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

Ways a New Puppy Improves Life with Teens

Dakota-and-Oliver

For the past three weeks, I have heard “Are you nuts?” more times than I can count. I think the answer is mostly likely “yes,” but then again I challenge any one of you to turn down this face ...

Puppy-Oliver

Yes, our family now has not one but two puppies. Dakota is eight months old, and just getting into that lovely stage where his adult teeth are all in and he’s starting to mellow out. So, of course it’s the perfect time to introduce a Golden Retriever puppy. Meet Ollie!

Dakota was mortified at first, annoyed at second, but now they are best buddies. He gets to bear the brunt of Ollie’s substantial puppy energy, and they spend long hours chasing each other all over the yard, wrestling like two frat brothers, and generally looking for mischief to get into.

Dakota-peeks

For most of my adult life I have had retrievers, and one of our favorite things to do was head over to Grandma’s house on the weekends to go swimming. I’ve never had a dog who could resist going into the pool. Until Dakota, that is. He hates swimming. Despises the water and looks at it like it is acid.

Ollie, not so much. I don’t think you could keep his fuzzy little butt out of the water if you tried.

Oliver-leaps

It’s entirely possible that I only agreed to take on another puppy because sleep deprivation from the first puppy left me delirious, but to be honest we’re all feeling pretty darn good about our decision here in the Vogelsang household. With the exception of the mass amounts of fur we now have to deal with every day (remind me again how a tiny puppy can shed that much?) we were well equipped to take this little guy on.

It's also possible that I agreed to this because my oldest is entering high school this year and I needed a small distraction from both the march of time and her natural (yet still sad) pulling away from wanting to hang out with us. As I sit overseeing Dakota and Ollie's mutual and seemingly perpetual wrestling competition at my feet, it’s a good time to reflect on what puppies bring to the life of a parent with teenagers:

1. Puppies are always overjoyed to see me, which I can’t always say for the teenagers. Any extra joy I feel certainly has an effect on the whole household.
2. The pups are also always excited to see the teenagers, which keeps them around a little longer in the evenings before disappearing to talk to their friends.
3. Puppies are incredibly photogenic, so my kids spend even more time with us taking photos for their Instagram feeds. Whatever it takes, right?
4. Puppies keep you in the moment. I mean, not only are you taking in every cute and adorable moment, you are truly engaged because otherwise they eat all your shoes. It’s easy to spend the day staring at your phone and miss what’s going on right in front of you.
5. Pups remind you that every moment is fleeting. It seems like Ollie and Dakota are literally growing in front of my eyes, a pound a day. They live their lives in fast forward. They remind me that even though my human kiddos grow a little more slowly they, too, are young for only a short while.
6. Puppies remind me to have compassion for other parents. As a vet, it’s very easy to sit in an exam room or on the phone and tell someone what they should be doing, but we forget how truly difficult some of the implementation can be. An act as simple as brushing the dogs every day takes me five times longer than it should as Ollie tries to eat the brush, then the hair, then a sock he found who knows where. The same goes for human parenting. Boy, it’s easy to judge other parents for the lunches they pack or a child’s choice of T-shirts but really, we’re all just trying to do the best we can!
7. Pups put to rest, once and for all, any regrets about the size of our family. One of my neighbors has three dogs and six children. They are lovely and she is very happy. I am very happy with two dogs and two children, and my hands are more than full! I don’t know how she does it, but I am glad she has the family that makes her fulfilled. Everyone creates the family that is right for them.

Any other puppy lessons you care to share? Leave your stories in the comments section below.

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Introducing Life’s Abundance Skin Care

Skin Care 1

I’ll be the first to admit that we’re difficult to please here at Life's Abundance. And you know what? I’m OK with that.

You see, we have a long history of taking matters into our own hands to get what we want. The pet foods on the market didn’t live up to our standards. So we made our own. The supplements available at stores weren’t pure enough. So we made our own. And the so-called natural skin care products we’ve pinned our hopes on? We wanted to believe. But when we examined the labels on many popular “natural” products, here’s a short list of what we found.

Artificial colors, artificial fragrances, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, PEG compounds and more.

Why would you want to put something on your skin that is questionable? We didn’t. So — you guessed it — we made our own.

A New Approach to Healthy Skin

I’m excited and proud to announce Life’s Abundance Skin Care, a premium system for cleansing, moisturizing and perfecting your skin. Made with pure, plant-based organic ingredients and formulated for fabulous results.

But that’s not all. We added a little more in each item than you’ll typically see in high-end skin care to lower the cost per application and reduce plastic in landfills. Also, because it is important to us to make a positive imact in everything we do, for each skin care product you purchase, one tree will be planted in your honor to help support a community in need.

Our product line includes:

Facial Cleanser - The ingredients speak for themselves. Aloe leaf juice. White willow bark extract. Argan oil. Sugar cane extract. Mango seed butter. Pure botanicals. Nothing synthetic. Our creamy, light cleanser gently melts away the residue of the day, including makeup, leaving your skin soft, revived and fresh. No matter what your skin type, this lather-free formula cleans deeply, without stripping away your face's natural protective oils.

Facial Moisturizer - This delicate moisturizer contains olive oil, aloe leaf juice and cardamom seed oil. Oh, and calming vanilla—the only edible orchid fruit! Plant-derived antioxidants, emollients and omega essential fatty acids deliver a conditioning boost and provide a protective barrier. No harsh chemicals that can irritate or toughen the skin over time. No synthetic junk. Just soft, natural, hydrating cream for soft, naturally hydrated skin.

Skin Care 2

Facial Serum - This targeted blend of radiance-boosting organic oils help correct and protect. The camellia, borage and carrot seed oils comfort irritated skin and promote a healthy complexion. And the age-defying broccoli seed oil delivers radiance-boosting vitamin A – think of it as nature’s retinol alternative. Every drop of this opulent potion is crafted to awaken your skin.

Body Lotion - Our long-lasting lotion softens and hydrates with shea butter and aloe. Light and fast-absorbing, it protects against environmental damage with plant-derived antioxidants. And with mood-lifting lemon and geranium oils, it smells as great as it feels. (True fact: I’m wearing it right now, and I can’t stop sniffing my own arms.)

Our Promise

Like all Life’s Abundance products, our skin care line is inspired by nature and informed by science. We started by raiding Mother Nature’s pantry, grabbing a vibrant array of fruits, oils and extracts. We carefully crafted each product with these nourishing organic botanicals to cleanse, moisturize and rejuvenate the skin.

Chemical free, our formulations are tested for purity and gentle enough for the whole family.

Radiant from the inside out, healthy from the outside in. That’s what Life’s Abundance looks like, and we hope you like how it looks — and feels — on you as well.

Explore the collection now!

Lester Thornhill
Lester Thornhill, CEO

7 Ways to Power Up Your Brain

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Humans are creatures of habit. Once we get into a rhythm, we're loathe to change things up. However, there's strong evidence to suggest that simply by doing things differently, you can boost your brain health. Others go so far as to suggest that opening yourself up to new cognitive activity can perhaps stave off certain forms of dementia (of which there are more than a dozen types), which is affecting an increasing number of Americans every year.

Before you balk at the mere prospect of doing things differently, check out the following easy - dare we say FUN - ways to get out of a rut and to start taking care of your brain's health.

Break Your Routine
Scientists have discovered an amazing series of life hacks to improve brain function. It all hinges on the fact that habitual actions - things we do by rote - require less and less brain power. By switching things up, the brain must compensate by creating new pathways and cells. If you drive the same way to work every day, mix things up by taking an alternate route. If you always go to the same grocery store, go to a different one. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth. All of these activities can lead to a rapid and significant expansion of parts of the cortex, making cells stronger and more resistant to the effects of aging.

New Smells
Take a tour of your spice cabinet. Order collections of scented candles. Routinely vary your personal care products. Buy a new cookbook and try a new recipe every week. Begin your day by smelling something out-of-the-ordinary, then end your day the same. If you can connect new scents with an emotional meaning, you can stimulate different areas of the brain and naturally produce nerve-cell nutrients that improve memory.

Limit Your Binge Watching
In a 25-year study gauging the effects of binge watching, researchers note that people who watch more than three hours of TV score much more poorly on cognitive tests. In another study, binge-watchers reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than those who were not. Same goes for the time spent staring at your phone. If you have a dog, take them for a walk along a completely new route. Or play a board game with the kids. There's a great big world out there that's not fictional, waiting for you!

brain-chart

Mental Stimulation
Switching your interaction with the world from passive to active can yield impressive changes in your brain. Rather than spending countless hours vegging, try on a new hobby or two. Crossword puzzles, sudoku or even a lecture series can stimulate new neural connections and the development of new cells, both of which contribute to mental elasticity. The best activities for your brain are ones that employ creative thinking and manual dexterity, so if you've ever wished you could draw or paint, now's the time to start learning!

Do All The Things
We've heard all the expert advice. All of what they've been telling us for years - don't smoke, don't drink to excess, exercise regularly, maintain an average blood pressure, get plenty of sleep, keep your blood-sugar and cholesterol levels in check - all of these can have a dramatic positive effect on your brain health. If you haven't been paying attention to these things, start taking steps beginning today.

Feed Your Head
If you're like most Americans, your diet could use some improvements. Walnuts, fish, olive oil, sage, blueberries, cocoa, tomato, broccoli, apples, spinach, black currants and pumpkin seeds all contain nutrients vital to brain health. To nourish your brain with a premium balance of omega-3's and 6's, look no further than Life's Abundance Fish Oil. Not only is it highly concentrated and ultra pure, research has shown that its consumption benefits cognitive performance due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists believe that cognitive decline associated with minimal intake of omega-3’s may be a predictor of Alzheimer’s Disease. Furthermore, other studies have found a causitive link between deficiencies in omega-3’s and a number of serious psychological conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and even substance abuse.

Make New Connections
Socialization is hard-wired into your brain. When we isolate ourselves, it can lead to negative effects not only in the way we feel, but also for brain health. By cultivating relationships with friends, co-workers and family, you'll actually be helping to lower your risk for dementia, lower your blood pressure and even extend your lifetime. Get out there and make some new connections!

Put most simply, all of these tips boil down to being open to embracing new things. And the benefits are undeniable. We encourage you to try these simple tips and to let us know your experience in the comments section below!

References 
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/tv-may-be-bad-for-your-brain
https://apha.confex.com/apha/143am/webprogram/Paper335049.html
“Fish, meat, and risk of dementia: cohort study.” British Medical Journal, 2002; 325; 932-933.
"Plasma fatty acids are associated with normative variation in mood, personality and behavior." Abstract #1411. Presented at the 64th Annual Scientific Mtg of the American Psychosomatic Society, Denver, CO, March 1-4, 2006.
Hibbeln, J.R.. "Fish consumption and major depression." The Lancet, 1998; 351: 1213.
Hibbeln, J.R.. "Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in depression and related conditions, in Phospholipid Spectrum Disorder." (Lancashire, England: Marius Press, 1999), pp. 195-210.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young
https://www.businessinsider.com/brain-exercises-that-make-you-smarter-2018-1
“Dietary intake of fatty acids and fish in relation to cognitive performance at middle age.” Neurology. 2004 Jan 27;62(2):275-80.

Our Foundation Awards Grants to 9 Rescue Groups

woman-adopts-pug

Did you know that when you shop from Life’s Abundance, a portion of the profits is set aside to fund the good words of our charitable foundation? It’s true! Whether you’re ordering the finest nutritional supplements for yourself or premium food, treats and supplements for your companion animals, your repeat business will help fund the efforts to save the lives of homeless, abused and neglected animals throughout our great nation.

Our non-profit agency, The Dr. Jane Foundation, provides financial support to small and medium-size rescue groups from coast to coast. Each charitable organization dedicates itself to the hard work of ending animal homelessness and helping pets survive and overcome the effects of chronic abuse and neglect. Many of these rescue groups are just getting their operations off the ground, and the financial support we provide can help them grow and enable them to save even more lives. Since 2007, our foundation has awarded in excess of $200,000 to over 150 deserving groups!

The needs are many and great. Even though reliance on euthanasia is but a fraction of it was 20 or 30 years ago, still far too many adoptable dogs and cats have their lives ended prematurely ... nearly three million pets every year. The vast majority of recently founded animal rescues are committed to a no-kill approach, something we very want to support. For these new groups, many of the obstacles they face boil down to limited resources. If we can help dozens of these groups every year to save more lives and further establish their agencies as agents of positive change, we are thrilled to do so.

To qualify for funding from our foundation, applicants must meet rigorous criteria. Most of our grant recipients utilize one or more strategies that have proven successful in curbing pet overpopulation and reducing the number of dogs and cats euthanized. These initiatives include low-cost spay and neuter surgeries, TNR (trap-neuter-return) management of feral cat communities, affordable adoption fees and community education efforts regarding the proper care of companion animals and the dangers of animal abuse and neglect. And all of this is done in addition to the day-to-day activities undertaken by these committed workers to place rescued animals in loving adoptive homes.

Just think, simply by buying from Life’s Abundance, you’ll be making the world a better place for dogs and cats in need. How often do you get to do something super positive without having to do anything different at all? As long as you keep purchasing our health-promoting products, you’ll be supporting rescue efforts across the US!

And now, we’re pleased to inform you that our Board of Directors held a quarterly meeting on July 17th. We approved funding several grant applications and sent checks the following worthy rescue organizations.

ACTion Programs for Animals

Located in Las Cruces, NM, this 100-volunteer-strong animal rescue is making a tremendous difference, not only in their local community, but even beyond state lines. Since May of 2012, they have rescued more than 3,500 dogs and cats. Nearly all of those were pulled from a nearby high-kill shelter. They have been able to make such great strides through the tireless work of their committed volunteer network of rescue and foster coordinators and families. They've even managed to hold weekend adoptions to locate loving homes for their rescues quickly and efficiently, all on a shoe-string budget. Soon, they plan to move into a newly purchased facility that will double their housing capacity, further bolstering their presence in the area as a welcome alternative to municipal shelters.

Animal Rescue of Southern Colorado

Based in Antonito, CO, this small yet committed animal welfare group focuses their efforts on two pressing needs: one, to house, care for and adopt out neglected and abandoned dogs; and two, to reduce pet overpopulation through spay-neuter services. Now barely into their second year of operation, this hardworking rescue managed to save 74 dogs in their first six months! Their goal - and fervent hope - is to never have to turn away a dog in need. Our financial grant has been earmarked to help cover the costs of constructing a modern kennel, which will allow them to rescue even more homeless animals. The new kennel will utilize solar panels to provide heat during harsh winters.

Bounce Animal Rescue

This foster-based rescue organization is located in beautiful Northern Colorado. Their goal is to grow to the size where they'll be able to rescue unwanted animals from high-kill shelters all over the country, place them with loving fosters and ultimately find them forever homes where they will be loved unconditionally. Even while they're out there saving lives, they're still focused on the well-being and adoption of unwanted animals. They're committed to building stronger community relationships, investing in technology and fundraising at the grassroots level. Bounce focuses on quality veterinary care, nutrition, spay/neuter programs, training and, of course, adoptions.

Boxer Aid and Rescue Coalition, Inc.

Headquartered in Tallahassee, Boxer Aid and Rescue Coalition is a not-for-profit rescue organization that operates a network of volunteers in north Florida and south Georgia. In their decade of operation, these devoted caretakers have helped to rescue and find forever homes for hundreds of Boxers. Each dog receives medical care, basic training (including a behavioral assessment), a caring foster environment and the promise that they’ll be ultimately be placed in homes where they will be treated "as a member of the family." Keep an eye on this group, as they plan to expand their organization to help provide care for senior and hospice dogs. 

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Eastern Plains Animal Welfare Alliance

Based in Burlington, CO, this small non-profit got its start in 2011 as a TNR program for feral cats. That has now grown to a much larger effort to rescue both cats and dogs, and to help curb overpopulation in their area. In just a few short years, they've achieved great success, altering more than 1,700 animals and vaccinating over 360 feral cats! A dedicated team of volunteers help with all aspects of the rescue effort. Amazingly, they're able to locate loving homes for their dogs and cats in record time. They're so insistent on matching up prospective pet parents with new intakes that the average wait-time for these creatures just two-to-four weeks before moving from terrible situations and into their forever home. Our grant will go towards the costs associated with low-cost spay/neuter community clinics or towards the purchase of a high quality shed to safely store their supplies, which has previously been done by their many volunteers. 

MeeowzResQ

Located in Orange County, this non-profit, all-volunteer organization is dedicated to the rescue of cats and kittens in Southern California. Every year, they have been able to save more than 2,000 felines! Their kittens are hand-raised in foster homes, and many of those are bottle-fed babies. These kittens grow into sweet and people-oriented cats thanks to the amazing foster care by pet parents who are dedicated to raising and finding good homes for these abused, injured or abandoned cats. They routinely hold feline adoption events in numerous cities, and operate an extensive foster network spanning even more locations throughout Southern California. Our financial grant will help them to further their mission as their current needs dictate. 

My Second Home Rescue

Based in Carr, CO, this no-kill organization is on a mission to rescue and re-home stray, neglected and abandoned dogs from high-kill shelters. They believe that all living creatures should be treated with dignity and respect. They provide much needed care, medical attention, microchipping and socialization, all towards their ultimate goal of placing these pups in permanent adoptive homes where they will be loved like family. At present, they adopt out between 125-150 dogs per year, which is no small feat for a small rescue. They strive to increase public awareness about overpopulation problem and hope to see an end of euthanasia in their area. Our award was earmarked to help fund heartworm treatments for two very sick dogs. 

woman-embraces-dog

New England Society for Abandoned Animals

Located in Centerville, MA, this non-profit was founded in 2009 to serve the Cape Cod community and surrounding areas. They are one of the few organizations committed to hands-on rescue work in the region, whether those cases stem from neglect, abuse or abandonment cases, to assistance with strays and their TNR program for feral cats. They take it as their mission to advocate, protect and rescue, using a proactive, humane approach. They are committed to increasing community awareness and creating progressive changes in animal welfare. As a “no-kill” organization, NESAA has a no-exceptions spay/neuter policy ... that notion is at the heart of every program implemented by the organization. They have established relationships with other organizations who serve individuals with disabilities, and these groups routinely help volunteers socialize animals at the shelter. Our financial award is earmarked for their multiple overpopulation prevention programs, from TNR to low-cost spay/neuter programs for the low-income community.

Res-Que, Ltd.

Based in Reno, NV, this non-profit group rescues dogs of all breeds. Res-Que was founded by Rhonda Shafer in 2009, after working as a distributor of dog food and supplies for local rescues. They work extensively with small, outlying shelters to rescue dogs and find them forever homes in both Northern Nevada and California. As their rescues recover from trauma and learn socialization skills, they live with one of the 15 caring families who make up their foster network. This group works very hard to find the less popular dogs from surrounding shelters where they will likely languish without interest from possible adopters, then place them in nurturing environments where each dog's true personality can finally shine. And their efforts are definitely paying off. In 2016, they were able to provide quality care and adopt out 147 dogs, and last year that number more than doubled to 303 dogs! Our financial grant will go towards covering the costs of veterinary medical care. 

To all of these groups, we say "congratulations!" Your remarkable efforts to make the world a better place for companion animals are truly paying off.

Are you involved in an animal rescue, or know someone who is? It's not too late to apply for 2018 funding. Our Board will be considering another round of applications at our final quarterly meeting in mid-October, so try to have completed grant requests submitted by the end of September to ensure your group’s consideration.

For all of you who actively support the vital work of our non-profit, we can’t thank you enough. Thanks to your personal donations and continued Life's Abundance patronage, we are continuing to make great strides towards helping animal rescue groups achieve their goals. Together, we’re making a positive difference in the world, one animal at a time.

5 Meds That Are Toxic to Pets

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The past four months have been a blur of training, cleaning up and chasing around after our new puppy, Dakota. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I did forget how much trouble a curious puppy can get into! Last week I found Dakota chomping on a travel-sized bag of trail mix that included chocolate covered raisins. Chocolate covered raisins! How did that even get into the house? I still don’t know where it came from, but fortunately I was able to intervene before he opened the bag.

Most people know that chocolate and grapes can be toxic for pets, but potential threats can lurk elsewhere in your home. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are among the top reasons people call into poison control hotlines for both kids and pets, and with good reason. Here are the top five medications of concern when it comes to pets and toxicity:

1. Ibuprofen. As the active ingredient in common over-the-counter products such as Advil and Motrin, ibuprofen is unfortunately ingested by pets both accidentally and intentionally by owners unaware of its potential side effects. Cats are particularly sensitive to its effects. The most common clinical sign is vomiting or gastrointestinal ulcers, though it can also lead to kidney damage. Other NSAIDS such as Aleve can also be problematic.

2. Acetaminophen. Speaking of pain medications, acetaminophen-containing products such as Tylenol are also high on the list of pet poisons. Like ibuprofen, cats are particularly sensitive to the effects of this medication, and one pill is enough to kill a cat. Both cats and dogs can experience liver damage as a result of this medication, starting with decreased appetite and leading to yellow skin (a sign of jaundice), swollen paws or difficulty breathing. Acetaminophen is a common ingredient in combination products like cough and flu remedies, so be careful to read the label on your products!

pill-spill-dog

3. Stimulants. ADHD medications such as Adderall and Ritalin can be toxic to companion animals. Sadly, they are more likely to be ingested by pets as they are often prescribed for children who may be less vigilant about keeping the pills out of the reach of the household dogs and cats. Signs of ingestion may include dilated pupils, seizures, shaking or hyperactivity.

4. Antidepressants. Antidepressants fall into several categories depending on their mechanism of action. In the most commonly prescribed medications (such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor) work by increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain. When overdosed, the brain can be flooded with these chemicals and pets can experience a variety of symptoms such as depression, hyperexcitability, seizures and vomiting.

5. Vitamin D. As doctors are starting to diagnose Vitamin D deficiency more often, this is a common supplement in people’s medicine cabinets. When there is too much in the body, blood calcium levels also rise, resulting in serious damage to the kidneys. It is so effective at causing damage that it's commonly used in rat poisons such as d-Con. Vitamin D might appear on rodenticide labels as “cholecalciferol,” and should be avoided.

There’s no time like the present to ensure any of these items in your house are safely secured away from prying pet paws. If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested any of these harmful substances, call your veterinarian or a pet poison control helpline ASAP!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Keep Your Dog Cool in Summer Heat

Everyone knows not to leave their companion animals unattended in a hot car. But there's much more you can do to counteract the high temps we've been encountering this summer.

Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, which can often prove deadly. With a smidge of prep work and consideration, you can protect your floofers from the worst heat-related health issues. In this month's infographic, we're showcasing five tips that pet parents should know to keep their doggos safe and cool when the heat is on.

Without any further ado, here’s our handy infographic will all the details. To view or download the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

PDF DocumentPDF Document

Do you have any additional tips for beating the summer heat? Be sure to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

7 Common Causes of Chronic Headaches

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Chances are, you've interacted with more than one person today who's suffering from a headache. There are likely a number of people reading this post right now who have a headache. That's because millions of Americans suffer from mild-to-intense headaches. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer from chronic headaches on a daily basis.

For those who have more days per month with a headache than without, life starts to feel like an endurance test more than anything else. Between the pain, the throbbing and the pounding, folks with chronic headaches will begin to have difficulty concentrating. This lack of focus can prove quite dangerous, especially if your job puts you in hazardous situations.

If your headaches began all of a sudden and have lasted for three months or longer, you may be experiencing what experts refer to as New Daily Persistent Headaches (NDPH). Such head pain may grow or slack off in intensity, but they are constant. There are medications to provide relief for such round-the-clock headaches, as well as relaxation techniques and biofeedback which have had some success in treating NDPH's.

Do you or someone you know have chronic headaches? Here are seven common causes, along with some idea about how to remedy such triggers.

1. Medications
Some prescription medications may have the potential to trigger a headache. It may not be just one medication causing the problem, but rather an interaction between prescriptions or even over-the-counter medications. If you've recently switched up your prescription routine, and seen a corresponding increase in headaches, please consult with your doctor.

2. Stress & Anxiety
Stress can take a toll on you, and it's a common cause of tension headaches. If you can avoid stressful situations, great. If not, learning to cope with stress and be more chill could really help. If you're unfamiliar with breathing exercises, just Google it! They're easy to find online and take very little time and effort to yield results. Breathing and relaxation exercises may ease anxiety in stressful situations and prevent possible headaches. Just remember to breathe, relax and maybe take a stroll if your present environment is causing you undue stress.

bad-headache-day

3. Auditory & Visual Causes
Loud, repetitive sounds can definitely lead to bad headaches ... just ask anyone who has lived nearby a construction site. But it's not just super-loud sounds, even low levels of continuous noise can trigger head pain. Calming music playing over noise-cancelling headphones may help. Brightness from your computer screen, sunlight or overhead lights can ramp up the pain. Turning down your screen brightness, or simply switching your devices to night-mode, could make a significant difference.

4. Hormonal Changes
The sad truth is that women are more likely to suffer from chronic headaches than men. When estrogen levels drop, especially right before a period, you may be more likely to develop a headache. Keep track of your cycle in a journal or diary. By analyzing the data, you may be better able to plan for future headaches. We recommend that you share your diary with your doctor, especially if the patterns indicate a correlation between your cycle and chronic headaches.

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5. Poor Posture
Believe it or not, but your parents were right. Maintaining good posture can have a noticeable effect on your health. This is no laughing matter, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time looking down at our phones (text neck, it's a thing). Whether you're in your office chair or on your couch at home, sit up straight and raise your device to eye level to keep your blood flowing. Be sure to get up and move around every so often, especially if you spend hours hunched over your desk. Just as it is important to be aware of your posture during the day, you should also be mindful of your body position when you sleep. Don’t sleep in an strangely contorted position - especially in a cold room – as this can lead to painful muscle spasms. No one enjoys waking up in excrutiating pain, especially if you're already sleep-deprived, so take this suggestion to heart!

6. Too Little or Too Much Exercise
Since Ancient Greek times, thinkers and philosophers have cautioned us with variations on the phrase, "moderation in all things." Both physical over-exertion and not getting sufficient exercise can increase your risk for headaches. If you're leading a mostly sedentary life now and plan to begin an exercise routine, just be sure to start things off slow at the gym. Pushing too hard can result in an exertion headache from the swelling of blood vessels in your head, neck and scalp. To avoid such a scenarios, talk to your doctor before beginning or revising any exercise regimen.

7. Poor Nutrition
Food and drink release neurotransmitters, which can cause headaches in some people. Such triggers include aspartame, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, alcohol (especially red wine), cheese and others. Skipping meals or eating junk foods can deprive your body of sorely needed nutrition. Doctors recommend focusing on a healthy balanced diet, with a good mixture of slow-release energy foods (taken in small, evenly spaced meals) and limiting your intake of refined sugars. To ensure that you're getting all of the nourishment you need, we encourage you to check out our selection of premium health supplements. Each innovative product was carefully formulated with registered dietitian, healthy cooking expert and author Keri Glassman, founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life.

Word of caution ... if you have eliminated all of these potential causes as the trigger of your head pain, be aware that there are other serious causes that can lead to a sudden headache. You should make an appointment with your doctor right away. GP's may order imaging tests - such as an MRI or a CT scan - to rule out more serious conditions that require immediate treatment.

Have you discovered a way to overcome your chronic headaches? We're interested to learn how. Please leave your helpful tips in the comments section below!

Make Your Dog Happier by Thinking Like One

appreciating-beauty

Most people who have a dog love their dog. Unfortunately, sometimes that love falls short of actual empathy. For example, many of the "problem dog behaviors" that people complain about aren't really your dog's fault. If someone you know keeps getting "bad dogs," chances are that the dogs aren't the source of the problem. By showing your pupper a bit of empathy by viewing recurring issues from their perspective - both physically and mentally - you will develop a deeper appreciation and love for your furry companion. And that translates into a happier dog ... and a happier you!

Dogs are so much more than most people know. Like humans, dogs produce oxytocin, which allows both species to experience love and affection. Canines also have highly evolved limbic systems - more advanced than the majority of other species and comparable to humans - which enables them to experience a range of higher emotions, including an appreciation for beauty and something akin to religious ecstacy. If you've ever caught your dog gazing at a sunset or drinking in the beauty of nature, such meditative moments are caused by flares of limbic activity. 

live-is-better-with-a-pack

The most important point about dogs is that they are pack members. This is one of those facts that everyone knows but hardly anyone ever considers when trying to understand canine behavior. Imagine how confusing it is for animals with a genetic predispostion towards a pack mentality when you - the de facto leader of the pack - don't exhibit pack behavior!

Your dog's socialization instincts are very strong. Pack hierarchy was established millions of years before domestication (search for "Tomarctus," "Miacid" and "Cynodictis" for more details about the ancient progenitors of modern dogs). Humans and dogs began living together starting around 30,000 BC, so there's a long history behind the "man's best friend" descriptor. Because you provide food, shelter, affection and fun, you are the de facto leader of the pack. That's why it's so vital for you to understand how this should inform your interactions with your pup! To get you started on this journey of understanding, here are three examples that frequently crop up for pet parents.

He Stares at Me Every Time I Eat!

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From pitiful, longing looks to grumpy growl grumbling, dogs all over the world appear to be begging to eat the food on your plate, much to our annoyance. While he may find the smell of your food super appealing, that's not the primary take-away from this behavior. So, what is he trying to communicate? Let's put on our "pack mentality glasses." As social creatures, dogs view mealtime as a social event. As top dog, you are responsible for fairness at mealtime. But when you - and other human family members - partake, your dog feels left out. Punished even. So, in a sense, they are begging ... only they're begging for inclusion. If at mealtime, you provide them food or a healthy treat, then suddenly your dog not only feels included, they also no longer feel ostracized. Try it for yourself and see if everyone isn't happier!

She's Just Scared of Everything!

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Again, dogs are sensitive social animals. Recent MRI studies show that dogs are capable of complex emotions and reading the emotional state of their caregivers. When people express anger or annoyance - whether it's at the news, a bad day at work or problems with a spouse or partner - dogs are highly attuned to that. Frustration on your part over skittishness or anxiety will likely only exacerbate these very issues. Whether you realize it or not, you're setting the tone for everyone else in your home. If you're quick to snap, your dogs will be anxious. For the wellbeing of your pack, be careful about the emotions you project.

He Keeps Chewing Up My Shoes!

This one is so common, it's hard to find someone who hasn't experienced the heartbreak of losing a favorite pair of shoes. Sadly, many feel their dog was being vindictive and dole out a harsh punishment. First of all, canine memory works differently than it does for us. Shaking a slobbery, mangled shoe at your pupper is really going to baffle them, especially if it's been more than 20 minutes since it was destroyed. So, what are dogs trying to tell you when they chew up your shoes? This question is answered best with another question: what is the last thing you do before you leave the house for an extended period of time? You put on your shoes, right! Your dog believes - with evidence gathered basically every day - that destroying your shoes will prevent you from leaving the house (i.e., the pack). He's really not being a jerk, he's just trying to keep you where you belong ... with him! To avoid this happening, simply protect your footwear with a dog gate.

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There you have it. Three simple examples of "problem behavior" that can be understood in a completely new way that's more charitable to your dog. Just remember that you're the leader here and your dog looks to you (often lovingly) for reassurance, consideration and safety.

We're very interested to know if this article leads you to reconsider some aspect of your dog's behavior, so please let us know your take in the comments section below!

Dave Mattox
Content Editor

Why is My Dog So Nervous?

scared-pug

My neighbor’s dog Chuckie is, by all accounts, an anxious canine. Sweet as can be, but nervous. Chuckie hides behind his mom when new people show up. He still doesn’t trust his dad, who is the one who lobbied so hard to bring Chuckie home in the first place (three long years ago). He runs away from him and wedges himself under a table whenever my friend's husband looks at him directly - about which the poor guy feels rather despondent.

When a dog is this fearful, many people assume that at some point he or she has been abused. It’s the catch-all people use whenever a dog whose history is unknown shows stress or fear. We say, “He’s scared of men so he must have been abused by one." Or, "She’s scared of ballcaps, so she must have been abused by someone who wore one.” The same sentiments are expressed for men with beards, people wearing sunglasses, pulling out a camera, you name it!

It would be horrifying to think that every dog who exhibits fear (chiefly because there are a lot of them) do so out of a direct result of abuse. While it certainly happens, and it's terrible when it does, a much more likely and less harrowing explanation is that these dogs may not have been adequately socialized as a pup.

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After puppies are born, a great deal of neurological development takes place, much of it occurring in the first 16 weeks. Their early experiences in this crucial time make a lifelong impact on their ability to react to stress. During this period, they are most open to new experiences, sights and sounds. From vacuum cleaners to cats to children (and, yes, men with beards wearing sunglasses and baseball caps), a dog who has a positive experience with these things during this critical time is much less likely to react negatively to them down the road.

Most puppies go to a new home at eight weeks at the youngest, ideally even a little older than that. Back when I started out in veterinary practice, vets were trained to advocate from a health standpoint: keep puppies at home and away from potential sources of illness until they are fully vaccinated at 16 weeks. Unfortunately this "common knowledge" means pups may be missing out on some key socialization time.

As our understanding of the importance of socialization has increased, many trainers are opening up puppy classes to 12-week-olds and veterinarians are re-evaluating the four-month quarantine rule. Each of us needs to assess the risk/benefit analysis of taking puppies out into the world, but in a controlled environment around dogs who are healthy and up-to-date on vaccines, many of us find the socialization benefits are well worth it!

When Dakota came home with us, he was 14 weeks old. He spent his early weeks in a house with nine adult dogs and all of his littermates, which was quite chaotic. But, it led to him being super comfortable meeting new pups. Before coming home with us, he had already gone home with an elderly couple who returned him after a couple days when the reality of living with a puppy set in. So he had been exposed to quite a lot! Nonetheless, as he was current on his preventive care, we also attended socialization classes from the get-go. Based on his reactions at the door, it’s clear he was never exposed to men in UPS uniforms, but we’re working on it. 

happy-poodle

When talking to friends who are experienced breeders, I learned there are several formal programs you can use to socialize puppies at the very early stages of life (aka, “puppy preschool"). These programs are great because they walk people through each important aspect of social exposure needed for good socialization, from touching to meeting strangers, to music and doorbells. In fact, the breeder we are getting our next Golden puppy from is doing it as we speak, and started when the litter was only one week old! And yes, that is my way of saying I am bringing another puppy into the house this summer, which is insane but at least I will have lots to talk about here on the blog! 

As for Chuckie, his family has come to love and accept him as he is. That isn’t to say that dogs can’t change or improve after 16 weeks of age has passed! I often see Chuckie walking to the dog park with the husband, who learned that when Chuckie is in the presence of other dogs he also relaxes more with people. Their patience and love has helped him adjust and modulate his fear, even as an adult.

Have you ever used a puppy kindergarten training program with a new litter? Do you think it helped? What have you done to diminish your dog's outsize fear?

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

BBQ Fun on a Budget

mom-grilling

For most of us, when we hear “BBQ”, we think great food, cold drinks, good friends, fun time with family and also did we mention great food?

Summer BBQs are so much easier than an elaborate dinner party. They’re generally outdoors, totally casz and not nearly as much work. And, really, there’s no reason they can’t be inexpensive and stress-free, too!

Here are our ten best ideas for a banging, budget-friendly barbeque. Be sure to take advantage of any summer sales of fresh produce, like corn on the cob or tomatoes, and you’ll end up paying even less. Mix and match to meet your needs, fit your budgetary and time constraints, and don’t forget to add a dash of your own personal flair.

APPS:

Deviled Eggs - Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and they are very affordable. Deviled eggs recipes are easy to find and make, they taste great and go with almost any food. Be sure to make these in advance and store in the fridge until party time.

Dip & Veggies - Broccoli and carrots are inexpensive veggies. Buy fresh and wash and cut yourself. French onion dip is economical and goes great with veggies. If you’re looking for something more exotic, try our amazing Blackberry Tapenade!

Popcorn Recipe - This terrific snack food is relatively healthy and certainly easy on the pocket, typically costing less than $2 a pound. To make air-popped popcorn, place one-fourth cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag, fold the top a time or two to seal and heat it in the microwave until it stops popping. Add toppings of your choice, such as olive oil, sea salt or Parmesan cheese.

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MAIN DISH:

The Meat - You don’t need to break bank to make a barbecue banquet. Chicken legs and thighs are much more flavorful than the breast. Try skirt or flank steak and skip the more expensive cuts of beef. And there’s always the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs. With a ton of recipes available, you can easily choose whatever fits your budget best!

SIDES: 

Bread - Nothing pleases, or fills up happy guests, like fresh-baked breads. Check your supermarket bakery for rolls, biscuits or buns – whatever works with your main course.

Potato Dish - Russet potatoes are an excellent source of nutrients and typically available for a reasonable price. Potato salad is a great traditional dish but you can also roast them in the oven with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and oil olive.

Pasta Salad & Beans - Canned beans are budget-friendly, in addition to being highly nutritious. Different types of beans vary in price, but you can generally find them for less than $1 a pound. Same goes for pasta! Simply locate a fun, zesty recipe that complements your other dishes and mix up something wonderful!

DESSERT: 

Fruit – Nothing says “summer is here” like watermelon. It’s is usually cheapest in the summer and you can cut into crowd-pleasing shapes. Or, if you want to try something that’s sure to delight any kids in attendance, check out our delicious Mango Tropsicles!

millennials-grilling

DRINKS: 

Punch – You know the saying “pleased as punch?” Fruit punch is much less expensive to serve than canned or bottled beverages. For an adult punch, look for a white summer sangria recipe with lemons and limes and wine and ginger ale. Also, be sure to check out our summer drink, Summer Wonder Slushie, which is not only easy to make, it’s chock full of goodness thanks to our Minerals & Antioxidants mix. 

There you have it … ten fabulous ideas to make your next BBQ a serious hit with friends and family. After a bit of prep work, all that will be left to do is pump up the volume and let the good times roll!