Life's Abundance | Premium health products

Keep Your Pet From Melting Down When You Return To Work

person petting sad dog

Rewind back to March of 2020 when many of us started making the transition from working in the office full time to mostly working from home. This was quite the adjustment for those who were used to the commute to and from work every day. Along with working from home, some people took up some new hobbies. Maybe for you it was gardening or cooking, and others it was home workouts or painting. While you were filling your time with these activities, there was one member of the family that got used to you being home all the time. Your furry, cuddly companion. Whether you already had a dog or cat, or got a so-called ‘pandemic pet’, they definitely got accustomed to having you around from morning to night. 

Now, as it’s time to return to work, you should start thinking about how your absence will affect your pet. They won’t be used to seeing you every minute of the day anymore so some pets, especially those you got during the pandemic, could develop separation anxiety. Symptoms of this include excessive drooling, destruction around the house, or howling. Not only is this stressful for you, but it’s just as stressful for your pet too. There are some tips to help them ease into the transition and lower their stress while you’re away.

Tip 1:

If you know you’re going back out to work soon, come up with a plan to train your pet how to be alone. The best way to do this is by leaving your house for small increments of time and then working up to 1, 2, 3 hours and so on. By doing this, your furry friend starts to feel confident that you’ll come back.Then, once you leave for work for a bigger chunk of time, they will already be used to it and feel more comfortable on their own.

Studies have shown that an action as simple as petting your dog or cat before you leave actually decreases their anxiety while you’re gone. Generally, dogs get nervous when you leave and those negative feelings worsen as more time passes. So, giving them this love and affection as you say goodbye could help them stay calm and lower their heart rate.

woman holding dog in arms

Tip 2:

Sometimes, you can train your pet as much as you can to be without you but fact is, some just get bored. They want to play and be entertained but if you’re not home, they have no one to give them that attention. The result? Maybe some chewed on shoes, or even worse - walls. If your dog loves to chew, or chews to relieve stress, give them something that'll occupy them such as a chew stick. The flavor and activity will satisfy their urge and provide them with entertainment.

Tip 3:

When you come home after your workday, it’s important not to overreact when you see your dog. We understand - you miss them and they miss you too, so it’s hard not to excite them as soon as you open the door. However, this can lead to a bunch of bad habits over time. They could start to jump on you (and other guests) as you enter, knock down anything you’re carrying, or bark excessively. The best thing you can do is be as calm as possible while entering and teach them to greet you in the same manner. Always remember to reward this good behavior!

Going back to work in the office won’t be out of the norm for just you. It will be a huge change for your furry friends too. Try your best to be patient with them as they work through this adjustment. Once you’re back home after a long day, you’ll both appreciate all the cuddles and playtime just a little bit more.


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Using Charcoal and Sea Salt Soap on Acne Prone Skin

man washing face in sink

Acne. There’s certainly no “one size fits all” solution that can indefinitely clear up one of the most frustrating and commonplace skin conditions. There are many factors to take into account when addressing the root cause of your acne and skin congestion including but not limited to diet, hormones, lifestyle behaviors like sleep, stress levels, exercise habits, and finally, topical skincare products. We’re firmly rooted in the belief that optimal health is a delicate balance of a few core tenets including nutrition, physical wellness, and mental well-being. So, it’s important that when dealing with your acne, that you assess your overall well being, both physical and mental, and aim to help address your acne through a holistic lens for long-lasting, healthy skin. 

You might be wondering, but where can I start today? While not always the complete solution, beginning your journey to clearer, blemish-free skin can start with what you put on it. While our skin is inherently intelligent and designed to self-cleanse, moisturize and protect us, we can support these natural processes with clean, nutritive ingredients to encourage clearer, happier and optimally functioning skin. 

What is acne?

First, it’s helpful to know what’s happening below the surface of your skin. After all, it is your body’s largest organ! Acne vulgaris is a chronic inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous unit, collectively made up of the hair follicle, hair shaft and sebaceous gland, your oil-producing gland. Most often, acne is experienced on the face, chest, shoulders or back. Excess sebum production, aka oil, bacteria, and inflammation are a few of the usual suspects when it comes to the formation of acne - which ranges in both appearance and form. It can include comedones, commonly referred to as black or white heads, papules which resemble small, raised bumps, pustules that contain pus and have a white head, and cysts which can range in severity. 

How can I help address my acne topically?

Like we mentioned earlier, skin is smart. We each have a unique skin barrier and microbiome designed to keep pathogens and harmful bacteria out, and the good stuff in. Through years of marketing, we’ve been made to believe that oil is bad when in fact our skin so expertly produces this wax-like substance to coat and protect us. The truth is, healthy skin is in the balance, and our microbiomes and skin barrier are too often under attack by harsh ingredients and products that strip our protective sebum and sweat as well as the healthy bacteria which lives on the skin’s surface. 

Think of your skincare products as supportive rather than replacements for what your skin is naturally designed to do. Let’s dive into one of the key products in our natural skincare line to address acne, supportively. 

woman looking at face in mirror

Charcoal & Sea Salt Soap 

Focusing in on the concept of supportive skincare, our handmade soap deeply and gently cleanses your skin without stripping it of its natural sebum and healthy bacteria to better allow your skin to carry on its natural processes and begin to heal. Topically, acneic skin needs to be treated gently with bacteria-fighting ingredients but it also requires hydration, rather than harsh, drying treatments. 

Supportive

Activated charcoal is extremely absorbent and when applied topically to skin, acts like a magnet for dirt, oil and other build up. By helping to remove this excess build up that accumulates, our pores can better carry out their natural functions like sweating and natural detoxification. 

Hydrating

Our soap is made from a base of organic saponified plant oils (a process that involves the conversion of fat or oils into soap) that are super-fatted (meaning they contain extra fats or oils) to ensure they retain their moisturizing properties. The result? Skin is provided with the moisture it needs to help stay balanced. 

Nutritive

Dead Sea salt is rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium and bromide which help level out some of the root causes of acne like high cortisol production and hormonal imbalances. When absorbed into the skin, these essential minerals can also help stimulate detoxification, reduce inflammation, and improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Bacteria-busting

A star ingredient in this formulation is tea tree oil. This native Australian essential oil been has been shown to possess antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, meaning it can help fight off the bacteria that can lead to breakouts.

How to use it:

It’s important to keep in mind that over-cleansing or drying out the skin can actually further aggravate existing acne conditions. 

On the drier side? We recommend using this soap 4-5 days per week, once daily at night. Be sure to follow up your cleanse with a hydrating, bacteria-fighting facial serum or a moisturizer

Oily to Normal skin? You can use this soap 1-2 times daily. Don’t forget to follow up with a hydrating, bacteria-fighting facial serum or a moisturizer after thoroughly cleansing.


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Alternatives to Feeding Canned Food

dog looking at food bowl

If you’re used to feeding your furry friend canned food, you might find it hard to steer away from it. While these foods are great for puppies and kittens, or pets with sensitive teeth, there are some alternatives that you can try. Here are our suggestions:

First, Consider Calorie Replacement

Whichever route you choose, be aware of the calories that you will need to make up when taking canned food out of the equation. 

For example: If you are currently feeding your 30 pound dog 1 1/2 c. of All Life Stage kibble per day and have been adding one can of Turkey & Shrimp daily (142 calories), you will need to make up the 142 calories another way. It may be just by adding more kibble, or you may choose a combination of kibble, a topper or mix-ins. The same applies to cats, as well.

Replacing Canned Food As a Mix-in or Topper

There are many alternatives to using canned food as a mix-in or topper. Our Turkey Hearts Freeze-Dried Treats are easy to crush into a powder that can be sprinkled over your dry food. Our Buffalo Lungs are also a big hit with dogs. Use a kitchen utensil to crush, scrape or cut small bits of this single-ingredient treat to sprinkle or mix into their kibble. 

These same tempting treats also work well to help with acceptance of supplements or medication.

You can also use baby food as a mix-in. It's highly regulated, so a jar of chicken baby food is only chicken and usually avoids extra salt. Moisten the kibble and mix it in as you would the canned food!

cat eating food out of bowl

Replacing Canned Food As a Primary Diet

Dry food is, by its nature, more nutritionally dense than canned food. This is why it is most often recommended as the primary diet for dogs and cats. However, we understand that some dogs and cats simply cannot eat dry food, whether the very young, or the elderly. 

As an alternative, you can soften our dry foods with a little water. This can provide a nice solution for weaning puppies and kittens, or pets with sensitive teeth. To do this, lightly moisten any of our kibbles to soften the consistency, per our feeding instructions. We do not recommend soaking. Because soaking is not how our food is intended to be used, soaking will not produce an ideal result.

We hope this has provided some additional options that you can implement into your furry friend’s diet so they can achieve and maintain their optimal health!


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Pet Safety While Traveling

woman holding cat near car trunk

The clouds are lifting - both literally and figuratively - as we head into summer. After what feels like a very, very long winter, people are chomping at the bit to get out of the house and back into the world. But what about your pets? Are you taking them with you?
 
Travel in 2021 won’t be entirely like it was before, but those very same travel trends set the stage for a dog-friendly trip. According to AirBnB, who experienced a 128% increase in customers looking for a home away from home during the pandemic, more than six out of ten people are looking to take a trip this year within driving distance from home. Paris and Rome, the darlings of 2019 travel, are out. Instead, people are eyeing the Great Smoky Mountains, Breckenridge, and Palm Springs.

Hotels are out, too. With more people working remotely than ever before, people aren’t looking for a spa-like indulgence nearly as much as they are a different view out of the front window. With rules and requirements changing from day to day, people are also waiting until the last minute to commit to a trip. That’s easier said than done when you’re also needing to plan for a pet.
 
Road trips with pets bring a whole different set of contingencies, but none more important than this: how do you keep dogs safe in the car?
 
For many people, the answer is: you don’t. And the results can be tragic. Here are three reasons you should consider a dog restraint, if you aren’t using one already:

  1. Injuries. According to BarkBuckleUp, a 60 pound dog traveling at 35 mph, which isn’t even freeway speed, becomes a 2700 pound missile during an accident. Not only is that catastrophic for the pet, they can also cause serious injury to other passengers.
  2. Distractions. A pet who panics and tries to get into your lap or under your feet can be a serious problem.
  3. Loss. The number one reason pets die in traffic accidents isn’t from injuries sustained in the incident. When first responders arrive at the scene of an accident and encounter a frantic, unrestrained animal, it is extremely common for them to escape and, sadly, run into traffic. I have seen this firsthand in the ER, and it’s horrible.

So now that we know “no restraint” is the worst option of all, what are our other choices?

"dog

BETTER. Keeping your pet in a crate in the car is better than nothing. I see this frequently, especially with larger dogs where seat belt restraints are more difficult to use. Although it may not be as good as other means of restraint in terms of preventing injury, a crated pet is much less likely to escape your car during an accident or even at a road stop. Ideally you will have your crate secured to the car to keep it stable.
 
BEST. Restraints and carriers specifically designated for dogs are the safest and most effective option for travel. If you have a small dog, you can buy a carrier with safety belt integration built in.
 
For larger dogs, you’re most likely looking at a harness that either connects to the car’s seat belt or hooks into a latch system. For my two large dogs, I find the harnesses a good compromise between safety and usability, as they often have a separate attachment for a regular leash to make it pretty quick to get them in and out for rest stops on a road trip.
 
So which choice is right for you? That can be a tricky one. Because pet harnesses and crates are not required to meet specific safety standards, you’d have no way to know as a consumer which harnesses actually keep the pet secured during an accident. The Center for Pet Safety, a non-profit dedicated to establishing safety standards for pet products, performed actual crash tests with a variety of harnesses and crates to designate those worthy of a CPS certification. Many restraints failed the test. You can find a list of approved products that received the CPS certification on the Center for Pet Safety.
 
But at the end of the day, the best option is going to be the one you actually use. Once you have that part squared away, you can get onto the fun part- deciding where to go!


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Bulletin: Recent Pet Food Recalls

man feeding cat kibble

Note: No Life’s Abundance products are involved in these or any other recalls.

In the past few weeks, the FDA has announced recalls of dog and cat foods that could impact your pet. Here’s what pet parents need to know:

June 13th - Freshpet voluntarily recalled salmonella-contaminated dog food. This was meant to be trashed, however the single lot was shipped to Publix’s in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia and Target stores in Arizona and Southern California. The dog food recalled is Freshpet Select Small Dog Bite Size Beef & Egg Recipe Dog Food. The one pound bags have a sell by date of 10/30/2021 and the Lot Code is 1421FBP0101.

June 3rd - Sunshine Mills voluntarily recalled some of their dog foods due to salmonella contamination. This includes the 40 lb. Sportsman's Pride Professional Formula 30/20 Dog Food (Lot TI1); 5 and 40 lb. Sprout Sporting Dog Food (Lot TE1 and TI3); 16 and 40 lb. Intimidator Chicken & Rice Formula Dog Food 30/20 (Lot TA1); and 50 lb. FRM Gold Select High Performance Dog Food (Lot TA1).

May 20th - Natural Balance Pet Foods voluntarily recalled their 5 and 10 lb. L.I.D. Green Pea & Chicken Dry Cat Formula for possible salmonella contamination. Products were distributed nationwide in the U.S. by both retail and online distribution. The lot codes are 1008080 06:42N811202:20 and 1008080 06:42N811202:20.

For all of the above, the FDA advises to discard the recalled products in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them. They also recommend washing your hands and any dishes or utensils that have come into contact with the recalled food.

No illnesses have been reported as a result of these recalled dog and cat foods to date.

dog at vet

A Safer Solution

At Life's Abundance, we have a much better and safer way of protecting and notifying consumers should a problem ever arise. Because of our direct relationship with consumers we know who received which product, down to the lot number. In the event there is ever an issue with a product, our proactive communications system allows us to reach thousands of people by phone in just one hour, ensuring that we can contact all affected customers quickly. We can also reach them by email and even through the mail. Without this direct outreach, most consumers will never hear about a recall.

If you or someone you know is feeding one of the recalled brands listed above, now may be a good time to make the switch to a premium Life's Abundance diet. If you already feed Life's Abundance to your companion, you can remain confident in your choice and our commitment to helping families, including pets, live long, healthy lives!


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#1 Yoga Mistake You're Making

woman rolling up yoga mat

People come to yoga for all sorts of reasons: injuries, stress, tight hamstrings, or even to help them get more sleep. To be honest, no matter how you get there, you’ll eventually notice the amazing benefits it has to offer.

Studies have shown that yoga does a lot more than just get you flexible, but because most teachers focus solely on the physical practice, we miss out on the many other incredible benefits that will serve us in more ways than touching our toes. 

So what’s the #1 mistake you’re making when practicing yoga?

You’re only practicing yoga on your mat.

Don’t get me wrong - flowing through a series of poses has its benefits, but the poses are only one of The Eight Limbs of Yoga, and I’ve yet to see Warrior 1 transform a life like what I’m about to share with you.

The Eight Limbs are like a roadmap for how to live your life in the present, not sweat the small stuff, let go of the things that aren’t serving you, to be content where you are, and to be happy for those around you, even if it seems like their lives are a gazillion times “better.”

Once you put all Eight Limbs into practice you’ll marvel at how you no longer are irritated by your kids fighting over the X-Box, or your jerky co-worker who stole your idea and presented it to your boss as his. Even the five pounds you gained on vacation won’t put you into a tailspin, because once you start living in the present without reacting to every outside obstacle, then you look at situations for what they are, figure out a way to handle them, and move on.

No complaining or eating a pint of ice cream necessary.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga work together as a team. They start off with practices that are more about being more mindful of our actions than perfecting the poses, and they’re taught to be followed in order. So ironically, nailing the first two limbs that deal with personal growth and serving others is more important than getting into that handstand you’re coveting on Instagram- because asana, or the actual poses, are number three.

Breaking Down The Eight Limbs of Yoga

  1. Self-restraints that teach us self-discipline. Ever heard of The Ten Commandments? These are just like them minus the religious aspect, and they relate to how we can best co-exist peacefully with our neighbors, and those aforementioned credit-stealing co-workers.
    • Non-violence
    • Truthfulness
    • Non-stealing
    • Self-restraint
    • Non-coveting

  2. Observances to guide us along our yoga practice and they’re important to be learned before stepping foot on a mat.
    • Cleanliness
    • Contentment
    • Discipline
    • Self Study
    • Surrender

    Can you see why it’s been said to practice those first two limbs before moving on? They have so much to do with how you treat people, and yourself, that these mental practices are given much more value than balancing on your head, as they should. Yogi masters believe that once you begin to practice those, you are ready to get “physical” on the mat.

  3. Asana is the physical part of yoga; the poses that most westerners are familiar with. The number one thing to remember when doing physical yoga is that the posture should be steady and comfortable, and the breath flowing freely- nothing else matters.

  4. Breath regulation is one of the most underrated aspects of yoga, yet one of the most powerful. The breath takes precedence above the postures, as it’s usually a mirror of what’s going on in your mind. If your breath is steady and comfortable then your pose probably is as well. If you’re holding your breath or gasping for breath then you’re probably pushing yourself past where your body should go.

    woman practicing yoga

  5. Sense withdrawal is all about focusing your attention inward so as to not be distracted by each buzz on your phone or mosquito biting your arm. On the mat, can you stand in Warrior II with your thigh on fire and stay focused on your breath without constantly having the urge to straighten your leg? Great, then you’re already practicing this limb. Concentration is a constant battle with the senses, so turning inward essentially prepares you for the next 3 limbs.

  6. Concentration leads us closer to peace. It could be a candle flame, a mantra, or a picture - whatever it is, you practice concentrating so intently on that object that time disappears. All this concentration is a set of training wheels for meditation, which is next.

  7. Meditation is uninterrupted focus - where the real magic happens. So what are you thinking of? Some teachers say nothing at all, but for beginners that can be discouraging as it takes years to have glimpses of concentrating on absolutely nothing without any thoughts of disruption. I’ve been taught and teach to use the same tools that you use to begin concentrating- your breath, a mantra, a candle flame, etc.

    Then what’s the difference you ask? Think of your object of focus as water flowing from a pitcher- in concentration that flow stops and starts and stops and starts while pouring into a glass, and in meditation it continually flows freely.

  8. Bliss is when they say you have reached enlightenment, the ultimate goal. (Uhh, I’m still working on this last one). But seriously, instead of looking at it like I’m aiming at some unattainable nirvana, I’ve made my goal something much more tangible, that of being present in each and every moment and in every interaction, and on some days I reach it, but not every day.

I promise, even if you focus on practicing just one of these limbs at a time, alongside your physical practice, it will have a profound effect on your mental well being as you begin to integrate them into your daily life.

It takes practice to stay calm on your mat—and in life, but if you ditch the notion of yoga just happening on that 8 x 2 foot rectangle, you’ll notice a radical change in the positive light that is you yourself and the world around you.


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The Secret Ingredient to a Sweet Smelling Pet

dog getting a bath

Most of us can admit that the best time to cuddle up your pet is right after they’ve had a bath. Gorgeous, soft floof with a fresh scent? We’re all for it! Their outside playtime, and even just going for walks, tends to come with mud, leaves, or rain. Dirt can build up on their paws and fur which ultimately results in those unpleasant odors tracking into your home. Bathing your pup every few weeks cleanses their skin and coat and in addition to getting rid of the odor, it also clears out any loose hair and other debris. Cats may not have the same muddy habits as dogs, but some cats need an extra helping hand when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene. That’s where you and the right pet shampoo come in.

While you may be thinking that any pet shampoo will suffice, not all of them are created equal. Other shampoos use harsh ingredients like paraben and formaldehyde preservatives that can be irritating to your pet’s skin. This could lead to more serious concerns in the long run. In addition, other formulas use fragrances alone to cover up bad smells which tend to disappear before you can even enjoy it. For a real difference you can smell, it’s not only important to leave behind a lasting fresh scent from clean, safe ingredients, but also completely eliminate the bad odor at its source. 

So, what’s the secret ingredient?

Life’s Abundance Revitalizing Shampoo

Our Revitalizing Shampoo for pets pampers your pups and kitties by naturally cleansing and purifying their coat. With just a small amount, you’ll get a luxurious lather that doesn’t strip their skin and coat of its natural oils. The antioxidants from organic rosemary and sage prevent damage from environmental factors while natural emollients keep their coat soft and full bodied. Even better, the kiwi and mango work with the citrus notes to leave behind a cuddle-worthy scent.

man kissing dog on head

The Secret Ingredient

Now, here’s where things get interesting. We included a special ingredient in our pet shampoo that completely neutralizes stink, called Ordenone®. This compound works to trap odors immediately on contact and permanently remove them. How does it do this? Chemistry! Ordenone® particles are thought to have a somewhat malleable shape. Once they come into contact with malodor molecules, they adapt to their shape in order to trap them and keep them from reaching your nose. This means that there is no “masking” or covering up of the malodor with heavy fragrances or perfumes that can irritate you and your pet. Instead, you get a fresh smelling pet each time you use Revitalizing Shampoo. Even better, it is safe, gentle and does not strip the skin or coat’s natural defenses.

How To Use

You can use Revitalizing Shampoo as a normal shampoo for your pet as young as 12 weeks of age. A little bit goes a long way and all you need is a small dollop! Lather up and repeat as necessary. Add a little spa-quality to finish off the perfect bath with our Bath Fresh Mist. It adds a little smoothing and detangling power, plus it smells fantastic! It’s a perfect after-bath or between-bath spritz. Now, when your furry friend wants to snuggle up with you on the couch they’ll be sure to pass the ‘sniff test’!


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5 Road Trip-Friendly Summer Recipes

bliss bites and map

What makes a recipe road trip-worthy? 

First off, it has to travel well - nobody wants to open their snack bag to find a wilted salad, a squashed sandwich, or warm fruit salad. These recipes are easy to pack and will not only keep their shape, but also their flavor along the way- while providing you with much needed nutrients to fuel your hiking, biking, or sunning at the beach.  

Second, snacks should give you the energy you’ll need to explore once you get to your destination. So although they should taste great and definitely include “treats,” you want to avoid sugar laden, fried or overly processed packaged snacks.

We’ve road tested our favorite recipes below and given them all the green light - they’re sure to keep you energized, hydrated, and happy on the go.

Sweet Potato Bread

sweet potato bread recipe

Bread travels well, but it’s usually just white flour packed with carbs that make you want to take a nap - not our make-ahead Sweet Potato Bread, packed with Life’s Abundance Plant Protein. It will give you a much needed energy boost after sitting on a long ride, instead of putting you in a carb coma.

Protein-Packed Brownie Cookies

Protein-packed-brownie-cookies

Brownies? Yes, when we said our recipes were healthy, we even meant this one. These Protein-Packed Brownie Cookies pack a double protein punch with the addition of almond butter and Life’s Abundance Plant Protein, so go ahead and eat two!

Bliss Bites

bliss bites recipe

Ever eat a kitchen sink cookie filled with chips, dried fruit,  pretzels and whatever else was hanging around the bakery? Yes, they’re delicious, but packed with sugar and full of empty calories you don’t need. These Bliss Bites are the same concept except they’re chock full of healthy add ins like coconut, almonds, flax seeds, oats and our nutrient-dense Greens Blend. Ok, they also include chocolate chips, but you’re on vacation - go for it!

Summer Wonder Slushie

summer-wonder-slushie

Hydrating drinks, (sorry not a latte),  should be on the top of your packing list, especially when traveling in the summer. Yes, you can pick up a bottle of water when you stop for gas but you’re more likely to be tempted by the slushie machines promising to make your taste buds do a happy dance. Honestly, that two second Cha Cha isn’t worth the red dye #7 and 54 grams of sugar it’s jammed with. Instead, take two minutes and mix up our Summer Slushie that includes our Minerals and Antioxidants powder packed with hydrating coconut water and super fruits to keep you refreshed until you reach your destination. 

Cherry Limeade Fresh Whips

pink-fluff-things

Craving a light and refreshing, crunchy and flavor packed cookie? We’ve got you covered. These Cherry Limeade Whips will keep your passengers happy and your car free from major cookie crumbs. These make ahead treats are so easy, make a double batch and save half as a hostess gift. You’ll be sure to get an invite to return next summer!

Let's Talk About Raw Pet Diets

owner giving dog food

When I was growing up, my mom brought home whatever was on sale that week in the pet aisle: sometimes kibbles shaped like peas and hearts dyed painfully bright shades of green, other times packets filled with squishy red tubes meant to look like ground beef.

Whether or not that was a sound nutritional choice wasn’t on our radar; the vet never batted an eye when we said we fed Kibbles n’ Bits mixed with store brand chow. That’s what you did in the 80s.

The whole idea of ‘high end” pet foods didn’t start to gain a foothold until around the time I started vet school, and now the boutique market has evolved into a dizzying array of food choices, each marketed to one specific niche of owners: the grain-free types, the breed specific types, the dehydrated types, the organic types. There are plenty of folks still on the Gravy Train gravy train. And then there are the raw food aficionados. Each niche has its strongly held beliefs and values, and a good portion of them will take those to the grave.

“So what are you feeding your pet?”, which used to be a pretty generic question to ask during an exam, suddenly became a meaning-laden query laced with dynamite. It’s an oft-shared fact that many veterinarians don’t bring up nutrition with owners at all, and for many of them it comes down to “It never changes anyone’s mind anyway.”

How I approach nutrition conversations

I disagree that conversations never change anyone’s mind. Sometimes a conversation is DOA, but other times it’s a really good opportunity to learn more about a person and their relationship to their pet. Like many interactions we have with each other in life, I’ve found so much more success entering a conversation from a place of curiosity versus intent, of understanding before judging.

Getting to the why of someone’s food choices not only helps you understand that person and their pet better, it gives you an opportunity to determine whether or not a nutrition conversation is something they are open to in the first place.

Let’s be honest here: if someone’s mind is made up, and I mean really made up, nothing you say will change their mind. This goes for both sides of the raw food debate. You can pull up pages upon pages of information that make a compelling-sounding argument that people can and do use to bolster their argument all the time.

These people believe deep in their bones that their choice, whatever it is, is in the best interest of their pets and anyone who believes the opposite is either ill intentioned or woefully misinformed. Arguing just makes hard feelings even harder.

PDF Document

Trying to change the mind of someone not open to having a conversation isn’t something I dedicate time to these days. I respect their desire to make the right decision even if I don’t agree with the decision they ultimately made. Then we move on.

But sometimes, asking someone the “why” of a person’s choices leads to some really wonderful dialogue. Why do you think this is the healthiest choice? What specifically is it about uncooked food that you think is better than cooked food? What concerns you about commercial pet foods? If you know the specific objections someone has or a specific benefit they’ve identified, now you have a very discrete piece of information you can explore. Is it recalls? Worries about old food? Ingredient sourcing? Those things I can answer.

As you can imagine, I believe- like many of my veterinary colleagues- that raw food isn’t the best choice for most pet owners. Whether or not you take my advice will depend on whether or not you trust me in the first place, of course. But let’s assume we have a rapport, and you and I start talking about it. I will tell you the truth:

Over the years, I’ve used just about everything on the market depending on my pet’s situation: the grocery store kibble of my childhood. Kibble from the big brands, prescription foods. Canned foods, rehydrated foods. I even tried raw once, and stopped not because my cat did poorly but because of the risks to people in the house.

Now, I want the healthiest choices available for my pets with the convenience and consistency of a commercial diet, made by a company whose ethics and purpose I believe in based on their transparency, accountability, and quality control history. I am very happy with my decision.

The best thing I can do as a person with expertise is give you the information and the resources I have, and help you line that up with your priorities for your pet.

I can give you my suggestions as to what you should do with that information, suggestions based on twenty years in the field working with thousands of people and pets. Ultimately, though, it’s your choice.

That works really well. Be honest and share what you know. Lead with your good intent, and be satisfied that you had a good conversation no matter the outcome. You won’t win everyone over, but you’ll connect with the people you were meant to.

References:

Read a veterinary nutritionist's perspective: https://weethnutrition.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/campylobacter-salmonella-e-coli-oh-my-why-i-dont-recommend-raw-meat-for-pets/

Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine primer on raw diets: https://vet.tufts.edu/wp-
content/uploads/raw_meat_diets_memo.pdf

Cavallo SJ, Daly ER, Seiferth J, et al. Human outbreak of Salmonella typhimurium associated with exposure to locally made chicken jerky pet treats, New Hampshire, 2013. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2015;12(5):441-446.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Human salmonellosis associated with animal-derived pet treats— United States and Canada, 2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.

2006;55(25):702-705. Freeman LM, Chandler ML, Hamper BA, Weeth LP. Current knowledge about the risks and
benefits of raw meat-based diets for dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med. 2013;243(11):1549-1558.


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Watermelon Popsicles Recipe

watermelon popsicles and powder

Summer’s calling and if you’re one of those people who jump in line at the farmer’s market to buy the first watermelon of the season,  but then wonders what you’re going to do with the other half that nobody gets to eating, we have the perfect recipe.

It’s a super refreshing snack, with only 3 ingredients, that takes just a few minutes to make but will keep you hydrated for hours. That’s because these pops are chock full of the tasty pink fruit that's 92% water, which is good news since your body is made of cells full of water that needs to be replenished.

It’s a naturally sweet treat, so unlike “healthy” frozen fruit pops you’d even get from Whole Foods, there’s no added sugar.  But if you do prefer an extra dose of the sweet stuff, here’s a tip: round watermelons are sweeter than their oval counterparts.

Why we love watermelon:

That bright, smile-inducing color comes from Lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown in studies to curb your risk of cancer and diabetes, and watermelon has more of this phytonutrient than any other vegetable of fruit - even tomatoes!

Watermelon is also rich in citrulline, an amino acid that may help lower your blood pressure, and also beta-cryptoxanthin which may help protect your joints from inflammation.

If those aren’t reasons enough to get poppin’ on these pops, they’re also drip down your chin delicious!

watermelon popsicles

Ingredients:

Amount of ingredients will vary based on your popsicle mold. These are roughly the amounts per popsicle.

Directions:

Blend in a blender, fill in popsicle molds, and freeze for a few hours or until frozen. Enjoy!


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