Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Aging with Your Pets

Long View: Aging With Our Pets

My grandparents had a Chihuahua that lived to be 20 years old. Suzy had her own knitted sweaters to wear when she went outside. Every night, Grandma cooked and cut up liver in tiny, bite-sized pieces for Suzy’s dinner.

I’m not sure what the life expectancy and living arrangements for most dogs were in the 1950s and 1960s, but I would wager that Suzy’s life was particularly plush for that era. When I came along in 1968, my parents gave me the middle name of Sue. I often wondered if this was a happy coincidence or a tribute to that beloved Chihuahua.

Today, I have a yellow Labrador retriever puppy named Harvey. Grandpa’s name was Harvey. Touché.

Americans love their pets. Take a stroll through your local big-box pet supplies chain, and the number of things a person can buy for their animals will amaze you. Strollers, raincoats, probiotics, gluten-free and vegan dog food, and even memory foam mattresses. Within just a few miles of my house, Harvey can go to a doggy day camp, swim at an indoor pool just for pooches, and later have his hair and nails done at the pet spa.

Your pet pampers you in different ways. Owning a pet lowers stress, reduces blood pressure, and raises mental sharpness. A study from the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that petting a dog for 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, while also lowering the stress hormone cortisol.

Pets can open up a lonely world and get you out of bed in the morning. Walking a dog (or a cat, if you are particularly brave and the cat is extremely cooperative) is good exercise. Those of us with an empty nest find a new sense of purpose. And nurturing a beloved animal gives us unconditional love in return.

An older person with a pet companion can be a heartwarming love match. I reached out to Stacey Teager, from the Quad City Animal Welfare Center, for some advice for those who are looking to add a pet to their home in later years.

  • Make sure your pet gets regular checkups and immunizations. Have your animal spayed or neutered.
  • Never give your pet “people” medications. Always consult a veterinarian before medicating your pet.
  • Have a plan in place with your family or close friends for caring for your pet should you become sick and need to be hospitalized or stay in a nursing facility.
  • Match your pet with your physical capabilities. My 50-pound Labrador retriever puppy can drag my mother down the sidewalk. This is dangerous for both her and the dog. A quieter, smaller animal is a better choice for her to walk around the neighborhood.
  • Despite my grandmother’s loving intentions, don’t feed your pet table scraps or human food. Animals can get overweight and unhealthy with just a few added ounces. If you like to bake, there are lots of recipes for animal treats that use ingredients found in your pantry.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Spring Cleaning Your Home

Spring Cleaning for National Cleaning Week

It’s National Cleaning Week and the perfect time for spring cleaning your life. And we can help!

Martha Stewart’s comprehensive spring-cleaning checklist can help you make a plan.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

 

Not a deep-cleaner? This Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide can help you clean things you’ve never considered.

Deep-Cleaning Done Right

 

The kitchen is one place that needs lots of attention. These ideas can help you tackle it.

Hate cleaning? These spring-cleaning shortcuts can help speed up the process.

Speed Spring Cleaning Up

 

If doing a little a day will keep you motivated, this 30 days of spring cleaning guide is right for you.

A Little Cleaning Each Day

 

You might not think of cleaning outside your house, but it’s the perfect time before the weather heats up.

Tidying Outdoors

 

Take the time to clean things you’ve never thought of for a sparkling house.

Spring Clean Everything

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Healthy Peanut Recipes

Peanut Recipes for National Peanut Month

It’s National Peanut Month, and there are plenty of healthy peanut recipes to make the most of the popular nut in your diet.

Thai Peanut Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Bowl is a great substitute for Thai takeout.

Thai Peanut Chicken Zucchini Bowl

Thai Peanut Chicken And Zucchini Noodle Bowl

 

Make Homemade Peanut Butter with your food processor to ditch store-bought.

How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter

 

This Peanut Coleslaw will be a perfect side for upcoming spring barbecues.

Peanut Coleslaw

 

Get a taste of the world at home with this hearty West African Peanut Soup.

West African Peanut Soup

 

Peanut Tofu Bowls are a great way to go meatless without losing flavor.

Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl

 

Spicy Peanuts are a great snack to munch on during afternoon slumps or on game day.

Spicy Peanuts

 

Thai Chicken Chopped Salad with Peanuts is a light lunch as the weather warms up.

Thai Chicken Chopped Salad with Peanut Dressing

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Animal Poison Prevention

Animal Poison Prevention

It’s National Animal Poison Prevention Week, and there are ways for you to protect your pets, especially in your home.

Not all food you eat is safe for your pets. Don’t give your pets chocolate, onion, garlic, coffee, avocados, raisins or grapes.

Feeding Pets Smart

 

You should also never give your pets fruit pits, like peach pits, or any bones, which can splinter and damage their digestive system.

Smart Snacking for Pets

 

Store your pets’ medications somewhere separate from your own so you never accidentally give them human meds.

Pet Medication Storage

 

Make sure your meds are stored in a secure place so your pets can never accidentally get into them.

Protecting Your Pets from Your Meds

 

Always keep cleaning supplies in a secure place that your pets can’t get to. These chemicals can be very harmful for them.

Cleaning and Your Pets

 

Make sure your pets can’t get to batteries, potpourri, yarn, rubber bands, or floss in your home, all of which can be harmful.

Also protect pets from insecticides, antifreeze, plant food and fertilizer outside. And know which plants are poisonous to them.

Protecting Pets from Poisoning

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Meals for National Noodle Month

National Noodle Month

It’s National Noodle Month, and you can enjoy the comfort food without breaking your healthy eating.

Toss the takeout menu for these Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken Zucchini Noodles.

Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken Zucchini Noodles

 

Skip the Alfredo sauce and make this indulgent Creamy Avocado Pasta instead.

Creamy Avocado Pasta Recipe

 

Try a unique take on noodles your kids will love, Sweet Potato Noodle Taco Bowls.

Sweet Potato Noodle Taco Bowls

 

For a pasta craving, make Whole-Grain Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage.

Whole Grain Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

 

Tuna Zoodle Casserole is a healthy revamp of the classic casserole you’ll love.

EASY Paleo Tuna Green Chile Zoodle Casserole {Whole 30}

 

Whip up Skinny Beef & Broccoli Noodles for a taste of takeout.

Skinny Beef & Broccoli Noodles
Image and Recipe via Delish

 

Make Pesto Chicken with Zucchini Noodles for a light take on the Italian classic.

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

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Nutrition Month Recipes Done Right

National Nutrition Month Recipes

It’s National Nutrition Month and a great time to focus on making healthy, fruit- and veggie-filled meals. Get started with nutrition month recipes and how-to videos.

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Whip up Tropical Coconut Oatmeal for a healthy dose of pineapple.

Tropical Coconut Oatmeal
Image and Recipe via Emilie Eats

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Chicken Corn Chowder makes the most of your kids’ favorite veggie.

Chicken Corn Chowder Recipe

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Chili Lime Mango Marinated Chicken Bowls are a balance of sweet and spicy.

Gluten Free Chili Lime Mango Marinated Chicken Bowls {How to Cook with Wine}

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One-Pan Garlic Roasted Salmon with Brussels Sprouts is a simple, elegant dinner.

One Sheet Pan Garlic Roasted Salmon with Brussels Sprouts

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Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage lightens up your favorite.

Dude Diet Healthy Mac and Cheese

The Dude Diet: Mac and Cheese Edition

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This easy Ginger Carrot Radish Salad is a perfect side for spring meals.

Ginger Carrot Radish Salad

ginger carrot radish salad

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Act Happy Week

Act Happy Week

Next week is Act Happy Week, and happiness can affect your health more than you realize.

Live for the Day

 

Believe it or not, the effects of positive thinking can actually improve your health and happiness.

Positive Thinking Grows

 

Positive thinking lowers depression and distress and is tied to handling stress well.

Positive thinking is also tied to longer life spans, greater resistance to the common cold, and better heart health.

Active and Happy

 

Positive and optimistic thinkers also tend to live healthier lifestyles, with more physical activity and a healthier diet.

Act Happy for a Healthier Lifestyle

 

Practice makes perfect. Try putting things in positive terms. “I’ve never done it before” becomes “I can learn something new.”

Setting Hopeful Goals

 

Humor can help. Give yourself permission to laugh, especially at difficult times, which can help lower your stress.

Laughter as the Best Medicine

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