Review Category : Contributors

The most horrible day of the year, for dogs

By Tracie Korol

For many dogs, the first “Wheee!” of a rocket they hear sends them under the bed, quivering from nose to tail. A few dogs, the hunters and police dogs, have nerves of steel and don’t mind fireworks, but most turn into panting, trembling wrecks at the first loud bang. A dog’s hearing is 10 times more sensitive than a human’s, so logically fireworks cause pain. The anxiety and stress are bonus miseries.

If you’re thinking of taking your dog to watch the fireworks with you — think again! You and your dog will have much more enjoyable evenings if you leave. the. dog. at. home. Aside from the danger associated with your dog being in the wrong place at the wrong time (dogs and fire simply don’t mix), the mass hysteria, alcohol-increased speech volume, loud noises and repeated flashes of light are likely to have a traumatic effect on your Best Friend. He is not going to have a fun time trapped in a hot car, either (and remember, that’s against the law, anyway). Leave him at home.

Best to leave him indoors where he is likely to do the least amount of harm to himself or your home, preferably a crate if he’s already used to being in a crate.  A crate draped with a sound-absorbing comforter would be especially considerate. The evening of the Fourth of July is not the time to introduce crate training, however. Imagine yourself being jammed in a stuffy confined box for the first time, AND THEN the aliens begin attacking the house. Not fun.

Flashing lights can scare your dog just as much as the loud noises. Close the curtains and blinds inside your home and turn ON all the lights in the room. This will make the bright lights from fireworks less noticeable to your dog. There’s also some small degree of soundproofing afforded by closed drapes, lowering the high-pitched sounds a tiny bit.

New research posits that standard allopathic medicines prescribed for noise phobia can actually worsen fears because while they may immobilize the dog, they do not relieve anxiety.  They can “scramble” a dog’s perception. The dog can be fully aware of the frightening stimulus (e.g. fireworks sounds) but be physically unable to move. Sounds cruel to me. Additionally, his senses may be heightened or confused by medication, upping his fear level and ultimately worsening his phobia. Studies show that sound sensitivity can broaden so poor pet can develop anxiety reactions to thunder, airplanes, truck engines or even the sound of a metal pan hitting the floor.

However, there are several natural remedies that will safely and effectively offset noise phobias and hands-on techniques to reduce stress. A ThunderShirt is a great purchase for your anxious pet, useful in all anxiety-producing situations — storms, hunting season, grabby toddlers and loud-mouthed relatives.

Theoretically, a rousing game of fetch or a very long walk earlier in the day may tire your dog so he may be less likely to over-exert himself later if/when he becomes stressed from the sound of fireworks.  I’ve found, though, that fear trumps fatigue most of the time. You can give it a try; it might work.

And most importantly, in this county with its high numbers of euthanizations, be sure your dog has over-adequate identification before the Fourth rolls around.  Shelters nationwide always have an increase in lost dogs on the Fourth — dogs have been known to dig under fences, climb over fences, break through glass windows and doors, to bolt free. If he manages to escape his confinement, the worst thing would be, well, you know what the worst thing would be.

If you look at this holiday as your dog does, then you’ll do the right thing.

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Ladies, take the time to pamper yourself

By Takiya Smith

When was the last time you sincerely took a minute to appreciate yourself? Yesterday, last week, last month, or in my case, not even the past few months? How is it that a beauty consultant who works day in and day out assisting in all things beautiful for others find herself complacently lacking for herself? Well, as I sink my sore body deeper into my quiet piece of heaven in a comfy, cozy spa massage chair and watch my technician paint my toes, I’ll tell you: The bottom line is that I stopped taking time to pamper myself. I stopped taking time to indulge with every attention, comfort and kindness towards myself. To be totally honest, I have not seen my personal stylist since last October. I haven’t had a manicure since the beginning of the year and as for a pedicure, well, let’s just say that today marks the end of that shame.

In short, a combination of factors including lack of time, finances, family priorities and life in general can all determine a woman’s need and desire to appreciate herself. To recognize one’s full worth requires far more measure than one can comprehend, yet it’s truly a matter of searching it out.

Amidst my putting self-indulgent activities on the back burner, I realize that I have also filed any sort of social life far, far away. Work, church, kids and kids, church, work — in any given order that has become the extent of my walk on the wild side. No dinner parties. No girls nights out. Heck, no “boys” nights out either.

Business has been great and business has been time consuming, however this girl has decided that it’s time to get back to appreciating myself and enjoying what I’ve worked so hard for. This Saturday, June 21 from 6-9 p.m. I will be hosting a social event for any woman who wants to appreciate herself. “Pamper Yourself Ladies Night,” in conjunction with Rachele Doiron of the Beaufort Vendor Blender, will be hosted at my salon, The Brow Company Beauty Bar & Makeup Studio, located at 1115 Boundary Street. Join us for food, music, spa specials, massage, spray tanning, makeovers, facials, demonstrations, giveaways, door prizes and more.

My special guest list includes local beauty advisors such as Cynthia Allison of Nerium International, Emily Crowe of It Works! Body Wraps, Nikki Johnson of Thirty-One, Michelle Mcgaha of Arbonne, Renee Armstrong of Younique, Jessica Walden of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Debbie Conway of Jamberry Nails and Merdith Lee Irion of Bronze by Mimi.

Ladies, take the night off, hire a sitter and come get pampered. We deserve it! For more details or to pre-register, please contact salon manager, Michelle Bookmiller at 843-322-0426.

Takiya La’Shaune Smith is mother, licensed cosmetologist, and local business owner. Find her at or on Facebook, email her at or call 843-263-0426.

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I choose MY life…

By Ifetayo White

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid, more accessible;

to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance, 

to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom,

and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

This poem by Dawna Markova is so full of the energy of choice for me. It begins with such a passionate statement of intention for life, then continues with strong words of choice, “I choose to INHABIT my days …”

How is all of this vibrating in you right now? Do you feel fired up about the choices for your life or has some fear crept into your mind or body?

One of the fun practices that I have for myself is to ask, “So, Ifetayo, what fear is keeping you from choosing to have this or that in your life right now?” Owning my life, taking full responsibility for my life is the gift of being a growing human being. It is all mine to choose in every moment of every day — from with whom I spend my time to how much I am weighing right now.

We have all had the experience of being with someone who is living in the pain of an abusive marriage or unbalanced friendship. The first question should be, “Why?” Why this choice? Is the choice to be a victim or martyr, or to inhabit a life of love, of joy, of intimacy? Now is the time for each of us to claim our choice, to move out of the energy of powerlessness or passivity about the gift of our lives.

Guess what, my dears? We also get to choose how we are feeling right now about any situation or experience. It is my choice to feel enraged or impatient driving behind one of our Lowcountry Sunday-going-to-church drivers when we need to get to IHOP before the line for breakfast gets too long. The other person truly has no power over my feelings or responses unless I give them that power. They have given me another opportunity to exercise my power of choice with a wide range of emotions, including just letting go and enjoying the ride.

Taking full responsibility for the creation that is my life at this time and making the choices to change the circumstances of this life often requires us to strengthen our will. When I recognized that living in the city of my birth was no longer nurturing to my spirit, it took lots of willpower to continue to go through all that my desire to move to Beaufort was asking of me. My children, future grandchildren, tons of family and close high school and college friends, childhood memories and a familiar environment — all to be let go in some way as I continued to make plans for my move. But my heart and spirit knew what was right for me, and continuously engaging my will gave me the power to carry out this choice.

I will choose not to live an unlived life. I choose my life!

Ifetayo White offers classes and meditation at TheraVista, in addition to life empowerment coaching, Reiki, trigger point therapy, integrative bodywork, childbirth preparation, education, and postpartum doula services. Contact her at 843-271-1923 or

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Drink to good health

By Tracie Korol

Now that we’re in the doldrums of hot, humid weather we need to be  uber-conscientious when it comes to making sure our pets are supplied with fresh clean water. Even in winter, in a dry heated house, a dog can become dehydrated if deprived of fresh water. I emphasize the word “fresh” for a reason.

Try this experiment. Drink a glass of cold clean tap water, right from the spigot. Observe. At the same time fill another glass and leave it on the counter. Push it to the back and come return to it three or four days later. Most likely it has a faint film on the surface — dust, grease, pollen — and if you choose to drink it down, fuzz and all, you’ll notice it tastes musty and flat.  Observe. This is probably the water your dog drinks every day.

Water is the most important of all the nutrients. It plays a complex and critical role in the health of all mammals, constituting 55-75% of the body mass of all warm-blooded creatures, 84% of a newborn puppy and 60% of an adult dog.  Water bathes and fills every one of a dog’s billion cells. In fact, a dog can lose all of its fat and half of its muscle mass and survive, but just a 10% loss of body water can cause breakdown. Water lubricates a dog’s joints and muscles and cushions the spaces between individual cells. As the principle element of blood, it transports oxygen to all body tissues and helps fight infections by distributing white blood cells produced by a dog’s immune system.  Water provides an environment in which enzymes can digest food and convert it to energy for a dog’s survival.

Dogs crave fresh water; and they like a clean bowl, too. It’s easy to simply refill the bowl, day after day, dumping more in when the level gets low. But really, when was the last time you ran the water bowl through the dishwasher? All kinds of stuff can grow in there especially if you have one of those dogs that dips his beard and rinses his mouth when he drinks leaving dirt, twigs and crumbs to float around the bowl. It’s a good idea to get a multiple water bowls, bottom-heavy stainless steel or ceramic, so you can switch them out when the dog water begins to look like bilge.

A properly sized bowl is a good idea, too. An oversized bowl means your dog may only be able to drink water part way down. While it looks full, it’s not because he can’t get to it. Tall, narrow bowls are good for dogs with long ears like Bassets, spaniels and beagles, reducing collateral wetness from drippy ears.

Our Best Friends are messy, hit-and-miss slurpers, so it can sometimes be hard to know just how much water they get in a day. Most dogs need about an ounce of fluids per pound of body weight daily, so a 10-pound dog needs a bit over a cup of clean fresh water daily. Hard playing, working or lactating dogs usually need more and puppies generally drink more than adult dogs. Dogs that eat only a dry kibble diet, with less than 5% moisture content, will naturally drink more, too. Plus, a dog will drink more when it is hot and conversely, more when it is cold and dry.

Your dog is drinking enough if you observe him lapping several times a day from his water bowl and if the water level goes down in the bowl over the day. If you’re aware of a sudden decrease or increase in water consumption, your dog may be ill. Excessive thirst and urinating large amounts may indicate diabetes, kidney failure or other endocrinological diseases. Time to call the vet if you notice drastic changes. Although all dogs are different, your dog is drinking enough if he urinates several times a day when you take him out.

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Heat kills dogs

By Tracie Korol

The kind folks at the Beaufort County Shelter asked me to dedicate an article to the perils of a Lowcountry summer, dogs in cars and the terrible demise of our dog friends due to heatstroke.

Recently, I was asked by a seemingly smart person, “It’s OK to leave my dog in the if I leave the A/C on, right?” No, it’s not OK to leave your dog unattended in a car in this county, ever. Ever. Not in the winter. Not under a tree with the windows cracked and not in an idling car with the air conditioning running. It’s against the law.  The penalty? A fine of upwards onto $1,000 plus the shame of having done something really stupid to your Best Friend.

Let’s talk about summer. Common sense check: if you’re hot, your dog is hot, too. If it’s too hot for you to sit in a car without air conditioning, it’s too hot for your dog. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot across a parking lot or the sand, it’s too hot for your dog to walk there, too. If you’re sweaty and thirsty, your dog is too. He’s wearing fur and he can’t sweat.

The unattended dog-in-car is very common in Beaufort culture when seemingly caring people will leave their dog in the car while they do a bit of shopping or dining. People are fooling themselves if they believe that their dog is having a good time, along for the adventure. Even though your dog may enjoy a ride in the car, sitting in extreme heat anxiously awaiting your return is not fun at all, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. In another ten minutes, while you chat with the store clerk, he could be approaching death from heat stroke.

Even in the shade, and especially in humid conditions, dogs need to inhale air cooler than their normal body temperature of 100 degrees to be able to stay alive. Dogs confined in cars where the ambient temperature and humidity are above tolerable levels will begin to acquire heat from the environment faster than they can dissipate it. Overheated humans begin to sweat which evaporates and cools the skin dissipating heat buildup. Dogs, remember — fur-covered — have very few sweat glands to begin with and can only dissipate excess body heat via panting.  Movement of air over a moist tongue and airway surfaces increases evaporative cooling somewhat. However, panting actually generates heat due to the muscle activity involved.  Keep in mind that as a dog pants 100 percent humidity into his confined space, the ambient temperature and humidity of the car increases. It’s science.

Signs of heat stroke are intense rapid panting, wide eyes, salivating, staggering and weakness.  Advanced heat stroke victims will collapse and become unconscious.  The gums will appear pale and dry. If heat stroke is suspected and you can take the animal’s temperature rectally, any temperature above 106 degrees is dangerous. The longer the temperature remains at or above 106 degrees the more serious the situation. If you return to your car and find your dog seems to be highly agitated, wide-eyed and panting uncontrollably, start for the nearest animal hospital right away with the air conditioning going at full blast.

Even if heroic measures are taken, he may die from massive intravascular clotting, hemorrhaging, cerebral edema and kidney failure. Really.

Heat stroke is a dire emergency and one from which many pets do not recover.  And it’s an ugly death. It occurs so quickly that your only response should be to get to the nearest animal hospital immediately — don’t even call first. Just GO!

Short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as Boxers, Pekingese and Pugs and dogs with heavy coats are at greater risk for heat stroke than some other breeds. Also, age and physical condition (heart problems, obesity) lessens a dog’s efficiency in dissipating heat buildup in the body. All it takes to avoid this serious problem is diligence and common sense. No, it’s not OK to leave your dog in the car.

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I remember … when we used to sit

By Brittney Hiller

This weekend I spent some time watching Rafeal Nadal versus Novak Djokovic in the French Open. The massive amount of power these two tennis players show — athleticism, mental strength, and stamina — was beyond anything I could fathom. For more than three and a half hours they played consistently — back and forth with the tennis ball.

Watching the emotion in their faces that partially portrayed physical fatigue and increasing pain, the question came to mind: How often do we pound away at ourselves without giving our body the rest it deserves? Are we constantly on the go? Are we lacking the ability to take a moment to sit, breathe, admire, and just be?

I would like to invite you to try these few poses that require five minutes of your time. These poses will help you strengthen your mental state, but will also allow you to find the rest your body may need for this moment.



Sit in a comfortable position, either on the floor with your legs crossed or seated in a chair with your feet

Deep breath meditation

Deep breath meditation

planted on the floor.  Place your hands on your abdomen.  Begin to inhale through your nose. Exhale out through your mouth.

As you take a couple rounds of breath, begin to slow your inhale and exhale down. For example, I often invite my students to begin to breathe in deep and count to four as they inhale. Try this, then as you exhale count to six, continuing to slow down your breath.

Often we breathe with a quick breath and omit ourselves from obtaining the full amount of oxygen we are capable of taking in. Sit and breathe deep for six rounds of breath — close your eyes to allow yourself to feel the rise and fall of your chest and lower abdomen.

After you finish, sit for a moment and feel how your body has potentially changed in sensation. Perhaps you feel more at ease or less stressed. Notice how simple it was to sit and breath?



While seated in a chair or lying on the floor, stretch your legs long in front of you and interlace your fingers. Press your palms up and over your head. Inhale deeply and stretch. As you exhale, press your shoulders

Full Body Stretch

Full Body Stretch

down and away from your ears.  Feel your entire body stretch from your fingers to your toes. Breathe in and out for six rounds of breath — on your last exhale lower your arms to your side. Sit for a moment to notice how you feel.

As you take just five minutes to be with yourself each day, notice the benefits you receive — stress relief and a moment to be mindful and clear with yourself.

We often walk around in a zombie-like state — full of thoughts, worries, “what-if’s” — when instead we can be right here and present with our wonderful bodies. Yoga helps us to reacquaint ourselves with our actual being, our actual true selves.

Nadal won his ninth French Open last weekend. I am certain he took a moment to reacquaint himself in thankfulness for his capable and powerful body.

May you do the same for yours!

To contact Brittney, visit her online at or email

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What do you get for the dad who has everything?

By Pamela Brownstein

I am faced with this dilemma every year: What do I get my husband, Daniel, for Father’s Day?

I am a notoriously poor gift-giver. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s mostly that I am so last minute: By the time I think of something thoughtful and cool, it’s the day before and too late to find it or order it, and I usually give up in frustration.

It’s in that moment of frustration I think, “In the past two years, I’ve given him two beautiful children, really, what more does he want?”

But once I get past that flash of selfishness, I realize that the hardest part for me is finding a gift that represents all that Daniel does for his children and his family. How can I find a gift that equals his patience and kindness and involvement? What item can express my love and gratitude for being understanding and funny, even when we are completely exhausted at the end of the day?

Of course, I knew when we got married that Daniel would be a good dad. But this year has proven that he’s not just a good dad, but a great father. With a 2-year-old boy and a 9-month-old girl, these are chaotic times in our house as we navigate through Babyland. With both of us working, things can get stressful when the baby gets fussy or our toddler throws a temper tantrum and won’t go to sleep in his big boy bed.

Through it all, though, Daniel has shown me what it means to be a good parent in all the little things he does for the kids, especially for our son, Wolfe.

He goes to great lengths to make sure that Wolfe has healthy, balanced meals and tries a variety of food. It’s such a sweet act to see Daniel cut a cucumber into little bites, and add just a dollop of ranch dressing to the plate. Then he watches proudly as Wolfe eats every bite.

He also goes online and researches popular children’s books so when he goes to the library during his lunch hour at work he can pick out the best books to bring home to read with Wolfe. And even though he’s probably read “Curious George Makes Pancakes” more than 100 times, he still uses funny voices and reads it in bed with Wolfe when he asks.

With our daughter, Selah, even though I spend all day with her at home, as soon as her dad walks into the room, her fat little face lights up with a big smile — revealing her two little bottom teeth — and she can’t crawl to him fast enough.

I’m also trying not to take it personally that her first word was “Da-da.” (OK, I get it. Mama’s on deadline and wishes Dada were home too, but you don’t see me saying his name every five minutes.)

But even though I don’t say it enough, I couldn’t be more proud of Daniel or more grateful to have him in my life. I’ve watched him evolve from a father-to-be who had never even changed a diaper to a full-fledged, hands-on dad who doesn’t think twice about cleaning a dirty diaper and knows just the right combination of powder and Desitin to fight diaper rash.

So this year, in addition to my unending love, I want to give him something special. And I think it will be exciting to see the look on his face when I reveal his gift. Surprise! Here’s the double jogging stroller you’ve always wanted!




• The Chocolate Tree makes special treats that will make dad smile.

• Specialty olive oils and vinegars from Olive the Above will definitely impress the man who loves to cook.

• Upgrade dad’s old grill with an awesome new version from Grayco.


Bay Street Outfitters has gear for guys as well as fishing equipment.

A yearlong pass to Hunting Island State Park will save money when the whole family goes to the beach.


Lulu Burgess carries a variety of humorous cards and books that will make any funny father chuckle.


Book a family photo session with a local photographer for memories that will last a lifetime.


Piggly Wiggly features an excellent growler station and selection of unique craft beer.

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Pre-sent from the past and into the future

By Martha O’Regan

We are living in a very exciting time as human consciousness continues to expand in ways that, even a few years ago, were only shared by a small number of open-minded individuals and certainly not in a public arena. Now the lines that have kept so many structures separate are beginning to soften, blur or completely vaporize as families and communities come together to discuss ways to grow, create change and evolve as a culture.

Diversity in ideas and beliefs are more accepted as the need to judge someone else’s views as right or wrong, bad or good, is being replaced with the ability to see that many parts create the whole.  No longer are we settling for everything to look a certain way or that we need to follow the “sheeple” by doing what everyone else is doing.  We are beginning to believe again in the power of love, compassion, equality, and joy more than we can remember.

There are many scientists, teachers, guides and gurus out there sharing the fact that we create our reality from things we can’t touch, see, hear, or often even imagine and we’re buying it — at least as much as our brains can handle. Why?

I believe it is because we can sense it deep in our core as a spiritual knowingness that has always been there, but is just recently re-awakening. The challenge is that even when we can feel it, we still want it to make sense and be able to have an intelligent linear conversation about it, yet the quantum world is far from sensible or linear.   Books about returning from near death experiences, reuniting with past lives,  setting intentions or manifesting your dreams, goals and desires all share the same theme: We are bigger than we think we are.  We are more than we can think we are because we are infinite and go beyond space and time.

That is all fine and good, but, what about right here, right now? How do we use this amazing knowledge to live in our world today, pay our bills, manage a home and family, and maintain health and well-being? The answer we are given is to live consciously each and every moment, watch what unfolds based on what shows up in front of us, and simply ask, “how is this serving my highest good?” or “what is this teaching me?” or “how/why the heck did I create this?”

Sounds so simple, just not always easy, especially at first while we learn to weed through all of the distractions that we have created to make our lives make sense or to keep us safe. These are the structures we can begin to dissolve as we choose to wake up to new possibilities.

I just love looking at words and trying to imagine who made them up and what they must have been thinking at the time. While contemplating what it means to stay in the present moment, I saw the word through the quantum field and it hit me that each moment has been pre-sent from something I thought, said, heard, believed or created from the past. Likewise, every thought, word and deed that I may be having right now is being pre-sent to become my future.  Whoa …. right?

That moment changed everything for me, allowing me to catch those thoughts that I certainly have no desire to manifest on any level, and shift them immediately into something that I would love to create.  Of course, I miss a few along the way, so when that unexpected or bizarre experience shows up “out of nowhere,” I can trust that it is just what I asked for from somewhere in my past and can begin to explore the why without judgment or anger but with curiosity and discovery.

So, take the challenge to observe what shows up at this “pre-sent” moment without judgment and take care in what you pre-send into tomorrow.

Live Awake … Have Fun!

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June is Cataract Awareness Month

By Mark Siegel, MD, FAAO

Throughout the month of June, Sea Island Ophthalmology would like to help people become more aware of the serious eye disease of cataracts. There are about 22 million Americans aged 40 and older who suffer with cataracts, and more than half the people over age 65 have some degree of cataract development. Cataracts are now the leading cause of blindness among adults over 55 years of age.

Moreover, a study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston indicates that seniors suffering from poor vision have shown evidence of a premature mental decline.

Additionally, a study found that patients who received cataract surgery had a significantly reduced rate of hip fractures from falls.

The results of these studies clearly bring to light the importance of routine eye care for older adults, who are at increased risk of eye conditions that cause severe visual impairment such as cataracts.

The good news is that vision loss caused by cataracts can be easily treated. Cataract surgery is now one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States and has a 99 percent success rate. This is why ophthalmologists recommend scheduling a yearly eye exam for all those who might be at risk.

The Symptoms

Cataracts can cause a variety of symptoms or signs. One common symptom is often compared to looking through a dirty car windshield or a smeared camera lens. Other symptoms may include:

• Blurred vision

• Difficulties reading or driving at night

• Difficulty with glare (such as a bright sun or automobile headlights)

• Dull color vision

• Increased nearsightedness (with frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions)

• Occasional double vision in one eye.

The Diagnosis

Cataracts can be detected during a thorough eye examination. The doctor can see the affected lens in your eye while performing a variety of tests using specialized viewing instruments.

By selecting the appropriate tests, the doctor will be able to determine how much a cataract might be affecting your vision. The doctor will also perform a thorough examination of the eye to ensure any vision loss is not due to other eye problems, such as diabetes, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.

The Treatment

Some cataracts never progress to the point where they require treatment, while others progress more rapidly. Cataracts commonly affect both eyes, but it is not uncommon for a cataract in one eye to advance more rapidly than one in the other. Surgery is generally recommended for those who experience detectable vision loss.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cataracts, please request an appointment for your cataract surgery consultation.

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Is healthfulness the new truthiness?

By Tracie Korol

The concept of better health through nutrition is beginning to make inroads in the minds of the American population according to The Hartman Group Inc.’s report, “Ideas in Food 2013-A Cultural Perspective.”  Gluten-free has recently become a mainstream idea and product sell, though most folks who are “going gluten free” can’t tell you why, exactly. They just don’t eat bread.  But that trend has led folks to investigate the benefits of whole grains, nuts and seeds. People are voluntarily eating nut meal, coconut “flour” and raw, sprouted, popped and puffed grains. All good.

Sugar, too, is getting it’s own red flag with high fructose corn syrup bearing the brunt of the scrutiny. Added sugar, according to Hartman, is being linked to systemic inflammation, which in turn can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and a whole host of other medical ailments.  Other health/nutrition connections in human food trends, according to Hartman’s report, include eating more plant-based foods, supporting locally sourced foods and using foods as medicine (whole grains, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, botanicals). The same report tells how consumers are leaning toward “healthfulness,” whatever that means.

Let’s assume that the analysts using that particular label make a very literal interpretation — “healthfulness” equals full of health. That would be to our benefit. By extension, since pet-owning consumers treat their pets as family members, let’s hope we’re all making the same connection between health and what we feed our Best Friends.

The catch in all this is that the pet food industry is onto this trend and not necessarily in a good way.  Companies are coming out with grain-free dog food and treats, products that boast no added sugars (or dyes or artificial preservatives), and products rich in nutrition additives like omega-3s. In addition, the market for senior dog and weight management products has skyrocketed.  There are new products with new claims for healthfulness coming out every week. The idea of truthiness begins to creep in.  What is real, what are we as consumers to believe and what is the next best thing? Do we really need the next best thing and does our dog need the next best thing?

As the fluidity of human food trends and pet food trends increases, it brings up unique concerns for the pet owner/consumer. You may have noticed, pets are different from people and their nutritional needs are different, too. Some human trends such as gluten-free can be unnecessary or even dangerous when cross-applied.  Trends that actually serve our animals in the pet food and treat category are grain-free, species appropriate, whole, less processed, healthy, safe, and USA sourced.  A trend that does not serve, for instance, is a claim of “natural”. Hemlock is natural but I don’t want my dog eating it.

As a consumer, I am one of those crashing bores who clog up the grocery aisle when reading the labels of whatever I want to purchase. It’s important to me to know what I’m eating. And even more important, I want to know what my dog friends are eating. Even though I haven’t bought a processed kibble in years, for fun, I’ll flip the bags of “new and improved” to if it IS really new and improved.  And guess what? Usually it’s not. Mostly, the manufacturers have changed what’s printed on the bag.

When you feed your Best Friend food that you recognize and you’d eat, then “truthiness” of the seller and “healthfulness” of the manufacturer will become apparent. By doing your homework, learning what ALL the words on the pet food bag mean, and by researching quality products, you’ll skip truthiness and help assure a better quality of life for the Best Friend in your house.

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