Pet Advice & Ideas

Maintaining Pet Dental Health Through Nutrition


dog teeth

If you’re a fan of dog kisses, then you might be taken aback when you get a hint of foul breath. Bad breath can be a sign of numerous problems including periodontal disease, which is the result of inflammation of the gums and bones in your dog’s mouth. More than 85% of pets have dental issues, so it’s an overwhelmingly common concern.

In order to prevent disease and other dental issues, it’s important to take care of your pet’s teeth. Waiting too long for a dental cleaning can result in more damage such as problems in the heart, liver and kidney. One of the ways you can support oral health is through nutrition. First, your pup’s daily diet should be full of nutrients and vitamins that maintain their overall dental health. Here are a few you should be looking for in the ingredients:

Antioxidants: Look for an antioxidant system that includes vitamins A, C and E. These vitamins offer anti-inflammatory actions. Folic acid can also help support the gum tissue warding off the likelihood of periodontal disease.

Calcium and phosphorus: Calcium is a vital nutrient for dental health as it promotes healthy bones and teeth. It works together with phosphorus which helps maintain the strength of the bones. It’s important that the nutritional balance of these two minerals meet a dog’s needs throughout their life stages - whether they’re rapidly growing puppies, or entering their senior years.

Probiotics: Probiotics are great for your pet’s gut health. But have you considered that the oral cavity is part of the digestive tract? By supporting your pet’s gut health, this can help in supporting their dental health as well.


woman getting dog kisses

While the kibble they eat is important, you cannot forget about their snacks. Look for treats that allow them to chew such as Water Buffalo Bully Sticks. This chewing action helps reduce tartar and maintain their dental health. You can also choose a Gourmet Dental Treat that contains ingredients like calcium and phosphorus for strong teeth and bones. Plus, the added parsley helps with doggie breath!

In addition to taking care of their teeth through nutrition, you can also monitor their dental health at home. Just like us, pets need daily teeth brushing too. This can sound like a daunting task but it can save your furry friend’s oral health and your bank account in the long run. If your pet allows it, frequently check their mouth by flipping their lip and taking a look at their teeth and gums. Ask your veterinarian for a tutorial on what signs to watch for, like bumps or swelling on the gums, as well as tartar or chipped teeth. Pay attention to how their breath smells too. This could indicate unfriendly bacteria in their mouth.

The bottom line is to remember the importance of oral health to overall health. Plan on regular,  proper cleanings by your vet. Even if you’re brushing their teeth daily, they will still eventually need a deep cleaning which usually includes x-rays. Between these regular checkups both at home and at the vet, and robust daily nutrition, your pup will enjoy a happier, healthier life while you enjoy those sloppy kisses.


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

Maintaining Pet Dental Health At Home

How To Brush Your Dog's Teeth

Everything You Need To Know About Urine Marking


person walking dog outside

Why do dogs mark inside the house? You might be wondering this every time you leave your furry friend home for a couple hours and come back to a tinkle near the sofa. The good news is, most of the time, this behavior is normal. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s okay. It can be extremely frustrating to deal with a soiled couch or other belongings.

Dogs mark their territory outside as a way of communication. Think of it like social media. Each time your pup stops and sniffs, they’re learning about the dog that was in that spot before. Then, your dog might pass over it or urinate in that same area to claim that territory as their own. However, if your dog is marking inside your home, there could be a multitude of reasons as to why.

Reasons Your Dog Is Marking Inside

One of the biggest reasons your pup might be marking inside is due to stress or anxiety. This includes leaving them home alone, unsupervised. Dogs can start to feel lonely and stressed which leads to this unwanted behavior. Sometimes, even stressful situations outside, such as seeing another dog, can result in urinating in the house. This can happen when dogs hold off on marking outside because they don’t want to announce their presence, therefore leading to an accident inside.

Another reason your furry friend might be marking is because of a change in routine. This could be anything, such as moving to a new home. This unfamiliar atmosphere could cause them to mark inside, essentially claiming it as their own. Even something as simple as rearranging your furniture can stress them out and cause a change in behavior. What about when you have guests over? Have you noticed a change in marking habits? Having someone out of the ordinary staying over can also trigger marking. Dogs are basically telling your guests that any object that is in their house is theirs.


woman petting dog in new house

The presence of other furry friends in the house could be another reason why your dog might be marking. Your pup might see the others as competition and will mark inside the house to show who is the “pack leader” in their home. They may also urinate when they are competing for your attention, toys, treats or food. This can be very stressful for insecure dogs leading them to mark to relieve this stress.

Sometimes, lack of training could simply be mistaken for urine marking. This is especially common among puppies and small dogs. You’ll know if your pup is properly house trained if they are not having accidents for about 1-3 months. You may want to talk with your vet to rule out incontinence in an older dog.

How To Stop Your Dog From Marking:

  1. Supervise your dog at all times. If you have to leave, confine your pup to a smaller area so they are not free to roam. You can use a gate or a crate (if they are crate trained) to keep them in the area.
  2. Dogs are less likely urinate where they eat so consider moving their food and water to spots where they frequently mark. You can even put their treats in those same areas so they associate it with snacks rather than marking.
  3. If your dog does mark, clean the area with a Biodeodorizer. This will break up the proteins that are in urine so they aren’t tempted to mark in the same spot over and over again. Even better, this spray has a neutral pH with no harsh chemicals so it’s safe to use around your pets and kids.
  4. Some dogs continue to mark out of habit. If you notice that your pup frequently marks outside as well, gently pull him away each time they try to urinate after they’ve already relieved themselves. This could help stop the habit that continues inside.
  5. If none of these seem to work for your dog’s marking, talk to your vet, a behaviorist or professional trainer. If your dog is urinating due to anxiety or stress, confidence-boosting exercises may make a difference. Or, if they have an underlying UTI, medication may be needed to help. Pay attention to your dog’s habits. If they start exhibiting behaviors that are out of the ordinary, it is best to talk first to your vet to rule out any medical conditions.

Whatever you do, do not punish your dog when they mark, especially if you don't see it happen. Dogs will not associate their urinating with the punishment which can only cause confusion. If you catch them in the moment, distract them from the action. Then, immediately take your pup outside so they know to only urinate outdoors.


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

Symptoms Of Urinary Tract Illness

Understanding And Dealing With Pet Stress

What Does Your Dog’s Sleep Position Mean?


dog sleeping on bed

How do you sleep? On your back, on your side, or on your stomach? Maybe you curl up into a ball or maybe you spread yourself out and take up the whole bed. Just like you prefer a certain position while you sleep, so do our four-legged friends. While how we sleep may not reveal a whole ton about our personality or mood, it does say quite a bit for our dogs. Read on to see what your dog’s sleep position means.

Side Sleeping


dog sleeping on side

Just like humans, this is the most common sleeping position for dogs. Sleeping on their side with their paws loose usually means they feel comfortable and safe. You also might notice that your pup moves a lot and twitches in this position. This is because they’re more likely to fall into a deep sleep and dream when they’re lying on their side. These dogs tend to be the loyal and trusting type.

Lion’s Pose


dog in lions pose

If you’ve ever seen a lion sleeping, you’ll notice they rest their head on their front paws. Dogs can sleep in this same position, but it usually means they’re more in a resting mood rather than aiming for a deep sleep. This puts them in the perfect position so when you have a few minutes to play, they’re ready to spring up quickly! They are usually more devoted and protective and you might find them dozing this way next to your feet.

Sprawled Out


dog sprawled out

This position looks a bit like Superman with your dog’s front legs and hind legs stretched both ways. This is common with puppies or energetic dogs that love to play but also get tired and want to take a quick snooze. Similar to the lion’s pose, when your dog is sprawled out on their tummy, they want to be ready at a moment’s notice to play tug-of-war or fetch with you. It’s also a great position to cool down on tiled floors. 

Curled Up


dog curled up in a ball

Some dogs will curl into a “fetal” position and tuck in all of their limbs. This could mean that your furry friend is trying to protect themselves by hiding all of their vital organs. One study showed that this position is common among dogs in a shelter, an unfamiliar place where they may prefer to go unnoticed by other dogs. It may also be the preferred posture in pups who are anxious such as strays or those getting used to their environment. Dogs who sleep like this may  feel scared, but also have a caring personality. However, this position could also just mean they’re cold and trying to preserve their body heat.

Belly Up


dog laying on back

This is the most vulnerable sleeping position for dogs as it reveals all of their vital organs. This means that they are aware of what’s around them and completely comfortable at home with you. These sleepers tend to be more loving and trusting of you. This is also another position that allows dogs to cool off. You might even say that these pups are feeling totally carefree! 

Each of these positions can give you a clue to your dog’s personality and how they’re feeling. Keep an eye on their patterns as this can reveal a lot about their health. For example, it’s normal for dogs to sleep 12-14 hours a day but if you notice they are sleeping more or less than they usually do or sleeping in an abnormal position, it’s always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian.


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

The Secret Of The Dog Bow

Dog Chewing Paws: What Does It Mean?

Can You Claim Pets On A Tax Return?


woman cuddling with dog

Pets contribute to our lives in so many ways, but have you ever thought about how they contribute financially? You may be thinking, “Yes, I spend on their kibble and treats and plush toys” but that’s not quite what we’re referring to. There might be a way you can claim your dog or cat on your tax return. Pets are not considered dependents since they don’t have a social security number, but there are a variety of other ways that animals can show up in a tax filing. Talk to your accountant about these possibilities to find out if you qualify:

Fostering & Volunteering

If you’re helping out an animal shelter or rescue by offering to foster a pet, some of those expenses can be considered a charitable deduction on your taxes. This includes anything you pay for out of pocket from their food to medical expenses to other care supplies, and possibly even the miles you drive to their vet appointments.

As a volunteer, you can also list your travel expenses for the volunteer work. However, this has to be travel specifically related to the nonprofit’s mission, not the commute there (remember to keep a mileage log). Of course, financial donations to qualified nonprofits, like The Dr. Jane Foundation, can qualify too.

Service Animals

Is your pet a service animal? If you have physical disabilities, vision or hearing impairments, or a mental health condition such as PTSD, talk to your accountant about the possibility of writing off some expenses. This could be veterinary care including surgery, food necessities, pet supplies, training, grooming, boarding, and even the cost to acquire the pet itself. However, your companion must have formal training to be a service animal and a letter from your doctor in order to qualify.


cat getting head scratched

Moving & Changing Jobs

If you’ve recently relocated for a job and qualify for a moving expense deduction, your dog or cat could be included in this. The IRS considers your pet a household possession, so if you’re able to deduct expenses like transportation for your family, lodging while moving, or packing and shipping any goods, your pet may be part of that too. There are a few requirements to meet such as the distance and time of the big move.

Pet Providing Service for Business

Does your pet have a job of their own? Maybe they work alongside you on your farm to help guard a herd of goats. Maybe they’re a star in a movie or advertisement or work as a performance animal. Do they have their own successful social media account or breed adorable puppies that you sell? All of these examples could qualify for deductions. It may be the food used while breeding, travel cost to get them to the movie set or anything else that involves caring for your animal. If you start a hobby with pets that turns into a business, remember to officially establish this new venture in order to deduct related expenses.

Now that you know of the many ways you may be able to claim your pet, talk to your accountant for guidance. There are requirements they can help you untangle, but the universal rule is to keep good records. Save those receipts! And, thank your sweet, furry friend for any savings!


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

Appreciating The Joys Our Pets Bring

Pets Make Life Healthier For Their Pet Parents

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season


dog getting treat on holiday

Between the seasonal errands and frequent visitors, we furry family members know it can be hard to keep up with us too. We promise that we try to be on our very best behavior (with snacks as a reward, of course) but we do need a little extra consideration around our home. Try as we might, around the holidays, there may be more risks than you think.

Most of us love visitors. I mean, five times the belly rubs, two times the treats, and lots of cuddles? I’m here for it. I love to greet everyone, but my younger fur-sister gets easily overwhelmed. She’s at knee-level, and that’s a lot of traffic coming in the door with feet at the bottom and booming voices at the top. It can also be scary when the small kids come to tug on our ears or tails, or worse, wrestle us into a neck-squeezing hug. I’ll play with the kiddos for a bit, but then really appreciate a break. My sis would rather keep clear of them altogether until she feels like being brave. So, to keep everyone happy and safe, please remind the guests that we can be sensitive! Sometimes putting me in my safe zone is more comfortable. This could be my crate or my bed in your room, but make sure to leave treats, toys, or even better, something that smells like you! It’ll keep me calm.

Speaking of holiday joy, your beautifully decorated tree can be a danger to us. For my feline besties, it’s a tower waiting to be scaled, and for us canines, it can get in the way of our zoomies! One of the best things you can do is put it out of our reach. Maybe put a fun decorated fence around it. Also, it’s no fun when my tail hits the ornaments, sending them shattering to the ground. What can I say? I’m a happy guy and can’t help that my tail acts like an excitement meter. We dogs took a vote and we think the best way to get around this is by avoiding glass ornaments.


cat on woman near tree

Another risky decoration? Those festive houseplants! I like to think of myself as the most well-behaved, good boy since I’m not a chewer or a digger. However, some (ahem, the new puppy in the house) love to take a little bite or two of your favorite houseplants. Plants like poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly can be toxic if they’re ingested. Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and breathing problems are all side effects we could experience, possibly sending us to the vet. I know they’re beautiful, but faux plants look just as festive and are a safer option for all of us!

Now, let’s skip to the oh-so fantastic smelling family dinner. Of course, it can be a joy when my puppy eyes fool all the visitors and I get a little piece of their meal, but some holiday foods can wreak havoc on my digestive system. Lots of festive treats include chocolate - a major no-no for us canines. Oh, and that turkey! Not only can it cause pancreatitis if I eat it, but the bones can do even more damage if they get lodged in our intestines. If you really want to satisfy my holiday cravings, toss me a few delicious treats that are full of healthy, high-quality ingredients.

We know we have to share your attention with visitors during these times, and we want to be part of the holiday joy too!  So, with these few precautions we’ll enjoy all the festivities together.


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

Make The Holidays Safe And Stress Free For Your Dogs And Cats

Getting Ready For Company?

How Gut Health Affects Overall Pet Health


cat and food bowl

If someone asked you “how’s your microbiome doing?” a few years ago, you’d probably feel moderately offended and tell them to mind their own business. Generally, talking about your gut health was not considered a part of polite conversation with anyone except your gastroenterologist. How times have changed! You can’t walk three feet in the grocery store without seeing something touting prebiotics. What gives? It all comes down to this key question:

Bacteria: friend or foe?

Back in the Middle Ages, medicine took an exponential leap forward with the concept of germ theory: the idea that many diseases are caused not by ‘ill humors’ or the lack of a good bloodletting, but by tiny organisms too small to see with the naked eye. In 1928, Alexander Fleming pushed us into a new stratosphere with the discovery that penicillin, an innocuous looking mold, was capable of stopping bacteria in their tracks.

For the next century or so, we’ve been busy at work figuring out how to kill bacteria, be it with antibiotics we swallow, disinfectants in our soap and in cleaning sprays, and in our overall belief that the more sterile something was, the better it had to be for our health. Bacteria = bad!

On the other hand, we’ve also been reaping the benefits of bacteria and other microorganisms for years. Whether it’s yeast turning grains into beer or bacteria fermenting our favorite sauerkrauts and yogurts, our understanding of the role of microorganisms in our lives continues to evolve as we realize just how much these little organisms can accomplish. Bacteria = good!

We’ve also known our guts are teeming with bacteria. We know there are ‘bad’ bacteria, the ones that move in after a course of antibiotics or cause a bad case of food poisoning, and we’ve also known having a healthy population of “good” bacteria goes a long way in keeping the baddies from setting up shop. Without really knowing exactly what these bacteria do, most of us have gone about our lives thinking of the good bacteria as innocuous hitchhikers in a symbiotic relationship: they don’t do much, really, but they don’t hurt either.

We were wrong. Enter the world of Gut Microbiomes.


dog and owner playing with ball

What the heck is a microbiome?

The intestines host a world all their own. Teeming with bacteria and viruses, the microbiome feeds off the environment we’ve created for it while doing a whole heck of a lot in return, such as:

  • Producing fatty acids that keep our gut lining healthy
  • Helping to digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Producing critical chemicals like serotonin
  • Regulating inflammation of the GI tract
  • Promoting healthy weight and metabolism

Not only do these bacteria assist in digestion and promote the health of the gut itself, many of these actions impact the entire body. Heard of the gut-brain axis? It’s true! The health of the gut can directly impact cognitive function and mental health. Anyone who’s felt ‘sick to their stomach’ under times of extreme duress may find this not so surprising. 

Each month, a new study into the effect of the microbiome tells us something new: the microbiome affects neurotransmitters, metabolism, mental health, inflammation, and even the aging process. If your microbiome isn’t healthy, in short, neither are you.

If it sounds complex, that’s because it really is. Your overall health can impact your gut health. Conversely, your gut health creates ripple effects throughout the entire body. And every one of these same principles applies to our pets.

The importance of food

We all know that food is important for health. What we didn’t know was just how important. Food provides essential macro- and micro-nutrients, the building blocks of our bodies. It is a fuel for our bodies. But just as importantly, it fuels the microbiome.

Nutrition choices directly affect the health of our microbiome, a fact that’s even easier to observe in pets- whose diets often vary much less than the average person. The biomes of a dog eating a high-protein diet, for example, is consistently different from that of a dog on a higher-carbohydrate diet. What does this mean? We’re learning more every day. 

In addition to the choice of pet food, pet owners can impact gut health by adding probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are the bacteria itself: eating yogurt for a mouthful of Lactobacillus, for example, would be ingesting probiotics. Prebiotics, in contrast, are components that serve as food for the microbiome: health food for your bacteria buddies. One thing we do know: the dog and cat microbiomes are unique to them. In short? Don’t grab people supplements and expect them to help. Stick to products meant for pets.

We don’t know everything there is to learn about the microbiome, but one fact is crystal clear: take care of your microbiome and it will take care of you. And when it comes to taking care of the gut, there’s nothing more important than the food you choose to feed it. Luckily for you, when it comes to your pet, we’ve believed this all along.


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

Key Ingredients Most Pet Parents Are Missing

Get The Scoop On Feline Digestive Orders

Getting Ready For Company?


family having dinner during the holidays

The holidays are right around the corner and your to-do list is probably starting to pile up. Of course, we all love the twinkling lights and precious family time that comes with celebrating together, but for now, it’s time to prepare. As you start going down your to-do list, it can become overwhelming - especially when you’re welcoming guests into your home. Don’t stress, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick guide to getting ready for company.

  1. Cleaning: Resist the urge to start your spring cleaning now. Between gift buying, cooking and holiday activities, you want to leave time to enjoy this time of year! We understand that once you start tidying up, it can be a slippery slope to a full clean out of the entire attic or basement. In a word, try to keep it simple. First, focus on decluttering. If it’s on a surface and it’s not decorative or functional, it’s got to go. This will instantly give it that more put-together feel.

  2. Next, put your energy towards the spaces where guests will spend most of their time - think the kitchen, bathrooms, and the family room. Skip scrubbing the grout and dusting in between the blinds, you can save that for after the new year! Use a multi-surface cleaning spray so you don’t have to switch between five different surface sprays. Freshen fabrics and other surfaces with this eco-friendly biodeodorizer. It’s safe to use around both kids and pets, and you won’t have to worry about noxious odors with its subtle fragrance.

    Last area - floors. Use this floorwash on almost anything - wood, ceramic, concrete, you name it! The friendly bacterias in it eradicate muck and grime completely. As an added bonus, you’ll get a deep cleaning in your drain lines as this keeps working after you pour the mop water down the sink.


    lifes abundance hand sanitizer

  3. Sanitize: It can be a little stressful when you’re traveling elsewhere for the holidays or finally gathering in small groups. Put your guests’ minds at ease and place some bottles of alcohol-based hand cleanser throughout the house. You can put them near your entrance, on your dining table, in the guest room and in other common places so visitors can frequently cleanse. For bonus host points, treat your guests to a comfortable feeling, rather than an overly drying sanitizer experience. Our Rinse Free Hand Cleanser includes organic aloe vera, provitamin B5 and organic D-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) that will leave their skin feeling more supple. In two convenient sizes, it’s free from methanol and contains 70% alcohol.

  4. Don’t forget your pets! We know how it goes - you get sidetracked in the kitchen and run out of time to bathe the dog. But, chances are that your guests will want to spend time with your pets too. Oh no, dog smell! If you need to save the grooming for another time, make it easy with a quick spritz. Your guests will appreciate your pet’s delicate scent and soft coat when they greet them at the door!

Bonus tip: If you’d rather not sit down to dinner smelling like a clove of garlic, try out this multipurpose stainless steel bar. Rub it between your hands to remove pungent odors, and even on your pets. The contoured nubs work to remove lingering scents and doubles as a mini massage.

Most importantly, remember that your guests are there to see you. The kinship of the holidays and shared feasts overshadows that one section of grout you missed that will distract you until the last visitor pulls out of the driveway. We promise, you’re the only one who noticed.


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

Make Your Holidays Sustainable With Eco-Friendly Decor

Simple Tips to Detox Your Home

You And Your Cuddly Companions


person petting cat

What strengthens your connection to pets more than the yummy treats you give them or the sloppy kisses they give you? Cuddles! Cuddling with your dog or cat builds up your relationship with each other.

With all that floof, our pups and kittens seem to be made for cuddling! No doubt, you’ve experienced all the love that your furry friend can give. But did you know that your love of cuddles also gives benefits to the object of your affections? From you to your canine to your feline, you’re all receiving a positive impact from snuggling up on the couch.

Scientifically speaking, when you are physically close to your pet, your brain, and theirs releases Oxytocin, the love hormone. That’s why you get all those warm and fuzzy feelings!

For the Humans:

Cuddling with your pet has endless benefits for your health. It can relieve depression and make you feel happier. This is due to two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, that are released when snuggling. Plus, it lowers your levels of cortisol, the hormone that is responsible for all the not-so-good feelings like anxiety. So, maybe take a few minutes before a long, stressful day to cuddle up with your furry companion.


dog cuddling on human shoulder

For the Canines:

It’s no surprise that your dog cuddles up next to you because they absolutely adore you. They consider you their person, so nothing feels better than being close to you. Rewind to earlier times when dogs used to stay close to other dogs and their owners when they needed to keep warm in cold weather. This habit has stayed true to many breeds of dogs today. In addition, this is one of the ways that canines show their affection and bond with you. Remember, dogs are pack animals like us. Some need the same physical touch and companionship to feel happy. Without it, dogs can slip into depression and higher feelings of stress. Cuddling with your dog can also help you stay in tune with their health. While petting them, you’ll be able to observe them from head to toe. Bumps, bad smells, or sensitive areas will become apparent when you’re so close.

For the Felines:

Everyone is an individual, but generally, cats absolutely love and benefit from cuddling just as much as we do. In fact, they depend on your companionship! A new study shows that cats miss you when you’re gone. Even leaving them with an item with your scent on it does not alleviate their stress. They just want you! Another study revealed that cats would actually choose human companionship over their own food. Just like you, cuddling lessens symptoms of sickness and reduces feelings of stress. Even if your cat has behavioral issues, they’re more likely to decrease with daily pets and cuddles.

Remember, not all dogs or cats are fond of cuddles. But for those who are, you can feel comfort in knowing it benefits them as much as it does you. So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, cuddle up next to your sweet pup or kitten for a few minutes. You plus your cuddly companions is a combination for a longer, happier, and healthier life.


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

How Cats Help Your Health

The Many Health Benefits Of Living With Dogs

Putting On Healthy Weight For Underweight Pets


dog running alongside owner

At first, feeding your pet seems like a simple concept. Scoop out food, place in bowl, done. But if it were really that simple, how come we spend countless hours researching, debating, and reading about pet nutrition? Truth is, getting your pet’s diet just right means being aware of all the different factors that go into the right nutritional plan:

  • Health status of the pet
  • Current weight
  • Age
  • Breed
  • Lifestyle

Take, for example, a cat named Charlie. At nine, he seemed to have a new lease on life- after being a bit of a couch potato, he couldn’t keep still- zooming around at all hours, and after years of being a bit on the larger side, he slimmed down to a svelte ten pounds.

Then nine.

Then eight.

His owners, assuming Charlie was simply experiencing a midlife burst of energy, gave him more food. It seems like a reasonable approach- but it didn’t fix Charlie’s weight loss. In this case, his weight loss and high energy was a byproduct of an undiagnosed medical condition. By the time his owners brought him to the vet, he was quite underweight, a symptom of his untreated thyroid tumor. With the right medication- AND the right food- he stabilized at his ideal weight.

Charlie’s thyroid disease is a good example of the complicated relationship between food and health. Does food cause health problems? Heal health problems? Maintain good health? The answer is, all of the above!

Weight: More than just a number

When performing a physical exam, the pet’s weight and their diet are noted. But knowing that a pet weighs twenty pounds doesn’t mean anything without some additional context- are we talking about a chihuahua or a lab mix? How does that number compare to the pet’s ideal weight?

Many veterinarians use a scoring system called the Body Condition Score. They use their eyes to assess the pet’s waist (or lack thereof), how visible the ribs are, and how much of a belly you can see from the side. They also use their hands to assess the amount of padding over the ribs. Putting those two together, they assign a number between one and nine. One is emaciated, nine is morbidly obese, and five is ideal. 

In a world where half of the country’s pets are overweight, you would probably not be surprised to know that the most common numbers assigned are six or seven. This triggers a conversation about weight management, diets, and exercise. But what happens when a pet is less than their ideal weight?


cat playing with toy

Assessing the underweight pet

  1. History. When a pet’s body condition score is four or less, their history becomes very important. Have they always been on the lean side or have they recently lost weight? Has anything changed in their life- a move, a new food, a new pet? Getting a detailed health history helps the veterinarian figure out if this is primarily a problem with the pet not getting enough calories, or if it’s an indicator of a potential health problem.

  2. Diagnostic tests. When a pet is dealing with an unexplained weight loss, vets use all of these clues to figure out whether or not they need to run some additional tests to look for health conditions. Diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, and- as in Charlie’s case- hyperthyroidism can be identified with some very simple bloodwork, allowing intervention and treatment if caught early. Others, such as certain cancers, may take more targeted diagnostics to identify. In all of these cases, unexplained weight loss is one of the earliest things noticed.

  3. Nutrition Plan. Once the status of the pet’s health is known, picking the right food becomes clearer. Is this a very active pet who needs a more calorie-dense diet with lots of high-quality protein? That’s very different from a pet with kidney disease who needs lower protein percentages to ease the stress on the kidneys. Does the pet take medications or supplements? Those can impact nutrient absorption as well! It has a lot of moving parts. 

    Once all of these factors are put together, you and your vet will know the best food choice. But what to feed is only part one. How much to feed is just as important!

    Just like a pound of steak has more calories than a pound of lettuce, knowing how much food to feed depends very much on what food you’ve chosen- which is why “just feed him more!” is less helpful than it sounds. With the right information, nutrition label, and a calculator, your vet has the ability to calculate the exact amount of food right for your pet. 

  4. Follow up. You’ve got your premium diet chosen; you know how much to feed. Now what? Follow up is key! Your vet will indicate when they want to check in and see how the pet is doing, and assess their weight change. Are they going in the right direction? Once they reach their ideal weight, does the plan change again?

Like so many things in life, how and what to feed your pet is never a simple answer, because our pets change over time, and so do their needs. The good news is, vets have gotten really good at identifying how to pick the right food at the right time. 

As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Sure, he probably wasn’t thinking of dogs and cats when he wrote that- but it still holds true. Here’s to a long life of health to you and your pets!


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

A Guide To Managing Your Dog's Weight

L-Carnitine And Dog Weight Loss

Can Dogs Eat Superfood Too?


dog looking up at owner

Dark leafy greens, purple skinned fruit, omega-rich fish - we always try to include superfoods in our diet. You may have originally thought that these foods can only help us humans. But, did you know they’re extremely beneficial to our furry friends too?

What exactly are superfoods?

Superfoods are nutrient packed, antioxidant rich foods. They give you those maximum nutritional benefits, and even better - with less calories. The high levels of antioxidants in these foods help to decrease and neutralize free radicals that are in our body. That means they can potentially lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and more.

Some other boosts they can provide are:

  • Fiber, which can help in digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Healthy fats, which give your body energy and improves your whole cardiovascular system.
  • Vitamins, which are great for your overall well being and maintaining bodily functions.
  • Phytochemicals, which, like antioxidants, can help reduce inflammation, keeping cells healthy.


owner giving dog a treat

Superfoods actually have the same benefits in our dogs too. With these foods built into their daily diet, you can give your pup that well-balanced meal and help them live their best lives!

Here are 5 superfoods that your furry friend can benefit from:

  1. Eggs: We already know how great eggs are for us, so it’s no surprise that they’re on the list. Often referred to as “the perfect protein,” they have all the good stuff for your pup - vitamins A, D, E and K.
  2. Blueberries: Not only are blueberries a great ingredient to include in their food, it’s also the perfect size for a quick, low-cal treat. They’re chock full of antioxidants and fiber, and as a bonus, they may support a youthful brain as dogs age.
  3. Fish oil: Hello omega-3 fatty acids! Fatty acids aren’t produced naturally by your dog, so including fish oil in their diet will support the health of basically every cell in their body. From heart health to skincare, fish oil gives them the whole healthy package.
  4. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes carry tons of antioxidants! They’re also plentiful in vitamin A and vitamin C, which help maintain a healthy immune system, and fiber, which aids in their digestive system.
  5. Flaxseed: Flaxseed is another superfood that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, plus omega-6 fatty acids. With so many beneficial properties, this little powerhouse can help support  immune health.

So, when looking at premium dog foods, take a quick scan through the ingredient list for some of these highly beneficial superfoods. Remember, when choosing your dog’s food, the true quality of a food is hard to gauge from the label alone. At Life’s Abundance we place emphasis on ensuring that each ingredient is beneficial. Art comes into science when those ingredients work together, synergistically, to support your dog’s health. Your dog’s food should make them feel good, both inside and out!


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

What Should I Feed My Senior Dog?

Pet Food Super Powers