Category Archives: Diet

Pet Adoption The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Pet Adoption: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Six Things to Consider Before Adopting

Adopting a pet can be a wonderful thing for you and the pet. Are you ready to be the best pet parent you can be? Opening your home up to an adopted pet and committing to providing a good life for them rescues them from a terrible situation. You’ll learn so much about yourself along the way. Taking care of a pet can be a good way to help determine if you’re ready to have a child. Or, if you have children, pets can help teach them responsibility. Before adopting a new pet, consider these six important things:

Will the pet fit your lifestyle? Wanting a pet is one thing, but being able to take care of the pet is another. If you are traveling a lot, it may be difficult to provide all the pet’s needs, unless there are others you can depend on to help you. Cats are generally easier to take care of than dogs, once cats know how to use a litter box. As long as you can feed cats daily or have an automatic feeder, and have a litter box, they are pretty much self-sufficient. Dogs aren’t as self-sufficient as cats so they require a bit more time, attention, and training. If left unattended, dogs can be destructive, so training to prevent this is recommended.

Does the pet’s personality match yours? Are you a high-energy person or pretty relaxed? Do you enjoy being outdoors or are you a homebody? These factors and many others should be considered before adopting. If you are very active, then you would be able to handle a highly active dog. Being a disciplined person also helps with being consistent for a dog. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle, a lower energy dog or cat might be your best bet.

Can you commit to training? How much time do you have to train your newly adopted pet? Consider the time and consistency needed for the type of pet and the behaviors you would like. Once you train a cat to use their litter box, they are generally low-maintenance as far as training goes. A dog will usually take more time and consistency depending on how you would like them trained. You can train them to use the bathroom on training pads when you are not home or train them to hold it until you return. Whether you want them to be a service dog, guard dog, sports dog, house dog, or any of the other endless possibilities, consider the amount of time and consistency needed to train and maintain them. If they are high energy, they will generally need more strict training and guidance.

How to make your home pet friendly: Do you live in an apartment or house? With others or alone? Before adopting, consider where you would like your pet to be in your place. You may have to put up pet fences to restrict access to certain areas. They may have accidents, so keeping them somewhere that is easy to clean up will be beneficial. Remember to remove from the pet’s living area things like cleaning supplies, trash, plants, shoes, etc. that put the pet or the item at risk.You wouldn’t want them chewing on something that can be life-threatening! Be aware that pets may damage carpet, floors, walls, etc., so learning their behavior and guiding them to the behavior you would like is a must. You may also want to consider having a crate to contain them when you can’t have eyes on them, especially for dogs.

What is the best food to feed? This is a tough question. It’s a matter of personal preference and what works best for your pet. Just like with our food, there are many different options and opinions. This will take some research and being open to change if necessary. You can feed them kibble, wet food, freeze-dried food, cooked food, and/or raw food. Whatever food you choose, pay close attention to how your pet responds to it. Don’t be afraid to mix up your pet’s food a little. Just like us, our pet may get tired of eating the same food every day and it may eventually start causing issues. If they are experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, hot spots, or many other unexplained symptoms, you may want to consider gettingintolerance testing for your pet so that you know if food or environmental changes are necessary to help relieve discomfort.

How to be prepared in case of emergency: Just like with us, anything can happen. Before adopting, consider how you will handle unexpected emergency costs such as treatment for injuries and diseases or surgeries. You may want to price pet insurance. Hopefully, only routine vet visits will be needed.

Considering these six basic things before adopting a pet can save you time and money and give you peace of mind. Adopting a pet is a huge responsibility and can be a wonderful experience. Take your time and be prepared to provide a great life for your adopted pet. And, enjoy the great life that your new pet will bring to you!

Which of these were unexpected before you adopted? What other tips do you have to help prepare for pet adoption? Share your story in the comments.


Introducing Affordable Testing’s New Horse Test

Introducing 5Strands® Affordable Testing’s  
New Horse Test

While working with many dog and cat owners over the past year, a question frequently arose, “Do you offer testing for horses?” We recently decided, “Why not!” Based on the popularity and success of our testing for dogs and cats, we are happy to announce our new testing for horses. We use the same simple methodology of analyzing hair samples. All that’s needed is 10-15 strands of your horse’s mane, tail or body hair. Now you can find out if symptoms like skin problems, heated hoofs, colic, heaves, changes in behavior or performance, etc. are due to food or environmental intolerances.

After interviewing many horse owners and professionals in the horse industry, we have identified key items that are important to be analyzed for the effect on a horse’s health. Our comprehensive intolerance testing includes 60+ foods and 25+ environmental items, covering all the major proteins, most grains, fruits, vegetables, food additives, fabrics, pollen, grasses, trees and more! We also test for over 30 nutritional deficiencies and 8 metals/minerals.

Test results are provided in a comprehensive report that is emailed to the horse owner with 5-7 days. The retail price of the test is $189.

The majority of issues related to allergies in horses are caused by intolerance or sensitivity to something they commonly eat. Until 5Strands® introduced the Affordable Test for Horses, the only dependable method to test for a food intolerance or sensitivity in horses was to completely remove the suspected food item from the horse’s diet for at least 4-8 weeks. If the horse responded well and the symptoms diminished, the suspected food trigger was then fed to the horse again to see if clinical symptoms returned. This is an extremely challenging process for horse owners/trainers/managers. In addition, elimination diets are not practical for some horses, especially competition horses. These horses require a steady diet of rich feed to maintain their weight, strength and performance during training and competition.


Imagine the possibilities that 5 Strands® Affordable Testing offers for competition horses. For example, with the ability to develop a specific nutrition plan, which would be expected to reduce inflammation and improved performance, an owner could help maximize their horse’s potential. Could this result in more wins?!

If you’re a horse owner, trainer, or have a passion for horses, this test could be the answer to a happy and healthier horse! 5 Strands® Affordable Testing can help remove guesswork and allow for a horse’s diet, environment and lifestyle to be tailored to fit their immediate needs.

Aside from food intolerances/sensitivities, “true” allergic reactions that take place in the body’s immune system, are far less common. 5 Strands® Affordable Testing does not test for this type of allergy. Studies have shown that the most reliable testing method for these more serious allergies is the Intradermal allergy test (IDAT). The IDAT test involves injection of allergens into the horse’s skin after the horse has been sedated. After several hours, the skin is examined for any symptoms of reactions. The horse can not be on any medication for several weeks prior to this test to achieve accurate results. This type of allergy testing is time consuming and costly and usually requires a vet coming to the horse.

According to an article in Practical Horseman Magazine by Stephen White, board-certified veterinary dermatologist and professor in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, blood tests available for food allergies are extraordinarily inaccurate.


Cooked vs Raw

Cooked vs Raw Foods – Why we test for both?

When cooked tomatoes showed up on my intolerance test results, panic crossed my mind. My immediate thoughts were, no more spaghetti sauce, no more chili…but wait, how can it be?  I thought to myself, aren’t all tomatoes created equal? Before taking my intolerance test, I never knew it made such a difference.

After some research, I found that when adding heat to any food product, the chemical makeup changes. While cooking vegetables may cause the loss of some valuable nutrients, like vitamin C, there are some vegetables which offer useful health benefits when they’re cooked. Cooking vegetables can make the cell walls less rigid, which helps your body absorb more nutrients and digest food better.

According to Food Chemist Rui Hail Liu, “research demonstrates that heat processing actually enhanced the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing the lycopene content that can be absorbed by the body, as well as the total antioxidant activity.”

There are a couple of popular notions that Affordable Testing helps dispel; that cooked vegetables have a lower nutritional value than fresh produce, and that it’s beneficial to eat your veggies no matter how they’re prepared. Our testing shows that it indeed does make a difference! It is now easy to see why our test results provide individualized details regarding cooked versus raw for various items, i.e. does not just list “tomatoes”.

Granted, it is frustrating to think of cutting cooked tomatoes out of my diet, but luckily I found some fantastic recipes to try, such as The Ultimate Nomato Sauce Recipe, which is featured below (courtesy of

The Ultimate Nomato Sauce Recipe

A tomato-free tomato sauce alternative for those with nightshade or tomato intolerances low fat, gluten free, clean eating friendly, sugar-free, vegan option

  • 2 small onions or one large onion*
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed*
  • 1 tbsp butter or oil
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 3/4 cup butternut pumpkin/squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium beetroot or 4 small beetroot, peeled** (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock***

Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Finely dice your onion and crush your garlic.
  • In a large non-stick saucepan, saute your onions and garlic in your butter/oil until soft and translucent, adding a splash of water if needed to stop them sticking.
  • Add in all of your other ingredients and the mix to the boil before reducing to a simmer and cooking until your carrots and pumpkin are soft.
  • Once your veggies are soft, blend them until your nomato sauce reaches your desired consistency, seasoning to taste.
  • Use immediately or allow to cool before storing in a glass jar in the fridge (this prevents staining) or freezing portions in zip lock bags to use later. The nomato sauce will keep for around a week in the fridge.


  • *If you also can’t have onion or garlic, you can leave this out, however, I’d suggest adding in some celery instead for that savoury flavour. I can’t eat celery, however, I did try another version with around 1 cup of celery instead of the onion and garlic and whilst it was different, it was still a hit with our testers!
    If you can’t tolerate onion but can have leek or shallots, use them instead!
  • **We find you get the best taste and texture using pre-cooked beets (like lovebeets) and it saves the cooking and peeling. If using raw beetroot, steam or bake your beets prior to adding to the rest of the ingredients.
  • ***You can use water instead of stock, we just find the taste is better with chicken stock.