Pet Advice & Ideas

Pet Parent Tips From Life’s Abundance Employees

child whispering in dog ear

The past year has brought about lots of new pandemic pets and we are all for it! As pet parents ourselves, we understand that getting a new pup or cat can come with a lot of work. From getting all their essentials to training them, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming. So, we asked our very own Life’s Abundance employees for their top tips on having a furry friend.

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Want more? Here’s additional tips and tricks we felt you just had to know!

Nail clipping is so much easier with a second person holding an enticing treat level to the floor. It's a wonderful distraction to help keep the dog in place and distracted. Who knew they could love a pedicure?! - Arin

I try to get creative and make fun games for my dog, Tucker, to keep his mind busy. Like putting his food in a puzzle. - Alyssa

Establish pack leadership, pack mental health, and boundaries for the pack inside the house. - Jennifer

Don't free feed, give 2-3 small meals a day and always plenty of water. - Stephen

Entertain them when away at work. Lots of toys and I have an interactive camera so I can say hi to her and send her a treat. I also use a treat holder and I leave that in the morning before I leave to keep her a little entertained. - Denise

Make sure your dog is microchipped and has a collar on with his or her name and a phone number to call if they get lost. - Rocky

Do not start feeding your dog table scraps. It will be very hard to resume pet food after your vet yells at you for doing something you know you shouldn’t have started to begin with. Just don't do it. If you must, keep a bag of high-quality dog treats around and toss one out every so often. - Sasha

Whether you’re a new pet parent or an experienced one, we hope you learned something new!

What are your best tips you use for your furry friends? Comment below!


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Why Your Vet Isn’t Talking to You About Cannabis

dog smelling oil supplement

In just a few short years, Cannabis has gone from that thing college kids spent too much time thinking about, to the mainstream belle of the ball. Powered by an interest in natural medicine, a distrust of traditional pharmaceuticals, and some strong word-of-mouth talk of results, everyone from your neighbor to your buttoned-up grandmother is comfortable talking about CBD oil and what it can do for your health. Naturally, the topic also extends to our loyal furry family members.

I get asked about Cannabis more than almost anything else: does it work, what should I use, where’s a good place to start. And like most other veterinarians I know, we have very little guidance to offer. Trust me, we are just as frustrated as you are. There is nothing I want more than to be able to provide the best, safest information for pet owners about this or any other medical concern. There’s just one problem: the law may or may not forbid it.

It’s not that we aren’t talking about Cannabis and learning: every continuing education conference I’ve been to has multiple lectures about Cannabis use in pets and how to do it safely. Those lecture halls are packed. The second we’re legally allowed to discuss it, we’re ready.

THC vs CBD

Without going too far down the chemical rabbit hole, most of the legal wrangling and debate comes down to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the hallucinogenic component of the Cannabis plant. This is concentrated in the flowering buds, leaves, and resin. Other parts of the plant are much lower in THC but still contain cannabidiol oil (CBD), which provides the purported medicinal benefits without the psychoactive ones. CBD oil products are not intended, nor should they be, to get a pet “high.”

“Controlled” substances are those drugs with a potential for abuse. Those are controlled on a federal level by the DEA, and those regulations supersede any state law.

0.3 is the magic number to be classified as controlled. If the plant parts used in a product contain less than 0.3% THC, it’s considered industrial hemp. The DEA doesn’t care about industrial hemp. This is where most CBD oils marketed to pets are derived from.

Anything over 0.3% THC is classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the DEA, and we aren’t allowed to possess, administer, dispense, describe, or discuss it under risk of prosecution.

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The Legal Ramifications

The next question seems obvious: if the DEA doesn’t care about industrial hemp and that’s where most veterinary CBD products come from, what’s the problem?

Confusion, mostly.

  1. While the DEA doesn’t care about industrial hemp products, they still fall under federal regulation- ie, the FDA.
  2. CBD oils are not FDA approved for use in pets, and while their official positioning is still under review the current rule is “not legal for vets to prescribe.
  3. Veterinarians are also subject to state regulations, which are just as confusing and perhaps directly contradictory to federal ones.

Just last year, California became the first state to pass a law expressly allowing veterinarians to talk about Cannabis with pet owners. Not sell it, not distribute it, just answer the question “do you think CBD oil is worth a try in my dog with cancer?” In 49 other states, vets aren’t even sure they can legally answer that question, nevermind recommend anything.

No one really knows what could happen when a veterinarian does something as simple as help guide a client through safely choosing a product without actually selling it him/herself. A few brave souls are out there testing the waters, but most of us are waiting for the legal OK.

So Now What?

The law will eventually catch up with reality. As a consumer, you can advocate for your pet by calling your state representatives and encouraging them to pass a law similar to California AB-2215. In the meantime, please be patient with us as we do our best to advocate for your pet within the constraints of the law.

As you can imagine, non-veterinarians without the worry of DEA prosecutors hanging over their heads and livelihoods are saying and doing all sorts of things about CBD. Some of them have your pet’s best interest in mind, while others are looking out for their pocketbooks. Like all supplements, some manufacturers take quality control much more seriously than others. Published research is scarce, but people are working on getting factual, science-based information out there.

As a pet advocate, I sometimes have to get creative when it comes to getting the word out there about pet health. There are some really science-minded, ethical veterinary professionals who have great information. In fact, they’re the ones teaching us at veterinary conferences. In my accompanying infographic, I’m sharing the same great information and resources that veterinarians are hearing at conferences.


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Bulletin: Cat Food Recall Due To Salmonella

cat at vet

Note: No Life’s Abundance products are involved in this or any other recall.

On April 9th, the parent company of Meow Mix, J.M. Smucker Co., announced a limited recall on their 30 lb. bag of Original Choice Dry Cat Food over a potential salmonella contamination.

What Pet Parents Should Know

The impacted Meow Mix products were sold at some Walmart stores in several states, including Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The company advises pet parents to avoid feeding this food to their cats and throw out any product immediately. The bacteria can sicken cats and anyone who handles the food as well.

Lots of the following Meow Mix pet food products have been recalled if the expiration date is on or before “09/15/22” and has a lot code of “1081804” or “1082804.” You can find this information on the bottom or back of the cat food bags.

More About Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that affects both people and animals. It is transmitted through contact with contaminated food or surfaces that may have been contaminated by the recalled products. Thorough hand washing and sanitizing contact surfaces can reduce the risk of symptoms including: nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, and more severely, arthritis and muscle pain.

The GI symptoms are very similar in cats who contract Salmonella, and they may also experience fever or decreased appetite. Even with no symptoms, they can still pass the infection to other pets or humans in your household. If you or your pets experience any of these symptoms after having contact with a recalled food, contact the appropriate healthcare provider.

A 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. 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. One, alert cat food consumers of this situation, and two, help you feel even more confident about Life's Abundance and our commitment to helping families, including our pets, live long, healthy lives!


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Words Dogs Love To Hear The Most

dog licking owner

I think most of us dog parents can admit we will do just about anything to see our pup wag their tail at lightning speed or give us tons of those sweet, sloppy kisses. Turns out, it’s as easy as saying a simple word or two! A new study that surveyed 4,389 dogs reveals that there are certain words that they love to hear the most. These dogs varied within their breeds, ages, and sizes. Normally, a dog’s resting heart rate is at around 115 BPM. But with these *magic* words, their heart can race up to 156 BPM:

  1. Walkies: Coming in at #1 is the infamous “walkies.” Our furry friends absolutely love their daily walks with their heart rates beating at approximately 156 BPM whenever you say the word. That’s a 36% increase! By nature, dogs are active beings that aren’t used to staying indoors all day, so we can certainly understand their excitement when it’s time to go into the great outdoors!
  2. Dinner/food/eat: Obtaining food is an instinct for dogs, so it makes sense as to why this is their second favorite word. We’re sure you’ve probably seen your pup come racing around the corner when you pour their kibble in a bowl, so there’s no denying this one.
  3. Treat: Is it really any surprise that “treat” makes it on this list? At 151 BPM, we can all agree that getting a yummy snack is one of the many highlights of your pup’s day. With the savory ingredients in wholesome dog treats, it’s no wonder they can’t resist.

The fourth and fifth most excitable words are “get it” and “fetch.” These words tend to have a tasty award attached to them which is why our smart pups love to hear them. In this study, it also highlighted the least loved phrases which included “roll over” and “speak,” which do not usually have a treat attached to them. Check out the full list of beloved words below:

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We want to hear what words make your pup’s tail wag! Comment below!


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How Cats Help Your Health

cat head scratch

It's long been known that dogs can have a soothing effect on their human’s health - but did you know that cats can do something similar as well? There are many studies that show that sharing your home with cats supports good physical and mental health. I mean really, who can be upset when you’re looking at those sweet faces? Here are some of the ways that your feline friends help you out.

Improves Your Mental Health

Imagine relaxing on your couch and your purring cat cuddles up next to you. Did you know that by simply petting your cat, your body produces stress reducing hormones? Talk about a win-win for both you and your feline! In one study, single people with cats reported feeling fewer negative emotions and bad moods than single people who do not own cats. Even if you’re prone to stress, cat parents also feel less stress and more confidence when their cat is present. 

Boosts Your Physical Health 

Being a cat owner can also improve your physical health in a variety of ways. Studies show:

  • Many cat owners sleep better than non-cat owners.
  • Cat owners may be less likely to die from a heart attack. This is true even of former cat owners!
  • Small health complaints, like headaches, backaches, and colds reduce or diminish after a person gets a cat.
  • Cat owners have a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • You have better ability to cope with challenges than people who don’t have pets.

woman petting cat

Mental Health Development in Young People

If you thought cats were only good for you, they are an even better influence on your kids. One survey of kids between the ages of 11 and 15 showed that those with pet cats enjoyed better quality of life. This included higher energy levels, better attention and focus, and improved social skills. Kids in this study were overall happier, whether at school or at home. In addition, when kids are exposed to cats early on in life, their immune system is built up as they age. Therefore, they are less likely to develop allergies or asthma.

Relationship Management

You know that love you have for your cat? These feelings actually extend into your interactions with other people. Cat parents tend to be more socially sensitive and trusting, which helps them in relationships. Even more, they allow us to be more caring, loving, and patient. In fact, it's been suggested that cats are "social catalysts," prompting their humans to interact with others. This can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Cats help you in a variety of ways. You have someone to care for, snuggle with, talk to, look after, think about, play with and interact with. Your cat helps you stay healthy, and of course we want to do the same for them.

One of the most critical factors in helping your feline friend thrive is their daily nutrition source. Feeding a healthy diet to your cat will help them live their happiest, longest life by your side. We formulate food with both you and your cat in mind by only choosing ingredients that work well together and give real results. Plus, our carefully designed antioxidant and gut health systems supply your cat with the support they need. Learn more about premium cat food and cat treats, and give your felines the same love they give to you!


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Bulletin: Massive Pet Food Recall Due to Salmonella

feeding pets


Note: No Life’s Abundance products are involved in this or any other recall.

On March 27th, the FDA announced a massive recall of 140 lots of dog and cat food produced by Midwestern Pet Foods. This voluntary recall spans many brands and is the result of possible Salmonella contamination.

What Pet Parents Should Know

  • The list of affected brands includes Earthborn Holistic, Venture, CanineX, Unrefined, Sportmix Wholesomes, Pro Pac, Pro Pac Ultimates, Sportstrail, Sportmix and Meridian.
  • The complete list of affected lots can be found at FDA.gov.
  • 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 the recalled dog and cat foods to date.

What Is Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that affects both people and animals. It is transmitted through contact with contaminated food or surfaces that may have been contaminated by the recalled products. Thorough hand washing and sanitizing contact surfaces can reduce the risk of symptoms including: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping or fever.

The GI symptoms are very similar in dogs and cats who contract Salmonella, and they may also experience lethargy or decreased appetite. If you or your dog or cat experience any of these symptoms after having contact with a recalled food, contact the appropriate healthcare provider.

For a complete list of the 140 recalled lots, visit FDA.gov.

A 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. 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. One, alert unsuspecting dog and cat food consumers of this situation, and two, help you feel even more confident about Life's Abundance and our commitment to helping families, including our pets, live long, healthy lives!


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A Guide To Managing Your Dog’s Weight

owner giving dog belly rub

I have a confession to make.

My dog is officially a chonk.

Like many others with more than one dog in the house, I have one dog who is ambivalent about food and one who loves food with a deep and abiding passion. One eats to live, one lives to eat. Guess which one is the retriever.

I tried to keep my life simple by just having one kind of dog food in the house, but even when we were measuring the food it seemed like Ollie was getting a little wider by the month. A Nest cam confirmed my suspicions- once Dakota wandered away from his bowl, Ollie would run over and scarf up a mouthful of extra kibble as soon as we left the room. I appreciate his resourcefulness, if not the results. Too much to love.

Obesity is a huge problem in veterinary medicine; in fact, almost half the dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. I’m not happy with myself that I let this sneak up on me, as extra weight in dogs tends to compound: it increases their risk of orthopedic problems, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Bottom line: I need to turn this around.

If you are in the same boat with your dog or cat, look, it’s certainly not an unusual problem and I share my own story because I don’t want people to avoid facing the issue because they’re embarrassed, which happens a lot. We don’t often see ‘ideal weight’ dogs out in the world, and we’re pretty used to seeing overweight dogs without batting an eye. If your vet mentions your dog’s weight to you, take a breath and remind yourself that it’s good information to know so you can address it. This isn’t a conversation about what happened yesterday, it’s about what happens tomorrow. It is fixable. Your vet is there to help you with that.

So now what?

Back in the day, advice surrounding weight loss was pretty straightforward: feed them less. Now that we know more, we address it a little differently than saying just to cut back on their regular maintenance food. Dog foods contain a static amount of nutrients mixed into the formulation: for example, if your dog eats 1 cup of food and gets 50 milligrams of a vitamin, cutting the food to ½ cup would mean they’re now only getting 25 mg of that vitamin. Dramatic reductions of their regular dog food could lead to malnourishment.

A better approach: pick a dog food designed for weight loss or weight management. These foods have lower caloric density, meaning there are fewer calories per cup than standard food. This means the pup gets to eat more and doesn’t end up doing that panicked “I’m starving” routine that leads all too many pet owners to give in and go back to their old habits.

Instead of halving the volume of food and also halving the nutrients, this option keeps the volume of food and the amount of vitamins the same. The dog still gets to eat a full cup of food and gets that full 50 mg of vitamins, that cup just has fewer calories. That is the beauty of weight management diets.

You’d think it would be pretty easy to figure out how much food to feed, but if you’ve ever actually attempted it you know it’s trickier than it looks. Yes, the bags may give you a range of how much food to feed, but it’s pretty vague. Pets have different metabolisms and different activity levels, so one 50 pound dog may require fewer calories than another to lose the same weight. It’s just like people! We all have that friend who can eat and eat and eat and still remains svelte no matter what, while others just look at a bag of chips and seem to gain five pounds.

If I wanted to know how many calories I ate today, there are tons of apps that can help me figure that out. They have tens of thousands of entries in their database with full caloric information. You’d think it would be easy to calculate the calories in dog food, but it’s not. Some foods tell you how many calories are in each cup (kcal/cup), but most don’t- meaning you have to call the company or try to find it online.

owner giving dogs food

Even if you do know how many calories there are in a cup, how do you know your calorie goal for your canine? Your vet can give you a calculation based on your pet’s current weight and activity, target weight, and how quickly you’re trying to reach the goal. Once you know their calorie count for the day and how much food to feed, all you have to do is stick with it. Weigh it, use a measuring cup, but whatever you do, don’t eyeball it. That never works.

For mild to moderately overweight dogs, a standard weight management food can work just fine to get your dog where he or she needs to be. For pets with significant weight obstacles, sometimes the vet will recommend a prescription weight loss diet. It is even more calorie restricted than over the counter weight management foods, and often has additional components such as higher protein, higher fiber, and nutrients that specifically support veterinarian supervised weight loss. Once a pet reaches their ideal weight, they transition back to an over the counter food.

Over the counter weight management foods aren’t just for overweight dogs! They are also good maintenance diets for those who are prone to gaining weight.

What about treats? Like everything else, treats count as calories, so keep it to less than 10% of your dog’s intake and plan accordingly. You can get creative here with pet-safe veggies. Ollie gets lettuce at every meal now and he thinks it’s the best thing ever. In fact, Dakota got jealous and now will only eat if he, too, has a piece of lettuce on his food (I tried this trick on the teenagers, but it didn’t work).

Weight loss in pets is a very, very common problem and if you’re in the same boat, it’s ok. Yes, it’s work and takes some effort to come up with a plan as well as the commitment to follow through. But it can be done! Having your vet team on board helps a lot- that’s what they’re there for! Don’t be afraid to ask for their support and a specific weight loss plan to get back on track if you and your pup need the help.

I promise, it’s worth the effort.


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What’s the Big Idea Behind Feeding Trials

man giving dog food

If you’ve been brought to your knees by the vast amount of information you’ve faced in search of the best products for your dogs, we understand. Really, how much can the average person be expected to know about their dog’s products and still have a life? We’re happy to tell you all about the ins-and-outs of our products because we’re very proud of them. But we think it will be even more helpful for you to know what type of company you’re buying from.

We think and operate differently and are transparent about it. We’re private, employee-owned and purpose driven. But what does all that mean in action? Here’s a little behind the scenes insight into our decision to conduct dog food feeding trials.

Dog Food Nutrition

Did you know that there are two ways a dog food maker can demonstrate the nutrition of their foods? These are set by the Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the association that establishes nutritional standards within the pet food industry.

Nutrient Analysis

The most common of the two is through nutrient analysis. This is laboratory testing of the finished food that measures the value of each of the key nutrients that are required to be present. Beyond the required nutrients, optional tests can be ordered to tell a fuller story of the nutritional value of the formula being examined. For instance, if a brand prioritizes antioxidants they’ll want to test for adequate value, though it’s not required.

This is the method we at Life’s Abundance have used for over two decades, until recently. Now, after years of internal debate, planning and an ongoing commitment to transparency, we have engaged in the second of AAFCO’s sanctioned tests - Feeding Trials.

Feeding Trials

Feeding trials provide a look at the ability of a food to convey adequate nutritional value to the dogs consuming it. Eight dogs are exclusively fed the food being tested for a number of weeks (duration varies based on life stage). Periodic blood tests and the dog’s weight are tracked and recorded to demonstrate that the nutrients shown on paper actually make it into the dog’s body at life-sustaining levels.

Why Conduct Feeding Trials?

First and foremost, we have a responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of dogs eating our food. Because of this, it is important to know how nutrients in our formulas behave once digested by the dogs eating them. Nutritional analysis, exacting care, decades of anecdotal evidence and now feeding trials bear out our formulation philosophy and the science behind it. A close second reason for these tests is to give you peace of mind as a parent to the dogs you love. Just think, without this proof, your dog will essentially be a participant in an uncontrolled feeding trial.

lineup of Life's Abundance dog food

Importantly, in the veterinary world, feeding trials are the gold standard to demonstrate a food’s worth. While there are many other measures this overlooks, now when your vet asks if your dog’s food has been through a trial, if you’re feeding Life’s Abundance, you’ll be able to say ‘yes.’ We know from all our veterinary consultants and colleagues how important feeding trials are to veterinarians as a mark of quality assurance. This is our way of showing we're absolutely serious about making the best food out there.

To be sure, the decision to conduct feeding trials was a years-long process involving many levels of staff at Life’s Abundance. We consulted with veterinarians, insiders who have seen many sides of laboratory research, sought alternative testing protocols, interviewed testing companies and personally toured testing facilities. It took all of this time, effort and consideration to be certain we’d found a testing company that met our standards for animal care, interaction, environmental enrichment and overall welfare. It was important for us to take this time so that we feel as good about the process as we do the results, so you can too.

What Feeding Trials Won’t Tell You

Though a feeding trial is a true scientific study, it only provides a baseline of whether a food is adequate or inadequate to keep a dog going. It will not tell you anything about the quality of the ingredients or if they will help your dog thrive. It won’t tell you how beautifully or shoddily orchestrated the ratios of nutrients are to one another.

To understand the true quality of the food you choose you need to understand the motives of the brand you choose. But how do you trust that a brand has your best interest at heart, abhors corner-cutting practices and always asks what’s best for the consumer (two- or four-legged) before making a decision? At Life’s Abundance, it’s more than formulating, making and delivering a great food. It’s about getting the ultimate nutrition into your dog so they can thrive.

Life’s Abundance Feeding Trial Status As Of Winter 2021:

  • Adult Weight Loss Dog Food - Successfully completed Spring 2020.
  • All Life Stage Dog Food, Chicken Meal & Brown Rice - Underway as of Summer 2020.
  • Grain Free All Life Stage Dog Food - In queue to start once the above test ends. Tests are not run concurrently which makes the timeline to complete the series quite long.

Of all the research we do to be sure we’re making the best choices for our dogs, finding a definitive answer or solution can seem like a never ending journey. Understanding the brand and the people behind the products you choose just may be the best measure yet. If you’re not currently feeding Life’s Abundance, consider making the switch to our uniquely formulated foods that have feeding trials to back their efficacy. Others will tell you just how good it feels to fill your dog’s bowl with nutritious food or reward them with tasty treats knowing you’ve made the best choice for them.


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What You Should Know About Dog Cancer

close up smoothie bowl

I love so many things about being a veterinarian- puppy kisses, seeing a sick patient recover to go home to a happy family, you name it. That being said, there are also a few things that I wish were different. Having to deal with dog cancer is one of them.

As one of the leading causes of death in both dogs and cats, working through a cancer diagnosis is one of the most challenging and common problems pet owners face. But here’s the good news: The number of treatment options has skyrocketed in the last few years, thanks to brilliant researchers and some big advancements in immunotherapy. Gone are the days when the options were limited to prednisone or whopping doses of chemotherapy. Pets are living longer and happier with cancer now than they ever have. Let’s review a few things about cancer that every pet owner should know:

Risk Factors

Age: It’s kind of a paradox that the better veterinary care becomes, the more cancer we’re seeing. It makes sense when you think about the fact that cancer is a disease associated with age. Sadly though, we do sometimes see cancers in young pets, but by and large the more time your pet has with you on Earth, the greater the chances become that they may face a cancer diagnosis.

Genetics: Some breeds are more prone to certain types of cancers than others. Golden retrievers are notoriously susceptible to lymphoma (a lymph node cancer) and hemangiosarcoma (a cancer of the blood vessels). Scottish terriers, West Highland White terriers, beagles, and Shetland sheepdogs show higher numbers of bladder cancer. Brachycephalic dogs- ie any dog with a smushed face like pugs, are more likely to develop brain cancers.

What about diet? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Cancer is a complicated disease with many contributing factors, and the truth is we just don’t know how much of a role food plays in dog cancer. We do know from human medicine that certain foods or food additives are more likely to contribute to cancer, and other foods or nutrients may be protective. This is why choosing a healthy diet is so important. You want to reduce as many risk factors as possible, even if they’re ones we never see. That’s why our premium dog food is formulated with the finest ingredients that help your dog achieve and maintain optimal health.

Age, diet, and breed are never a guarantee of a pet getting cancer- thank goodness. But it’s always good to keep in the back of your mind so if your pet exhibits any changes in health or behavior, you know to get it checked sooner rather than later.

woman and dog touching heads

Signs to Look Out For

Cancer is tricky because it’s not one specific disease. As the uncontrolled growth of a mutated cell, the behavior varies quite a bit depending on the type of cancer, the location, and the overall health of the patient. These signs exist in other illnesses as well, so just because your pet exhibits one or more does not mean it’s cancer- but it does mean you should check in with the vet!

  • Change in appetite. A Labrador who normally inhales his kibble in ten seconds flat suddenly leaves kibble in the bowl every night? That’s not normal.
  • Sleeping more. A pup who usually zooms around the house all day suddenly curls by your feet for hours at a time? Might be worth getting checked out. It could be a behavior change related to owners spending more time at home, so we’ll hope for that!
  • Sudden swellings. Anything bulging that shouldn’t be bulging- get it checked out ASAP. A tiny lump or bump on the skin? Here’s what oncologist Dr. Sue Ettinger recommends:
    If a lump is:
    • Bigger than a pea
    • Present for more than a month
    Then it should be checked out! Caught early, even some of the most aggressive cancers can be treated easily- but the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.
  • Non-healing sores. People often say “spider bite” any time a pet has a red or ulcerated lesion on their body. It rarely is. Even if it’s not cancer, any ulcerated skin is going to be painful, so no matter the cause, get it looked at!
  • Really anything else out of the ordinary. You know your pet better than anyone. Coupled with the increased time you’re spending at home in their company, people are 100% spotting conditions they might otherwise have missed.

Don’t Panic!

Dog cancer is scary. As someone who's been through it more times than I’d ever wish, I understand and appreciate the natural response of being scared, and grieving. But the one thing you should know is that cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Years ago, many people had the opinion that if a pet was diagnosed with cancer, therapy was a waste of time and money. Times have changed.

While the treatment and life expectancies vary tremendously, many cancers can be managed almost like a chronic disease. With supportive care and a carefully crafted treatment plan, pets can live comfortably for months or sometimes even years. Recent advances in immunotherapy are showing incredible promise. A lymphoma vaccine? A melanoma treatment? Things that were considered untreatable just a few years ago are now on the verge of having very effective treatments. If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, ask the vet if anyone nearby is participating in clinical trials your pet may qualify for. The Veterinary Cancer Society has a list of trials.

No one considers what’s going on in the world a blessing, but since so many of us are spending more time at home anyway, you might as well use some of that time to give your pet a once-over and check for lumps and bumps. While the outcome of a cancer diagnosis is never a given, one thing is for sure: the earlier you know, the better your pet will do.

Stay safe and don’t forget to love on your pets for me, ok?

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V


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Maintaining Pet Dental Health At Home

cat teeth

Pet Dental Health Month comes around once again to remind us of how important it is that we focus on our pet’s oral hygiene. Other than not wanting to smell doggie breath, there are multiple important reasons as to why you should be taking care of your pet’s dental health. About 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have dental issues, so it’s a pretty common concern. You may think that your pet doesn’t have any problems now, but left untreated, it can become costly and painful in the long run.

What starts as bad breath could have tons of underlying causes beyond just their mouth. Your dog or cat could have built up tartar, tooth decay, oral abscess, or periodontal disease. If you wait too long to resolve these issues, they could eventually lead to heart, liver and kidney problems. Luckily, you can take preventative measures so your pet doesn’t have to face these scary scenarios.

Nutrition for Dental Health

Besides the obvious solution of getting a dental cleaning, you can actually give your dog certain foods and treats that will help minimize the potential for oral problems. It’s important that you feed your pet a diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients, whether it’s their food or treats. One of the ingredients you should be looking for is oats. Oats are a strength-giving ingredient that not only supports strong teeth but also helps coats as well! Probiotics don’t necessarily help dental health on their own, but they do help your pet’s intestinal tract which in turn promotes a healthy mouth. Calcium is a given as it maintains healthy bones, so that means teeth too!

Gourmet Dental Treats: These treats are a tasty snack that also targets nutrition and dental hygiene. The high-quality grains and proteins, plus calcium and phosphorus, help maintain strong teeth and gums. Plus, the added parsley helps with doggie breath!

Porky Puffs: Less about nutrition, and more about the chew, these are a great alternative to rawhide. Porky puffs are made from pig snouts and contain no artificial preservatives or flavors. Give your pup one of these delicious treats for their ultimate chewing pleasure!

Buffalo Bully Sticks: Delicious AND healthy? Say no more. These bully sticks are made from free-range, grass fed buffalo. The chewing action helps reduce tartar and maintain your dog’s dental health. Totally a win-win.

dog licking girl

What Else Can I Do?

Along with dental treats, there are steps we take at home to maintain your dog and cat’s dental health and ensure long lasting pearly whites.

  • We humans are supposed to brush our teeth twice a day for a healthy smile. Just like us, our pets need this too. We know it can be a struggle, but brushing your pet’s teeth twice a day can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
  • If you can easily get into your pet’s mouth without them pulling away, it might be in your benefit to take a look at their teeth and gums. Lift the flap of their mouth and examine for any signs of bumps or swelling on their gums, and any tartar or chipped teeth.
  • If your pet’s teeth seem a little too dirty to manage, it might be time for a proper teeth cleaning by their vet. While it may be a bit costly now, there are long term consequences such as dental extractions that may come if you put it off.

Proper oral health is necessary for a long, happy life for your pet. And if you love happy cats and puppy kisses as much as we do, then it’ll be a win-win for both you and your furry friend.


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