007, we've awarded nearly $200,000 to more than 100 animal rescue groups across America.

Collective action on behalf of a good cause is the only real way to affect positive change in the world. We hope you'll join us, either as a new customer or even as a distributor of our products. Together, we truly can make the world a better place.

5 Foods for Glowing Skin

Promises of age defying, wrinkle releasing and instant face lifts in a bottle keep beauty products flying off the shelves everywhere from the grocery store to the most posh department store. I’m not saying a few fancy (or not so fancy) products don’t have their role in your skin's health and glow but your best bet at beautiful skin? Is building it from the inside out.

These five foods will offer you loads of nutrients to help clear your complexion, prevent wrinkles and make your skin glow.

Strawberries: This sweet fruit is full of antioxidants (including vitamin C and manganese) that help to prevent damage to the skin by free radicals. Not only that, but it also packs a punch in the B vitamin department, which plays a role in increasing circulation to the skin. Better circulation equals better cell turnover and a healthy flush. Here’s a bonus to these little fruits - researchers have shown that B vitamins play a role in a reduction in hair loss and contribute to shinier hair. Top a slice of Ezekial toast with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese and sliced strawberries as your new go-to breakfast.

Spinach: This leafy green contains zinc, important in controlling the oil content of the skin, which helps minimize breakouts. It’s also an essential component in the formation of collagen, which gives your skin cells their strength and keeps their structure. A boost of zinc will prevent skin from sagging and premature wrinkles from forming. Toss a cup of fresh spinach (frozen works too!) into your fruit smoothie for some serious skin boosting benefits.

Salmon: This fish is a well known option for those pining after glowing skin. And for good reason. Its high amount of omega 3s (DHA and EPA) are essential fatty acids necessary for good health, including skin. We can’t make them in our body so we must get them from food or supplements. DHA and EPA help maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes and assist in warding off wrinkles. Their anti-inflammatory effect helps prevent collagen breakdown. Grill a salmon filet with rosemary and lemon for the simplest way to wow your dinner guests. Seafood not your thing? An Omega 3 supplement might be the next best option to ensure you’re getting a healthy dose of those necessary fats.

Almonds: Many know about biotin as being the answer for good hair and nails. But did you know that this vitamin does a whole lot of good for your skin, too? Almonds provide you with this particular B vitamin that gets the limelight for its role in stimulating faster cell turnover for a glowing complexion. Get your healthy dose of biotin by topping a salad with sliced almonds or by grabbing a handful of raw almonds as a quick snack.

Kidney beans: You may have heard of beans referred to as the ‘magical fruit,’ but this is true for more reasons than this tune’s amusing lyrics. Their high amounts of iron increase oxygen transportation throughout the body. This means better circulation, which means serious benefits for a healthy glow. Pairing them with a food high in vitamin C will ensure all of the iron gets put to work towards your best looking skin. Make a hearty veggie chili full of bell peppers, tomatoes and kidney beans for a nutrient match made in heaven.

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN