July 2017

Supporting Military Service Members

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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).

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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

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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.

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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.