Category Archives: Cardiovascular

pet training

Tips for Training Your Dog

January was national train your dog month, and I wish I wrote this at the appropriate time. February is national pet dental health month, but I’d rather talk about training tips. In respect for this month’s theme, brush your pet’s teeth! Dry food is not good for teeth – that’s a myth! There are so many great products out there for dental health, including Dr. Mercola’s dental gel and chews. Check them out. That’s my snippet about national pet dental health month (in a way, you got a two-fer with this one)

I have worked in the pet industry for thirteen years in a variety of occupations including animal hospitals, dog daycares, retail, and grooming facilities. There are different schools of thought when it comes to training, which makes sense because we are all different (animals included) and something that works for me may not necessarily work for you. I can only speak to what I have found successful when communicating with dogs and cats. Consider this the “goal setting” article for your pets, as a follow up from January’s tips for yourself. Just like us, our pets are creatures of habit. If your pet has a habit or behaviors that you wish to alter, I hope these tips will help you do just that.

Dogs are pack animals, and cats tend to be solitary animals, but can and do live in colonies, peacefully. When we adopt or care for them, they look to us to be the pack leader. For me, being a pack leader, or leader of any situation means guidance. Our pets are not objects that we just own, but rather living beings under our care and guidance. Socialization as puppies is important for dogs to learn how to communicate with each other and for future social settings as adults. As humans, it’s our first instinct to back away when our dogs greet each other, but trainers have explained to me that this can be confusing to some dogs because they expect us to lead. If a dog is unsure, nervous or overwhelmed, then miscommunication can result in scuffles. If you stay calm and stay in the group at first, then your dog will follow suit. They feed off our emotions and energy levels. This also applies to one-on-one meetings on or off leash (but always ask first when approaching another dog, if it is okay to do so). I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we shorten the leash during an initial meeting, but that tension communicates to your dog that there is something to be alert about, and potentially something bad.

Similarly, if a dog has a high energy level and pulls you up to another dog, that can also be a red flag that may cause the other dog to become defensive. Showing your dog what you expect of them when walking, helps you maintain that calm demeanor during encounters with other dogs. There are harnesses and collars designed for dogs who pull, and aid in training. I believe in rewarding good behavior, such as sitting, walking right next to you with a loose leash, and waiting to go through doors after you. A great way to start working toward these behaviors is to start asking your pup to sit periodically during walks, while you wait to cross the street, if another dog is approaching, and before walking through doorways. This also stimulates them mentally. It keeps them on the toes about paying attention and listening to you when you speak.

From there, you can work up to any other behaviors or tasks you’d like to teach them. You can also practice sitting until you call them from different distances. This way, if you have a dog that barks when someone is at the door you can work on keeping them focused on you, while remaining calm and sitting quietly. Another tool to use for dogs who get excited in certain situations is something that will snap their attention back to you. For some, this can be a clicker, a spray bottle with water in it, or an aerosol can that sprays a puff of air. I have a habit of making random noises with my voice. I usually switch between “shh,” “ahh,” and “na na na” type of sounds. These techniques help bring their attention back to the task at hand, without falling into a distraction.

Just like us, dogs need consistency and routine. Cats too. My cat, Simon, learned “sit” when he was still very young. He’s seven years old now, and still sits when he is waiting for a treat, or his food. He can’t sit still for very long, but he’s got it down. He also has an exercise wheel that he learned to run on by himself within a month of purchasing it. I know how crazy I sound when I tell people how smart Simon is, but he loves learning new tasks. As long as we stick with the same routine, our dogs (and cats) will follow along. The brain is a muscle, so the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Furthermore, with proper nourishment through quality foods can assist in that growth. On the other hand, if our pets have a sensitivity to something, then it’s possible it may affect their behavior. If you think your dog or cat is having symptoms of intolerance to something, we test for over three hundred food and environmental factors with just a simple hair sample.

Of course, reach out to your local trainers if you need assistance with training and behavioral issues. Like I mentioned before, different techniques work for each of us differently. You may find that another way of training fits you and your dog better than what I’ve discussed here. Changing our habits takes time and patience. Let’s set them up for success!



As some of you may know, we recently started working with the Farmer’s Dog and here is why..…On The Farmer’s Dog website, they state the following..

“You shouldn’t be the only one eating healthy. Like you, we love our pets and care about their health. That’s why we created The Farmer’s Dog — a service that delivers balanced, freshly made pet food with simple recipes, guided by science and driven by love.”

That statement aligns with 5Strands service and mission.. “Our mission is to empower families with a voice about their health care and that of their pets. 5Strands number one frequently asked question from pet parents is “what food do you recommend”. Throughout our entire existence we chose to keep our name separate from recommending any pet food company.

The pet food industry has so much negativity surrounding it due to the low grade quality food being mass produced for our pets to consume. Our 5Strands Pet Intolerance Test has helped determine all of the harmful preservatives & ingredients placed in a majority of the kibble & canned pet foods on the market today. Parents looking to alleviate their pets discomfort are forced to follow a raw food elimination diet. As a company, we found out that it was rather difficult to stay consistent with meal prepping and spending a reasonable dollar amount on our pets diet. Then we caught word of The Farmer’s Dog while speaking on the phone with a customer.

Here is Melissa’s personal story and experience with The Farmer’s Dog…

Before putting Lily on Farmer’s Dog she was throwing up about once to twice a day. I found out that she was throwing up because she was intolerant to several items in her dog food. I would have never known if I didn’t get her intolerances tested! I tried following a raw food diet but Lily seemed to not like any of the food I was making.

In September, I was going over a dog’s test results with a customer and she mentioned The Farmer’s Dog. She put me in contact with one of the employees and it has been a match made in heaven ever since!

The first thing I noticed about The Farmer’s Dog once I checked out their website was that they provided at home delivery of human grade dog food (Yes.. I did nibble on the food and tried it myself). The food is made in a kitchen and only has a few ingredients! They have three simple recipes that still provides Lily with all the necessary nutrition she needs. When Lily got her first shipment in the mail, she started going crazy before I even opened the box! Lily loves it so much that she basically swallows the food whole. My dog Lily has been on Farmer’s Dog since the end of October. Since then Lily, has not thrown up! I have the capability to rotate which recipe is delivered each month to make sure Lily does not build up an intolerance to a single recipe. I have finally found a food that is convenient and extremely healthy for my best friend to live a happier life!

Valentines DAy 2019

Cacao Vs Cocoa – Which Chocolate is Healthy For You?

Cacao is processed in five main steps. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted, crushed, and then ground. I think it’s easy to see how they lose their nutritional value. The fermentation process is where the flavor and smell we associate with chocolate begins. Once the beans are dry, they are sold to various chocolate makers, to become either raw cacao products or continued processing to eventually become cocoa powder. From there, on the way to become cocoa, the beans are roasted. This brings out more of the sweet flavor. The roasted beans are crushed, producing chunks that are sold as cacao nibs. Cacao nibs have become more popular as an alternative to chocolate chips or added to protein shakes for the benefits. The cacao nibs are ground up and pressed to remove the fat, leaving behind cocoa powder.

Everybody is different. Just like having a gluten sensitivity, anyone can also have reactions to chocolate or cocoa. We test for sensitivities and intolerances to over 500 food items, including cocoa powder, as well as six different preservatives (listed on our website as E 380, E 442, E 524, E525, E 526, and E 560) found in chocolate products. If you believe you’re having symptoms of an intolerance to chocolate, or symptoms of a nutritional deficiency (i.e. magnesium, iron) it only takes 10-15 strands of your hair to find out!

I stood in the candy aisle in Trader Joe’s for about 30 minutes deciding which chocolate to buy as research (and motivation) for me to write this post. It’s hard enough not to buy everything in the store, but to examine all of the different chocolate products without buying all of them took a lot of self control. I had to remind myself of all our blog posts from last month to keep myself accountable for my health goals. Go check them out!