Pet Advice & Ideas

Which Dog Breed Is Your Perfect Valentine?

woman with great dane

Many would agree that dogs make our lives whole. The love, loyalty, sweet cuddles, and wet kisses are what make us dog people. And just like us, they have their own personalities too! There are the ones that live off of adventure and others that are perfectly content as lap dogs. Here are just a few breeds that have personalities very similar to yourself!

Extroverts

Beagle: Extroverts! What better dog breed to match your outgoing and friendly personalities than a beagle? Beagles are usually an all-around great dog that can adapt to many lifestyles. However, they are extremely intelligent and playful which makes them a great fit for extroverted owners. So, feel free to invite company as beagles will meet them with a happy wagging tail.

Introverts

Shiba Inu: Shiba Inus have a unique personality. They were originally bred as hunting dogs and tend to be a bit possessive. But, just as any breed, they can be trained in a way to be loving family dogs. The reason they make great dogs for introverts is because they are independent and almost “cat-like.” So they are a great match for those who are more to themselves.

Social

Golden Retriever: Goldens fit into so many different categories but they are most definitely a social pup. They are known for being family-friendly and generally getting along with many people. They’re the perfect fit for the social butterfly since they naturally fall in love with just about any visitor that will give them a belly rub and a tasty treat.

Homebody

Maltese: Quite the cute little one in the toy dog group, maltese breeds are fond of cuddling. They still love to play and be active but they don’t require as much activity as other breeds. They make great companions for people who prefer to stay home as they are gentle, loving and are very content being curled up on your lap.

Peaceful

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: You already know that getting a dog means that there is barking involved. However, there are certain breeds that are less likely to bark, including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. If you’re the type of person who enjoys living more peacefully without much noise, this breed is usually more quiet than others. Even excessive yelling doesn’t go over well with these spaniels.

Intellectual

Doberman Pinscher: Looking for a pup that matches your need for knowledge? Dobermans are known for their obedience and intelligence, in fact they are one of the smartest breeds in the world. They respond very well to positive reinforcement so you can feel comfortable training them to sit, stay, or fetch all day long.

Adventurer

Border Collie: Running in the park or hiking up trails, Border Collies are lovers of adventure. They are naturally athletic and are part of the hunting and herding dog groups, meaning that you can bet they are always looking to be where the action is. These dogs will no doubt be up to partnering up with you as you embark on all your outside adventures.

woman playing with border collie

Cuddler

Great Dane: Okay, we know. This sounds absolutely off track. However, despite the Great Dane’s...greatness, they’re actually avid cuddlers. Their size certainly does not stop them from taking a seat on your lap. So, if you’re the type of person who enjoys a rainy day spent snuggled under the covers, then a Great Dane might be the one for you. Just make sure you can take the weight of at least 100 pounds.

Athletes

Parson (Jack) Russell Terrier: Say hello to high energy! If you love going out for a run and spending all your energy, Jack Russels would enjoy being by your side. They are a smaller dog breed that needs to be exercised more than your average pup, they don’t do well just chilling out at home. Also avid hunters, don’t be surprised if they start sprinting after a small animal.

Creative

Poodle: Just take a look at how pet parents get their poodles groomed and you’ll realize they’re a walking canvas on their own - ideal for the creative type. Besides that, poodles are a smart breed that love to be stimulated in different ways. This includes both physical and mental training that ranges from the traditional fetch to becoming a watchdog.

Don’t get us wrong. Just because you might be a huge extrovert, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t fit well with a Shiba Inu or Great Dane. The amazing thing about dogs is that they will always adore their owner no matter what their personality is. Plus, don’t they always say opposites attract anyways?

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:


Your Dog Is Paying Attention To Your Emotions

Make Your Dog Happier By Thinking Like One



Bulletin: FDA Recall Issued After Dog Deaths

pet food recall

UPDATED JANUARY 11, 2021: The FDA has reported that Midwestern Pet Foods has expanded the recall to all of their pet foods containing corn and was manufactured within the company's Oklahoma plant and has an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022. While the investigation is ongoing, the FDA approximates more than 70 dogs have died and 80 have gotten sick after consuming Sportmix pet food. The updated list of recalled pet food products is listed below.

Note: No Life’s Abundance products are involved in this recall. We do not use corn, the ingredient at the center of this investigation.

On December 30, 2020 the FDA reported that Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. has voluntarily recalled several lots of dry dog food and dry cat food due to potentially fatal levels of the toxin aflatoxin.

The Problem

Aflatoxin is a mold that is present on grains such as corn, which is commonly used in pet foods. At high levels this can become toxic and cause sluggishness, vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea, and prolonged liver damage. Severe cases may lead to death, as in this case.

The investigation is ongoing and updates will be posted here. As of this reporting, the FDA has announced the death of at least 28 dogs and 8 illnesses in conjunction with this Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. pet food recall.

The FDA advises pet parents to stop feeding their pets the recalled products and ensure no other animals have access to the food. It also recommends contacting your veterinarian, especially if your dog or cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above. For more, visit the FDA’s alert.

Products involved as of January 11, 2021:

Lots of the following pet food products have been recalled if the date/lot code includes an expiration date on or before “07/09/22” and includes “05” in the date/lot code, which identifies products made in the Oklahoma plant:

  • Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, 40 lb. bag
  • Pro Pac Performance Puppy, 40 lb. bag
  • Splash Fat Cat 32%, 50 lb. bag
  • Nunn Better Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Protein, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 40 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 16.5 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 33 lb. bag

Lot code information may be found on the back of bag and will appear in a three-line code, with the top line in format “EXP 03/03/22/05/L#/B###/HH:MM”

Safer Solution

At Life's Abundance, we have a much better and safer way of making pet foods and notifying consumers should a problem ever arise. For example, as it relates to this situation with aflatoxin from corn, we committed from the beginning to never use corn or wheat in our pet diets, in part, for this reason. The ingredients selected for our foods represent the best of quality and safety, right down to the micronutrients.

As for consumer safety, we view the system of product recalls as problematic. That is because most consumers will never hear about a recall. Yet 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.

We hope the information we shared with you will do two things. Alert unsuspecting dog food consumers of this situation so their dogs don’t get sick as well as help you feel even more confident about Life's Abundance and our commitment to helping families, including our pets, live long, healthy lives!

7 Steps For Off Leash Dog Training

man training dog

Training your dog off-leash is a rewarding experience for both you and your pup! However, there are certain precautions you need to take before allowing your dog to roam freely. Off-leash training can be difficult in the beginning, especially for breeds that love to run and investigate their surroundings. It can also be easy for them to get distracted when there are other people and dogs nearby. Here are some steps that will help you in safely leading your furry friend towards their first off-leash adventure.

Off-Leash Training Steps:

  1. First things first is to evaluate if your dog is a good candidate for off-leash training. Some dogs might have more difficulty training, like beagles that love to run or chow chows that tend to be super independent.
  2. Before any training, your dog needs to learn how to sit, heel, and come.
  3. As you guide your dog into training, minimize their fears as best you can. This means making sure the environment is free of loud noises, bigger dogs, or children.
  4. Start off by keeping your dog on a long leash or in a large fenced area. You should not let them off-leash until you are 100% confident they are ready.
  5. Use high-value dog treats or toys as you train your dog to sit, heel, and come. Reward them well and shower them with attention when they complete a behavior.
  6. Over time, you can start to use a drag line, which is a smooth rope attached to a collar or harness, to give them more freedom.
  7. Once they become consistent with commands, you can consider letting them graduate to time off the leash.

woman running with beagle

The goal of the first several steps is to convince your dog that it is in their best interest to stay close to you and not run off. Sometimes, neutering can make a huge difference as the possibility of roaming decreases by up to 90%. Regardless of this and other factors, like breed, step one above is crucial - each dog should be evaluated for training. If your dog constantly runs off, or demonstrates predatory behavior, you will want to involve a professional trainer. Dogs are kept leashed for their safety and the safety of others, so we know there is some risk to going off-leash. But, there is also a big reward for your hard work and consistent effort!

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

Dog Training: The Secret to Canine Cooperation

Is Therapy Training Right for Your Dog?



Appreciating The Joys Our Pets Bring

puppy and kitten

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a ton of time lately with my dog’s head in my lap. I’ve lived with many dogs over the years, but it seems like no matter if I’m petting a lab, a Lhasa, or a coonhound, one fact remains- they always know when I need them there.

This has been an extraordinarily challenging time for everyone, no matter where you live or what you believe. Finding common ground and a sense of unity feels darn near impossible sometimes- until you start talking pets.

Like anyone who’s worked in a field where you interact with the public, I’ve met all kinds of people. One of the things I love most about veterinary medicine isn’t just that the medicine is cool- which it is- but to me, the joy is really in the immense honor and privilege I have in hearing the stories of what pets mean to us.

When I began working as an in-home hospice veterinarian, that took on an even deeper level. Unlike when someone brings a pet into the clinic, I was being invited into their homes to be present for a very momentous moment in their family’s life. I’ve sat on leather couches and corduroy; patio chairs and grassy blankets; sat in joy and sadness and dawn and dusk and no matter who, where, or when I was helping, I felt the same love and connection every time.

girl with pets

With COVID, this connection has taken on even greater meaning, as so many people find themselves spending much more time home in the company of their pets than they ever did before. Here in San Diego, our local Meals on Wheels partners with a rescue organization to deliver pet food to the seniors who rely on the program for healthy meals. Why? Because the volunteers realized many seniors were feeding their meals to their pets, choosing to do without themselves rather than have to give up the companionship of what is, for so many, their main source of emotional support.

When I feel frustrated with the state of humanity and start to wonder if things are as much of a lost cause as it sometimes feels like, I like to think that dogs and cats really do cause us to reveal our true natures. When no one’s watching, how do you interact with your pet? As hard and as rough as things can get, that answer remains constant. We all have the capacity to both give and receive a deep and unconditional love.

This belief has allowed me to be online talking with pet owners all over the world for over a decade, and allowed me to treat every family I encounter with the same dignity and respect. When it feels like there is so little space for common ground, nowhere to start and build upon, this love we share with our pets has consistently served me well for many years, and I hope it does for you as well.

When I first met the Life’s Abundance team and began writing and getting to know you all, I knew right away that this family felt the exact same way I did when it comes to how we honor and love our pets and each other. I’m so grateful to be here with all of you and get to celebrate all the little joys that our pets bring into our lives. Be safe and well!

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V

If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:

The Many Health Benefits of Living with Dogs

Why People Prefer Cats



Key Ingredients Most Pet Parents Are Missing

Owner picking up dog poo

Wisely, more and more pet parents seek out foods for their dogs and cats that contain probiotics.  However, the quality, application and overall formulation matter. Can you be sure you’re choosing the best product?

Here’s how to be a savvy shopper when it comes to researching kibble with probiotics:

Species Specific Blend

  • Most probiotics on the market were sourced from cows because they were intended for use in cows, pigs and chickens.
  • The probiotic strains selected for Life’s Abundance foods are ideal to support the canine or feline GI tract because they originated from healthy dogs and cats.
  • One strain doesn’t do enough in the gut to provide the full benefit. With both the upper and lower GI to consider, plus all the different functions of various probiotics, from nutrient absorption to moderating stress response, there is no silver bullet probiotic organism that can do all the jobs.

Look For The Guarantee

Here’s a secret - seeing probiotics listed on a label can provide a false sense of security because many times they are not guaranteed. Without that guarantee shown in the Guaranteed Analysis, there’s no way of knowing if the probiotics will still be viable when your dog or cat consumes them. The guarantee covers the entire shelf life of the product.

So, why wouldn’t a brand just go ahead and make the guarantee, you ask? We cannot speak to anyone’s motives, but there are a few things to consider:

  • It’s not easy to get live probiotics onto dog food and cat food. To ensure survival, they must be dusted on after cooking. This equipment is incredibly specialized and not all manufacturers have it. In the vast majority of cases, probiotics blended in before cooking will not survive. Yet, they can still appear on the label, which looks appealing to consumers.
  • Making a guarantee puts the brand’s reputation on the line with both customers and regulators. For Life’s Abundance, when an ingredient is as vital to health as probiotics are, we think it’s important that we offer you that guarantee.

  • Because a guarantee amounts to an endorsement, brands would not want to stand behind lesser-quality ingredients.


Owner feeding dog and cat

Don’t (Ever) Forget The Fiber

What you may not know is that to be at their best, probiotics need a partner to fuel their health-imbuing adventures.  That’s where fiber comes in.

“Needing more fiber” is a familiar pop culture joke anytime someone finds themselves irregular.
Yet, how often have you considered this truism for your dog or cat? Even beyond stool quality, prebiotic fiber plays an important role:

  • So much more than just stool quality, when proper dietary fiber fermentation is achieved, the fibers provide nourishment for the probiotics.

  • When it comes to fiber blends in pet foods, it’s easy to get it wrong and much, much harder to get it right. The consequences can include gas, digestive upset, poorer nutrient absorption, and loose or inconsistent stools.

  • Because dietary fiber is so critical to gut health which plays a lead role in overall nutrition, Life’s Abundance has put years of work into creating custom blends.
  • There is an overwhelming amount of nuance that makes up the difference between a passable or decent nutritional result, and an exceptional nutritional result. One of these factors is fiber fermentation. Even poorly fermented fiber can produce what looks like a good stool. At Life’s Abundance we understand these nuances and engage world-leading experts to turn up the dial on fiber-blend quality.


With a steadfast formulation philosophy, consistently premium quality products and a focus on overall health through the gut, Life’s Abundance dog foods and cat foods make it easy for conscientious pet parents to make the best choice for their cuddly companion.

We Source From Sustainable Fisheries

fisherman on rocks

At Life’s Abundance, our purpose is to help people and their pets live healthier and happier lives. Part of this vision includes committing to sustainability initiatives because in order to be healthy ourselves, our environment must also be healthy. That’s why we are so happy to share that when we select vendors we look beyond just the quality of their ingredients, safety protocols and facilities to see that they have a commitment to environmental sustainability, just as we do.

The fisheries that supply the whitefish meal in our dog foods and cat foods follow sustainable practices! This is particularly important because of the delicate nature of the ocean environment and the impact of overfishing on the food supply and ecology.  Our fish come from commercial fisheries on the West Coast of the United States, which are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. This means that they have met sustainability standards including minimizing environmental impact, a commitment to healthy fish population levels, and complying with relevant laws.

school of fish

The whitefish meal in our dog and cat foods is derived from de-boned, fresh cuttings of marine whitefish. The fish is tracked from the moment it is caught all the way through to its processing, ensuring only the highest quality ingredient goes into our pet foods. Cats and dogs love the flavor, but what they don’t know is that these strict standards mean that consistently robust nutrient levels are achieved with each batch - a wonderful source of wholesome protein complete with naturally high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

We appreciate being able to do business with those who not only provide exceptional ingredients, but share our values and aim to promote responsible marine resource management practices. Whether you are considering our dog foods and cat foods for the first time, or already feeding them, you can feel good knowing that you are choosing high-quality nutrition that is also considerate of the earth.

Is Coat Color a Clue into Cat Personality?

woman holding two kittens

Whether you’re bringing a cat into your home for the first time, or you're a seasoned cat parent, there are some things you will want to understand about our feline friends.  Let’s explore one question you may not have considered: can coat color predict a cat's personality?

For years, researchers have tried to determine whether cat coat colors have an impact on cat personality traits. Rumors have circulated among cat parents that their orange tabby cats were notoriously friendly, compared to their gray and white counterparts who were seemingly more aggressive. In order to try to uncover whether the genes that impact cat coat color also play a role in the development of cat personality traits, researchers took a closer look.

Cat Coat Color and Personality Traits

In order to understand whether cat coat color has an impact on its personality, it's important to recognize how cats inherit their coat colors. Coat colors are determined by genetics, and largely by the sex-linked genes. These four categories often define a cat's coat color:

  • Control Spotting
  • Pigment Intensity
  • Orange and Agouti Color Switching
  • Patterns

Female cats, for example, are more likely to have certain types of coats, including tortoiseshell coloring and calico patterns. It is rare to find a male cat that will have these types of coats. So, in that sense, coat color can influence personality — but the gender of the cat also may have a significant impact on their personality as well.

Purebred cats are more likely to have defined personality traits rather than typical domestic shorthair cats that are mixed-breed. For instance, a Siamese cat is going to have a very distinct coat color and pattern. Due to its breed, it also may inherit specific personality traits, such as being more vocal or even demanding. 

There is certainly enough evidence to suggest that sometimes a cat's coat color can influence its personality, but some experts believe it has less to do with the actual color of the coat and more to do with other genetic factors.

woman kissing cat

Myths vs. Reality

In all actuality, the idea that coat color influences a cat's personality is more about human perception. Recent studies indicate that pet parents do feel that cats with specific coat colors may exhibit certain personality traits. These are a few examples of common perceptions about cats and their coat colors:

  • Gray-and-white cats are often perceived as being the most aggressive cats, regardless of their gender. A University of California study noted that these cats often exhibited the most aggressive behaviors during routine veterinary appointments.
  • Calicos are often perceived to be more irritable cats. The same study from the University of California found that cats with this type of coat did not enjoy being handled by veterinarians.
  • Many cat owners have felt that black cats are more comfortable with indoor living and plenty of people.

Obviously, perceptions are highly subjective and a person's perception of a cat and its coat color can be influenced by their own background and experiences. It seems that perception drives the impression that cat coat colors influence personality rather than genetic makeup.

Which Factors Influence Cat Personality?

So, if coat color does not determine a cat's personality, then what does? There are several important factors that will ultimately determine what type of personality traits a cat exhibits:

  • Parental Genes — Cats are likely to inherit personality traits and certain behaviors from their parents. Some studies indicate that cats inherit many of their socialization skills from their fathers. It also has been noted that cats will naturally inherit certain behaviors from their parents. For example, if a cat's mother was particularly loving and cuddly, a young kitten may also exhibit that same personality trait. On the other hand, a cat who had a father that was jumpy and skittish may also have a tendency to be the same way.
  • Socialization in Early Life — The American Association of Feline Practitioners notes that the first few weeks of a kitten's life are critical for socialization with people. A house cat should be introduced to people between three and nine weeks old so that it can become accustomed to human contact and interaction.
  • Treatment in Adulthood — A cat's personality is likely to remain relatively stable for the first few years of its life, but its treatment into adulthood can influence its behaviors over the course of time.

Regardless of your cat's coat color or its genetic history, you are going to want to give it the best possible life. One of the ways that you can do this is to feed your cat a nourishing and fulfilling diet. At Life's Abundance, we have a variety of cat foods, treats, and care products that will help your cat to thrive, no matter what color coat they have. 

What to Know About Pet Joint Health

cat playing on couch

Age is not a disease.

We say that all the time in medicine, because it’s true. “He’s slowing down” is an observation, but it’s not a diagnosis. All too many times, when I’m asking someone how their pet is doing they will say, “Well, he’s slowing down, but he’s old. What are you going to do?”

Lots! We have lots of things we can do, especially for one of the most common diseases of aging dogs and cats: degenerative joint disease (DJD), also known as osteoarthritis (OA). In fact, one out of five pets are experiencing this right now. And many of them could be feeling a lot better.

DJD is more complicated than it might appear at first blush, but it’s also one of the most gratifying to treat when you’re able to improve a pet’s quality of life so significantly. Whether you have a senior pet with diagnosed or suspected DJD, or a younger pet you want to keep in good health for a good long time, there are things you can be doing right now to maintain their joint health.

Anatomy of a Joint

Unlike a heart or a kidney, a joint is not a discrete organ but a term used to describe the connection between bones. Joints vary in terms of structure, function, and components. Your knee joint, for instance, is a back-and-forth hinge joint, while the joints that connect the bones in your skull move very little. In both cases, this is a good thing.

Joints have multiple components such as cartilage, connective tissue like ligaments and tendons, and capsules that enclose the joint and keep everything contained. Depending on where the joint is located, its purpose is to protect the bones, allow free movement by reducing friction, and act as a cushion.

Cartilage is a critical tissue in the joint. It is comprised of cells called chondrocytes suspended in a matrix of collagen and proteoglycans, which trap water and keep the cartilage nice and plump. Healthy chondrocytes keep that matrix fully hydrated, which is essential for the joint’s ability to absorb forces without damage. Cartilage creates the joint cushion.

The synovial membrane is the tissue that surrounds the joint and keeps it sealed. The membrane secretes synovial fluid into the joint, which is critical for lubrication.

If there is any disruption to the cartilage, the synovial membrane, or the bone underneath the cartilage, your dog or cat can begin to develop a joint disease.

Causes of DJD

While DJD can result from the normal aging process, it is often accelerated in pets by an injury or other underlying health condition that causes stress or inflammation. Inflammatory compounds in the joint space disrupt the cartilage matrix, reducing its ability to retain water. As the cartilage dehydrates, it starts to become more brittle and rubbery, like a piece of cheese you left out overnight. It also becomes more likely to splinter. If it gets bad enough, the underlying bone can also be affected.

dog playing with ball

Treatment and Prevention

Unfortunately, DJD in dogs and cats is an irreversible process. Treatment is aimed at slowing down the progression of the disease, reducing pain, and maintaining movement in the joint. It is a complex process with a lot of different elements, which means one thing: the best treatment hits the disease process on multiple fronts. We call this ‘multimodal disease management,’ and it’s the gold standard in DJD therapy. Here are the different fronts from which we attack DJD:

    1. Anti-inflammatories. Remember when I mentioned those inflammatory compounds? There are a lot of them. No one medication or supplement gets them all, which is why we tend to combine them for better results.
      1. NSAIDS- These are the most recognizable of the bunch for most of us, and are nice because they reduce both inflammation and pain. In pets, these are prescription meds such as Rimadyl, Metacam, or Deramaxx. Please don’t use over the counter people medications like Advil or Aleve- they simply aren’t as effective and can be dangerous to your pets.
      2. Nutraceuticals and supplements- This is an ever-expanding group of treatments that gets lots of attention for being effective across many species, with a low incidence of side effects. The most recognizable names here are glucosamine/ chondroitin sulfate, but newer players on the market such as green lipped mussels are also giving great results.
      3. Adequan injections- This is an injection available through veterinarians that stimulates the cartilage to improve the matrix.

    2. Weight loss. If your pet is overweight- which describes about half the pets in the US! -this can accelerate the stress that causes cartilage to degenerate. If your pet is overweight, talk to your vet about what their ideal body weight should be. If they are the correct weight, well done! Keep it up.

    3. Alternative treatment modalities. I trained and became certified in veterinary acupuncture specifically to treat arthritic pets, with good results. I’ve also used lasers, a product that uses pulsed electromagnetic fields, and physical therapy. The more layers you add onto your treatment, the better the results.

    4. Prevention. Unfortunately, by the time a pet starts to limp or shows signs of pain, they have usually had DJD for some time and it is fairly advanced. That’s why preventive measures are so important. Here’s what pet owners should do from the get-go:
      1. Maintain a healthy weight for your pet.
      2. Maintain a regular exercise program to keep joints mobile and healthy.
      3. Keep your pet on a healthy diet and add omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
      4. If your pet is highly active or in a higher-risk category for DJD, consider adding nutraceuticals and supplements to their diet sooner rather than later.


Age isn’t a disease, but DJD is. It’s not often I say, “the more the merrier!” when it comes to treatments, but in this case you really can’t begin joint healthcare early enough. From diet to exercise to supplements, put your plan in place now to keep your pet in good health long into their senior years!

Wishing you and your family health and happiness,

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V

Disaster Planning for Pets

With September being National Preparedness Month, it’s a good time to remember that disasters, like hurricanes and wildfires, can happen at any moment with little to no notice. It can be difficult to remember what you need as you evacuate, especially when you have a furry friend, so planning in advance is key! Dr. V hosted a live video stream to share some essential planning tips for pet parents. Read on for a recap or watch the video above!


Check ID Tags

  • Make sure your pet’s ID tags are up to date as addresses and phone numbers change.
  • Check with your dog’s and cat's microchip manufacturer to ensure they have updated contact info.


Updated Contact List

  • Double check that you have important numbers, like your vet’s number, saved for emergencies.
  • Shelters may require paperwork, like proof of vaccination, so be sure to put important documents onto a smartphone app for easy access.
  • As a backup, make paper copies of records for when you don’t have access to your digital copies.


Get Connected on Social

  • There are many social network groups that are local to your town or neighborhood. Join in advance to keep in touch with the community! Dr. V. told us about her experience of hearing from a neighbor that her neighborhood was on the news because of an evacuation order. Thanks to her network, she was able to get her pets out safely and quickly.
  • Apps like NextDoor and local Facebook groups can be great resources to stay up to date on local news, updates, and evacuations.


Make a “Go Bag”

  • With little time to prepare in the midst of disaster, making a go bag for your pets in advance is essential for a quick evacuation.
  • Always have a week’s worth of dog food, cat food and water for them.
  • Continuously rotate bags of food as you receive them so you are not left with an expired bag.
  • Rotate your pet’s water supply every six months.
  • Don’t forget dog treats and cat treats to help keep your pets occupied in stressful situations.
  • Include your pet’s carrier, bowls, leashes, and toys.


Pro-tip: Always keep your carrier empty so you don’t spend valuable time unloading any items to make way for your cat.

It is crucial that you prepare for emergencies before they happen. To watch Dr. V’s entire live stream for more details and her own harrowing story, watch the video above. Stay safe everyone!

How To Massage Your Cat

woman scratching cat

Are you looking for a way to bond with your cat while you also work to improve her health? Even for aloof cats, one way to build a positive bond and make your cat more responsive to contact is with cat massage. Sure, it may seem far fetched that the introverted animal that shares your home would respond, but you just might be surprised.

The Health Benefits of Massage for Cats

Massage stimulates the nerves and muscles in your cat's body. It also creates a relaxing response in the lymphatic system. Just like us, this can help with pain and muscle spasms, which may help reduce stiffness and discomfort. It can also create feelings of relaxation and calm.

Massage also has an effect on the circulation. As you massage your cat, the circulation increases. This flushes away toxins that can build up in the muscles, which can help reduce pain and inflammation. It can encourage a better immune system response as well. Will massage cure all of your cat's health problems? No, but it can set the stage improvement in health, especially if your cat needs a little extra care for her muscles and joints.

The Emotional Benefits of Massaging Your Cat

Not only can massage for your cat provide health benefits, but it can also provide emotional benefits. Massage has a calming effect on cats that are hyper or anxious. It creates a better emotional bond between you and your cat. It can also build trust between you. With practice, massage is something you both will grow to enjoy.


woman petting cat on carpet

How to Massage a Cat

If you're ready to embrace these benefits, here's what you need to do. First, find your cat in a calm time when they will be more receptive to what you are going to do. Extend your hand to your cat, and wait for them to accept your touch, especially if you have a cat that is easily startled. Then, follow these steps as you learn how to massage a cat:

1. Start with the shoulders
Start the massage at the shoulders. Bring your thumb and index finger together at the base of the neck, and massage down the shoulders, following the contour of the bone. Then, stroke down the spine, then return to the shoulders.

2. Move to the head
After massaging the shoulders and spine, move your hands to the head. Pet your cat's head for a moment, then move to the ears, an area that cats enjoy having touched. Rotate a finger slowly around the ear and watch as your cat relaxes under your touch.

3. Massage the tailbone
Now move to the other end of the cat. Place your hand on the top base of the tail, and massage. This is an area that can stand a little more pressure and even some scratching, as it is not as delicate as the ears and shoulders. Most cats like being massaged in this area very much, and you may find your cat leaning into your touch.

4. Consider the tummy
Not all cats like a tummy rub, but if yours does, you can massage here too. Gently massage the tummy, watching your cat's reaction carefully. If the reaction is positive, continue massaging this area a little.

5. Tickle the chin and chest
Now you are ready to finish the massage on the chin and chest. Most cats enjoy chin and chest rub. You can use a bit more pressure as you gently massage this area of your cat's body.

Tips for Giving Your Cat a Massage

While this process works for most cats, remember that each animal is unique. Consider these tips to tailor the massage to your cat's needs:

  • Avoid surprising your cat, unless you want to be pulling a hissing feline off of the ceiling.
  • Pay attention to your cat's response. If something seems uncomfortable, move on to a different area.
  • Go slowly. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Use a soft voice. Repeat a phrase or calming sound during the massage, but maintain a calm, soothing tone to your voice.
  • Reward your cat with a nutritious treat after the massage or to encourage her to be patient with the process.
  • Practice! If you don't get the hang of it the first time, that's okay. Keep practicing, and soon you will both be massage experts.



Cat massage is just one way to help your cat live a healthy, happy life, and build a fulfilling bond. Nutritious food is also important. Because it is their daily source of nutrition, choosing the right food is the surest way to have a positive impact on your cat's happiness and quality of life.