January 2017

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

Frenchie

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!

Tabby

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%!

Whippet

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

Ginger-Vanilla Protein Bar Recipe

With this crave-worthy recipe at your fingertips you’ll no longer worry about falling off the healthy eating band-wagon at snack time. Plus, you can spread your great inspiration by making an extra batch to share with friends and co-workers.

The best part is that because this isn’t a perfectly scientific recipe, it can be a clearinghouse for your pantry. Don’t have sunflower seeds or sun butter on hand? No problem, swap them out for chopped pumpkin seeds and that last 1/3 of a jar of nut butter lurking in the back corner. Or, put those pecans leftover from holiday baking to work in place of almonds, all in the name of good eating.

Even with this versatility, be sure to stick with the crystallized ginger (at least for your first batch) because it is undoubtedly the superstar of this recipe (less Kim Kardashian, more Dame Judi Dench).

Let us know how your batch turns out and if you made following these exact directions, or if you got creative!

Ginger-Vanilla Protein Bars

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
scant 1/2 cup Life’s Abundance Vanilla Plant Protein
1 cup oats (gluten free optional)
1 cup corn flakes, pounded to large crumbs
1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (approx. 3 oz whole pieces)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter, whisk in maple syrup. Add milk and protein powder, whisk together until smooth. In large bowl, add oats, corn flakes, almonds, sunflower seeds and about 3/4 ginger pieces. Pour melted butter mixture over dry ingredients, mix together thoroughly. Add sun butter to mixture and mix well, kneading with hands if necessary. Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment, foil or non-stick spray. Transfer mixture into pan; using a spatula or damp hands, press down firmly in even layer. Sprinkle shredded coconut and remaining ginger pieces, press down into bars. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

Compulsive Paw Chewing

Picture in your head a really itchy dog. Got it?

Now what did you see? Chances are, you envisioned a dog scratching away at his ears or belly, or maybe rubbing his rear end on the corner of your couch. And while all of this is indeed very common for itchy dogs, we often tend to overlook one of most frequent symptoms of allergic disease … paw chewing.

If you were to request a referral to a veterinary allergist, I would send you to a dermatologist. I know that’s odd compared to people, but we do that because in dogs, most allergic diseases manifest in the skin. Referred to as “pruritus” by veterinarians, the type of itchiness that we are talking about with allergic disease isn’t the minor irritation of a flea bite but the unrelenting, keep-you-up-all-night, horrifying discomfort that we humans associate with conditions like chicken pox or poison ivy. Yes, it’s bad for these little guys. Well-meaning pet parents try to dissuade their dogs from biting and licking by using e-collars or putting socks on their feet, but none of that addresses the underlying itchiness. As soon as the physical barrier is removed, they’re right back to the destructive reaction.

Oftentimes a dog begins by licking very gingerly at their paws. Being a good pet parent, you check their toes and pads for causes of the irritation, such as burrs, ticks or cuts, but – alas – find nothing. As the irritation worsens, the dog begins to chew instead of licking, plucking fur out and gnawing at their toes like they were little rawhide chews. After a while, the skin becomes weakened (or worse, broken) by the constant chewing, which almost invariably develops into secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections. Sometimes by the time the pet arrives at the vet, their poor little toes look like ground beef.

What are the types of allergic disease?

What causes this infernal itchiness? Chances are, it’s allergies. Dogs suffer from three main categories of allergic disease: fleas, environmental allergies (referred to as “atopy”) and food allergies. So, which one is your dog experiencing?

Flea allergies are the most common allergic disease in dogs. However, flea allergies result in itchiness primarily on the hindquarters and at the base of the tail. Atopy is the second most common form of allergic disease. Dogs react to the same environmental allergens that humans do … things like trees, grasses and pollens, molds, dander, perfume, dust mites, even cats and people! Depending on the cause, these allergies may be seasonal.

And, so, what remains are food allergies. Food allergies are the least commonly diagnosed form of allergic disease, although it may be underdiagnosed in canines. In our post "The Scoop on Grain-Free Pet Foods", we discussed the prevalence of food allergies:

Food allergies or adverse food reactions are abnormal reactions to ingredients found in everyday foods. Recent estimates indicate that less than 5% of skin diseases in dogs and cats are accurately diagnosed as being caused by a food allergy. Even though the incidence of adverse food reactions remains unclear, a lot of pet parents believe that grains are prime suspects. However, the most commonly identified food allergens among dogs and cats are proteins in beef, dairy, chicken, soy and corn. Food allergies can cause itchy skin alone or even gastrointestinal problems as well.

How are allergies diagnosed?

Truthfully, it takes a good bit of medical detective work. Flea allergies are the simplest … if you find fleas on an itchy dog, mystery solved! Atopy is diagnosed by ruling everything else out first since there is no one specific test for it. When it comes to food allergies, it takes a good bit more effort and time. Blood tests, even though they are available on the market, are somewhat unreliable. The only way to truly know if your dog is allergic to food is to perform a strict 8-12 week elimination trial with a hypoallergenic diet and see if the condition improves.

What does this mean for you? Many times, when a pet is experiencing unrelenting itching and paw chewing, we start treatment before arriving at a specific diagnosis to try and get the pet some immediate relief. Regardless of the actual cause of the allergies, eliminating potential allergens across the board can push them below the “allergen threshold” and help them feel better. When it comes to compulsive paw chewing, here’s what I recommend:

  1. Start with a trip to your vet. Your veterinarian will help you sort out the problem sooner rather than later; a detailed history will give her clues as to what type of allergy your dog may be experiencing. She can run tests, prescribe medications and determine whether your pup has secondary bacterial or yeast infections that require treatment.

  2. Check those toes! Contact dermatitis can occur when the skin comes in direct contact with an allergen such as grass. It’s always a good idea to give the paws a good rubdown with a damp cloth when your dog comes indoors after playing outside. Witch hazel is a gentle cleaner that can help with mild irritation. Whatever you do, avoid products that contain alcohol … ouch!

  3. Investigate your dog’s diet. Even for pet kids who don’t have food allergies, a high quality diet with a new protein source can reduce the immune burden. Omega-3 fish oils can help the skin remain an effective barrier against the environment.

  4. Consider other causes. If nothing else changes, don’t forget that itching is not the only reason pet kids chew on their feet. Pain from arthritis and anxiety are often culprits. Like allergies, arthritis pain and anxiety don’t simply go away on their own.

The take-home message here is, paw chewing is uncomfortable but treatable! While there are plenty of things you can do at home to help the symptoms, addressing the underlying cause is key to nipping those problems in the bud. With some attention and love, your dog can be back on his non-itchy feet in no time.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

New Year, Fresh Start

It’s refreshing, right? The feeling of starting fresh in a new year, with an opportunity for self improvement and change.

Here’s a good tip for when you’re making New Year's goals and resolutions. It will help you stay focused on both short and long-term goals alike.

When defining what you want to achieve, keep it realistic, attainable and measurable.

However, no matter how doable your goal, it’s always nice to have that little extra bit of help and accountability when it comes to following through on your promises to yourself.

Everyone can agree that positive reinforcement is a great way to adopt new behaviors and leave bad habits in the dust. As we all know, there's no better feeling than feeling your best!

At Life's Abundance, we've assembled the most incredible positive-reinforcement pack. Think of it as your go-to bag for getting stuff done AND feeling great. This bundle pack includes everything you need to be your healthiest self in 2017 and you can get a 20% discount off the retail price until January 31, 2017! It includes the following six full-size supplements:

Chocolate or Vanilla Protein - A completely plant based, protein rich powder with amazing flavor that can be mixed with anything from water to your baked good recipes.

Cherry or Tropical Flavor Minerals & Antioxidants Mix - A healthy alternative to sugary sports drinks that provides you with nourishing minerals and antioxidants.

Greens Blend - Using this powder is an easy way to get all of your recommended greens in. It’s a non-GMO mix of raw, certified organic grasses and mushrooms with a subtle berry flavor, and a silky smooth texture.

Probiotic - This probiotic is a four-strain blend to help maintain an optimal microflora balance. Good gut health contributes greatly to your overall health.

Multivitamin - This is a natural capsule multivitamin with a focused approach to health. This means that it provides you with exactly the vitamins you need, while leaving out exactly what you don’t.

Fish Oil Capsules - These supplements are ultra concentrated with two to three times as much health promoting EPA and DHA as competing brands. Plus, they have a slightly citrusy flavor!

This pack is essential for making the positive changes you want to accomplish in the New Year. Positive reinforcements will not only help you achieve your goals, but also feel more energized and youthful at the same time!

Utilizing this pack is the perfect tool to start the momentum toward more confidence and focus on attaining your goals. As long as you remain committed, the strength of this positive feedback loop will only grow, enabling you to do more in 2017 than you maybe even thought possible.

So, let's all start the New Year with a big commitment to ourselves, and each other!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

6 Winter Dangers for Dogs

The inherent dangers that frigid winter temperatures pose to animals are common knowledge. But you should also be mindful of the threats linked to other outdoor hazards, possibly lurking in your own front yard. Beware the six seasonal hazards outlined in this handy infographic … it might just save your dog’s life!