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What to Know About Pet Joint Health

cat playing on couch

Age is not a disease.

We say that all the time in medicine, because it’s true. “He’s slowing down” is an observation, but it’s not a diagnosis. All too many times, when I’m asking someone how their pet is doing they will say, “Well, he’s slowing down, but he’s old. What are you going to do?”

Lots! We have lots of things we can do, especially for one of the most common diseases of aging dogs and cats: degenerative joint disease (DJD), also known as osteoarthritis (OA). In fact, one out of five pets are experiencing this right now. And many of them could be feeling a lot better.

DJD is more complicated than it might appear at first blush, but it’s also one of the most gratifying to treat when you’re able to improve a pet’s quality of life so significantly. Whether you have a senior pet with diagnosed or suspected DJD, or a younger pet you want to keep in good health for a good long time, there are things you can be doing right now to maintain their joint health.

Anatomy of a Joint

Unlike a heart or a kidney, a joint is not a discrete organ but a term used to describe the connection between bones. Joints vary in terms of structure, function, and components. Your knee joint, for instance, is a back-and-forth hinge joint, while the joints that connect the bones in your skull move very little. In both cases, this is a good thing.

Joints have multiple components such as cartilage, connective tissue like ligaments and tendons, and capsules that enclose the joint and keep everything contained. Depending on where the joint is located, its purpose is to protect the bones, allow free movement by reducing friction, and act as a cushion.

Cartilage is a critical tissue in the joint. It is comprised of cells called chondrocytes suspended in a matrix of collagen and proteoglycans, which trap water and keep the cartilage nice and plump. Healthy chondrocytes keep that matrix fully hydrated, which is essential for the joint’s ability to absorb forces without damage. Cartilage creates the joint cushion.

The synovial membrane is the tissue that surrounds the joint and keeps it sealed. The membrane secretes synovial fluid into the joint, which is critical for lubrication.

If there is any disruption to the cartilage, the synovial membrane, or the bone underneath the cartilage, your dog or cat can begin to develop a joint disease.

Causes of DJD

While DJD can result from the normal aging process, it is often accelerated in pets by an injury or other underlying health condition that causes stress or inflammation. Inflammatory compounds in the joint space disrupt the cartilage matrix, reducing its ability to retain water. As the cartilage dehydrates, it starts to become more brittle and rubbery, like a piece of cheese you left out overnight. It also becomes more likely to splinter. If it gets bad enough, the underlying bone can also be affected.

dog playing with ball

Treatment and Prevention

Unfortunately, DJD in dogs and cats is an irreversible process. Treatment is aimed at slowing down the progression of the disease, reducing pain, and maintaining movement in the joint. It is a complex process with a lot of different elements, which means one thing: the best treatment hits the disease process on multiple fronts. We call this ‘multimodal disease management,’ and it’s the gold standard in DJD therapy. Here are the different fronts from which we attack DJD:

    1. Anti-inflammatories. Remember when I mentioned those inflammatory compounds? There are a lot of them. No one medication or supplement gets them all, which is why we tend to combine them for better results.
      1. NSAIDS- These are the most recognizable of the bunch for most of us, and are nice because they reduce both inflammation and pain. In pets, these are prescription meds such as Rimadyl, Metacam, or Deramaxx. Please don’t use over the counter people medications like Advil or Aleve- they simply aren’t as effective and can be dangerous to your pets.
      2. Nutraceuticals and supplements- This is an ever-expanding group of treatments that gets lots of attention for being effective across many species, with a low incidence of side effects. The most recognizable names here are glucosamine/ chondroitin sulfate, but newer players on the market such as green lipped mussels are also giving great results.
      3. Adequan injections- This is an injection available through veterinarians that stimulates the cartilage to improve the matrix.

    2. Weight loss. If your pet is overweight- which describes about half the pets in the US! -this can accelerate the stress that causes cartilage to degenerate. If your pet is overweight, talk to your vet about what their ideal body weight should be. If they are the correct weight, well done! Keep it up.

    3. Alternative treatment modalities. I trained and became certified in veterinary acupuncture specifically to treat arthritic pets, with good results. I’ve also used lasers, a product that uses pulsed electromagnetic fields, and physical therapy. The more layers you add onto your treatment, the better the results.

    4. Prevention. Unfortunately, by the time a pet starts to limp or shows signs of pain, they have usually had DJD for some time and it is fairly advanced. That’s why preventive measures are so important. Here’s what pet owners should do from the get-go:
      1. Maintain a healthy weight for your pet.
      2. Maintain a regular exercise program to keep joints mobile and healthy.
      3. Keep your pet on a healthy diet and add omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
      4. If your pet is highly active or in a higher-risk category for DJD, consider adding nutraceuticals and supplements to their diet sooner rather than later.


Age isn’t a disease, but DJD is. It’s not often I say, “the more the merrier!” when it comes to treatments, but in this case you really can’t begin joint healthcare early enough. From diet to exercise to supplements, put your plan in place now to keep your pet in good health long into their senior years!

Wishing you and your family health and happiness,

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V

Bewitching Chia Pudding Recipe

easy pudding recipe



With the year’s biggest candy extravaganza right around the corner, what’s better than a sweet, healthy, no-bake recipe? No tricks here! Just a delicious, berry pudding using our Greens Blend and a handful of granola for that perfect crunch.

Follow this simple recipe when you need to satisfy that wicked craving:

Recipe:

Makes 2 servings

Instructions:

  1. Mix yogurt, chia seeds, and Greens Blend together in a bowl and cover.
  2. Place in the refrigerator for four hours.
  3. Remove the pudding mixture from the fridge.
  4. In two glasses, layer the chia pudding, blueberries, and granola.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

chia pudding recipe

Tip: If you are preparing ahead of time, wait to top your dessert with the granola so you maintain maximum crunchiness!

The Benefits of Green Lipped Mussels for Pets

dog chasing a ball

People often wonder why we choose the ingredients we do for our products, particularly when our selections appear unconventional. Green Lipped Mussels are no exception to this curiosity, so you may be surprised to learn that it is one of the best natural supplements that promote pet agility and support joint health.

If you are ready to take a deeper dive into this superfood and how it can benefit your dog or cat, you’re in the right place!

A Sustainable Supplement

Green lipped mussels, also known as Perna canaliculus, are a shellfish that also happen to be an extremely beneficial superfood. Originating off the coast of New Zealand, these pure and clean waters are free from pollution. Impressively, it is internationally recognized as one of the top eco-friendly seafoods in the world. This means that the green lipped mussel is a nutrient dense, ocean-friendly seafood. They are popular in New Zealand and have only recently been introduced in the West. They are commonly used medicinally as they contain vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fats, and more that are essential to a healthy diet.

A Beneficial Ingredient

Green lipped mussels have numerous benefits for your dog and cat that can help them overcome their joint issues. Some people may turn to NSAIDs, like Rimadyl, for a quick fix but this can result in some negative side effects that you don’t want for your companion, such as vomiting and diarrhea. As an alternative, mussels are a natural supplement that are much healthier and do not have any known negative side effects. It works to promote pet agility and joint health, even for those that already have painful joints. They help keep the cartilage strong, healthy, and flexible so the joints are properly cushioned as they glide. As an extra advantage, these mussels have also been known to boost immunity and skin health!

Pet parents usually have a general idea of the importance of the fatty acids, EPA and DHA, but did you know that mussels contain a third called Eicosatetraenoic Acid, or ETA. ETA is that one ingredient that does more by lowering the production of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that is responsible for inflammation. So, receiving ETA in their supplements can mean more playtime!

cat playing with toy

All of this is why we’ve been sure to include this amazingly beneficial ingredient in our Agility Formula for Dogs & Cats as well as our Pork & Duck Cat Food. When it comes to Agility Formula, which is designed to support the entire musculoskeletal system, the mussels pack an extra healthful punch because they work well with the glucosamine in our formula. It can be hard to watch your dog or cat struggle to climb stairs or play the way they used to. With the right diet and targeted supplementation, you will know, and see with your own eyes, that you are helping them live a healthier and happier life.

Frozen Berry Bites Recipe

frozen berry bites

This delicious and healthy, no-bake treat is so easy to make at home with the kids! These frozen berry bites are not only tasty, but they are also packed with nutrition. The Greens Blend used in this recipe helps you and your family get the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily!

Follow these simple directions below to create a fun, quick snack for when you’re on the go:

Recipe:

Makes 12 servings

  • 3 cups coconut yogurt
  • ¼ cup Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
  • 1 cup granola of your choice
  • 1 cup blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners
  2. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt and Greens Blend and whisk until fully combined.
  3. Spoon yogurt mixture equally into muffin pan
  4. Top with granola and blueberries
  5. Freeze overnight
  6. Enjoy!

 

Journaling For Your Self-Improvement

woman writing in journal

There’s never a better time than now to evaluate your habits and goals plus make changes that will benefit you. Some people might reflect on their daily routine and decide they want to start a fitness plan, focus on their diet more, or learn a new skill. It’s also just as important to pay special attention to your mental and emotional health while truly investing time in YOU!

This year has brought many difficulties as well as a “new normal” that we are all trying to get accustomed to. While physical distancing is necessary during these times, it is not optimal for mental and emotional well-being. It is natural for people to want social interaction and the lack of time spent in person has led to a great deal of anxiety and stress for many. There are multiple ways to work on your mental and emotional health, but journaling is an effective way to track your day-to-day moods. This is an age-old activity that allows you to reason through daily situations as well as make sense of both positive and negative thoughts.

Types of Journaling

Journaling can take many different forms. Many of us may have had a diary when we were younger, and though the fact that Kristi had a crush on Chad isn’t of great consequence, that was a form of journaling. You may have had to keep a journal in your English class when you were in school or maybe your healthcare provider asked you to keep a nutritional journal or one for any type of therapy.

The great thing about keeping a journal is that there are no real rules. Your journal can be about any topic that helps you or about anything that you're interested in. Some people keep journals full of poetry or little blurbs about daily events in their life. It can be a way to write out all your thoughts on paper. Journals can be strictly private for your eyes only, or they can be shared with others. Blogs, for example, are sometimes considered online journals. These are the blogs that are often personal in nature.

What Journal Method Is Right for You?

This is a personal decision. Some people are comfortable sharing their journal and they get a great deal from the feedback they receive from readers. In other cases, it might be easier to be fully honest if you know that no one else will read your thoughts. A mental health journal should help you gain clarity and it needs to be honest.

Your journal should be a way to guide you with self-improvement. This is going to be specific to your own needs. You might find that it's a good place to help you prioritize the things that you need to do in your life. Or, maybe it's a good space to write about the things you're afraid of or the relationships you're having trouble with. Again, there's no right or wrong answer here. You'll find that the act of writing these things down can offer a great benefit both in the present moment and long term.

Writing in a journal can be like a form of meditation. You have the ability to clear your mind and verbalize all of the thoughts in your head on the page. You can also look back at your writing later, with a clearer mind, and really analyze the thoughts in a more unbiased way. This can help you decipher and analyze things in a way that is exceptionally difficult to do in the moment.

How Do You Begin Journaling?

While journaling is unique to you, there are some basic rules you can follow to stay on track.

  • Choose the method that's most convenient. If you prefer typing or keying information, you might open a blank document to become your journal. You can also create a blog that's private or public.

  • Add your own creativity to the process. Journaling doesn't need to only be words, unless you prefer to use prose exclusively. You can add any form of creativity that you want to make it yours. This might include adding photos, drawings or paintings, and decorations of any type. This works for an online journal as well as a physical book.

  • Develop a routine. Journaling reaps the most benefits when it becomes a habit. You can set aside time each day to work on your journal or you might simply keep your journal handy to add bits as the mood strikes.

writing in journal


Your journal may change over time as your needs and goals change. It’s not a static process. Your goals now might focus on your health while in a year you may start to work towards a new hobby. Journaling can become a self-improvement tool that you can turn to at any point in your journey through life. So, grab your journal and start making strides towards the best version of yourself!

Disaster Planning for Pets

With September being National Preparedness Month, it’s a good time to remember that disasters, like hurricanes and wildfires, can happen at any moment with little to no notice. It can be difficult to remember what you need as you evacuate, especially when you have a furry friend, so planning in advance is key! Dr. V hosted a live video stream to share some essential planning tips for pet parents. Read on for a recap or watch the video above!


Check ID Tags

  • Make sure your pet’s ID tags are up to date as addresses and phone numbers change.
  • Check with your dog’s and cat's microchip manufacturer to ensure they have updated contact info.


Updated Contact List

  • Double check that you have important numbers, like your vet’s number, saved for emergencies.
  • Shelters may require paperwork, like proof of vaccination, so be sure to put important documents onto a smartphone app for easy access.
  • As a backup, make paper copies of records for when you don’t have access to your digital copies.


Get Connected on Social

  • There are many social network groups that are local to your town or neighborhood. Join in advance to keep in touch with the community! Dr. V. told us about her experience of hearing from a neighbor that her neighborhood was on the news because of an evacuation order. Thanks to her network, she was able to get her pets out safely and quickly.
  • Apps like NextDoor and local Facebook groups can be great resources to stay up to date on local news, updates, and evacuations.


Make a “Go Bag”

  • With little time to prepare in the midst of disaster, making a go bag for your pets in advance is essential for a quick evacuation.
  • Always have a week’s worth of dog food, cat food and water for them.
  • Continuously rotate bags of food as you receive them so you are not left with an expired bag.
  • Rotate your pet’s water supply every six months.
  • Don’t forget dog treats and cat treats to help keep your pets occupied in stressful situations.
  • Include your pet’s carrier, bowls, leashes, and toys.


Pro-tip: Always keep your carrier empty so you don’t spend valuable time unloading any items to make way for your cat.

It is crucial that you prepare for emergencies before they happen. To watch Dr. V’s entire live stream for more details and her own harrowing story, watch the video above. Stay safe everyone!

How To Massage Your Cat

woman scratching cat

Are you looking for a way to bond with your cat while you also work to improve her health? Even for aloof cats, one way to build a positive bond and make your cat more responsive to contact is with cat massage. Sure, it may seem far fetched that the introverted animal that shares your home would respond, but you just might be surprised.

The Health Benefits of Massage for Cats

Massage stimulates the nerves and muscles in your cat's body. It also creates a relaxing response in the lymphatic system. Just like us, this can help with pain and muscle spasms, which may help reduce stiffness and discomfort. It can also create feelings of relaxation and calm.

Massage also has an effect on the circulation. As you massage your cat, the circulation increases. This flushes away toxins that can build up in the muscles, which can help reduce pain and inflammation. It can encourage a better immune system response as well. Will massage cure all of your cat's health problems? No, but it can set the stage improvement in health, especially if your cat needs a little extra care for her muscles and joints.

The Emotional Benefits of Massaging Your Cat

Not only can massage for your cat provide health benefits, but it can also provide emotional benefits. Massage has a calming effect on cats that are hyper or anxious. It creates a better emotional bond between you and your cat. It can also build trust between you. With practice, massage is something you both will grow to enjoy.


woman petting cat on carpet

How to Massage a Cat

If you're ready to embrace these benefits, here's what you need to do. First, find your cat in a calm time when they will be more receptive to what you are going to do. Extend your hand to your cat, and wait for them to accept your touch, especially if you have a cat that is easily startled. Then, follow these steps as you learn how to massage a cat:

1. Start with the shoulders
Start the massage at the shoulders. Bring your thumb and index finger together at the base of the neck, and massage down the shoulders, following the contour of the bone. Then, stroke down the spine, then return to the shoulders.

2. Move to the head
After massaging the shoulders and spine, move your hands to the head. Pet your cat's head for a moment, then move to the ears, an area that cats enjoy having touched. Rotate a finger slowly around the ear and watch as your cat relaxes under your touch.

3. Massage the tailbone
Now move to the other end of the cat. Place your hand on the top base of the tail, and massage. This is an area that can stand a little more pressure and even some scratching, as it is not as delicate as the ears and shoulders. Most cats like being massaged in this area very much, and you may find your cat leaning into your touch.

4. Consider the tummy
Not all cats like a tummy rub, but if yours does, you can massage here too. Gently massage the tummy, watching your cat's reaction carefully. If the reaction is positive, continue massaging this area a little.

5. Tickle the chin and chest
Now you are ready to finish the massage on the chin and chest. Most cats enjoy chin and chest rub. You can use a bit more pressure as you gently massage this area of your cat's body.

Tips for Giving Your Cat a Massage

While this process works for most cats, remember that each animal is unique. Consider these tips to tailor the massage to your cat's needs:

  • Avoid surprising your cat, unless you want to be pulling a hissing feline off of the ceiling.
  • Pay attention to your cat's response. If something seems uncomfortable, move on to a different area.
  • Go slowly. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Use a soft voice. Repeat a phrase or calming sound during the massage, but maintain a calm, soothing tone to your voice.
  • Reward your cat with a nutritious treat after the massage or to encourage her to be patient with the process.
  • Practice! If you don't get the hang of it the first time, that's okay. Keep practicing, and soon you will both be massage experts.



Cat massage is just one way to help your cat live a healthy, happy life, and build a fulfilling bond. Nutritious food is also important. Because it is their daily source of nutrition, choosing the right food is the surest way to have a positive impact on your cat's happiness and quality of life.

The Nutritive Power of Mushrooms

“Mom

Throughout history, humans have valued mushrooms as culinary delicacies and for their health benefits. In fact, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and many other healthcare traditions have utilized medicinal mushrooms for millennia.

In recent years, Western medicine has discovered medicinal mushrooms' nutraceutical value, as well. Research indicates that mushrooms have nutrients that offer a number of benefits, from specific nutrients (such as protein, key vitamins and numerous bioactive compounds) to properties that provide powerful antioxidants and fight stress while supporting the immune system.

Read on to learn about the nutritive power of mushrooms... and discover how you can reap the tasty benefits of adding organic mushrooms to your diet. 

Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

There's a reason why so many cultures have long enjoyed mushrooms as a food source. Not only are these popular fungi delicious, they're also nutritious! 

Mushrooms deliver a healthy helping of low-calorie, cholesterol-free protein and carbohydrates, as well as dietary fiber in the form of beta glucan. Research has found that this soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels, and it has also been linked to heart health. 

Organic mushrooms offer vitamins such as B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and easily absorbed B12. Together, these B vitamins can benefit your cardiovascular health, give your red blood cells a boost, support the skin, and help balance hormones. Unlike many other plant-based foods, some mushrooms also offer vitamin D, which contributes to healthy bones, teeth and muscles. 

Mushrooms also provide necessary minerals such as potassium, choline, copper, phosphorus, and selenium, an antioxidant. And speaking of antioxidants, let's take a look at one of the most promising health benefits of mushrooms: anthocyanin compounds known as flavonoids that support the immune system. 

“Nutritious

Powerful Antioxidants

Multiple studies have explored the role antioxidants play in human health, and mushrooms have been discovered to be packed full of them! Why are mushrooms such a rich source of antioxidants? Unlike plants (which meet their metabolic needs through photosynthesis and drawing minerals from soil) fungi "feed themselves" by breaking down the plant matter around them, withdrawing what they need to survive and freeing key nutrients along the way. The more nutritious the growth medium, the more antioxidants the mushrooms will have!

This process creates antioxidants that benefit our health. Specifically, mushrooms are among the highest known dietary sources of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione, which have been linked to:

  • immune system support
  • performance enhancement
  • increased energy and stamina
  • improved mood

Another key benefit? Stress reduction. Certain varieties of adaptogenic mushrooms serve as nature's stress fighters. Commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, these mushrooms may help balance adrenal glands, which in turn may help your body better handle the effects of stress. 

While many mushroom varieties offer health benefits, certain varieties may be even more beneficial when combined. Recent studies indicate that specific mushroom nutrients provide extra support to the immune system when blended together. The combination of shiitake, reishi, and maitake mushrooms offers outstanding health benefits. 

- Shiitake

Lentinula edodes, commonly known as shiitake mushrooms, may be best known as a tasty delicacy. But did you know that shiitakes contain nutrients that may support heart health and your immune system? 

- Reishi

Reishi, or Ganoderma lucidum, may support memory and improve mood. Known as the "immortality mushroom," studies indicate that reishi may also support immunity and even improve mood and reduce fatigue.

- Maitake

Maitake, or Grifola frondosa, are adaptogenic mushrooms known to support immune system function. Long used in Japanese and Chinese medicine, maitake contain high levels of antioxidants. 

Simple Way To Add Mushrooms To Your Diet

Life's Abundance makes it easy to add the benefits of organic mushroom nutrients to your diet! Our Greens Blend nourishes your body with a blend of raw, certified-organic grasses and certified, organic mushrooms for exceptional nutrient value. This certified organic blend of reishi, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms goes down easily in this lightly berry flavored mix.  Scoop, stir and enjoy your organic greens and mushrooms!

World Cleanup Day - Upcycle Challenge

“Dog

Upcycling, or creative reuse, is finding a way of turning your useless, unwanted packaging or waste into something brand new. At Life’s Abundance, we’re all about going green — that’s why we challenged ourselves to find exciting ways to upcycle with our own product packaging!

Our employees competed to create the best upcycle projects using their leftover product packaging at home. Here are our five upcycle challenge winners, including a runner-up and a winner! Which one will you try to replicate at home?

Cardboard Scratcher Tray by Arin Roos

“Upcycled

Cat parents unite!  Satisfying your cat's need to scratch can be costly, but cardboard scratchers are a popular recyclable choice.  To save a little money, buy the refill version that does not come with a cardboard tray.  With help from a little tape, you can create your own backing from the trays Life's Abundance canned cat food comes in.   

What you’ll need:

  • Two Life’s Abundance cardboard cat food trays 
  • Tape

Tea Light Holders by Sasha Stephens 

“Upcycled

This upcycle project was inspired by the many evenings we have been spending in our garden. After serving my dog her Life’s Abundance canned food, I cleaned the can out with soap and water. Next, I glued strips of wrapping paper (but you can use any paper or even fabric) around the can and voilà, instant mood lighting for a dinner in your backyard! 

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance can food, can be dog or cat
  • Wrapping paper or fabric 
  • Glue 
  • Tea Light
  • Scissors  

Market Bag by Angelina Nava 

“Upcycled

Whenever I grocery shop, I bring my own bags and reusing my empty dog food bags are a great way to upcycle them! To start, just lay the dog food bag on the ground and decide how tall you want your tote to be, then cut off the top of your dog food bag. Next, take the bottom of the dog food bag and fold down the edges where you cut. Tape the folded-over flap on the bottom of your dog food bag and handles to secure them into place. Lastly, fold two pieces of tape in half (these will be your handles) and put them in place. Also, I found the best way to get rid of the dog food smell was a bit of dish detergent and a couple days of air drying. 

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance dog food
  • Masking Tape
  • Scissors 

Upcycle Challenge Runner-Up:
Coasters by Stephanie Greenhalge

“Upcycled

I was very excited to participate in this challenge! I have always wanted to find a creative way to upcycle my Life’s Abundance dog food and treat bags and this gave me the perfect opportunity to be crafty. To make these coasters you will need cardboard (I used a wet can food sleeve) which you will want to cut into 4- 6” squares. Next, you will cut your Life’s Abundance bag to the same size as your cardboard cut out, you will need two pieces per coaster. Then, glue on your Life’s Abundance bag cut pieces onto the front and back of your cardboard, I used a glue stick. After the glue dries you will want to use a clear acrylic gloss sealer and let it dry for 24 hours.  

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance Dog Food or treat bags
  • Glue 
  • Clear acrylic gloss sealer
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors 

Upcycle Challenge Winner:
Amber Glass Vase by Lindsey Whitehead

“Upcycled

Since spending more time at home I have been filling my apartment with flowers to keep things cheery and found the Life’s Abundance Fish Oil bottle makes an excellent vase! Simply clean your bottle with a bottle brush and leave it soaking in dish soap and water overnight. Peel off the label or scrub it off with a scouring pad — you can also use some baking soda to speed up the process and get rid of any residue. 

What you’ll need:

  • Life’s Abundance Fish Oil bottle
  • Scouring sponge 
  • Dish soap 
  • Baking powder 

4 Ways To Celebrate National Dog Day This Year

“Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dog

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

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

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

Wishing your family health and love,

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V