May 2019

The Changing Needs of Senior Cats

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Cats are wonderful, mysterious creatures. And that's just two of the many reasons we love having them as a part of our family! On the other hand, cats are notorious for masking symptoms of disease, which can make determining their health needs increasingly challenging as they age. The signs are there, however, if we know what to look for. In what follows, we'll review the signs and reveal several things pet parents can do to optimize their cats' nutrition as they age.

When are Cats Considered Senior?

Generally speaking, cats can be considered senior if they're somewhere between 7-10 years of age. There is not one specific age, largely due to differences in quality of nutrition and the varying health states of individual cats. Unlike dogs, which have a wide variation in aging due to size differences between breeds, cat breeds all age at about the same rate.

Common signs of aging in cats include decreased jumping due to arthritis, weight changes (either gain or loss), changes in sleeping patterns, changes in drinking and/or urinating behavior, and cognitive changes such as seeming disoriented or lost. Although these symptoms are associated with age, they also reflect disease processes. If your cat exhibits any of the above symptoms, visit your veterinarian to make sure that you're not dealing with a dire medical condition that might require immediate treatment! Better safe than sorry.

Dogs vs Cats - More Differences

While older dogs have decreased energy needs, the same is not true for cats. The caloric needs of cats decrease until age 11, then start to increase again (which is why you see many obese 9 year olds but very few obese 16 year old cats). Cats are obligate carnivores so their nutritional needs are very different from omnivores such as dogs and people.

Protein & Fats

Senior cats may not digest protein and fat as efficiently as they age. Thus, the takeaway here is that not only the quantity, but the quality of protein and fats, matters. If protein intake remains too low, your cat may experience impaired immune function and muscle wasting. Digestibility is the key obtaining nutrients from foods, so it’s best to feed high-quality protein sources that are easily absorbed by a gut that may not be performing at optimal levels.

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Four Age-Associated Diseases You Need to Know

Diabetes is usually associated with obesity. High-protein, lower-carbohydrate diets can help blood sugar stabilize and reduce the need for insulin. Weight loss greatly improves the condition. Signs of diabetes include increased drinking and urination, sudden weight loss. Note that these symptoms are very similar to those of hyperthyroidism, another common disease in older cats.

Dental disease can make it harder for cats to crunch on kibble, leading to weight loss secondary to pain. Soft foods can help minimize oral pain. Signs of dental disease include reddened gums, bad breath and tartar.

Hyperthyroidism: a very common disease in elderly cats that is also associated with heart disease. Diet can help these cats maintain weight, but this is a disease that is best treated with medication, surgery, or radiation. Many cats do very well with treatment.

Renal disease: while kidney disease is often treated with protein restriction, this may not be the best bet for all cats. Too little protein can result in weight loss and muscle breakdown. Some cats benefit from phosphorous-restricted diets to reduce strain on the kidneys, but these decisions are best made in conjunction with your veterinarian. Signs of kidney disease include decreased appetite, weight loss, bad breath, vomiting, dehydration and increased urination.

Nutritional Challenges in Older Cats

As your cats age, they're at a higher risk of diminished appetite due to medical conditions, a loss of smell and taste due to age, all of which can lead to muscle wasting. Pet parents can help with warming food, soft food (canned is often more aromatic than kibble), or adding gravies or meat-based baby foods to improve smell and flavor.

Older cats are prone to dehydration, so getting enough water in them can be a challenge. Again, adding canned or soft foods may help, as does providing multiple water stations throughout the house.

Don't forget that premium supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help address some of the signs and symptoms of aging.

So What's the Bottom Line?

As we've seen, cats are a mystery and sometimes a challenge. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to senior diets in cats, so each kitty should be evaluated on an individual basis to come up with a diet plan that will help them live their longest, happiest and healthiest lives!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

4 Tricky Fruits & Veggies Worth the Effort

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We have to respect a fruit that can draw blood just by grazing your flesh. But once tamed, the pineapple delivers a bounty of health benefits: antioxidant vitamins A and C, copper, manganese and bromelain, which is thought to ease inflammation. Plus, buying a whole pineapple versus pre-sliced or frozen chunks can save you some cash. And it sure tastes a lot more flavorful and juicier.

But, you might be asking yourself, how the heck do I even approach a pineapple without losing an appendage? Armed with a little know-how, victory can be yours but first, the preliminaries:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before you start handling food.
  • Remove any damaged or bruised areas. If you suspect it could be rotten, toss it out.
  • Thoroughly wash the food under running water. It’s okay to scrub firmer produce with a brush.

So don’t be intimidated. Grab a sharp knife and claim your birthright:

Pineapple

What to Look For
A ripe pineapple is mostly firm but will give ever-so-slightly when you squeeze it. The color should be a consistent golden yellow (but a little green is OK), and the base should smell sweet and bright.

How to Prepare
Chop off the top and base. Next, prop that puppy up lengthwise and use a serrated knife to carefully saw off the spiky skin, top to bottom. Then you can cut it into chunks or slice it into rounds as desired.

Artichoke

One of earth’s natural diuretics, the artichoke has a reputation for fighting bloat. But this vegetable has more than one trick up its thorny sleeve. Rich in fiber and folate, it also has tons of vitamins C and K, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium. Sure, you could buy a can of artichoke hearts but why deny yourself the pleasure of eating the leaves — or the satisfaction of conquest?

What to Look For
The leaves should be tightly packed, not loose or splayed. They also should squeak when rubbed together.

How to Prepare
If you plan to eat the whole artichoke (leaves and heart) start by using a serrated knife to cut off the tips and stem. Then use kitchen shears to snip off any sharp points on the leaves. Once you’ve boiled or braised it, be sure to scoop out the inedible “choke,” a thistle-like substance, using a spoon.

Ginger Root

Good God. Look at that thing. So gnarled. So rooty. How could something so delicious look so filthy? And yet, there it is. Still, we urge you to look past this plant’s dusty veneer and consider its benefits. Long used to calm nausea and indigestion plus, it tastes and smells divine. 

What to Look For
Pick up the hand — yes, that’s what it’s called and we think it’s creepy, too — and examine its texture. Choose a section with smooth, taut skin, which should be thin enough to nick with your fingernail. You should also be able to detect its spicy scent.

How to Prepare
Break off as much of the hand (shudder) as you need. Pro tip: If it doesn’t snap easily, it’s probably not fresh. Use a knife to pare off any dry ends and nubs, and then hack away at the larger swaths of skin with a vegetable peeler. If any stubborn bits remain, scrape ‘em off with a spoon. You’re left with lovely flesh for grating, pickling or candying.

Coconut

You may take one look at that hairy stack in the produce section and feel a strong urge to abort mission. Resist! Nutrient-rich coconuts aren’t hard to master, and buying them whole is more cost-effective. 

What to Look For
First, check for heft; a good coconut should feel heavy for its size. Next, give that bad boy a good shake. Does it sound like at least a cup of water is sloshing around in there? Great. Now examine the cluster of indentations called “eyes” for cracks, mold or wetness.

How to Prepare
Guys, you get to use a hammer for this! And a screwdriver, which you’ll use to poke a hole in the coconut’s softest eye. Once you’ve pierced the eye, drain the liquid inside by either slurping it up with a straw or pouring it into a glass. Gently hammer a spot toward the center of the fruit until a fracture forms along the circumference. Pull the halves apart and pry the flesh from the shell with a butter knife.

Then, imagine yourself on a desert island and enjoy the sweet bounty.

We're One of America’s Best Small Companies!

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We are proud to announce that Life’s Abundance is a 2019 Forbes Small Giants winner! This award is bestowed annually to 25 privately held companies that exemplify their commitment to choosing greatness over growth. Each of these companies provides stellar service to customers, offers employees fulfilling, rewarding work and is a vital member of its community. Below is the write-up in May’s edition of Forbes Magazine.

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Life’s Abundance has been making and selling healthy pet food (and other products) since 1999, and it’s never had a product recalled, a record that makes CEO Lester Thornhill, a native Trinidadian, proud. It relies on customers to market its products, as in multilevel marketing, but with a crucial difference: There are no quotas, and no one is required to buy or sell anything. That not only means a lot of repeat customers but also lets the company keep its goods out of big-box stores and Amazon, which is a matter of principle, Thornhill says, enabling Life's Abundance to manufacture in small batches and guarantee freshness and quality.

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“We are deeply honored to be a part of the Small Giants Community, an inspiring group of purpose-driven business leaders,” says Lester Thornhill, CEO of Life’s Abundance. “This award holds particular meaning to us because it celebrates our commitment to making an impact beyond our balance sheet, whether it’s creating products for the well-being of you and your pets, selecting sustainable business practices, or contributing to charitable organizations.”

The Small Giants Community is open to businesses that are eager to grow and make profits, but only while upholding their culture and purpose. Once a year, 250 like-minded leaders get together for a three-day conference loaded with vivacious speakers and social events centered on how to keep great companies strong. At the summit, the 25 Best Small Companies who were named in Forbes are honored. We were so thrilled to be a part of the celebration this year!

Amazing Greyhounds: Fun Facts About the Fastest Dog

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Greyhounds are one of the oldest purebred canines. Ancient paintings of these noble creatures grace the walls of tombs in the great Egyptian pyramids. In fact, Greyhounds are the only breed mentioned by name in the Bible!

Aside from being one of the fastest animals on the planet, they are so good-natured that they are commonly referred to as “Velcro dogs” by their people. 

Would you like to learn more about this elegant, ancient breed? Then look no further, because here’s a handy infographic that reveals some of the most amazing Greyhound facts. To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below!

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Our Foundation Awards Funding to 10 Rescues

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Did you know that when you shop at Life’s Abundance, a portion of the profits is set aside to fund the good works of our charitable foundation? Whether you’re ordering nutritional supplements for yourself or premium food, treats and supplements for your companion animals, your repeat business funds our efforts to help save lives of homeless, abused and neglected animals across the U.S.

Our non-profit agency, The Dr. Jane Foundation, provides financial support to small and medium-size rescue groups from coast to coast. Many of these rescue groups are just getting their operations off the ground, and the obstacles they face often boil down to limited resources. If we can help dozens of these groups every year to save more lives and further establish their agencies as agents of positive change, we are thrilled to do so. Since 2007, our foundation has given 186 awards totaling more than $270,000!

And that brings us to today's news. We’re incredibly pleased to inform you that our Board of Directors has funded grant applications for the following ten rescue organizations.

1. TLC Humane Society

Based in the town of Dahlonega, GA, the TLC Humane Society is the only no-kill, non-profit shelter in town. They maintain both a physical shelter facility and a foster-care program. The shelter is nestled on six beautiful acres and aims to find adoptive homes for over 300 dogs and cats this year. Our award was allocated to help cover the costs of much-needed building repair, to ensure that their rescued dogs and cats have a safe environment while awaiting placement in their forever homes.

2. Animal Balance

This organization's primary focus is on implementing non-lethal overpopulation control on islands all over the world. Animal Balance provides basic veterinary care, including spay/neuter, microchipping, vaccinations, parasite treatment and addresses other injuries/conditions as needed for both cats and dogs. Even though they don’t do adoptions, we recognize the importance of their hard work in keeping overpopulation at bay. Our award was allotted to help cover the costs of their next island spay-and-neuter mission on Kauai. This five-day operation requires loads of planning but organizers hope to perform surgeries at four different temporary clinics with the ultimate goal of spaying/neutering over 2,000 feral cats.

3. Yorkie Rescue of America

Founded in 2011 by Tiffini Cartozian, who turned her passion for Yorkshire Terriers into a mission for good, this breed-specific non-profit rescue has saved the lives of over 400 Yorkies. This organization only provides aid to Yorkies who require extensive medical care and/or intensive rehabilitation. At present, they have approximately 40 foster homes with over 70 volunteer caregivers nationwide. Our financial award has been allocated to help offset the costs of veterinary care and to help build awareness for their services across the country.

4. 3rd Coast Labrador Rescue

Established in 2015, 3rd Coast Labrador Rescue is a non-profit organization comprised of unpaid volunteers who are dedicated to rescuing, healing and rehoming Labradors and Labrador mixes in Michigan. The vast majority of their dogs come from animal control, nearby shelters or owner surrenders, so they must deal with a wide range of extreme health issues stemming from abuse, neglect or accidental injury. At present, they do not maintain a presence in a dedicated facility, but rather utilize their own private network of foster homes throughout the state of Michigan. Our financial award was specifically earmarked for to veterinary costs. 

5. Douglas County Humane Society

Partnered with Douglas County Animal Shelter, the Douglas County Humane Society works to reduce the number of stray dogs and cats in their community through outreach, education and by providing veterinary care to animals in need. Since they were founded, their primary goal is to eliminate euthanasia at their local shelter, which they're on the cusp of achieving. Additionally, they provide assistance to local low-income families through their Pet Pantry, helping people keep and feed their pets during tough economic times. Our foundation award is allocated towards covering the costs of neuter and spay surgeries for numerous dogs and cats. 

6. Fur Fun Rescue

Fur Fun Rescue’s goal is to lower the rate of canine deaths in a five-state territory that includes areas of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. By coordinating with local and national transport coordinators, including Pilots N Paws, they transfer dogs from high-kill shelters to welcoming rescue groups. They specialize in difficult-to-place dogs, many of whom have urgent medical needs and seniors who have close to no hope of rescue. This year, they are on target to successfully adopt out over 300 dogs! Our financial award has been allocated to help offset the high costs of veterinary care incurred in rescuing sick and older dogs. 

7. Golden Oldies Cat Rescue

Based in Monterey, California, Golden Oldies Cat Rescue is a resource and advocate for adult cats from Monterey County whose guardians can no longer care for them or who are at-risk in area shelters. Founded in 2016, this group places cats into foster homes while searching for their new forever families. Their motto is “Older Cats, New Beginnings.” Golden Oldies is working to build its foster program to expand its reach. In fact, our award to this organization will help them to reach this goal, while the rest of the funding will be allocated to finding forever homes.

8. Happy Trails Animal Rescue

After years of rescuing dogs in need from local area shelters, this central Florida rescue group underwent a change in their philosophy ... namely, to devote their energies towards resolving one of the most persistent failures of animal rescue: when adoptive pet parents return dogs due to problem behavior. Soon, they will open a brand new Community Resource Center for dog adopters to provide free training, educational and youth programs, free vaccine clinics, a pet food pantry, low-cost spay and neuter services, free grooming and other assistance. Our financial award has been allocated to fund additional training scholarships to dogs and families across Central Florida, including free professional training for dogs with behavioral problems stemming from their experiences in high-kill shelters. 

9. One Step Closer Animal Rescue (OSCAR)

Headquartered in Sparta, NJ, OSCAR is a non-profit rescue organization that saves dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters where animals are still euthanized due to lack of space. At present, they have working relationships with four different state Animal Control Centers. They ensure that all the pets in their care receive the proper veterinary attention and vaccinations, and that all are spayed or neutered. Additionally, OSCAR helps the local community with strays, re-homing animals, intake of NJSPCA abuse cases and operate a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) program for feral cats. Our financial award has been allocated to help offset the cost of building repairs to keep their rescues safe and happy as they await adoption. 

10. Paws & Prayers

Founded in 2001, the animal rescuers who formed Paws and Prayers sought to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home forgotten, neglected, or otherwise left-behind pets. They utilize a foster-based rescue system in which every saved pet receives loving care and attention from their dedicated volunteers until the perfect adoptive home can be identified. Their ever-growing base of volunteers and foster homes proudly saves over 1,000 companion animals each year! Our financial award has been allocated to help pay for spay and neuter surgeries for dogs and cats.

For everyone who actively support the vital work of our non-profit, we can’t thank you enough. Thanks to your personal donations and continued Life's Abundance patronage, we are helping animal rescue groups achieve their dreams of making a positive difference in the world, one animal at a time.