Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tips for Calming Stressed Cats


It’s a common belief that cats are highly susceptible to stress. How many memes have you seen referencing “neurotic kitty”? But the truth is, a cat’s normal state shouldn’t be stressed, she should be happy and relaxed! If our kitties are constantly showing signs of stress and anxiety, we owe it to them to identify solutions to help them feel better.
So how do you know if your cat is stressed versus just being naturally feisty? Well, the signs are subtle. Oftentimes, it’s a subtle change in behavior that doesn’t even seem to be related to anxiety. Some of the more common changes include . . . . 

  • Urinating or defecating outside the litter box
  • Isolating themselves from others in the household
  • Excessive grooming
  • Prolonged periods of sleep
  • Excessive vocalization beyond what is typical (remember, some kitties are naturally more talkative than others)
  • Increased scratching
  • Aggression

Over time, stress hormones can contribute to physical symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, changes in appetite or even the painful condition known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Be aware that these signs are symptomatic of other medical conditions, so don’t be too quick to assume you’re dealing with feline anxiety before discussing the symptoms with your veterinarian. One of the best ways to minimize the likelihood of chronic medical conditions is to feed your cat a high-quality, appropriate diet. Since you’re reading the Life’s Abundance blog, I’m probably preaching to the choir on that topic!


Let’s say your cat is exhibiting one or more of these signs of anxiety. You’ve brought her in for a check-up and medically, everything checks out. What next?
First, try to pinpoint the source of the stress and eliminate it, if possible. We tend to view these issues through our human lens, so it’s important to remember that unexpected things can be at the root of your cat’s stress. Some of the more obvious reasons include changes in living conditions ~ from divorce, moves, a new companion animal in the house, or new babies ~ to the most obvious physical cause, which is pain. But little changes can also provoke anxiety: new furniture, a neighbor’s dog barking, a dirty litter box, being denied access to their favorite location, a neighborhood tomcat taunting them from the yard, even music they don’t like! As you can see, it’s a long list.
Environmental modifications can make a big difference. For indoor cats, boredom can be a near-constant stressor, so provide lots of vertical space for exploration (they love being elevated). Home-built or store-bought cat trees are a great solution. Puzzle feeders can be a good source of environmental enrichment, as they appeal to their hunting instinct. Pheromone diffusers or sprays can also have a calming effect for some.


And lastly, make sure your kitty is getting daily interaction and enrichment with you. It’ll build their confidence and form deeper connections with their caregivers. Believe it or not, many behaviorists recommend clicker training as a great way to bond with your cat. This gives her a sense of control over her environment and also offers the promise of a yummy incentive like Gourmet Cat Treats for Healthy Skin & Coat. Cats can learn amazing tricks with clicker training and treats, but it’s also a great way to reward good behavior generally.
Try to set aside some one-on-one time for your cat in the space where she is most relaxed. Optimally, this is something you’ll do every day at the same time because cats are true creatures of habit. No distractions, which means leave your phone in another room and turn off the TV. Brush, pet, sing . . . . do whatever pleases your cat the most. It’ll be good for both of you!
A happy cat means a happy you! If you think your cat is suffering from stress or anxiety, try some of these suggestions to help them live the “purr-fect” life.

For more information on feeding your pets a healthy, premium line of pet food and treats, please use the Contact Me page or visit!

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Raven is an engaging entrepreneur who encourages others to celebrate pets (and ALL animals) as part of the family, as well as keep them happy, healthy, and spoiled with her Holistic Healing, Animal Intuition, Aromatherapy, Animal Reiki ( &, as well as her premium pet food business (

For more information, please visit her Facebook page to PM her (, or email her at

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Effects of Aging on Canine Cognition


Dr. Jessica Vogelsang takes an in-depth look at how canine cognition changes as dogs age and provides tips to help keep them healthy for many years to come!

I can’t tell you how often I ask pet parents about their senior dog and the response is “okay, but … I guess he’s just getting old.” I love this conversation opener because it tells me two things. One, the pet parent is paying enough attention to know something has changed, even if they don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about. Two, there’s probably something I can do to help!
All living things grow old. The aging process is complicated and messy, encompassing a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some we can control, others we can slow down, and the remainder we just manage the best we can. The good news is, there’s almost always something we can do to make a companion animal feel better.
When we think about what it means to be old, most of us jump to the most obvious complaint of age … aches and pains. The body stiffens, the joints dry out, the discs in our spines shrivel up, and we end up shuffling around like Carl from the movie Up. Almost all senior dogs develop symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is one of the reasons I recommend joint supplements for seniors. If a pet parent says, “He won’t climb the stairs anymore,” or, “He doesn’t want to go for long walks,” then I know we’re likely dealing with pain.
But what about cognitive dysfunction, the age-related decline in neurologic function? Referred to as “canine cognitive dysfunction” in veterinary medicine, some laypeople call it “doggie Alzheimer’s”. While the symptoms can be similar to what humans experience, it’s not exactly the same thing.


Unfortunately, cognitive decline is quite common in senior dogs. More than half of all dogs over the age of 11 show at least one clinical sign. Since we don’t know for certain all the biological changes that occur in an aging brain, we describe canine cognitive dysfunction as a collection of symptoms:
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in activity level
  • Changes in sleep/wake cycle (e.g., wandering around in the middle of the night)
  • House-soiling
  • Anxiety
  • No longer adhering to an established routine

For many years, we simply accepted this condition as a price for living a long life. However, we’re learning that there are ways we can actually decelerate cognitive decline in dogs.
One way veterinarians manage cognitive dysfunction in dogs is through medications. Certain drugs that increase the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine may improve brain function. In fact, the same drug used by dogs can also be used to treat Parkinson’s!


The other way we manage cognitive decline is through the nutrition and personal attention we provide our dogs. New and exciting research is showing that certain types of antioxidants and dietary ingredients can positively impact the brain function of senior pets! I love this because these are safe, easy changes we can use to improve the aging process for all our senior friends:

1. Feed a diet rich in antioxidants. Free radicals in the body accelerate the aging process. Antioxidants, such as those found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, can be added to a dog’s diet to limit the free-radical damage. Several studies have shown that seniors who eat a diet rich in antioxidants exhibit clinical improvement in cognitive function within just a few weeks.
2. Exercise the brain. Keep your pet’s neurons working through lots of daily playtime, walks, and puzzles. We joke that the brain is a muscle; it’s not, of course, but like a muscle, it does benefit from regular workouts!
3. Fatty acids. We all know essential fatty acids are good for the skin and coat, but there’s also increasing evidence that a subset of fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) serve as a preferred energy source for the brain and can actually improve mental sharpness.

If your dog is getting a little gray around the muzzle, don’t accept “he’s just getting old” as a fact of life. Yes, we all age, but we can do it better by taking steps to preserve health and quality of life.
All the best to you and your lovable, aging dogs!

For more information on feeding your dogs (and cats!) a healthy, premium line of pet food and treats, please use the Contact Me page or visit!

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Raven is an engaging entrepreneur who encourages others to celebrate pets (and ALL animals) as part of the family, as well as keep them happy, healthy, and spoiled with her Holistic Healing, Animal Intuition, Aromatherapy, Animal Reiki ( &, as well as her premium pet food business (

For more information, please visit her Facebook page to PM her (, or email her at

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pet Parents ~ How Many More Recalls Will It Take?

Many pet parents usually don’t give a second thought about what they are feeding their pets . . . that is until we all hear about a recall in the news. We check to see if our pet food is on the list, and when it’s not, we breathe a sigh of relief. Don't you think it’s time that we stop burying our heads in the sand and hoping there isn’t something wrong with our pet food, and instead start ensuring that something is right with it?! 

Have you ever read the label on your pet's food or treats?  Not just a glance . . . I mean REALLY read the label from start to finish?!  What are some of the ingredients? Wheat or Wheat Gluten? Corn or Corn Gluten? Bone or By-Product Meal? Artificial Colors and Flavors? BHA and / or BHT? Propylene Glycol? Do you even know what half of these ingredients are, or what harm they can cause to your pets?!  

Wheat and corn can contain aflatoxin, which is a fungal toxin that commonly contaminates maize and other types of crops during production, harvest, storage or processing. Wheat and corn are also highly indigestible for most pets and can cause great stress on their digestive systems, as well as their kidneys. These grains are also the cause of food allergies in many of our precious pets.

Bone meal and by-product meal tend to keep us guessing as to which animal they may come from. What if your pet has a beef allergy, yet the food or treat label is non-specific as to which animal these "meals" or "by-products" came from. Do you really want to take that chance?  

The same thing goes for artificial coloring, which has no nutritional value and is designed specifically as visual marketing to pet parents . . . not to the pets!  And, did you know that the dyes that are used have not been subject to testing for safety? The most common ones are Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Red #40, Blue #1 and Blue #2, which have been known to be contaminated with cancer-causing substances and may even cause death, as these additives are toxic to our pets. The discussion regarding their lack of nutritional value, as well as their potential hazards, has been swirling about for years, yet no one has done anything about banning these substances from your pet's food, or from our own foods, for that matter.

BHT / BHA are NOT natural preservatives and can also cause health problems in your pets, as can Propylene Glycol, which is better known as the key component in newer automotive antifreeze. Why are using a known toxic substance to preserve moisture in our dog's food and treats? It has already been shown to cause anemia in cats and has been banned by the FDA for use in cat food and treats.  

Did you know that there have been more than 150 FDA recalls since 2007?  

Check to see if your pet's food or treats have been recalled on the FDA website by logging on here: 

Keeping our fur kids safe begins with giving them the best food and treats possible . . . H
olistically Formulated, NEVER RECALLED . . . Corn & Wheat-Free, No GMOs, Gluten-Free, NO Artificial Colors or Flavors . . . just real food with vital nutrients prepared under the highest standards.

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Request samples, ask questions and learn more about true premium nutrition for your furkids by visiting our website ~

You'll be so glad you did . . . and, so will your pets!

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Raven is an engaging entrepreneur who encourages others to celebrate pets (and ALL animals) as part of the family, as well as keep them happy, healthy, and spoiled with her Holistic Healing, Animal Intuition, Aromatherapy, Animal Reiki ( &, as well as her premium pet food business (

For more information, please visit her Facebook page to PM her (, or email her at

Monday, September 17, 2018

5 Meds That Are Toxic to Pets


As a lifelong pet parent, I'm always cognizant of keeping anything even remotely upsetting to little pet tums (and their overall well-being) out of reach. That includes toxic foods, medicine, plants, and anything that they may decide is a new toy. 
Most of us should be aware 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!


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!

~ Pet Poison Helpline ~  
($59 incident fee applies)

(A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card)

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Raven is an engaging entrepreneur who encourages others to celebrate pets (and ALL animals) as part of the family, as well as keep them happy, healthy, and spoiled with her Holistic Healing, Animal Intuition, Aromatherapy, Animal Reiki ( &, as well as her premium pet food business (

For more information, please visit her Facebook page to PM her (, or email her at

Friday, September 7, 2018

Our Fat Pets & What We Can Do For Them

Sixty percent of cats tip the scales at unhealthy weights, slightly more than the 56 percent of dogs. It’s not good for them.

Like most cats, Max had a swagger in his walk. But because he was slightly overweight, the 15-year-old Maine coon began having trouble “jumping up on things,” his owner says, the extra pounds worsening his arthritis.

So his owner, Jaime Wilson, decided her pet needed to go on a diet ~ barely two tablespoons of dry food in the morning and again at night, along with a larger portion of canned wet food once a day and a supervised exercise program that included treadmill work and running through stationary poles.

“He was ravenous all the time,”  his owner concedes. But after six months, “he’s very sleek and thin,” says Mrs. Wilson, who works at the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. “Not having the extra pounds has been great for his joints.”

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that in the United States, veterinarians now classify more than 100 million dogs and cats as overweight or obese, up from 80 million five years ago. Sixty percent of cats tip the scales at unhealthy weights, slightly more than the 56 percent of dogs.

Worse yet, many pet owners fail to recognize the potential severity of the problem, finding their pets’ weight gain of little concern or even “cute,” says Dr. Justin Shmalberg, service chief of integrative medicine at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville. And show animals, often held up as exemplary models, he says, sometimes tend toward the pudgy side.

“In part, it’s an issue of perception,” Dr. Shmalberg says. “Generally, the public is more tolerant of obese animals than they are of thin ones. There’s not as much stigma with animals being overweight as with people.”

Obesity and the inflammatory effects of excess fat can bring a host of health problems. Max’s six-month journey to a healthier weight reduced his risk for insulin-dependent diabetes, the most common health problem veterinarians see in overweight or obese cats. Overweight dogs rarely develop this form of diabetes, veterinarians say, though large breeds often face joint injuries from excess weight, while smaller ones can have breathing difficulties if airways collapse.

Along with diabetes and arthritis, extra heft puts pets at increased risk for liver and kidney diseases, high blood pressure, heart failure, and even some cancers. And at least one widely cited study in Labrador retrievers found that even moderately overweight dogs have shorter life spans than their lean counterparts.

Veterinarians assess a pet’s overall body health using a system similar to the body mass index, or B.M.I., used in people. Emaciated dogs or cats get the lowest score on a nine-point scale, obese ones the highest, with a desirable weight usually in the four to five range, says Dr. Deborah Linder, head of Tufts University’s obesity clinic for animals in Boston. An animal at six is considered clinically overweight, with a score of seven or more, obese.

Veterinarians also complete a physical exam to assess obesity, feeling over the rib cage by the animal’s armpit, “where tissue should be no thicker than the back of your hand,” Dr. Linder says. Another sign of healthy girth, she says, is a tuck in the belly, similar to an “hourglass figure.”

Although some pets are genetically vulnerable to unwanted pounds, others may have diseases like hyperthyroidism or Cushing’s disease, in which the adrenal glands pump out too much of a stress hormone, stimulating appetite. Once these conditions are ruled out, veterinarians say, aging itself poses an ongoing risk as metabolism slows ~ the pet version of middle-age spread.

Neutering or spaying also decreases an animal’s energy needs by a third, Dr. Shmalberg says, so “calories in, calories out,” takes on greater importance in maintaining a pet’s proper weight.

Researchers have recently identified another risk factor for pet obesity: rapid growth in early life, though the reasons for this remain poorly understood. “Dogs and cats that grow quickly are highly likely to become obese later in life,” says Dr. Alex German, a professor at the University of Liverpool in England.

But veterinarians single out overfeeding as the greatest contributor to pet obesity. Giving pets easy access to food around the house, or “free feeding,” can quickly add unwanted pounds, they say, as can an overindulgence in high-calorie treats. Throw small children into the household mix with “sneak feeding” and the situation becomes worse, says Dr. Sarah Nold, a staff veterinarian at Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet insurer. “It’s definitely not uncommon,” she says with a laugh.

Whether pets, like some owners, “stress eat” is difficult to measure. “In my experience, when animals are stressed, they tend to go off feeding,” Dr. Nold says. “But we don’t know.”

“Pets don’t open the fridge by themselves,” so stressed owners may stress-feed their pets, Dr. Linder says. “The concept of food and love are tightly interconnected, and we need to address it.”

Some veterinarians cite the pet food industry’s push to include better labeling on foods, including calories per serving, as an advance in helping with weight control. But others describe the print as too small and the calorie information unhelpful because calorie needs vary widely by breed, genetics and current weight.

Many dogs and cats that are overweight will need their calories reduced by at least a third, according to the University of Florida’s Dr. Shmalberg. An average-size indoor cat needs between 150 to 200 calories per day to maintain weight, while dogs’ ideal weights are trickier to assess. But the most important factor, Dr. Shmalberg says, is that owners adjust food to reach an “ideal body condition,” such as the dog and cat weight charts suggested by the pet food company Purina.

Experts also disagree on which type of food promotes better weight loss, wet or dry. Some data suggests wet food’s higher water and protein content carries more benefit because it reduces appetite, says Dr. Jonathan Stockman, who runs the clinical nutrition service at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in Ft. Collins, Colo. But dry food has a higher fiber content, he says, so a similar argument can be made for that.

Other options, such as fat-blocking drugs or stomach-shrinking surgeries available to people, seldom play a part in veterinary medicine. Most veterinarians feel that weight loss can best be managed through diet.

The goal is to get to a healthy weight before health issues take hold, veterinarians agree. Even though diabetes in cats, for example, can be reversed by aggressive dietary measures, says Dr. Lori Teller, a veterinarian at the Meyerland Animal Clinic in Houston, they work only with early diagnosis. Diabetes in dogs, rarely related to obesity, is considered irreversible, she and others say because insulin production shuts down completely.

“Our current approach is failing,” Dr. German says, citing the need for new strategies and more vigorous prevention. Studies have found that only half of dogs and cats placed on weight-loss programs achieve their target goal, he says, and half of that number rebound to unhealthy weights.

Instead of aiming for a complete or “perfect” weight loss, he suggests, it might be more realistic to push for a modest weight loss, which can still have benefits. Studies have shown that in overweight people, for example, even a relatively modest weight loss of 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight can delay the onset of diabetes, and the same may apply to pets.

Max’s weight loss was more extreme, and he is faring well.  His owner is vigilant about not letting his diet and exercise routines lapse.  

“If I free feed him now,” Mrs. Wilson says, “he would just balloon back up, I’m sure.”

For holistically formulated premium pet food and treats, be sure to visit:

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Raven is an engaging entrepreneur who encourages others to celebrate pets (and ALL animals) as part of the family, as well as keep them happy, healthy, and spoiled with her Holistic Healing, Animal Intuition, Aromatherapy, Animal Reiki ( &, as well as her premium pet food business (

For more information, please visit her Facebook page to PM her (, or email her at

Monday, September 3, 2018

YL September PV Promo ~ Fall's Favorite Products!

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