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4 Ways To Celebrate National Dog Day This Year

“Woman

In a time when nothing is as it should be and the script seems to change every day in terms of what our lives are going to look like, it’s more important than ever to try and find those moments of normalcy, of joy, and of presence. 

It is times like these where the love of a dog takes on entire new levels of meaning.

When California shut down back in March, it felt apocalyptic. The streets were empty of cars, Google Maps showed green on every single highway at the height of what should be rush hour, the smoggy skies over Los Angeles as clear as they have ever been. The only way you even knew humans were still around was the presence of the dog owners, dutifully masked up and walking the dog because as far as the dog is concerned, they gotta do what they gotta do.

In the ensuing months, I’ve gotten to see what these constant companions have meant for people. Shelters cleared top to bottom as people took on fosters or new adoptions. Seniors unable to visit their grandchildren found themselves relying on a dog more than ever for that ever so important daily connection to another living being. Phones at the vet clinic ringing off the hook as pet owners, now spending hours upon hours a day with their dog, suddenly noticed a problem that may or may not have been there since last year (that’s ok, we are happy you found it!)

As our connection to each other feels especially fragile, our connection to our dogs has taken up a lot of the slack. And that is something to celebrate.

August 26th brings us to National Dog Day, the greatest day (ok, one of the greatest days) of the year. If you forget, your dog won’t mind. But if you do think of it, there really is no greater time to acknowledge how your pet has helped you and your family cope with unprecedented circumstances. There are so many ways to thank them for the smiles, the love, the smelly toys dumped in your lap, the drooly kisses. Here are just a few:

    1. Find a new hike. Getting outside is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your dog, both physically and psychologically. Depending on your area’s current social distancing guidelines, many areas do have hiking trails open as long as you bring a mask and it’s not too packed to stay safe.

    2. Learn a new trick (or two). The key to effective dog training is repetition and consistency - and maybe some Life’s Abundance treats - so why not take advantage of your time at home to bond through training? Whether it’s a simple new trick to master or practicing a sport like dock diving or agility, dogs love the attention and mental exercise!

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  1. Give them an end-of-summer makeover. If, like me, your local businesses are still shut down to services like grooming, the hair situation may be getting dire. Regular grooming helps maintain clean and healthy skin, and many pets also need regular nail trims that may have fallen by the wayside. It may be messy and it may not look nearly as neat as it does when the pros have at it, but sometimes you just have to roll with what you have. And if what you have is, like me, a Doodle, there may be a terrible clipper job involved. The good news is, they don’t even get embarrassed.

  2. Donate to help homeless dogs. As we all know, there are many pets in search of loving homes and many wonderful organizations and individuals working to make that happen. In honor of your dog, why not make a donation to your favorite charity in their name to help another dog become as lucky as yours? At Life’s Abundance, a portion of every sale supports rescue organizations - so get an extra bag of Porky Puffs or (Ollie’s favorite) Tasty Rewards knowing your selections are helping pets in need!

While we’re not past challenging times by any measure, most of us are now trying to figure out what the new normal is going to look like. Fortunately for all of us, our dogs have been one of the few consistent bright spots throughout. Are you going to celebrate National Dog Day this year? Hope you can join us!

Wishing your family health and love,

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V 

3 Ways Dogs Help With Mental Health

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Millions of people around the country love having dogs as a part of their family — what they may not know is how greatly their furry friend can benefit their mental health.

Recent studies exploring the bond between humans and animals have started revealing what so many of us have suspected all along - having a dog has many benefits! This research is how we found that dogs are great at interpreting our mood through our tone of voice, body language and gestures. 

Now we have started to better analyze precisely how our furry friends benefit us mentally and emotionally. Here are three ways dogs can help with our mental health:

1. Early exposure to dogs decreases the chance of psychiatric disorders

A recent study showed that adults who had a dog during childhood were 25% less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.  

The apparent effect of exposure to a pet dog is the most evident when the dog is present at a child’s birth or joins a family before the child turns three years old. Exposure to a family dog during this time was associated with a 50% less chance for a schizophrenia diagnosis.

2. Dogs can help battle depression

Studies have found that dog parents are less likely to suffer from depression than those without dogs. Playing with dogs and even feeding them treats has shown to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which helps pet parents relax and be happy. 

Companionship from a dog can help fend off some triggers of depression such as isolation and loneliness. Studies have shown that having a dog can even prevent illness and add years to your life!

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3. Dogs promote a healthy routine and self-care

A lack of routine and structure in a person’s life can make them feel unorganized or anxious. Many people who struggle with maintaining a healthy, normal routine may benefit from bringing a dog into their life.  

If you don’t wake up early enough, your dog most likely will! Going for a walk in the morning and eating breakfast is a staple in every dog’s life. This gets you up and out of the house for walks, hikes or runs — just being outdoors provides its own mental health benefits. Taking care of a pet reminds us to take care of ourselves. 

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Of course, bringing a dog into your home isn’t the answer for every person or family, but people should be aware of the mental health benefits that come with the furry package! Remember, dogs can help us just as much as we can help them.

 

News Alert: FDA identifies over 100 dangerous hand sanitizers

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Note: Life’s Abundance Rinse-Free Hand Cleanser is not involved in this FDA report. Our product has been tested for safety and is confirmed to contain at least 70% organic ethyl alcohol and does not contain any methanol.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to be on the lookout for dangerous hand sanitizing products. There are two areas of concern to watch for.

Methanol Contamination

The FDA has seen a spike in hand sanitizers that have tested positive for methanol contamination. This has led to an increase in adverse health events related to methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and can even be life-threatening if ingested. 

“Consumers must… be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol. 

Low Alcohol Content

FDA test results have shown that other hand sanitizers have “concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol,” which are active ingredients in hand sanitizer products. These sub-potent hand sanitizers have also been added to the FDA list of hand sanitizers to avoid.

Click here for the FDA's full list of dangerous hand sanitizers to avoid.

Common Houseplants That Are Safe For Pets

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Having plants in your home is a great way to add beauty, keep your air clean and boost your overall mood. However, you have to be careful when choosing houseplants when you have pets — some are toxic and can even cause life-threatening health problems. 

No need to worry — we’ve compiled a list of pet-friendly plants that are safe if you have dogs, cats, or both. 

Pet-Friendly Houseplants

African Violets

African violets can add touches of vivid color to any part of your home. These flowering plants can thrive in low light and don’t require a lot of care in order to grow, so they’re a great option if you’re not used to having plants around. Since they’re non-toxic, you also don’t have to worry about curious dogs or cats chewing on them. However, it doesn’t hurt to distract playful pets with healthier items to chew, such as our nutritious dog treats or cat treats.

Boston Ferns

Boston ferns can add some bright greenery to your home with their long, shaggy leaves. They do like humidity and some light, but they don’t need direct sunlight. Since their long fronds might become chew toys for dogs or cats, you might want to consider keeping these ferns in an out of the way spot that your pets don’t frequent, such as bathrooms or a guest bedroom.

Bromeliads

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Bromeliads are beautiful plants with hardy leaves. These flowering plants can make any room more inviting.You will want to keep them in an area that gets bright light and some humidity. In addition to being safe for dogs and cats, one of the other perks of bromeliads is that you can grow them on logs rather than in soil, making them a good option if you have cats that might dig in potted soil.

Friendship Plant

If you’re looking for a small plant that’s easy to care for, consider friendship plants. These plants have fuzzy leaves and normally won’t grow taller than a foot high. You can keep these plants on counters, shelves, or other surfaces in more humid areas of your home, but make sure they have low or medium light. You can also set up a terrarium to keep friendship plants out of reach of pet claws and teeth.

Maidenhair Ferns

Maidenhair ferns are a bit more challenging to care for than Boston ferns. If you decide to get these non-toxic, pet friendly plants, just make sure to give them plenty of water and some bright light. These ferns have long, delicate leaves with a feathery shape, so they might catch the eye of your cats. Having healthy cat treats around might lower the risk of having your cats paw at or chew on maidenhair fern fronds.

Polka Dot Plants

Polka dot plants are another colorful houseplant you can enjoy without fearing for your pet’s safety. These plants have wide leaves with a spotted or speckled appearance, giving them a visually interesting look. Keep these plants in bright light rather than low light to deepen their coloring, or they’ll end up with a more muted look. If you’re going to get polka dot plants, plan on replacing them from time to time. While your pets might leave them alone, these houseplants usually don’t have a long lifespan.

 Spider Plants

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Spider plants (or chlorophytum) are among the most common plants that are safe for both dogs and cats. You can decorate shelves or window sills with potted spider plants or place a few hanging ones near windows. These plants are easy to grow if you don’t have a green thumb. They just need a bit of water every so often, indirect light, and some pruning so their leaves don’t get too long. In fact, cutting back the leaves regularly might help prevent pets from playing with them or chewing on them.

 Succulents

Succulent plants are ideal houseplants if you usually forget to water plants. However, some succulents, such as jade and aloe, are toxic to pets when ingested. Safe succulents that won’t hurt dogs or cats include echeveria and haworthia. These plants just need to be kept in areas with bright light and watered about once a week in order to thrive.

Houseplants That Are Toxic To Pets:

Now that you know several plants that are safe for pets, there are some you should immediately remove from your home if you have them. Ingesting any of these plants can lead to serious health problems for your pets and require a visit to the nearest animal hospital. The following are common houseplants known for being toxic to pets:

  • Asparagus fern
  • Caladium (elephant’s ear)
  • Jade
  • Lilies
  • Pothos
  • Sago palms

When you're a pet parent, it's important to be thorough and protect your furry friend in every way that you can when they're at home. Double-checking your houseplants is just one more way you can ensure your pet's safety!

Why Magnesium Is Important To Your Health

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Magnesium is instrumental to many body functions and necessary for every biological organism, not just humans. Technically, it is an essential mineral nutrient, meaning it’s something the body needs, but it cannot make itself. That means it has to come from a dietary source like food or a supplement. 

This mineral plays a critical role in the brain, heart, and muscle health for humans. Here’s everything you need to know to make sure you can avoid magnesium deficiency: 

What Is Magnesium? 

Magnesium is one of several minerals in the body and the fourth most abundant (the first is calcium.) It’s a functional part of muscle movement, heart rhythm, blood sugar levels, protein synthesis, bone formation, and DNA building. 

Having low levels of this essential mineral can lead to weak muscles, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. An estimated 68% of the U.S. population fails to meet the daily requirement, possibly leading to magnesium deficiency. 

Magnesium and Brain Health

Magnesium is a key player in translating messages between the brain and body. Nerves generate electrical impulses to send these messages. If the impulse is strong enough, it activates a receptor that allows it to continue to the next axon, a thin cable that carries the electrical impulses in nerve cells. 

Not all the electrical impulses that travel down an axon are strong enough to move forward, though, which is a good thing. If they were, your brain would be continuously flooded with messages that it doesn’t need. 

Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper for some of these receptors, so impulses that are not strong enough stop before they hit the brain. This way, it prevents nerves from overstimulation that might cause damage. 

Magnesium and Heart Health

Magnesium is critical for maintaining a stable heartbeat. When your heart beats, calcium floods the cells of the heart muscle to cause a contraction. It relaxes when magnesium enters to block the calcium. Calcium and magnesium are natural competitors — when magnesium is present, it blocks calcium. These actions are essential to keep the heart beating. 

Magnesium and Muscle Health

Magnesium plays the role of calcium blocker in all muscle tissue, not just the heart. When calcium enters the muscle cells, it contracts. When magnesium comes in to counteract the calcium, the muscle relaxes. Now, think about how many times your muscles contract and relax every day, and you get an idea of how vital magnesium is to health. 

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How To Tell If You Have Magnesium Deficiency 

Some symptoms of low magnesium levels include:

  • Muscle twitches and cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Personality changes

There are also medical conditions sometimes associated with magnesium deficiency, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma
  • Mental health disorders

The recommended daily allowance for magnesium varies by age and gender. On average, adults need between 400 to 420 mg. The older you get, the more you will need.

How to Get Magnesium? 

One of the easiest ways to make sure your body is getting enough magnesium is through diet. Some foods that contain high levels of this important mineral include:

  • Nuts
  • Black beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocados
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Chicken breast
  • Broccoli

Even if you eat right, you might still find that you struggle to get the proper amounts of daily magnesium. For you, the answer might be a supplement like a Multivitamin

Some people prefer to rely only on food for their nutrients. With that in mind, you can add minerals to your water using a drink mix and get the same benefits. Dietary supplementation will help you sustain energy throughout the day and the right formula can add delicious flavor to your drink! When choosing a supplement, look for something with all-natural flavors and no added sugar or colors.

Magnesium is a critical part of hundreds of cellular processes in the human body, and many people don’t get enough of it. But don’t worry, it’s easy enough to increase your intake. Simply add some mineral-rich foods to your diet, add a supplement, or both!

3 Ways To Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer

“Woman

My heart always skips a beat when I see a “Lost Pet” flyer in the neighborhood. That sinking feeling when you look around the house and your pet is nowhere to be found is the absolute worst. You call their name, look under beds, stand in the front yard calling their name, roam the neighborhood…nothing.

And then you wait.

According to the National Humane Society, 1 out of every 3 pets will be lost at some point in their lifetime. Every year, 10 million pets go missing. It can happen even to the most cautious of pet owners- doors accidentally left ajar, a gate that doesn’t latch all the way, or a panicked pet reacting to fireworks. 

Accidents happen to everyone, so it’s best to prepare in advance and do everything you can to prevent a permanent loss. As July is Lost Pet Prevention Month, we thought it would be the perfect time to remind pet lovers how to keep their pets safe and sound.

  • Buy new ID tags and update microchips

The best way to have your pet reunited with you quickly is the good old ID tag. Make sure it’s up to date if you move or change phone numbers, and check yearly to make sure it’s still legible.

Your pet’s name and your phone number are the minimum, but tags can get elaborate. Some manufacturers even embed QR codes on the tag so if someone finds your lost pet they will have access to your information, the vet, and the pet’s medical conditions!

Microchips are, of course, a wonderful tool to help pets when a collar is lost or missing. It does require the pet be somewhere with a reader, like the vet or the shelter, so it’s really a backup if the ID tag isn’t present. Like the ID tag, make sure your information remains up to date in the database.

  • Leash Them Up Right

This summer, families are staying together and if they travel at all, it’s usually on road trips. These are great ways to stay connected, but also provide an opportunity for a spooked pet to be lost in a strange environment.

Make it a habit that no door gets opened without the pet on a leash. That can mean car doors, hotel room doors, anything when there is a chance a pet might dart. If your pet is not in a carrier, they are likely secured in a harness to begin with, so that makes the switchover easier. Don’t ever secure a pet to a seatbelt or the car with anything attached to their neck.

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  • Watch For Anxiety Triggers

If you live in an area where people shoot off fireworks all summer, you know how terrifying this can be for a pet. It’s hard to overstate what panic can do to a pet. We’re talking doors chewed through, six foot fences scaled, even teeth broken. If your pet experiences this level of anxiety, you would do well to consult with your veterinarian about prescription meds that can help, which work well in combination with training and soothing items like Thundershirts. Sometimes simply comforting your pet while feeding healthy dog treats or cat treats can help calm them.

Note: If you’ve used acepromazine in the past, veterinarians are no longer recommending this for anxiety. Why? Because we’ve discovered that it sedates the pet but doesn’t make the anxiety go away. Imagine being terrified AND unable to move or do anything about it. The good news is, we now have lots of better alternatives. 

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If your pet is lost, take a deep breath. Most pets are reunited with their owners. The knowledge that your pet has an ID tag on can make a huge difference! In the meantime:

  • Call local shelters and veterinarians to let them know your pet is lost
  • Have a current photo attached to the email, if you go that route
  • If you have security, like a Ring doorbell, see if you can tell which way your pet ran
  • Ask your neighbors to keep a look out.
  • Get on Nextdoor! If you’re not using this local community page, it is one of the easiest ways to quickly reach your neighbors.

And most importantly, don’t give up! I once had a client whose Boxer roamed the hills for two months, evading attempts to catch him, before they were finally reunited. Maybe you’ve heard the story of Carole King, who quit her job in Washington to look for her dog who was lost on vacation in Montana. After 57 days, she found him!

If your pet is a Houdini, don’t beat yourself up. Just do all you can to stay one step ahead. I found out the hard way that our side gate had an issue when my neighbor showed up to let me know Dakota was hanging out in his courtyard. It happens! And now we have a backup bungee cord on the gate.

Have a safe and healthy summer!

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V 

4 Great Protein Substitutes For Meat

Woman Enjoys Protein Substitute Chocolate Shake

Everybody needs protein, but not everyone enjoys eating meat. Fare including the usual suspects like beef, chicken, and fish, is among the best sources of protein available.

Just check out the amount of protein in a single serving of the following cooked meats and fish:

  • 3 oz of chicken breast: 13 grams 

  • 3 oz of steak: 23 grams

  • 3 oz of salmon: 21 grams 

All that protein is made up of varying combinations of molecules called amino acids, dubbed the "building blocks of life." Your body really can't function without them and relies on amino acids for everything from repairing tissue to digesting food.

So, does this mean you have to be a meat-eater if you want your body to get all the nutrients it needs to thrive? The answer is ‘No!’ In fact, whatever your reason for exploring non-meat protein substitutes, you'll be pleased to know you have plenty of alternative options. Here are a few simple ones you can start with:

  • Eggs

Like chicken, beef, and fish, eggs are considered a complete protein source. Crack just one open and you'll find six grams of protein inside. If you skip the yolk, you'll still get about 4 grams of protein from just the egg whites. 

Eggs may be a good choice for people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle or simply want to cut back on their meat consumption. Not so good of an option for people with egg allergy, however. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2 percent of kids are allergic to eggs, although most (70 percent) will outgrow the allergy by age 16. There are vegan and plant-based egg alternatives that have similar amounts of protein as well.

  • Plant Protein

Plant-based diets are an integral part of human history, but for several reasons (e.g., ethical, environmental, taste, health) they've become even more popular lately. A 2018 study found that 14 percent of Americans regularly consume plant protein sources, even though the majority of them (86 percent) do NOT consider themselves vegan or vegetarian. 

Replacing some of your calories from meat protein with plant protein can even lower your risk of heart disease and early death, according to a study from Harvard Medical School. In other words, the animal vs. plant debate isn't necessarily an all-or-none choice, and you don't have to swear off meat completely in order to enjoy the health benefits of plant protein. 

One of the most delicious ways to get your plant protein is in a convenient powder that you can mix into water, smoothies, pancakes, baked goods, oatmeal and more. Our delicious plant protein mixes have 13-14 grams of protein and 100-120 calories in every serving — that’s more protein and less calories than half of a chicken breast! 

Other top plant protein options include pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, hemp, spirulina, and quinoa. Like meat, these plants are considered complete protein sources. Additional options include rice, legumes (lentils, peas, peanuts, and beans), and other nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. 

Bowl of Healthy Plant Protein Options

  • Dairy 

Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk also earn a spot on the "complete protein" list. A 16 oz glass of skim milk has a little over 16 grams of protein, while 8 oz of cottage cheese has a whopping 25 grams. 

About 65 percent of people are unable to properly digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy. This explains why so many of us experience uncomfortable symptoms (like diarrhea, gas, and bloating) when we eat dairy products. If dairy intolerance symptoms sound familiar to you, you may consider avoiding this protein substitute. 

  • Soy, Tempeh, and Tofu

Soy and soy-based products like tofu and tempeh are also good sources of plant-based protein. We're mentioning them separately from other non-meat protein substitutes because many people avoid soy due to allergies or other health reasons. (Keep in mind a lot of plant-based protein supplements are made with soy, so if you're trying to avoid this ingredient be sure to look at the label carefully.)

For reference, just one ounce of dried soybeans contains 12 grams of protein. One cup of tempeh (fermented soybeans) contains over 30 grams, and one cup of tofu (soybean curd) has about 20 grams.

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When meat's not on the menu, you'll need to be sure you fill your plate (or shaker bottle) with other good protein sources. Why? Because protein is made up of amino acids, which our bodies must get in order to grow, repair, and stay healthy.

Remember, even if you do eat meat and other animal products, consuming plant-based protein offers additional health benefits and may even reduce your risk of certain diseases. So, in addition to non-meat protein substitutes like dairy and eggs, be sure to get more plant protein in your life.

5 Pet Safety Tips For 4th of July

Safe dog wrapped in flag on 4th of July

July 5th is one of the busiest days in both veterinary hospitals and animal shelters for many reasons — panicked pups bolt over fences leading to injuries and lost pets, unattended food gets scarfed down causing gastric problems, overheated canines experience heat exhaustion, and the list goes on.

The good news is that we know what to anticipate, which means we have the opportunity now to plan ahead and help keep the Fourth fun and safe for everyone. Here are five tips to make sure you and your pet have a great Independence Day.

  1.  Keep the barbecue food away.

    Summer barbecues are delicious for us but full of hazards for pets. High-fat foods like burgers and hot dogs can cause pancreatitis, kebab skewers can wreak havoc in the stomach, corn cobs are a leading cause of GI surgery, and ribs have bones that can splinter and pierce the intestines. Make sure all your grilled goods  are securely out of the way of nosy pets, and keep an eye out for party guests (especially kids) who accidentally leave plates in precarious locations.

  2. Avoid putting glow-sticks on your pet.

    Although they may look cute, please resist the urge to put a glow stick around your pet’s neck. They really aren’t designed for pet use, chiefly because the liquid they contain can be quite irritating if ingested. Fortunately, there is another option! If you want your pup to look bright and patriotic, LED-lighted collars are designed to be both adorable and perfectly pet-safe.

    Woman Keeping Dog Safe on 4th of July

  3. Update your pet’s ID info.

    Is your pet’s tag and microchip up-to-date? If you’ve recently moved or your phone number has changed, getting a new tag and calling your vet to update a microchip are inexpensive forms of insurance for a potentially scary problem. When fireworks go off, even well-behaved, mild-mannered pets can panic and bolt. One of the main reasons pets languish in shelters after the 4th is due to incorrect or missing identification.

  4. Provide a happy distraction at home.

    If you must leave your companion animal home alone when fireworks are likely, take some precautions to help minimize anxiety. Some may even surprise you! For example, some pets find classical music soothing, while others enjoy TV. There are non-drug calming options such as the Thundershirt or a pheromone collar. And, last but not least, try the tasty distraction offered by a treat-dispensing toy filled with healthy dog treats or cat treats!

  5. Consult your vet before the 4th.

    If your dog or cat are prone to levels of anxiety that over-the-counter remedies can’t address, your veterinarian might prescribe medications to help him or her through the night. We can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead for this holiday! Vet’s offices are often slammed on July 3rd with pet parents in a panic asking for a new prescription, and it may not be available on short notice.

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While the Fourth of July can be a source of stress for many canines and felines, it doesn’t have to be! As you can see, just a little bit of planning can make a world of difference.  We wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!

 

4 Reasons To Pay Attention To Your Gut Health

Woman Taking Probiotics Celebrates Gut Health

We’ve all heard the advice to trust your gut, or listen to your gut instincts. You may have even had a gut feeling deep down inside that you should make one decision, or avoid another. People are always listening to their guts — but are they really paying attention to their gut health? 

The fact of the matter is, your gut can tell you a lot more about your overall health than you may realize. These are just a few of the reasons why your gut health is so important:

  • Your Gut Plays a Key Role in Your Central Nervous System

Often when people think of the nervous system, an image of the human brain comes to mind. However, the gut is actually home to one of the most important elements of the entire nervous system — the Enteric Nervous System, or ENS. The ENS is sometimes called the body's second brain because it contains more than 100 million nerve cells that communicate directly with the brain. The ENS primarily works to aid digestion, and a gut that’s out of balance may not have the ability to maintain a strong ENS.

  • Your Gut Contains Bacteria that Controls Inflammation

Your gut is host to a wide variety of bacteria, and on the surface, that may sound kind of gross. In reality, we need good bacteria in the gut in order to improve digestive health and keep inflammation at bay. Your microbiome, the good bacteria in the gut, protects the walls of the digestive system. When these walls are compromised, we can be at risk for a variety of short-term and long-term complications, including allergies, asthma or Alzheimer's. 

  • A Healthy Gut Results in a Happy Person

You know now that your gut routinely talks directly to your brain, but did you realize that your gut actually produces most of the serotonin that your body needs? When you actively support your gut health, you will find that your body produces more serotonin. 

Serotonin is the hormone that makes you feel happy. In fact, when your gut health is compromised, you may find that you feel more anxious or depressed than usual. Many people who include a probiotic supplement as part of their daily regimen find that they generally feel an improvement to their mood. 

  • Your Gut Controls Your Metabolism

Your gut needs to be in tip-top shape in order to properly digest the food that you eat. When you eat  healthy and exercise, both of which promote gut health, you will be able to have a better handle on your metabolism. You will find that you feel more nourished by the food that you eat, and that you have less cravings. People who support their gut health often feel more energized by their food, and they feel more capable of leading an active lifestyle. Remember, your metabolism is responsible for fluctuations in weight — that means taking control of your metabolism and gut health can help you take control of your weight as well. 

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One way to support positive bacteria in the gut is to take a daily probiotic supplement. Of the five beneficial strains in our probiotic at Life's Abundance, one has even been shown to support overall digestive health, including bowel habits. Further, we’ve included a strain that is native to humans, rather than cows like typical supplements. 

It can be tempting to ignore that little voice inside, but when you pay it some attention, you just may feel like the best possible version of yourself!

5 Ways To Optimize Your Cat's Health

Woman Plays With Healthy Cat At Home

I don’t know about you, but one of the unexpected benefits I’ve gotten from working from home so much lately is the abundance of cats I’ve seen on various Zoom calls. Dogs can be put on the other side of the door, silenced with a snap of the fingers or at least a distracting treat, but cats - no one puts kitty in the corner. This is their space, we’re just borrowing it for a while, and don’t you forget it.

In honor of World Cat Domination Day this June 24th, let’s celebrate our feline friends who hold such dominion over our homes and our hearts. It’s summer- yikes! Where did the time go? - and with all the extra time you’ve spent together, why not spend some of it making sure your cat is set up for optimum health! Here are five ways you can optimize your cat’s health and honor the fantastic feline in your life:

  1. Schedule that overdue vet visit.

    Even before the COVID-19 lockdowns, people were a little reticent to bring their cat to the vet unless they really had to. I understand this. It’s hard to get them into the carrier, they freak out, and it can be an overall super stressful experience for your pet.

    With businesses easing back into the swing of things, most veterinarians are open for business as usual in terms of providing wellness services and yearly exams for pets. Even if curbside drop off is still being implemented, think of it as a silver lining- with you waiting in the parking lot, staff members are doing their absolute best to work efficiently and minimize the time you and your cat spend away from home! And if that is still too stressful, calling in a home visit vet is a perfect solution.

  2. Teach your cat a new trick. 

    No, I don’t mean the one where they walk on your keyboard and stick their rear end straight into the webcam every single time you’re trying to start a video call (or is that just my cat?)

    Start with a simple sit command, as you would a puppy. Incentivize your cat with a delicious treat or whatever they find motivating. And if it’s not their thing, it’s not their thing- but for the right prize, you can almost always make it their thing.

    Woman Monitors Her Cat's Health

  3. Get in that deep-cleaning.

    OK, this one isn’t nearly as fun as crocheting a cat bed but it’s really important. Most people are good about cleaning out the cat’s food and water dishes, but when’s the last time you cleaned out the litter box?

    I’m not talking about scooping it, which should be done daily regardless, but a full top-to-bottom clean where all the litter gets dumped and the box cleaned thoroughly and left to air dry before filling with all new litter. Ideally you can use eco-friendly cleaners once-a-month part of your routine, but if you’ve fallen behind, you’re not the only one. If your human commode needs regular cleaning, don’t forget the cat’s does too.

  4. Become a cat chef.

    Like most of you, I have to say cooking for my cat is a bit of a stretch, especially when I have an entire pantry full of Life’s Abundance food and treats at my disposal. It’s not something I would do all the time, but if you’re cleaning out the freezer and have some chicken breast or fish that’s probably a little freezer burned, you can make it into treats for your kitty with a dehydrator.

    Cats don’t need much, so I usually slice the meat into thin, 1-inch squares before putting them in my dehydrator for 6-7 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use the oven on its lowest setting. These treats are best kept in the fridge where they’ll stay good for about three weeks, and voila! New best friend. 

  5. Take on some cat-friendly home improvements. 

    Time to toss that old, scratched up cat tree where the carpeting is all unraveled? Why not build your own!

    OK, maybe that particular project doesn’t appeal to you and, like me, you shy away from anything that involves wood cutting. Fair enough. Maybe you prefer cloth-based projects, and in that case I direct you to the arm-crocheted cat bed I tried a few weeks ago. I mean, it’s a cat bed, and it’s yarn- two of their favorite things combined! No sewing required. Watch here:

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As we speak, my cat is dominating my dog by sleeping in his massive bed while her little cat bed sits unoccupied five feet away. Is there any better analogy for life with a cat? And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V