Life's Abundance | Makers of premium health products for dogs, cats and pet parents, too!

Holiday Reflections on the Season of Giving

Happy-holidays

The holiday season is upon us once again. Soon, many of us will be swept up in a whirlwind of festivities. Buying the perfect gifts, trimming trees and spending time with loved ones. Once the gifts are opened and the twinkly lights are extinguished, it’s the time to pause and reflect on the year that’s passed. And, of course, make resolutions for the New Year.

As I look back on 2017, I feel truly grateful and honored to be a part of a team of individuals that are so devoted to the health and well-being of companion animals. At Life’s Abundance, the quality of our products pretty much speak for themselves. But they all include one important ingredient you won’t find on the label … heart. From our customer service agents to our management team to our dedicated Field Representatives, everyone affiliated with Life’s Abundance plays their crucial part in fulfilling my personal mission in life … to help dogs and cats lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

Kitty-Xmas

As far as my own role, I’m thankful for every opportunity I get to speak with customers and reps, as well as potential customers. I only share my thoughts and insights in the hopes someone will benefit. That being said, because this is the season of giving, I wanted to update you on the work of the foundation that bears my name.

As you probably by know, The Dr. Jane Foundation is a non-profit organization that awards funding to small and medium-size animal rescues, each of which are committed to saving abused and neglected animals from a variety of dangerous situations. Thanks to the generosity and continued business of people just like you, our non-profit was able to help fund the everyday activities of so many worthy groups this year, as well as providing emergency funding in the wake of the disastrous flooding in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

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While the work of the foundation is a vital part of Life's Abundance, our central commitment is devotion to the people that use our products: you inspire us. Without your support and feedback we would not be the company we are today, and from the very core of my being, I thank you. Serving as Director of New Pet Product Development has been my great privilege. By monitoring discoveries in nutritional science, I will continue to improve our innovative health formulations and create new, cutting-edge products to help improve the health and longevity of companion animals. With the combined efforts of our strong, motivated team, we can surely make this New Year more successful than ever before.

On behalf of everyone here at Life's Abundance, I wish you and your family joy, health, and success in 2018.

Thank you so much for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks  

Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

Which Holiday Character is Your Pet?

Yorkshire-Holiday

No matter how old I get, I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow my inner child when it comes to excitement over the holiday season. The characters in this play of life may vary, yet one thing remains the same: as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is done, my holiday season begins.

My pets may not know what Christmas is, but they do know something is happening: the furniture moves around, someone’s always cooking and they get to spend their nights curled in front of a fire (well, as many as our warm SoCal evenings allow). Most of our December evenings are spent watching some sort of holiday movie or show. After so many years, I know all the beloved casts of characters by heart.

Part of the fun of revisiting these classics is imagining which roles my companion animals most closely resemble. Like people, our dogs and cats each have their own distinct likes, dislikes and personality quirks. Does your dog or cat remind you of any of the following pop-culture favorites?

The Grinch

Does your dog skulk around the house with a Grinch-like frown? Does your cat steal random ornaments and hide them away in the fireplace? Could be because the holidays can be stressful for many companion animals who are disturbed by the extra activity, changes in routine and houseguests. If your pet becomes Grinchy every December, make sure to provide them their own sanctuary. Just as the Grinch needed a cave on Mount Crumpit, sometimes they just need a temporary escape from all the noise, noise, noise, noise!

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The Bumble

In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the angry, roaring Bumble is reduced to a big old softie after Hermie the dentist removes his teeth. Dental disease is a big problem for both dogs and cats. Often going untreated, the result is many cranky mini-Bumbles wandering around with sore mouths. Want to give your pet a truly meaningful holiday gift? Make sure their mouths are healthy and disease-free. I am astounded at the turnaround many make once their dental disease is addressed and the source of constant pain resolved.

Heat Miser

Who can forget the Miser Brothers angrily hurling snowflakes and lightning bolts at each other in The Year Without a Santa Claus? While cold winter air can be refreshing, seniors (especially those with arthritis) might find winter less than comfortable on ailing joints. If your dog or cat seems to slow down when the temperature drops, shows difficulty negotiating the stairs, or seeks out the warmest spots in the house, make like the Heat Miser and crank up the heat. Cozy orthopedic beds, keeping the house at a comfortable temperature when they’re home alone and providing joint support can help seniors stay comfy even when the weather is frightening. Of course, make sure any new symptoms are brought to your veterinarian’s attention.

Naughty-Nice

Garfield

All Garfield wants for Christmas is plate after plate of lasagna. As a vet, I can tell you he’s not the only one with an ambitious appetite. The holidays are one of the busiest times of year for emergency clinics who witness firsthand the aftermath of counter-surfing Collies and trash-diving Torties. Pancreatitis, foreign bodies and the ever-present carpet-ruining “GI disturbances” are just some of the unfortunate consequences of four-footers gobbling holiday goodies. If your dog or cat has a reputation for sneaking a snack or seven, try not to leave them unguarded. Also, give them some healthy treats instead. Life’s Abundance offers a host of wonderful options that make for perfect stocking stuffers for dogs and for cats!

Peanuts

I’ve saved my favorite special for last. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown frets about the consumerism of the holidays. He takes in a sad little tree and transforms it into something beautiful. As much fun as it is to get swept up in buying gifts for our furry companions, or how tempting it is to try and capture the perfect “Santa Paws” pic for Instagram, at the end of the day, the only things our critters want from us is our love and attention. Being with family and making time for each other truly makes the season special.

My dog Brody is a Linus for sure. No matter how many holiday cookies I stress eat over travel plans or finding “the right gift” for someone, Brody is there to offer a constant source of friendship and calm. I can count on him to put his head in my lap and remind me to take a breath, and be grateful for all the gifts I have this season.

I wish you and your family joy, love, and good health this December and in the New Year to come!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

3 Tips to Thrive this Holiday

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The kids are back in school and settled into a routine. Everything seems to be moving along smoothly and then BOO! ... Halloween happens and we’re in full holiday mode. In what seems like a split second, you’re planning, shopping and cooking. And by the time the parties roll around, you’re exhausted. How can you make it through the emotional roller coaster of the holiday season, avoid emotional eating and eat healthfully throughout? Try using these using these three simple steps to not only survive the holiday season, but to thrive!

1. Stay in the Moment

Yes, you could choose to go through the holidays focusing on feeling guilty for not remembering to buy your co-worker a gift, being sleep deprived because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to get everything done before your vacation, stressing because the holiday cards haven’t arrived . . . and so on and so on. But you could also choose to get through the holidays mindfully. Making the choice to celebrate the company you keep, being positively in the moment and giving attention to your holiday traditions. This will keep you from feeling stressed, overwhelmed and reaching for the soothing arms of that hot cocoa with a big pile of whipped cream.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Keep a warm mug of tea on hand at all times. It will serve many purposes. The heat and smell will soothe and relax you and your feelings, it will hydrate you, and it will serve as a reminder to keep your wellness on the forefront of your mind.

2. Stay in Control

Use the three D’s when feel out of control or are worried about emotionally eating. The first D is for delay. Slow yourself down. Don’t head straight for the food. Start with a glass of water, tea or seltzer and make a conscious decision to slow your intake. Nobody is going to rip your plate out from under you and the appetizer tray will still be there in 15 minutes. So ... slow down. The second D is for distract. You should be catching up with friends and family. That’s what the holiday season is really about. Distract yourself from emotional eating by talking to the people you care about or lending a hand to the host. The final D is for disarm. Don’t keep unwanted food in the house or place unwanted foods as far away from yourself as humanly possible. And, when at parties, don’t hover over the buffet table. These simple steps will help you stay in control.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Going to a potluck holiday dinner? Take control and bring healthy dish you can eat so you’re not stuck with only greasy vegetable-less eats in case that’s the only foods offered. Before you head out to the office party, eat a satisfying and healthy dinner so you don’t wind up making puff pastries your meal.

3. Socialize at Parties
Focus on the fact that you’re at a party. With PEOPLE who you (hopefully!) enjoy being around. It’s not all about the food. Concentrate on talking to and reconnecting with family, friends, and coworkers. When you make an effort to socialize, you’ll not only enjoy the night a lot more, but you’ll also be too preoccupied to think about that pecan pie every 2.2 seconds.

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Healthy Holiday Tip: Be wary of “food pushers”. These are those people who refuse to take “no” for an answer when offering unhealthy treats. My advice? Keep saying no, as many times as you have to. And don’t feel bad! Or, why not say “You know, you should have another bite of this fruit cake. I know how much you love it and it’s the holidays, so you deserve to splurge!”

Use these three simple tips, add a little moderation and a whole lot of love and you’ll get through the holiday season feeling better than when you started!

Keri Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN

The Secret to Finding a Lost Dog

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Few feelings of dread are as harrowing as the moment you realize your dog is missing.

Late Sunday afternoon, our long-time employee, Dawn Tate, experienced just such a moment. After hanging out with her two dogs, Chevy and Koko, in an open field near her home, Dawn realized that her Florida cur, Chevy, had not returned from her recent romp. Minutes later, as Dawn’s searches became more and more frantic, she realized that Chevy had vanished.

After a several minutes of fruitless searching, Dawn launched a full-out rescue attempt. Not only did she contact her local Animal Control Department, but also the police. Both agencies expressed concern for Chevy’s welfare and were only too happy to receive her emails with photos of Chevy, so they could keep an eye out. In addition to contacting the authorities, Dawn turned to social media for help. She posted images of Chevy and shared her last-known location with her friend network. Unfortunately, there were no sighting reports of Chevy.

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Dawn was determined to bring her baby home, searching the surrounding areas as late as 2 a.m. and then was up before the crack of dawn to resume search efforts.

Thanks to a helpful friend, Dawn decided to try a recovery strategy that someone shared online. It’s a method that’s popular among outdoorsmen for lost hunting dogs. The trick is this … return to the location where you first became aware you were separated from your canine. At the scene, place at least one article of recently worn clothing (not anything freshly clean from the wash). The more scent it holds, the better. If at all possible, also bring along a crate or carrier and two or three of your dog’s favorite toys. It is recommended that you also provide a bowl of water (not food, as it may attract wildlife that might scare off your dog). You might also consider leaving a note for any people who happen by, requesting that the items remain undisturbed and why.

The basic concept here is that your dog wants to return to you, he just can’t find you. Thanks to their incredible sense of smell, they will be able to find their way back to these familiar items. Time and time again, this method has proven highly successful in reuniting lost dogs with their caretakers.

Why is it so effective? Dogs have an amazingly keen sense of smell. Their noses possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors, which is 50 times more than humans. To convert all of the sensory data picked up by these detectors, there’s a great deal of processing power. The canine brain allocates 40 times more brain power proportionately, compared to people.

It’s hard to quantify exactly how much better a dog is at detecting scents compared to ours. Some experts say it’s a 1,000 times better, while others say it’s one million times better. And humans actually have well-developed sniffers. All of us have had the experience of returning home and opening the front door to smell that someone’s been cooking. You were probably even pretty sure what dish was being made. If we can smell this, a dog could detect the same in a house the size of an average-sized city!

Dogs are able to pick up on a whole host of information from smells. When it comes to knowing their pet parent, they can read unique chemical markers (such as hormones) that we’re not even aware we’re emitting. With one breath, they can easily determine if we’re fearful, anxious or sad. That’s astonishing! Just remember, the next time you’re walking your dog and she lingers to smell the grass, she’s reading all sorts of information from the last dog that passed by. In this scenario, veterinary experts would say that your dog’s interior thoughts probably sound like, “Let’s see, you’re also a girl, you’re about 4 years old, you had a chicken-based meal this morning, you were super excited on your walk, etc.”

A HAPPY RESOLUTION

It was a frightening 24 hours, both for Dawn and for Chevy. But thanks to the innovative strategy we just explained to lure her back to the exact spot where they were separated, Dawn, Koko and Chevy are now safely back under the same roof. Yay!

Chevy

Have you ever become separated from your companion animal? What strategy did you use to search, and were you successful? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Share your stories in the comments section below!

Make Thanksgiving Great For Your Dog

Of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is surely a canine favorite. There's abundant food, there's full gatherings of friends and family, and did we mention the food?

The downside is much of the bounty you'll be serving at your feast doesn't jibe too well with a dog's digestive system. Sure, they'll enjoy it in the moment, but there can be some serious side effects to all the sneaky feeding of scrumptious table scraps.

Fortunately, we have some food for thought, presented in the following holiday infographic. You'll learn about some of the incredibly tasty and oh-so-nourishing alternative foods and treats your dog is sure to love. After all, we all want this Thanksgiving to be the best it can be for your beloved pup-pup.

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your friends and family!

PDF Document
PDF Document

The Future of Veterinary Medicine

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Our lives have been immeasurably changed since the dawn of the computer age. It’s hard to overstate the impact of technology on the future of medicine: it’s changed virtually everything. Much of it is already working its way into your veterinary office. So, what does the veterinary clinic of the future look like? Here are my predictions:

1. You’ll Be Taking Advantage of Telemedicine Options

Fifteen years ago, if your vet wanted a radiologist’s opinion on an x-ray, she would have to pack the film into an envelope and send it off. Nowadays, with digital x-rays, an expert opinion is just a click away.

Right now, telemedicine is mostly used as a means for one veterinarian to consult with another one. Having a remote veterinarian examine and diagnose your pet without seeing him or her in person is currently against the law in most states. Expect veterinary medicine to follow the trends in human medicine; I can talk to a doctor I’ve never met before over the phone about my child’s ear infection and get a prescription, so it’s only a matter of time before consumer demand will make veterinary telemedicine more accessible. It won’t happen until state regulatory boards make it legal, though, so don’t expect this to happen anytime soon.

The intermediate step you will probably notice first is either remote consultations with a veterinarian you already have a relationship, or a third-party triage service that can provide general advice without providing a diagnosis or treatment recommendation. Both of those options are legal under today’s laws. Once that becomes the norm, the rest will follow suit pretty quickly.

2. Health Monitoring Technology Will Grow

Each night, my husband and my son sit down to compare notes from the little fitness trackers they wear on their wrists and see who got the most steps in for the day. In the morning, my husband can tell me exactly when he was in REM sleep and how often he woke up. These devices even sync with our scales. The amount of data is almost overwhelming!

Over the past five years, multiple fitness trackers for dogs have come and gone. Most are still too large to fit on a cat’s collar due to the limitations of the battery size, but we’ll get there soon. Some of them just track steps for the day, but the latest versions can look at data such as breathing rate and whether or not a dog is scratching excessively. That’s good data to have if you are concerned your pet is in pain or wondering if those new allergy meds are helping!

In veterinary medicine, these fitness trackers are just the start. For those who live with diabetic cats, a litter box is in the works that can track glucose in the urine, a vital marker for diabetes. Imagine if that same litter box also could tell you when your cat loses a pound, which is a substantial health concern but often subtle enough that owners don’t notice right away. Expect these technologies to help us catch disease processes sooner rather than later, which will undoubtedly save lives!

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3. We’ll Be Using DNA Analysis to Predict Health

Ever swabbed your cheek and sent it off for a DNA analysis to learn about your ancestors? That’s only the beginning. Genetic testing to see what dog breeds make up your dog’s DNA has already expanded into an enormous database that helps improve our understanding of canine disease. Mapping of the dog genome already allows us to pick up early markers for many genetic diseases such as the MDR1 gene, degenerative myelopathy and Von Willebrand’s disease. Our ability to anticipate these disease processes before they develop will allow us to provide much more meaningful care and prevention.

Having such specific health information about individual companion animals will allow us to make completely individualized treatment plans!

4. We’ll Be Using Bioengineered Solutions to Treat Disease

Stem cells are a huge buzzword these days … but do the results really backup the hype? According to many veterinarians who use them to treat dogs, cats and horses, the answer is “yes!”

Stem cells are unique in that they can differentiate into different cell types, which makes them particularly useful in orthopedic disease where regeneration is a challenge. Stem cells can be harvested from a dog or cat’s own adipose tissue, grown at the lab, and returned to the veterinarian to be introduced to the site of an injury. A 2008 study in Veterinary Therapeutics showed a significant improvement using stem cells in dogs with elbow injuries, a notoriously difficult joint to treat.

Another area of research that makes this vet excited is immunotherapy: a cancer treatment that helps the pet’s own immune system recognize cancer cells as abnormal. Scientists are currently investigating the ability to create immunotherapy treatments for tricky cancers such as mast cell tumors, melanoma and osteosarcoma. Imagine a future where an injectable vaccine reduces the need for more invasive treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation!

Technology is both a blessing and a burden. I admit I sometimes long for the days when I wasn’t accessible 24 hours a day, and have to chase my kids outdoors and off their mobile devices. That being said, I am also so very excited to see how these amazing new developments will improve life for both pets and people!

Are pet health monitoring devices something would consider using? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Funding Awarded to German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue

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It’s time once again for an update from our non-profit charity, The Dr. Jane Foundation. This month, we’re excited to share news of a financial award to an intrepid group of rescuers based in Denver. A breed-specific rescue group, this organization places homeless German Shorthaired Pointers (GSP's) and Pointer mixes with foster homes until they're matched with their ideal adoptive families.

All Points West German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue is a relatively new not-for-profit association, having just celebrated their 1st anniversary this year! In the short time they've been rescuing, All Points West has helped to rescue, rehabilitate and find forever homes for dozens of dogs, not just in Colorado but also in neighboring states and the Pacific Northwest.

This excellent group of experienced, dedicated rescuers has 20 years of combined rescue and foster experience. Their passion for Pointers can hardly be understated! In just a year of operations, they've already rescued 49 dogs; and of those, 41 have been successfully adopted! They graciously attribute their amazing rescue rate to their volunteers and to the groups and individuals whose contributions fund their work.

All Points West's mission supports the long-term goal of lowering euthanasia rates in the region through adoption programs. With each additional rescue, they're working for a future in which all rescued GSP’s find responsible, loving homes where they can live free from abuse, hunger, fear, loneliness and receive the care and respect they deserve. Not only do they celebrate and honor this noble, adventurous and loving breed, they regularly sing the praises of every pet parent who chooses to adopt rather than purchase a new dog.

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At any given time, this group provides essential daily care for dozens of GSP's and Pointer mixes, covering the costs of all veterinary expenses. Given the state of some of their rescued pups, this is no small feat. Because they have been able to achieve so much in so little time, the decision by our non-profit to fund their grant application was an easy one. Thanks to a top-notch foster program and superb veterinary care, our Board of Directors feels confident that All Points West’s vigilant and dedicated team will save countless GSP's.

Their Pointers come from a variety of heartbreaking backgrounds. Some are relinquished to shelters, others are abandoned in the wild. For the dogs who are fortunate enough to be accepted into a shelter, many will wait a very long time before anyone pays them interest. The sad fact is, there is a common misperception that these creatures are “good for hunting but not as pets”. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Pointers are known to be adoring, affectionate and great family dogs. Even as they work to rescue as many dogs as possible, All Points West has also made strides in changing the prevailing narrative concerning this loving breed.

All Points West has used our financial award to help defray the costs of medical care. Founding Board Member Gail Wise had this to say about our grant: "We appreciate the Dr. Jane Foundation’s belief in our work and support for that work. Without financial underwriting like that of the Dr. Jane Foundation, we couldn’t save these dogs and offer health, comfort, and in many cases, a first-time loving home to them. Our excitement over the possibilities for life saving medical care that this level of support provides for our rescued dogs will truly be one of the highlights of 2017 for us. It allows us to keep saving more dogs and helping them to live happy and healthy lives with their forever families."

Here are just a few of the sweet, lovable Pointers who have benefitted from All Points West's lifesaving assistance …

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Foster

This past summer, APW rescued Foster, a GSP found wandering country roads completely emaciated and severely dehydrated. All of his teeth were broken or missing. Had he not been found, he surely would've perished. He has some complex and serious health issues, but with our financial support, Foster has regained some of his health with the help of specialists and holistic veterinarians. An All Points West representative said that receiving our award was "a wonderful coincidence" that "the generosity of a company that believes in holistic animal care is helping to provide exactly that for sweet Foster!" They added that without our "critical financial support he would have died alone or had to immediately be euthanized and not have had the chance to be loved, to play and cuddle, to go camping and hiking with his new family." As you can tell from the previous photos above, Foster really enjoys snuggling with his new siblings.

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Yankee

This sweet, goofy adult male was discovered deep in the New Mexico desert, after fending off both feral dogs and coyotes. Based upon his discomfort with other dogs and his physical symptoms, his rescuers believe he was held in a small enclosure before being abandoned in a remote desert canyon. All of his joints were extremely red and swollen. After a full medical work-up and x-rays, vets determined he had chewed his joints repetitively, perhaps out of fear or anxiety. But, thanks to the incredible care they provided, All Points West was able to locate a loving home. His new pet parents are helping Yankee to learn how to feel secure as a beloved family member.

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Brexie

An orthopedic special-needs girl, Brexie was born with a malformed lower spine. Incredibly, she was adopted by a chiropractor, which turned out to be a perfect match! Thanks to a significant investment in medical care and physical therapy, she now lives pain-free, is able to remain continent in the house and has developed additional musculature in her hindquarters. In fact, she's able to run and play with her foster pack on miles-long, off-leash hiking adventures every afternoon! Her new family totally dotes on her, and her specially trained dad who works with her every day to help her further overcome her spinal issues. It's an amazing sight to see her living her best life, especially considering that she was facing euthanasia prior to her rescue by All Points West.

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Jake

After being rescued, Jake's foster care parents sussed out that Jake was having trouble with separation anxiety. Otherwise, he was perfectly healthy. The adoption coordinator thought that given his anxiety issues, having a job might be beneficial. As a result, Jake discovered his true calling ... being a therapy dog. He was adopted by a loving couple whose young son was suffering from a severe, debilitating case of anxiety. It was so pronounced, he had developed agoraphobia, and experienced extreme fear whenever he left the house. Fortunately for both, the pairing proved unbelievably successful. Jake and the boy have formed an inseparable bond, and now they do everything together, including outdoor chores, biking and running, even playing outside with other friends. Way to go, Jake!

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Jasper

This handsome doggo is one of four seniors All Points West has placed thus far. Unlike many of their rescues, this 10-year-old only needed an initial intake exam. Jasper is a real cuddle bug, loves to swim and is widely regarded as "just about the nicest dog you could meet." As with the other three seniors, Jasper has found an adoring home that provides love, snuggles and a comfy place to lay his head.

Anyone looking for more information about this amazing rescue can visit their site at www.allpointswestgsp.org or email them directly at AllPointsWestGSP@gmail.com. For any Colorado residents, this rescue encourages interested adopters to contact them immediately, as well as anyone interested in becoming a foster parent.

From all of us here at Life’s Abundance headquarters, we thank this committed network of lifesavers for their incredible work. And we thank all readers and customers … through your personal donations and continued patronage, you’ve helped make all of our grants possible. Your generosity and loyalty have helped to make the world a better place for abandoned, abused and neglected animals across America.

And there’s more good news … The Dr. Jane Foundation is now accepting applications for funding in 2018. If you know of an animal rescue organization that deserves special recognition and financial support, please encourage them to submit an application today.

Check back soon for more good news from The Dr. Jane Foundation. Together, we’re making a difference!

Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies

Cookie-Bowl

Fall is upon us. And what better way to celebrate the changing season than with the rich, creamy, nourishing delight of healthy cookies straight from the oven! 

We made this recipe here at our home office and it was a huge hit. They're buttery, nutty and oh-so-scrumptious! We used almond flour, but encourage you gourmands to try variations.

Be sure to share this fall-inspired recipe with friends and family!

This recipe yields approximately 12-15 cookies, so think about doubling ingredients for a bigger batch of home-cooked goodness!

INGREDIENTS:

3 scoops Life’s Abundance Plant Protein
1 c almond flour, quinoa flour or flour of choice
1/3 c chopped pecans
1/4 c honey
1-1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup milk

Cookie-Sheet

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until a cookie-dough-like consistency forms. Add more milk by the tablespoon if needed.

  3. Roll dough into small balls, place on prepared baking sheet and flatten into cookies.

  4. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden.

Canine Influenza: What Pet Parents Need to Know

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Two years ago, if you had asked me whether or not I recommended the canine influenza vaccine, I’d have told you, “probably not.” Even as recently as one year ago, I probably would have said the same thing, at least here in San Diego. But that’s the thing about medicine, especially when it comes to emerging diseases ... situations can change rapidly. Recommendations that made sense as recently as six months ago no longer hold. Such is the case with the current outbreak of canine influenza. Here’s what we know based on the latest information from the CDC, American Veterinary Medical Association and the veterinary schools who are helping to research the disease.

What is Canine Influenza?

Influenza is a family of viruses that affect a wide variety of species. It has two characteristics which really set it apart from other types of virus: one, it can mutate very rapidly (hence the need for a new flu vaccine every winter); and two, it often jumps species. Such is the case with canine influenza.

Until recently, the only strain we saw in dogs was H3N8, a mutation of equine influenza that’s been circulating in the United States since 2004. While a vaccine is available for H3N8, few veterinarians recommended it as the disease was very limited and most infected dogs recovered on their own.

All this changed in 2015, when H3N2 emerged on the scene. H3N2, thought to be a mutation of an avian influenza, arrived in Chicago with a group of dogs imported from Korea. This virus behaves very differently from H3N8, as the veterinary community soon discovered. It mutates very rapidly, meaning there are already different strains of the virus all around the country. Also, it is highly infectious, spreading to all corners of the US much more quickly than anyone had anticipated. As of now, H3N2 has been identified in 46 states.

What Does Canine Influenza Do to Dogs?

Canine influenza manifests in two forms. In the mild form of the disease, dogs experience a soft cough that lasts from 2-4 weeks. They may act lethargic, demonstrate a diminished appetite, have a low fever (102.5-104), exhibit sneezing, and maybe have some eye and nasal discharge. As you can see, these are fairly vague signs that show up with many sorts of canine disease processes, so many cases of canine influenza have probably gone unidentified.

In its rarer, more severe form, dogs can become very ill. They can run a high fever (104-106) and develop pneumonia, which can lead to life-threatening complications. The fatality rate for canine influenza is less than 10%.

Other species can be infected with H3N2: it’s been diagnosed in cats, ferrets and guinea pigs. In these species, it manifests like an upper respiratory infection and usually resolves on its own. Fortunately, H3N2 has not manifested in people according to the latest data from the CDC.

Which Dogs Are Most At-Risk?

In theory, all dogs are at-risk of H3N2. Virtually all dogs who are exposed to the virus become infected (i.e. have circulating virus in their systems); about 80% of those dogs show some clinical signs of disease. What makes this virus particularly nasty is that infected dogs shed tremendous amounts of the virus whether or not they are showing signs of disease; they can shed virus for more than three weeks! That means one dog, travelling across the country to dog shows or staying in boarding facilities, can infect hundreds of other dogs in a short period of time.

Dogs are at highest risk of exposure when they are in direct contact with other dogs. The virus only lives in the environment for 24 hours, so most infection occurs from contact with respiratory secretions like sneeze droplets. Dogs at boarding or daycare facilities, training classes, competitions, dog shows and shelters are at highest risk. Of these dogs, those who become the most ill are the very young, seniors and the immunosuppressed.

How is Canine Influenza Diagnosed and Treated?

Canine influenza can’t be definitively diagnosed based on history and examination because the symptoms are so vague. If your veterinarian suspects influenza, she may recommend specific blood or nasal swab tests which can isolate the canine influenza virus.

Like human influenza, the treatment consists of supportive care and treating the symptoms while the body fights off the virus. Fluid support and antibiotics for secondary infections are the mainstays of supportive care. Infected dogs should be quarantined from other dogs for at least 21 days.

Is There a Vaccine?

Two manufacturers make vaccines for H3N2. The vaccine schedule consists of two doses three weeks apart, with a yearly booster. If you are considering this vaccination for your dog, make sure you are getting the right one because a vaccine for H3N8 also exists.

If you’re not sure whether or not you should get your pet vaccinated, your veterinarian is always going to be the best source of information as they will be aware of whether the disease has been diagnosed in your area. You can also check out the Infectious Disease Risk Calculator from the Ohio State college of veterinary medicine, which asks you a series of questions and gives you a risk assessment based on the most current data (https://idrc.vet.ohio-state.edu).

The virulence of H3N2 took the veterinary community by surprise. Fortunately, public health surveillance exists specifically for this reason. The infectious disease community was able to identify and get the word out about H3N2 quickly, so veterinarians are able to better support the wonderful canines we are fortunate enough to treat. While the virus is scary, we know a lot more than we did even a few short months ago, including how to protect your pups. You can help by getting the word out about this virus, and encouraging those you know to visit the vet if there’s any concern H3N2 may be present.

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

For more information, check out these trusted resources:

www.vetgirlontherun.com
https://www.dogflu.com
http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Factsheets/pdfs/canine_influenza.pdf
https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/news/civ.cfm
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/canineflu/keyfacts.htm

Alzheimer's Awareness & Brain Health Diets

healthy-table

Of course, we all want to maintain our best brain health throughout our lives. As we age, the more likely we are to suffer from dementia, memory loss, and more specifically, Alzheimer’s disease. With this month being World Alzheimer’s Month, we’re taking a closer look at how you can live your most nutritious life, which may help prevent this disease later on.

No cure for this disease currently exists, but medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms. Evidence shows that strategies of a healthier lifestyle such as including exercise in your normal routine, eating a Mediterranean diet, or getting enough sleep might help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia.1 The best way to be proactive about Alzheimer's is to promote brain health throughout your life.

One way of doing this is to make sure we are eating for brain health. Eating a diet high in the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can help to maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes. Also important are antioxidants which may help to reduce inflammation, vitamin K which may help to reduce risk of blood clots, and choline to help maintain brain health.

While they don’t have the sexiest scientific name, the fatty acids are often referred to as “good fats” or “healthy fats,” and they should be because of how vital they are for maintaining good health.2

In the body, omega-3’s are involved in the formation of cell membranes, the production of important hormones, and regulating genetic function.3 Because of these many roles, they’ve been linked to reducing inflammation, boosting heart health, and numerous brain benefits like decreased risk of depression and sharper cognition and memory.4,5,6

We can’t make these fats in our body so we must get them from food or supplements. DHA and EPA have an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes, and helps prevent collagen breakdown. In other words, they help to slow the damage and breakdown of our cells.

Salmon in particular is a well known option for maintaining great brain health (and glowing skin!) due to it’s being high in omega-3’s. Grill a salmon filet with rosemary and lemon for the simplest way to implement brain health into your dinner tonight.

For vegetarians or vegans, chia seeds are a perfect option for getting a healthy helping of omega-3’s. Sprinkle them on oatmeal or yogurt in the morning, add them to a dessert like Dark Chocolate Superfood Bark, or bake them into healthy Morning Glory Muffins.7,8

Avocado is another perfectly versatile food that will provide you with omega-3’s. Throw it in a post-workout smoothie, turn it into a dip for snacking, or eat it over fish for an omega double-hitter.9,10,11

Seafood not your thing? An omega-3 supplement could be just what you need to ensure you’re getting sufficient fat in your diet. A great option is the ultra-pure, ultra-concentrated Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement offered by Life’s Abundance.

Keri Keri Glassman, MS.RD.CDN

References:

  1. health.harvard.edu/alzheimers-and-dementia/what-can-you-do-to-avoid-alzheimers-disease
  2. nutritiouslife.com/love-fat/
  3. hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
  4. nutritiouslife.com/inflammation-definition-health-impact/
  5. heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.WMrqEI61uHo
  6. umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
  7. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/dark-chocolate-superfood-bark/
  8. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/healthiest-grain-free-morning-glory-muffins/
  9. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/avocado-banana-smoothie/
  10. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/mango-avocado-salsa/
  11. nutritiouslife.com/recipes/chili-lime-tilapia-with-mango-avocado-salsa/