Lifes Abundance content relating to 'pet parents'

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.

The Many Health Benefits of Living with Dogs

While all dog lovers intuitively know we are happier and healthier with a dog or two (or three) in our lives, scientists around the world have been working to prove that this isn’t just a feeling but a fact. Dogs really do make us healthier!

  1. Fewer allergies
    That old wives tale that being around animals is more likely to make you sick is just that … a misconception. In fact, children raised around animals are 33% less likely to have allergies to those animals than those who are raised in a more sterile environment. Just like the “hygiene hypothesis” surmising that early exposure to germs makes us better at fighting them, being around allergens while our bodies are still growing helps the body recognize these particles as being A-OK.

  2. Trimmer waist
    Pet parents are less likely to suffer from obesity compared to the general population, particularly if you are the person in the household responsible for walking the dog. It makes sense: maybe you can talk yourself out of an early a.m. stroll, but it’s harder to justify skipping the walk when your dog is giving you those big, excited eyes!

  3. Lower rates of eczema
    Eczema, a painful and itchy skin condition, is a common plague in children and thought to have an allergic component. Children raised with dogs have demonstrably lower levels of eczema compared to the pet-less, which is great news for those of us who love dogs AND kids, and couldn’t imagine going without either!

  4. Cancer detection
    A dog’s sense of smell is somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more sensitive than our own. Think about that the next time your spray perfume in their presence! One of the unintended benefits of this is that many dogs seem to pick up on very subtle olfactory indicators of disease. Dogs have shown repeatable, reliable skill in finding lung, bladder, breast, colon, and ovarian cancers in people … some of whom passed more commonly accepted screening tests! If your dog shows a sudden and insatiable interest in a certain body part, don’t ignore it … your pup may be trying to save your life!

  5. Noticing low blood sugar
    More than one out of every three dogs living with diabetics can detect low blood sugar, according to researchers. With no prior training, some of these dogs have on their own alerted their owners to something being off, providing people a critical lead time in intervening before their blood sugar levels lead to serious symptoms.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

How Dogs and People Evolved Together

People live with and love many kinds of animals, but there’s just something special about our relationship with our dogs. We all get the sense that they need us the same way that we need them. Humans and canines, bonded together by some strange and immutable force. It’s almost as if we evolved for each other!

And there’s evidence to support that actually, we did. Here are some fascinating facts that scientists have discovered about the ancient, intertwined bond between humankind and canines…

1. Dogs first split off the wolf genome about 32,000 years ago.
Recently, scientists collected DNA from gray wolves as well as various dog breeds from across the globe. By comparing these samples against the DNA taken from an ancient dog skull uncovered in a Siberian mountain range, Chinese researchers determined that modern dogs split off from the wolf genome approximately 32,000 years ago … the earliest evidence ever discovered!

2. Dogs may have helped us beat Neanderthals in the evolution game.
While Neanderthals existed nearly 250,000 years ago, we Homo sapiens are a little newer on the scene: about 40,000 years ago or so. While no one is entirely sure why they became extinct whereas we flourished, some anthropologists surmise that domesticating dogs played a key role in allowing us to hunt more efficiently and therefore survive.

3. Their affable personality ensured their survival.
While wolves are naturally reserved and skittish around humans, dogs easily accept people as fellow pack members. From an evolutionary standpoint, the wolves who were comfortable enough approaching humans to beg off scraps possibly marked the first step in the domestication process. Which just goes to prove that dogs can’t help their genial nature!

4. Their body chemistry adapted closer to what we eat.
Right around the same time that human society moved from a hunting-based to a farming-based lifestyle, we started to further develop our aptitude for digesting starches. So did dogs. A 2013 study from the journal Nature found ten genes responsible for starch digestion that are not present in the carnivorous wolf species. Like us, dogs are true omnivores.

5. Modern dogs are more alike than they are different.
It’s hard to believe that hulking Great Danes and dainty teacup poodles are representatives of the same species, but they are! Their extensive physical variations are the result of selective breeding programs, which have only really been in vogue for less than 200 years. Without humans manipulating the breeding process, the huge disparities we know today would not exist.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Happy Holidays from Dr. Jane

The holidays are very nearly upon us. As I sit here, writing this post, I can’t help but feel this year has flown past even faster than last year. Like many of you, I’m experiencing the flurry of activity that comes with the close of another year. Things certainly are hopping here at my farm, with all of my chickens, cats, my horse, even my new pygmy goat! As fleeting and precious as time is during the holidays, I consider your reading this holiday message right now an honor and a privilege. 

This year, we’ve enjoyed significant growth, largely thanks to your amazing customer loyalty. With exciting new products on the horizon, we feel confident that you will love us even more! In spite of our company’s relatively small size, more and more consumers consider us a leading purveyor of health and wellness products, both for companion animals and their pet parents. You can be assured that all of us here at Life’s Abundance are working very hard to ensure that our best days are ahead of us. We have every reason to believe that 2016 will be a stellar year for all of us.

Thanks to the hard work of our Field Representatives, the loyalty of everyone who regularly shops at Life’s Abundance, and all of those generous enough to make periodic contributions, our non-profit (The Dr. Jane Foundation) continues to thrive, helping animals in need by supporting small and medium-size rescue organizations across the nation. In 2015, we awarded more than a dozen rescues grants upwards of $20,000. We could not have done any of that if it weren’t for you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you.

We have expanded our pet product line to include more health promoting products, like our premium grain-free foods for dogs and cats. Rest assured, we will continue to develop our line and hone existing formulas, all to give your pet kids the best possible life.

On behalf of all the employees of Life’s Abundance, we wish every Field Representative, customer and blog visitor the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous year yet.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals,

Dr Jane Bicks  
Dr. Jane Bicks

Puppy It’s Cold Outside

Winter is coming. For many pet households, that means dogs – and people – spending more time indoors, away from the bitter cold. Even though some will be braving the ice and snow for quick walks, most of us will be staying in the warm, climate-controlled confines of home. Since your canine probably doesn’t enjoy Netflix bingeing nearly as much as you, we’re exploring simple ways to help fight the doggie doldrums.

This month, Dr. Sarah reveals just how easy it is to keep your pup entertained. And we bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can do inexpensively! Watch as Dr. Sarah demonstrates with her canine companion eight simple activities for inside playtime. Fend off the wintertime blues with fun for everyone!

Be sure to share this video with other pet parents. And if you have any ideas for keeping canine boredom at bay, feel free to share them with the Life’s Abundance community in the comments section below.

Ways to Memorialize Your Pet Kid

Most Americans would agree that tradition has changed from the not-so-distant past when it was standard practice for family pets to be unceremoniously buried in the yard or a nearby natural area - marker optional. There is much discussion and even research about the why’s and how’s of the evolution of pets as part of the family, but for pet parents the heart already knows what the research shows … we love our animal family members deeply and will go to lengths to keep them healthy, treat their illnesses, and to remember them when they’re gone. 

Like the old burial traditions, pet memorial options have evolved, too. There are familiar fixtures like personalized garden stones or benches, a specially placed photo or a spot on the mantel for an urn. But, in an effort to find comfort in the face of loss, pet parents are turning to a new variety of personally meaningful remembrances, some of which cost big bucks.

1. Burial, Interment & Funeral Services $90 - $3,000+
Formerly reserved for humans, pet funeral services now are an option for grieving families. Whether an intimate service at home, or a viewing at the funeral parlor, the full scope of traditional services and accompaniments (like fully dressed caskets and floral arrangements) are available, with over 300 listings nationwide for pet cemeteries. However, cremation is still the most popular means of handling a deceased pet. Increasingly easier to come by, for around $200, columbariums provide an affordable way to permanently inter ashes. For those considering a columbarium, it will be important to check the size of the vault before ordering a specialty urn.

2. Memorial Art $200 - $3,500+
For that once-in-a-lifetime pet, a commissioned art piece may be the ultimate tribute. By sharing a few photos of your dog or cat, an artist can create a life like plush sculpture of your pet starting around $1,800. There are also foundries that will produce cremain-infused glass sculptures, urns, vases, or stained glass panels either of their design (starting around $200) or tailored to your specification. And, while it may be common knowledge that artists are available to paint a portrait of fur babies past and present, did you know that ashes can be mixed with the paint used to create said portrait?

3. Memorial Jewelry $15 - $17,000
Websites like etsy.com showcase an array of simple and affordable engraved or otherwise personalized trinkets in a variety of styles and materials. Pet parents can take the customization a step further by opting for glass beads that incorporate the pet’s ashes for about $85 per bead. For those with aching hearts and deep pockets, a memorial manufactured diamond crafted from your beloved’s cremated remains can be purchased for $750 for about 0.0275 carat, up to $17,000 for a 2 carat stone.

4. Extraordinary Services $850 - $10,000
Sadly, in most states it is against the law to bury human and animal remains together. But a few out-of-this-world companies give pet parents the chance to plan for a combined burial…of sorts. For the avid outdoors person, or retired military or police personnel, combined (or individual) cremains can be turned into live ammunition for use in a salute, hunt or other activity that may have had meaning for the deceased. If conservation is a passion, there is a service that will incorporate remains into a coral reef habitat. According to the company’s website, including pets within this tribute is the number one request they receive. For those who prefer to look skyward, consider one of the space flights that can deliver “a symbolic portion” of remains to the Earth’s orbit where it will descend as a shooting star, or send your loved one all the way to the moon in a tribute you can gaze upon forever.

Wherever your budget falls, it is surely our memories of the four-legged companions we’ve lost that carry the truest and deepest meaning. Of the multitude of options (DIY, purchased or commissioned), what have been some of your most meaningful tributes for a pet kid? Please share your personal stories in the comments section below.

Do Dogs Experience Guilt?

Dog in Time Out

If you have had the opportunity to share your life with a dog, then you are probably familiar with ‘the guilty look’. Dog lovers will instantly recognize this classic expression as the one your pup adopts when you discover that he’s gotten into the trash, chewed up your good shoes, or dug a deep pit in your yard. But is he experiencing feelings of guilt behind those puppy dog eyes?

We certainly seem to think so. Seventy-four percent of dog lovers believe that their pups experience some form of guilt. But is it the same sort of guilt we feel, or is it a complex canine behavior that has been anthropomorphized, and is perhaps triggered by something else entirely?

This question is so hotly debated, canine behavior researchers decided to test the theory, and hopefully provide some answers. Consider two recent, credible studies that explored ‘the guilty look’.

In both, researchers ingeniously set up conditions to discover the origins of guilty behaviors in dogs. Based on their findings, they ascertained that the dog’s reaction is tied to the owner’s scolding, not the previous misdeed. This certainly seems to back up what many of us suspect, that humans have a natural tendency to want to interpret animal behavior in human terms.

There is plenty of evidence for what scientists refer to as primary emotions, such as happiness and fear, in non-human animals. Empirical evidence for secondary emotions like pride and jealousy, however, is extremely rare in animal cognition literature. The argument usually given for this lack of evidence is that such secondary emotions seem to require a higher level of cognitive sophistication, particularly when it comes to self-awareness or self-consciousness, that may not exist in non-human animals.

Put simply, guilt is complicated.

A group of canine cognition researchers from Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, published several studies in Applied Animal Behavior Science investigating ‘the guilty look’. In a 2009 study, pet parents reported that their dogs sometimes display guilty behavior when greeting owners. They claimed to be unaware of their dog doing anything bad, and asserted that it was the dog’s guilty behavior that told them about the dog’s infraction. However, researchers found there was no significant difference between obedient and disobedient dogs in their display of ‘guilty looks’ after having the opportunity to break a rule when the pet parents were absent.

Dog Looking Guilty

But wait, say pet parents. ‘Guilty look’ behaviors are displayed even when dogs aren’t scolded. So, in a 2015 study these same behaviorists investigated whether the dogs' own actions or the evidence of a misdeed might serve as triggering cue for the guilty behavior. If the ‘guilty look’ was based on some sort of ‘guilt’ as often claimed by dog lovers, then the cue triggering this behavior would have to be linked to the dog’s own action, namely whether the dog has or has not done something “bad”. They tested this by manipulating whether or not dogs ate a ‘forbidden’ food item and whether or not the food was visible upon the return of pet parents. The findings indicate that the dogs did not show the ‘guilty look’ in the absence of scolding. So, at least in this study, the ‘guilty look’ was not influenced by the dog’s own bad behavior.

So, we have ample anecdotal evidence from pet parents, but little evidence from published studies to support this claim.

What do you think? Can dogs express the complicated emotion of guilt, or is it a series of subordinate behaviors that originate from the social cues given by their pet parents? Leave your comments in the section below!

References

Hecht, J., et al., Behavioral assessment and owner perceptions of behaviors associated with guilt in dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. (2012), doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2012.02.015
Horowitz A (2009). Disambiguating the "guilty look": salient prompts to a familiar dog behaviour. Behavioural processes, 81 (3), 447-52 PMID: 19520245
Ljerka Ostojić, Mladenka Tkalčić, Nicola S. Clayton Are owners' reports of their dogs’ ‘guilty look’ influenced by the dogs’ action and evidence of the misdeed? Behavioural Processess Volume 111, February 2015, Pages 97–100