Life's Abundance | Premium health products

You And Your Cuddly Companions


person petting cat

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

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

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

For the Humans:

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


dog cuddling on human shoulder

For the Canines:

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

For the Felines:

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

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


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

How Cats Help Your Health

The Many Health Benefits Of Living With Dogs

Tips For Waste-Free Skin Care


lotion on hands

So you’ve done your research; you found your natural, clean skin care go-to’s and you’re on a journey to your best, healthiest skin yet. You’ve built a simple skin care routine based on nutrient-rich, hydrating, skin-barrier-protecting ingredients. Good work! No doubt you’ve spent countless minutes researching products online or asking friends for recommendations while wading through a seemingly endless ocean of skincare products and their claims. We’re so glad you made it here! 

You and your skin are worth the time and investment, so we chatted with Ashley Guttuso, a licensed holistic esthetician, to help you get the most out of your products and daily routine. We have answers for some of our most-asked questions; from “how much facial oil do I use?” to “what order do I apply my products in?” and more. Skincare 101 is now in session!

Q: How do I use bar soap as a facial cleanser? Should I use it twice per day?

Ashley: Cleansing your face with a solid bar of soap can definitely seem like an adjustment if you’re used to more traditional liquid cleansers, and understandably so! Bar soaps have been given a bad reputation. When you hear “bar soap” I bet your mind goes to a cheaply made, mass-produced, overly-drying bar that you’d typically buy at the drug or grocery store. The difference with a natural, hand-made bar cleanser like the Charcoal + Sea Salt Soap is that it’s superfatted meaning that during the soap making process, the soap retains more oils and is ultimately more moisturizing to your skin, unlike traditional bar soaps. 

I love to recommend using a bar cleanser once daily in the evening. When you’re ready to wash, wet your hands and rub the bar until you reach a creamy, sudsy lather. Add water as needed, but don’t hold your bar directly under water (following this method will help your bar last longer!). Check out my video below for another soap-saving tip!

Q: How should I store my bar soap after cleansing?

Ashley: Look for a dish or tray with drainage or deep grooves to help clear water away from the bar. Leaving your bar in water will make it soft and dissolve more quickly. 


woman applying serum drops

Q: I love a sudsy lather when I’m cleansing my face, but I go through my liquid cleanser too quickly. How much should I really be using?

Ashley: To start, a good general rule is to cleanse once per day. I tend to see that people over-cleanse, and ultimately dry out their skin (often leading to excess oil production and congestion or breakouts) or cause skin irritation that can show up as tiny bumps, redness or dry patches. Try cleansing only during your evening routine and rely on warm water, toner, and moisturizer in the morning. While I can’t speak for all cleanser formulations, a dime-sized amount of Life’s Abundance Facial Cleanser will adequately cleanse skin. Watch the video for a good visual!

Q: My face feels oily after I apply my facial serum. Am I using too much?

Ashley: Oil and water; a magical skin duo! Let me explain. If you’re applying a facial oil to dry skin and left with a heavy feeling, or like the oil is sitting on top of your skin, introduce a water-based toner (or simply water) into the mix. Post cleanse, either leave skin damp with water, or mist skin with your favorite toner (nix any alcohol-based toners) and apply 2-4 drops of oil. The water will help your skin to absorb the product. Start with fewer drops of oil and add more as desired until you find your perfect balance. I’m a 3-drop of facial oil kind of gal!

Q: How much moisturizer should I use? My skin is currently oily.

Ashley: This is a great question for a few different reasons; one being that it’s definitely important to take your skin state (aka what your skin is experiencing at a certain point in time) into consideration and the second being that oily skin needs moisturizer, too! Start small - apply a chickpea-sized amount to your fingertips and apply to damp skin. Cover your face and neck. You’ll be able to feel if your skin needs more; add a small amount of moisturizer at a time until you’re feeling adequately moisturized.

For folks experiencing dryness, my favorite moisturizer tip is cocktailing your own! Apply a dime-sized amount of facial moisturizer to your fingers and add 1-2 drops of facial serum. Blend together and let your face and neck drink it up! As you would before applying your facial serum, be sure your skin is slightly damp with water or water-based toner before applying to deeper product absorption. 

Watch the video below for bonus tips!


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Putting On Healthy Weight For Underweight Pets


dog running alongside owner

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

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

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

Then nine.

Then eight.

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

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

Weight: More than just a number

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

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

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


cat playing with toy

Assessing the underweight pet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Our Foundation Gives Emergency Funding To 2 Rescues


dog over person's shoulder

Did you know that when you shop at Life’s Abundance, a portion of the profits is set aside to fund the good works of our charitable non-profit, The Dr. Jane Foundation? Whether you’re ordering nutritional supplements for yourself or premium food, treats and supplements for your furry friends, your repeat business helps to save lives of homeless, abused and neglected animals across the U.S.

In addition to our year-round competitive grant funding, The Dr. Jane Foundation, provides emergency funds to immediately address the needs that arise from disasters such as floods and fires across the U.S. For many of the non-profits affected by disaster, their annual budget planning simply cannot stretch to meet the unexpected, and often widespread needs of their community.  Since 2007, we’ve impacted over 250 communities and given awards totaling nearly $400,000!

We’re pleased to inform you that our Board of Directors expedited emergency funding to two rescue organizations to help with disaster relief from Hurricane Ida.

Jefferson SPCA

Jefferson SPCA is a non-profit that promotes animal welfare in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Due to Hurricane Ida, nearly 100 pets were evacuated from the shelter by the Houston Humane Society. Even through over a week without power and being the height of their kitten season, they quickly resumed adoptions for their dogs, cats, kittens, bunnies, and guinea pigs. A tireless crew of staff and volunteers never missed a beat taking care of all of the animals. 

When they’re not responding to a post-storm emergency, the shelter takes in lost pets until their owners reclaim them, as well holds adoptions, low cost spay/neuter clinics and a TNVR program. One of their main missions is to prevent and address animal cruelty by investigating any complaints as well as provide care for homeless pets in the area. They’re also committed to the health of these companion animals by giving them life-saving medical treatment. 


louisiana spca rescue group

Louisiana SPCA

Louisiana SPCA is the oldest animal welfare organization in the state and has impacted over 73,000 homeless and companion animals in its time. Before Hurricane Ida hit, the shelter transported nearly 200 animals out of the destructive path of the storm. These four-legged evacuees were sent to partner shelters across the country, and those that couldn’t be transported were safely secured. After the damage from Hurricane Ida, the shelter is in need of emergency funding to provide proper care to their animals. As of this writing, they are still closed to the public, yet still providing clinic, animal control services. They are also reuniting dozens of pets each week with their displaced families, recruiting foster families, and coordinating the transport of animals between shelters. In 2020 alone, they helped more than 3,000 pets find their forever homes. They care deeply and prioritize compassion when dealing with their animals. Establishing companionship between the owner and their animal is part of their core values along with humane ethics, transparency, investing in their volunteers, and much more. They focus on humane pet adoptions, rescues and affordable veterinary services across Louisiana.

For everyone who actively supports the vital work of our non-profit, The Dr. Jane Foundation, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thanks to your personal donations and continued Life's Abundance patronage, together we are helping these animal rescue groups achieve their missions of making a positive difference in the world, one animal at a time.


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Pumpkin Protein Cookies Recipe


pumpkin protein cookies recipe

Pumpkin spice is in the air! Here we are in the beginning days of Fall and we are absolutely loving all things pumpkin. Especially our warm Pumpkin Protein Cookies made with our nutritious Chocolate Plant Protein.

These cookies make for a quick breakfast on the go for the whole family, or simply when you need to add a little sweetness to your day.

Servings: 8 large cookies

What you’ll need:

  • Large cookie sheet
  • Coconut oil to grease the baking sheet, if not using parchment paper
  • 2 mixing bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of almond butter
  • 1/2  cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4  cup raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups plain rolled oats
  • 1 scoop of Life's Abundance Chocolate Plant Protein
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup almond flour or gluten-free flour of choice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (to sprinkle on top)


pumpkin protein cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the almond butter, pumpkin puree, honey, vanilla, and egg.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, Life’s Abundance Chocolate Plant Protein, baking soda, almond flour, chia seeds, and pumpkin pie spice.
  5. Combine the oat mixture into the almond butter mixture.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop, fill it halfway, and set cookies one to two inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Press them down slightly with the back of the scoop and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Keep them covered in the fridge, for up to 1 week.


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Can Dogs Eat Superfood Too?


dog looking up at owner

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

What exactly are superfoods?

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

Some other boosts they can provide are:

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


owner giving dog a treat

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

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

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

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


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Pet Food Super Powers

How Affirmations Can Change Your Life


woman writing affirmations

Have you ever woken up, before touching your feet to the floor, and immediately thought, “ugh…. ?”

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. A recent study has shown that only 14% of Americans are happy - but that doesn’t mean you should continue to be a card-carrying member of the Unhappy Club. You have the power to change your life every morning when you wake up, and we’ve got a great tool to help you do just that - daily affirmations.

Daily affirmations are a great tool to create the life we want, and have been proven to help us develop a positive mindset, where we are not only grateful for what we already have,  but that we believe we are worthy right now of what we want to cultivate in the future.

What exactly are affirmations?

Affirmations are positive statements that can be used to overcome negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. The theory is - the more you repeat them, the more you start to believe them, and that helps to create positive change in your life.

If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit “woo-woo,” and could never picture yourself practicing daily affirmations to train your mind, just think about how you might perform daily exercise to train your body - it’s not any different, and there is actual science behind it.

Many times we start our day off negatively because we’re in a state of lacking, and when we constantly have negative thoughts surrounding our appearance, our financial state, our relationships or our career, it affects our confidence, mood and mindset. The problem with constantly thinking negative thoughts, even in our subconscious, is that we start believing them.

The great news? Because you’re in control of your thoughts, words, and actions, you can ditch the Debbie Downer mindset, think the opposite, and create the reality you really want to be living in.

woman standing at the beach

Research has shown that the subconscious mind plays a major role in the path our lives take and the actualization of our goals, as repeating positive statements can reprogram our thinking. What we tell ourselves on a subconscious level can have a significant impact on our self-esteem and therefore our motivation and determination, which ultimately nudges us to think and act differently so we can live our best lives.

Think about a day when you felt good about yourself - maybe you landed a new job, ran your first 5K or got a clean bill of health from the doctor. Can you remember how that one thing made you feel good about your entire life in general?  Maybe it gave you the motivation to eat healthier, to pitch a new client, or to finally ask out that person you’ve had your eye on at the coffee shop every morning. 

Daily affirmations can also simply be a reminder to be grateful or focus on the positive in every situation, or they can serve as a stepping stone to create incredible transformation. 

Research has studied the multiple benefits of daily affirmations. They can:

  • Help you to perform better at work, even by just repeating to yourself that you are confident before a big meeting.
  • Lessen the effects of stress. In one study, a short affirmation exercise boosted the problem-solving abilities of "chronically stressed" subjects to the same level as those with low stress.
  • Decrease low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health conditions, as they have been shown to stimulate the areas in our brains that motivate us to create effective positive changes in regard to our health.
  • Increase confidence and decrease negative attitudes. One study found that a stronger sense of self-worth makes you more likely to improve your own health, and using affirmations to boost your confidence helps to create that positive self-identity.

How to write your own affirmation: 

  • Start in the first person, “I” or “I am....”
  • Write your statement in the positive, for example, instead of saying, “Today I won’t be lazy or eat any bad foods,” say: “Today I will nourish my body with healthy food and exercise so I have lots of energy.”
  • Write in the present, not in the future. This is where most people get caught up when starting because they don’t feel like they can repeat something that they don’t actually see as being true, but this is where rewiring our subconscious mind starts. So instead of saying, “When I get a new job and lose ten pounds I will be happy,” say, “ I am happy now at my job and in my current body.

If you’ve ever had someone tell you to “Fake it till you make it,” they were on to something. That last one has the most potential to create change, as studies show that if you act like something is already true, then it’s more likely to materialize in real life because you will start to take action as if it’s a reality.

Sample affirmations:

Today will be a productive day.
Each day, I am getting closer to achieving my goals.
My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.
My relationship is becoming stronger, deeper, and more stable each day.
I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful.
My business is growing, expanding, and thriving.
My potential to succeed is infinite.
I acknowledge my own self-worth; my confidence is soaring.
Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good.
The perfect partner for me is coming into my life sooner than I expect.

Right now, pick one area in your life where you’d like to create change and either write your own or choose an affirmation from the list above, then commit to repeating it to yourself every morning for at least a week.

Write it on a post-it, make a graphic for your phone screen, or even program your Alexa to make it your morning alarm, and then say it out loud. However you commit to repeating your affirmation daily, we promise it will make you feel more confident, more powerful, and ultimately happier!


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How To Properly Clean Your Pet’s Ears

cat at vet getting ear cleaned

In the world of pet ownership, it only takes a couple of words to conjure up a visceral, sensory memory. “Dog breath.” “Wet dog.” “Cat pee.” Each compellingly icky in its own way, we spend billions of dollars a year trying to combat the lingering effects of these phenomena. So today, let’s delve deeper into the world of cavernous canals and explore how we deal with these two words: stinky ears. If you know, you know.
 
Ear cleanings are one of the most common requests we get at the vet clinic. From your vantage point as a pet owner peering into the ear, you really can’t assess the health of the ear with the tools you have. It can be hard to know whether you should be doing maintenance ear cleaning or trying to treat an ear infection without some professional guidance. So let’s start with the basics.

Anatomy Of An Ear

Most of us know at least one person who got sent to the ER because they stuck something (cotton swab, pencil, etc) too far into their ear canal and ended up injuring their eardrum. Dogs and cats have a different anatomy which makes this much harder to do - not that you should try! In fact, I’m about to explain why sticking a cotton swab in your pet’s ear isn’t something you probably need to do at all.

First things first: For our purposes, everything we can impact or treat as pet owners counts as the “External ear canal.” This starts at the outside of the ear (the pinna) all the way up to the eardrum. Both the middle ear and the inner ear are on the inside of the eardrum, and that’s where all the little bones and structures that are responsible for hearing and balance live. Unless the eardrum is ruptured due to trauma or disease, that’s not an area you can clean or medicate. So when you’re cleaning the ears or treating an ear infection with drops, you’re treating an infection of the external ear canal.

In dogs and cats, the external ear canal consists of three parts: the pinna, the vertical ear canal, and the horizontal ear canal. In people, the ear canal is one straight line from pinna to eardrum, but in dogs and cats the ear canal takes a 90 degree turn about halfway in. This means there’s a lot more opportunity for debris, fluid, and moisture to get trapped and build up around that bend.

It also means that if you put a cotton swab into the part you can access (the vertical canal), a very likely outcome is pushing ear gunk further into the horizontal canal, compounding any problems your pet may be experiencing, especially when that gunk is sticky.

dog getting ear cleaned

How To Clean Your Pet’s Ears The Right Way

The best way to clean a pet’s ears is with the right ear cleaner designed specifically for this purpose. Never use peroxide, which is highly irritating! By using a pet friendly ear cleaner, the liquid can get into both the horizontal and vertical ear canal, and dissolve or loosen up any sticky debris. 

I like to warm the ear cleaner bottle up by putting it in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water. Once you fill the ear up with the liquid, you give ‘em a nice squishy ear massage, breaking up all the dirt inside without actually having to put anything into the ear canal. Then step back because your pet will usually shake all the dissolved goo on you, your clothes, and your carpet. (Having a towel nearby or doing this in the tub is wise.) Then, you can use a cotton swab or cotton ball to clean up the parts of the ear you can see as the cleaner drains out. 

When To See The Vet

This routine ear cleaning is something you can do weekly, monthly, or in conjunction with bathing. This is best done as a maintenance routine to keep healthy ears looking and feeling their best.

If you think your pet has an ear infection, make sure you check with your vet before embarking on the cleaning process. Signs include:

  • Shaking their head
  • Pawing at their ears
  • Resisting any handling of the ears
  • Smelly discharge
  • Large amounts of discharge, ranging from dark brown to yellow or red
  • Reddened ear canal

Doing an otoscopic exam at the vet office is a quick and super important step in determining if your pet has a problem. It’s one of the most common reasons we see pets at the office, and very rewarding to help an uncomfortable pet feel so much better!

  • Your vet will want to examine the ear to see if there is an infection, foreign body, mass, or ruptured eardrum.
  • Ear infections require the right medication to treat yeast, bacteria, or both.
  • Medicated ear cleaners can make the process even easier.
  • For very dirty ears, it’s helpful to have the veterinary team do a “deep clean” first so the medication can penetrate more easily.
  • If the pet has very painful or ulcerated ears, you’re not going to be able to clean or medicate them- this may require sedation or oral medications to help get the ears to the point you can put in topical meds.
  • Sometimes ear infections are a part of a larger disease process, such as allergies.

For healthy ears, cleaning with a gentle ear cleaner is all you usually need to keep stinky ears at bay. Stick those cotton swabs back in the drawer and enjoy your snuggles!


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Everything You Need To Know About Skinimalism

girl looking in mirror at clean face

There will always be trends that come and go in the world of health and wellness. Most just aren’t worth the hype, but to us, the past year has presented one new trend that we can fully embrace. Meet “skinimalism,” the Marie Kondo philosophy of getting rid of excess from your life, but applied to your skin care routine. There’s something to be said for simplicity; it allows only for what truly serves us, for what brings us joy, and for what actually works. Is your five-plus step skin care routine made up of a cabinet full of products not bringing you noticeable results or is it hurting your budget? Might we suggest it’s time to “skinimize” your routine.

Back to the Basics

It’s easy to be persuaded into buying the new “must-haves’’ or all star ingredient skin care products. We’re constantly bombarded with Instagram or Facebook ads, influencers, and buzzy marketing terms that promise to address all of our skin “imperfections.” Many skin care professionals and dermatologists will tell you that simplicity is key when it comes to caring for your body’s largest organ. Painful, itchy, or red skin irritations that show up on our skin are many times self-imposed. The culprit? Too many products and ingredients.

Don’t feel any shame or beat yourself up - we’re all human and can easily be lured in by promises of perfect, poreless skin. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current skincare routine and not seeing the results you’re hoping for, we’re here to help you skim down and get back to a simple, effective skin care routine.

Build a basic, effective routine

The goal of this skincare routine is to maintain balance, hydration and overall clarity of your skin. Plus, you might even enjoy the exercise of tossing out what no longer serves you and your skin!
We’ve pulled together some simple steps to help you get started on your “shelfie” clean up.

  1. With clean hands, touch your skin. Is it dry, tight, oily, or rough? Look in the mirror. Do you notice redness, blackheads, or shininess? Take notes of how your skin feels, what you see and then take time to write down what your goals are. We’ll come back to this!
  2. Assess your current products. Is anything expired? Toss it! Follow packaging instructions for best practices on how to discard the expired product and recycle its packaging.
  3. Group together all remaining products by step. Cleansers, toners, facial oils, serums, moisturizers, masks, etc. Revisit your skin assessment from step one and begin to go through each group of products to remove the excess.
    • For example, if you noted that your skin feels and looks oily and you noticed blackheads when looking in the mirror, assess your products and look for those that will help you reach your goal of maintaining decongested pores, balanced oil production, and breakout free skin. Remove any products that are targeted for dry or aging skin, or anything that is too harsh (think alcohol-based products or harsh exfoliants). It’s also important to remove anything you’ve used in the past that has either caused noticeable irritation or hasn’t produced any results - they are simply not suited for you.
  4. Can you narrow each category down to one product? As a general guideline when it comes to a skinimalist routine, keep each category of skin care at one product; one cleanser, one toner, one facial oil or serum, and one moisturizer. When it comes to treatment masks, if you have two that you love, keep them both and alternate their use. You don’t need to be too strict on yourself to start out, but might we suggest one product that’s a multi-tasker and delivers multiple results!

girl cleansing face with cotton pad

Start Your Skinimal Routine!

  1. Cleanse. Skip the suds in the morning and do a simple rinse with warm (not hot) water. Save your cleanser for the PM. Take a step to be extra minimal and opt for a low-waste bar cleanser.
  2. Tone. After cleansing in the AM and PM, gently pat skin dry. Either mist skin generously or wet an organic cotton pad with your favorite toner and pat across your skin.
  3. Nourish. This step might’ve been the hardest for you to narrow down on, but once you find your favorite facial oil or serum, apply twice daily and take notice of how your skin feels and looks. In a truly minimal routine, adopt the practice of looking for one multidimensional product that delivers antioxidant protection, hydration, skin clarifying properties and deep cellular nutrition.
  4. Moisturize. If you’ve opted for a hydrating facial oil above in step four, you may find that this is one step you can remove. If you need that extra layer of moisture, apply a cream twice daily that aims to deliver smoother, balanced and nurtured skin.
  5. Protect. Apply sun protection!
  6. Optional - Treat. Masking is too fun to not indulge in occasionally, and can help you reach your skin goals more easily. If you’ve narrowed down your masks to just one, follow product instructions for suggested use. Looking for one mask that does it all? Opt for our nutritive, hydrating, and gently exfoliating Hibiscus Mask & Scrub and use 2-3 times weekly.

Pro tip: If you’re rotating between two masks, be sure to try each mask solo for at least two weeks and take close notice of results and how your skin reacts. This will help you gauge which works best, or how they work differently. You’ll also be able to assess if either causes any irritation.


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Pets’ Role in Online Learning

dog sitting next to laptop

Most of us are more than familiar with what last year’s pandemic brought. Working from home, a lot of time indoors, and for the kids - virtual schooling. Students transitioned from classroom settings to desks at home, which changed the game for many of them. Along with taking away the in-person time with their teachers and peers, kids also started having trouble focusing and performing well in their schoolwork. A new study by Mars Petcare shows that a specific member of the family helped students with this tough transition.

The study shows that those families with furry friends benefited greatly when it came to online learning. 52 percent of kids spent more time with their pets than before the pandemic. Now, they have been engaging in a range of activities including playing, talking, and reading to them. And it did them good!

When school went virtual, many students were left feeling lonely and even started having feelings of anxiety and depression. According to the study, having a pet around them significantly reduced those negative feelings. 87 percent of parents believed that their pets improved the children’s overall mood, not to mention decreased loneliness and stress.

Did someone say study buddy? You heard that right. Pets also helped students’ academic performance! 56 percent of parents reported that they saw improved concentration in their kids and 72 percent saw an increase in motivation. As mentioned above, students have been reading and talking to their pets more which resulted in a jump in their confidence levels when communicating with their teachers and peers.

kitten watching young girl do homework

Students may not have been able to run around the playground or socialize with their classmates as they once did, but pets have provided a great alternative for them. Now, kids have spent their breaks with their pets and 81 percent of parents reported that the interaction encouraged more physical activity. This promotes the exercise that they’ve been missing by sitting in front of their computers all day. It also gives their eyes and mind a rest from the screen. In addition, being around their pets more and taking care of them has taught more responsibility and patience.

As a bonus, not only did students benefit from having their pet home while being in virtual school, but vice versa too! Parents discovered that their furry members of the family seemed happier with the kids being home. 77 percent reported that the pets were actually more calm as well.

The role that pets play in online learning even extends to teachers. Many of them have started to incorporate their companion animals in their virtual classrooms as well, which has benefited students in similar ways. As they all return back to school, it’ll be no surprise when the idea of classroom pets once again becomes popular. Just another reason to love and appreciate our furry friends!


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