June 18, 2018

Expert Tips For Choosing The Right Fountain For Your Outdoor Space

home inspector atlantaSpanish explorer Ponce de Leon spent many years and covered many miles searching for the fabled “fountain of youth.” Fortunately, you don’t have to go to those lengths to find a special fountain that will transform your backyard into a private oasis. You only need to make a trip to the local garden store.

Water’s ability to relax the human soul is virtually unmatched in the natural world. The gentle sounds of flowing water can wash stress from our lives, restoring and relaxing us. That universal appeal is making fountains more popular than ever with homeowners dealing with the stresses of modern life, including the economy and the need to hold on to and improve the homes they have.

The demand for fountains has led to the widespread availability of traditional designs, and some inspired modern creations by enterprising fountain makers.

“Our fountain category continues to grow,” says designer Peter C. Cilio, creative director of Campania International, a purveyor of garden accessories. “Customers want cast stone fountains, glazed, terra cotta and even light-weight – all types of fountains to bring the sight and sound of water into the garden in an easy, low-maintenance way.”

Jon Carloftis, renowned garden designer, agrees. “Water in the garden is an essential element,” he says. “Adding a fountain to your garden, even a small fountain, is a great investment.”

Here are some simple guidelines from the experts to help you choose the perfect fountain for your garden space:

What’s your style?

The most important consideration to keep in mind when choosing the right fountain is the overall style of your home and garden.

“People who love a beautiful garden are becoming more experienced and comfortable with their own styles and tastes outside,” says Cilio. “Whether you have an urban, contemporary or country garden, the fountain should be compatible with your personal style and the aesthetics of your house and garden.”

Today’s selection of fountains appeals to the broadest of palates, with choices available ranging from traditional European designs to more modern Zen-inspired pieces.

Carloftis reminds homeowners to keep proportion in mind. “It is everything in the garden,” he says. “Choose a fountain that will fit and feel good. And if you go big, be sure to keep it simple.”

Consider your space

Whether it graces a patio or the landscape, a free-standing fountain can be a mesmerizing focal point. The size of the fountain that you choose will depend on the size of your garden space.

“You could have a 4-by-6-foot pocket garden and put a small, beautiful fountain at the end, and you’ve really made an incredible statement,” says Carloftis.

Although fountains can take center stage in the landscape, you might also consider nestling your fountain in a secluded corner of your garden. Tucked away among the plantings, the fountain will not distract from the overall composition.

What’s your desired outcome? Dramatic or Zen?

If creating a highly dramatic effect is your desire, the classic choice is a larger two or three-tiered fountain as a focal point for your landscape. Carloftis suggests Campania’s elegant Newport Fountain, which is a beautiful tiered composition made of cast stone with a lightweight basin for better maneuverability.

If you want something Zen, look for a more soothing effect in water gently cascading over a cast stone ball. Discover the allure of dancing water from a fountain lit at night, while you entertain on the patio or deck. Look for freestanding wall fountains, which include lighting components for dramatic nighttime illumination.

Low or high maintenance

Keeping your fountain clean and free of debris to prevent algae growth and clogging is something to consider when purchasing a fountain. Smaller fountains don’t require as much maintenance as larger fountains. And remember to protect your fountain in winter with a water resistant cover to prolong its life.

Whether simple or ornate, you can create your own private oasis by introducing your own fountain of youth into your landscape or garden.

To view Campania International’s wide selection of cast stone, glazed and lightweight fountains, visit www.campaniainternational.com.

Tips For Making Your Home Office Comfortable And Functional

atlanta home inspectorWhether you start a home business or just work at home, you will probably set aside one room or area of your house to be your office. This is the place where you’ll handle general business, customer relations, shipping and delivery of products and services, payroll and many other details that pertain to your company.

Of course, this room is also in your house, so you want to make sure it looks good in case you have customers stop by, or if friends or relatives stay over.

Setting up your office so that it is functional and looks nice is important, but because you’ll be spending a lot of time in there, you should make it comfortable as well. Here are some tips on how to make your home office functional, yet fun and stylish.

* If you have young children at home, designating your office separate from the rest of your house with a closed door, or a standing partition, can help your children learn that you are “at work” and not to be disturbed unless they have an emergency. If you plan to use your office space for family business as well after work hours are over, consider making a sign indicating you are busy working to hang on the door or partition.

* Your desk probably will be where you spend the majority of time in your home office, which means you need it to match your style perfectly. Your office chair needs to be comfortable, but you also want it to match the decor as well. You can choose a HON Volt or HON Ignition chair, picking from over 30 different fabrics and colors, allowing you to match your decorating scheme and comfort levels. Visit www.officedepot.com/customdesign to see how a HON chair can enhance your home office space.

* Decorate your office in colors and materials that will help keep you operating efficiently, but also allow you to enjoy the time you spend working. For example, yellow is considered to be a stimulating color, orange encourages creativity and green provides a calming influence. Depending on the energy level you would like to have in your office, consider using file folders, binders, pictures and wall paint to bring colors into your office that would enhance your professional emotions and behaviors.

* Keeping your home office picked up is key, especially if you pace while talking on the phone or while brainstorming a business idea. Make sure all your electronic cords are bundled and tucked away under your desk so you aren’t tripping over them while chatting with a client on the phone.

* Get organized with a cubby hole or filing drawer system, which will help keep the paperwork off your home office desk area and also help you find filed information quickly and easily if you were to have a customer catch you by surprise on the phone. These items are available at office supplies store such as Office Depot.

As you get your company up and running in your home office, don’t forget to add little personal touches to make it feel even more comfortable. After all, you might be spending a lot of time in your office, so there’s nothing wrong with having inspirational photos or a desk plant or two to provide you with the pleasant atmosphere you need to get your work done.

‘Veggin’ Out’ Is So In…

home inspector atlantaTips for starting your own veggie garden!

Vegetable and herb gardening is in and studies indicate it will continue to grow in popularity. If you’re not growing your own yet it’s time to start. Why? The reasons are as varied as the people who garden.

Some do it to save money. Others want to ensure their food is chemical-free, and as safe as possible. Still others grow their own vegetables because fresher is just better. Many do it because gardening is good for you and some because it’s still fun to play in the dirt.

Whatever your reason for opting to join the 7 million Americans who grabbed their gardening gear and grew their own vegetables and herbs last year, your road to success is basically the same as everyone else’s – planting at the right time, making sure your soil’s in shape, weeding and watering responsibly, and feeding and nurturing your plants. This season, you won’t have to buy your fresh herbs and vegetables from a farmer’s market; you can grow them on your own, and you don’t need a farm-sized backyard – or pocketbook – to do it.

Avid gardener Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America, growing locally in 75 locations nationwide, offers some time-saving tips to make the growing easy:

* Survey your soil – Your first step is to decide where you’ll put your vegetable and herb garden. Good soil is key. The best soil is loam, a soft, dark, crumbly dirt. Loamy soil holds water, allows for drainage and is easy to dig. If you encounter clay or sandy soil, add peat moss and bone meal so that these soils can also be productive gardening bases.

* Size up your space – When plotting out the size of your garden, you’ll want to be sure it’s big enough to yield a good harvest to make your efforts worthwhile. But if you’re limited on yard space – or have none at all – you can grow vegetables and herbs in containers on a deck, terrace, balcony or even on the windowsill.

* Let the sunshine in – Your plants need plenty of sun – at least six hours a day. A sunny and open location is your best bet for producing a plentiful harvest.

* Pick your plants for your plot – Grow vegetables that are expensive to buy in the grocery store or at the farmer’s market, such as tomatoes and peppers.

A tried-and-true prolific producer, the Bonnie Original Tomato, was developed exclusively for Bonnie Plants in 1967. They come in environmentally friendly, biodegradable pots that you plant right into the soil. Recent trials, planting five of these tomato plants in 25-gallon containers, averaged 100 tomatoes each at an average of 37 pounds per plant. Another tomato that will tip the scales is Bonnie’s Sun Sugar tomato, a yellow cherry type. Trial garden plants averaged 1,228 tomatoes each.

If peppers are your passion, the Yummy Bell Pepper, ripening from green to apricot orange, is a best bet. Trial garden testing of five plants averaged 248 peppers per plant during the summer growing season.

* Time-saving transplants – When you’re ready to begin planting, opt for transplants – seedlings that have already been started – rather than starting from seed. Transplants will buy you lots of time because plants are six weeks or older when you put them in the ground, and you’ll begin harvesting much sooner.

* Feed your food – Your vegetable plants will need food and water to survive and grow. When feeding plants, try to avoid chemical fertilizers that could potentially seep into groundwater. Bonnie Plant Food is a unique, organically based, soybean oilseed extract formula that has demonstrated superior results in the health and vigor of plants.

Give your garden a good watering once or twice a week, although some crops may need more water, especially if your climate is very hot. A thorough soaking, allowing the water to penetrate 4 to 6 inches into the soil, is better for plants than frequent shallow watering.

Gardening is rewarding. It will bring great pleasure as you bring your produce from plot to plate so you can literally enjoy the fruits of your labor. For more information on varieties and gardening advice, visit www.bonnieplants.com.

Fuzzy, Fun And Family-Friendly: Secrets Of The Amazing Kiwifruit

atlanta home inspectorThe first time you saw a kiwifruit in your grocery store did you think it was a lemon gone wrong? Or perhaps you thought it was a new, smaller, odd-looking variety of pear. The truth is the kiwifruit isn’t just a fruit, it’s one of nature’s most perfect foods – and if your family hasn’t yet discovered the taste, versatility and nutritional punch of kiwifruit, it’s time to give it a try.

Kiwifruit has a history every bit as unusual as its appearance. Discovered in ancient China, the berry (which grows on vines like grapes) was known as Chinese gooseberry by the mid 1800s. The kiwi arrived in California in the early 1960s and was nicknamed “kiwifruit” because it was imported from New Zealand. Today, fewer than 300 family farms produce more than 98 percent of all the kiwifruit grown in the U.S. You can view a video about kiwifruit, how it’s grown and how to select, ripen and eat it at www.kiwifruit.org.

Nutritionally, kiwifruit packs a powerful wallop. Low in calories and naturally fat free, kiwifruit offers:

* Two and a half times the recommended daily allowance of immune system booster vitamin C.

* More fiber (in two kiwis) than a bowl of bran cereal.

* More potassium than a banana.

* Nearly 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folate, a nutrient vital to fetal development and maternal health before, during and after pregnancy.

* Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that is found in just a handful of fat-free sources like kiwifruit.

The California Kiwifruit Commission offers a few helpful hints for enjoying kiwi:

* Kiwifruit should be smooth-skinned (but slightly prickly), without wrinkles, bruises or blemishes.

* Like many fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets, kiwifruit come in varying stages of ripeness. When you plan to eat your kiwifruit will determine what degree of ripeness you choose. If you’ll be eating your kiwifruit after three or more days, choose fruit that are firm to the touch. If you plan to eat them in just a day or two, select softer fruit. If you want to eat your kiwifruit right away, choose ones that give easily when gently pressed.

* To eat your kiwifruit, practice “slooping.” First, slice the kiwi in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the sweet flesh with a spoon – slooping. You can receive a free slooper from the California Kiwifruit Commission by visiting their website.

* Kiwifruit are great in a wide variety of recipes and dishes, from delectable summer smoothies and fresh salads to pies, puddings and even cocktails.

Try this kiwifruit recipe to introduce your family to this fuzzy, fun, family-friendly fruit:

California Kiwifruit Squares

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 California kiwifruit, pared and pureed
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Combine flour and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture until mixture looks like cornmeal. Pat into 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Combine sugar, kiwifruit, eggs, lime juice, lime peel and baking powder. Pour over baked crust. Return to oven. Bake for 25 more minutes. Cool and sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar. Cut into 16 squares.

For more interesting facts, nutritional information and recipes, and to view the video, visit  www.kiwifruit.org.

New Garden Superstars Will Spruce Up Spring

home inspector atlantaFrom cool miniature fountains to going native in the garden, spring 2011 promises great plants and products that will help you spruce up your home with pizzazz and ease.

“People are clamoring for eco-friendly plants and products that are attractive and perform well,” says Susan McCoy, garden writer and trend spotter. McCoy predicts these garden superstars will chase away the winter blahs and get gardeners raring to go outside:

Keep the dog – lose the spots

Got pets? McCoy does and has discovered new SpotGone!, an Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)-listed organic product that turns those yellow, burned-looking patches where her dog does his “business” into lush, green grass again. The all-natural and easy-to-sprinkle pellets take out the excess salt and nitrogen from the soil, allowing grass to grow back and stay “naturally” green and healthy. It’s free from chemicals so it’s safe to use around kids and pets. It complements any lawn care system and has no foreign grass seed, so your lawn grows back uniformly and not “patchy.” Just shake what you need on pet urine spots, high-traffic areas or lawn damage from de-icers. Look for SpotGone! at www.natraturf.com.

Roll out the welcome

Looking for an instant, affordable facelift for your home? You can spruce up any doorway with the wide array of eco-friendly, all-natural coir doormats from Imports Unlimited. McCoy’s impressed with the new spring Garden Collection that features “Dahlias” in bright, bold colors and stunning “Bamboo,” as well as fun and fanciful “Hippie Bird.” All 200 selections are by prominent artists and are either 100 percent hand-woven coco-fiber, decorated in richly colored, fade-resistant dyes or all-weather recycled rubber. Choose from formal, classic, contemporary or whimsical to greet guests with a work of art right at your doorstep.

Go native

Want to see more birds, bees and butterflies in your garden? Attracting wildlife while you beautify your landscape has never been easier. American Beauties Native Plants has a wide array of native shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses and perennials that are perfect for your region. Hand-picked for their beauty, these native charmers will attract and provide shelter and food for wildlife, with minimal need for fertilizer, water and pest control. Plus, you’ll be making a contribution to The National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat program.

Splish, splash

Now you can bring the soothing sight and sounds of fountains onto your terrace or indoors with the new mini fountain collection from Campania International. Their Arabesque fountain, at only 18 inches tall, offers double the pleasure with a basin that makes a great planter and an etched design that will complement any space. Whether you want to decorate your terrace or liven up a room or windowsill in your home or office, adding a mini fountain is an affordable luxury.

Spring – and gardening season – will arrive before you know it. Be prepared to spring into action when warm weather arrives by keeping up-to-date on the latest products and trends that can help spruce up your outdoors.

Puppy Prep

How to get your family’s new addition off to a good start!

Bringing home a puppy is a heartwarming and fun experience whether you’re a kid or an adult. You might think of your puppy as a new best friend – but your role as a puppy parent is even more crucial. Puppies grow more in their first year than any other time in their life, and while they’ll depend on you for playtime and love, they also rely on you to give them a healthy, good start to life.

Before you go to the animal shelter or breeder, make sure you are able to take on all the challenges that raising a puppy presents and handle them with an even temper and a good sense of humor. The more positive you make his experiences, the stronger your bond will be – and it’ll be a bond that lasts a lifetime.

If a puppy will be joining your family soon, or has recently arrived, keep these tips in mind to establish a happy, healthy foundation for your new pet.

* Training: The amount and kind of training you’ll need depends on your experience with dogs, the dog you’re getting and whether you want to do specialized activities with him in the future.

If this is your first dog, or if it’s been a long time since you’ve had one, it’s well worth it to sign up for puppy training classes – you’ll learn just as much as your puppy will. Some breeds are naturally more obedient than others, but it will also depend on your pup’s individual personality. Be sure you sign up for classes that are appropriate for your pup’s age and make sure to keep it fun and rewarding.

* Nutrition: Just like parents teach kids to eat their veggies, a puppy parent is responsible for feeding their pup a diet that’s rich in natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. It’s easier than ever to find high quality puppy foods that are free of fillers and unsavory ingredients. Foods like Nutro Natural Choice puppy food make it easy to be confident that you know exactly what you’re giving your puppy by listing all the ingredients.

* Health: Making regular trips to the vet is part of having a puppy. You’ll need to make sure that he has all the necessary immunizations, check-ups and medications. If you don’t have an established relationship with a veterinarian, ask friends who have pets for recommendations and research clinics in your vicinity to find one that’s right for you. NutroPuppy.com is also a useful resource, with nutrition, health, training and behavior tips available for new puppy parents.

* Development: Helping your puppy with good development is a two-fold task: both physical and behavioral. Giving your puppy good food has effects beyond creating a glistening coat and healthy immune system; it can also have an effect on his brain development. Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Lamb Meal and Rice Formula contains Smart Start with ALA and DHA, which helps puppies with learning, brain and vision development.

And to ensure that your puppy will grow into a dog that is friendly, well-adjusted and well-behaved, it’s important to expose him to new people and other animals in controlled environments. Encourage timid pups and try to calm bold pups so that they learn the value of getting along with everyone.  This will help them be better prepared to deal with unfamiliar circumstances and places.

Houseplants — Good For Home And Health

Bright blooms, the smell of fresh cut grass, and a warm breeze may be missing this time of year, but there are ways you can brighten up the indoors and bring some summer gardening back into your life.

Houseplants create a fantastic distraction for passing the winter doldrums as we eagerly await summer. In addition, they also provide valuable health benefits during our harsh cold months. Most houseplants add oxygen and humidity back into the air and some can even rid an area of toxins expelled through materials used to build, decorate and furnish a house.

Indoor plants are ideal to keeping the summer spirit alive, adding a splash of color or texture in your home and providing wonderful health benefits for you and your family. By following just a few simple steps, you can host healthy and beautiful houseplants in your living space.

Location, location, location
After plants are arranged appropriately in their containers, you’ll need to find a suitable location for them. The first step in keeping a plant healthy is to situate it away from any drafty areas or heat sources. For instance, do not place a fern by a front or back door, or on top of a heating vent. Heat sources such as fireplaces will also cause plants to dry out.

Keeping hydrated
Many of us overwater our plants. Using a product that regulates over watering and infuses soil with oxygen, like Safer Brand Oxygen Plus Plant Food, will allow you to avoid the woes of over watering, which result in wilting, dulling and death of the houseplant.

Catching rays
Placing houseplants indoors where the sun will hit them only about four to six hours a day is sufficient. Sunlight results in denser, greener foliage and overall healthier plants.

Moving time
Like us, plants would much rather be outdoors than stuck inside during warm and sunny days. Houseplants can be moved outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. This timing is dependent on where you live and the time of the year. Moving houseplants outdoors is easy and will add a great decor element to your entryway, porch or back deck. Before moving plants outdoors, add about 2 inches of potting soil to their containers, as this amount has probably decomposed in the container during the winter months. Once outside, you should soak your plants from top to bottom.

In the initial stages of a houseplant’s conversion outdoors, it is important to gradually introduce them to nature. Placing plants in direct sunlight for the length of a day will put them in shock, so it is best to acclimate them over a one to two week period. Introducing them to the outside under shade of a tall tree will ease them into this transition.

The outdoors offers a houseplant many elements that allow them to thrive, but also exposes them to residents of nature they may not have encountered before. Using an organic insect killer, like Safer Brand Houseplant Insect Killer, will keep your plant from being eaten in the outdoors. When you notice that leaves or petals have been snacked on, or you actually see a bug on the plant, you can spray the entire plant to ensure the bugs will be killed organically and your plant will not be harmed.

Not only do potted plants add design elements to interior and exterior living spaces, but they are also beneficial to your health. So go ahead, indulge in a houseplant or two. A little green can really do the body good.

How To Make Dining Out Fresh, Healthy And Affordable For Families

There are times when pulling together a meal at home isn’t in the cards; and finding time to cook a meal and gather everyone around the table is just too hard. The easiest time-saving solution is going out to eat, but that too can seem daunting when looking  for a family meal that has both good nutrition and comes at a reasonable cost. Not to fear, menus and prices are changing.

Greater emphasis has been placed on eating fresh, and, when possible, local foods in recent years. And, as the demand for healthier menu options has grown across a wider audience, more restaurants at a variety of price points have responded by offering foods made with fresh ingredients, at prices that won’t hurt the family budget.

This trend also means that consumers have to be savvy about where – and what – they’re eating. What’s presented as healthy isn’t always the best choice. The best defense here is a good offense. Becoming informed about the dishes you’re likely to pick and the restaurants you frequently visit will allow you to make the right choices.

There are a few key things to look for when taking the family out for a meal:

* Fresh ingredients. These can be particularly hard to come by in a restaurant setting, so it’s good to find restaurants that have a mission to serve fresh foods. Some restaurants, like Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, make the effort to ensure that the food they offer on their salad bar and the ingredients in their freshly prepared foods come straight from the farm to the restaurant kitchen, with as little transit time as possible in between. That means that the food not only tastes better, it’s also in optimal condition for healthy eating.

* A wide variety of options. Families have to cater to a lot of very different taste preferences, which can make dining out a challenge. And we all know it can be a challenge to get kids to choose healthy foods over junk food. By going out together to a restaurant that has a buffet format coupled with freshly-made wholesome foods, you’ll be able to let everyone pick out what’s to their taste with the peace of mind that they’re eating well.

* Know nutrition. Make it a point to talk to your family about healthy ingredients and how they make a difference in their lives. It’s also useful to explain calories – how many go into a healthy diet, what’s too little and what’s too much – and give kids examples of how many calories are in a variety of prepared foods. Some restaurant websites, like that of Souplantation, make it easy to find out exactly what the nutritional values are in each item they serve. Having a realistic view of what goes into the food you eat plays a big role in making healthy choices when eating out.

By knowing what to look for, it’s easier to make smart choices at restaurants that are wallet-friendly, disproving the myth that it costs a lot to eat the healthiest foods. And when you find a place that meets the requirements of healthy, affordable and fresh, spread the word to friends. Whether you go out on a multi-family lunch date or give restaurant gift cards, you’ll be sharing smart ways to stay healthy with your family and friends.

Understanding Omega-3s Shouldn’t Give You Heartburn: Myths And Truths

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Did you know that including omega-3s in your daily diet is an easy way to support heart health? In fact, the American Heart Association has recommended the consumption of polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, for good heart health.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen some exciting – and promising – developments in the research surrounding omega-3s and their effects on health,” says Dr. Harry Oken, board certified in internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. “In fact, researchers at Harvard’s Global Health Initiative and the Harvard School of Public Health recently reported that one of the most common preventable causes of premature mortality among Americans is omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, possibly accounting for as many as 96,000 deaths annually.”

“Including enough omega-3s in your daily diet is an easy lifestyle change to support healthier hearts – but in my work with patients, I find that there are a lot of misperceptions around these important nutrients. Clearing up these myths is the first step toward ensuring that my patients get the omega-3s they need,” he says.

Myth No. 1: All fat is bad.
It is often said that Americans consume too much fat, but in the U.S. and other parts of the world, many people don’t eat enough good fat. Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are important for cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, fewer than half of Americans know that the “better” fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) can help reduce their risk of heart disease, according to a survey conducted for the American Heart Association.

Myth No. 2: All omega-3s are the same.
No doubt you’ve heard a lot about the benefits of omega-3s. But did you know that not all omega-3s are created equal? There are three main omega-3s – DHA, EPA and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and each has distinct health benefits. DHA supports optimal brain and eye development and function and supports heart health. EPA also supports heart health. ALA is used as a source of energy. “When it comes to heart health, DHA and EPA are the omegas you need,” says Oken.

Myth No. 3: My body can make all the nutrients it needs for a strong heart, including omega-3s.
The human body does not produce significant amounts of DHA or EPA on its own – it must get these important nutrients from the foods you eat. The main dietary source of DHA and EPA is cold-water fish. Unfortunately, the typical American diet includes far less DHA and EPA than optimal – for example, the average U.S. diet contains less than 100mg DHA per day. This is well below what experts have recommended healthy adults consume, which is 220mg DHA per day. Individuals with documented cardiovascular disease might need to consider daily intakes as high as 1 gram of DHA and EPA per day, according to the American Heart Association.

Myth No. 4: Fish is the only source of heart healthy omega-3s.
Fish and fish oil are not the only sources of DHA and EPA. While most people believe that fish produce their own DHA and EPA, it’s actually the algae in their food chain that makes them a rich source of these omega-3s.

For those who do not consume significant amounts of fish on a regular basis due to dietary preferences, allergies, a vegetarian lifestyle or worries about potential ocean-borne pollutants, there are DHA/EPA supplements on the market that are made from algae. One example is Ovega-3, which is made from sustainable algae that is completely vegan and free of ocean-borne contaminants and provides 500mg of DHA and EPA. An added bonus of this supplement is that you won’t have that fishy aftertaste. Visit www.ovega.com for more information.

Myth No. 5: Flaxseed provides me all the omega-3s I need for my heart.
This is a very common misconception. But in fact, flaxseed oil is a source of ALA. ALA has no known independent benefits on brain, eye or heart development and function, as DHA and EPA do. And, although the human body can convert ALA to DHA and EPA, the process is inefficient and variable.

Does Your Pet Need A Spring Cleaning?

How to make sure your pet shampoo and other products are safe!

Now that spring is here, your dog will be outside a lot more, and will probably need baths more frequently. But have you ever considered what is in the soaps and shampoos and other products you buy for your pet?

For dog owners, there are no two ways about it – pets are part of the family. You want your four-legged companion to be as happy and healthy as any other member of your family. Many of the things you buy for your human loved ones – like food, medicine and beauty products – are regulated by agencies that make sure those products are safe. You might assume that there are similar restrictions on pet products, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that accurate ingredient lists be put on human items like shampoos and soaps.  The agency strictly regulates supplements intended for human consumption. Though laws regulate what advertising claims can be made on pet supplies for dogs, the FDA does not regulate shampoos used on pets unless the shampoo is classified as a drug, e.g., anti-dandruff. This means that many manufacturers are misleading the public as to what is in their shampoos. Even when some manufacturers claim drug facts, many forgo the costly product registration process and unfortunately are too low a priority to get noticed by the FDA.

Given the trend toward organic products, some vendors make claims about their products being all natural when they are not – often with impunity. Worse yet is the fact that they might not honestly list the ingredients in the product, which could be harmful for your dog. A short ingredient list is a red flag that you might not be buying an honest product.

“Without a thorough and honest ingredient list, it can be hard to recognize that some pet shampoos are actually products made for humans, just re-labeled,” says Lorenzo Borghese, who founded Royal Treatment pet products out of concern for the skin problems his own dog was experiencing. He notes that while that might not sound too bad, human soaps are bad for dogs’ skin. “Human skin is acidic, while dogs’ is alkaline, and a product intended for human consumption has an improper pH which can cause the skin to burn or become irritated.”

Adding to the problem, foaming agents like sodium laureth sulfate, often found in human shampoos, strip oils off the skin. Human skin is porous, so it can naturally replenish those oils, but dogs’ non-porous skin can’t, leaving them with extremely dry skin. That is often a big part of why veterinarians only recommend washing your dog every four to eight weeks.

For those looking for a natural dog shampoo, the problem of incomplete labels is frustrating, and even more so when trying to help a pet with skin and coat problems. Borghese’s Royal Treatment line of shampoos and conditioners was formulated with ingredients that are ideal for animals’ sensitive skin, all of which are listed on the label. Because the products are sold on television they have to meet rigorous standards and have complete and verified ingredient lists.

The same problematic lack of regulation that affects topical pet care products also makes it difficult for pet owners to know whether pet health supplements are safe and effective.

The low cost of overseas production often means that manufacturers will outsource the work of producing pet supplements. That also means that there is sometimes a lack of oversight and quality control – pet supplements might not contain the ingredients in the amount claimed on the bottle. For pet owners who want to take care of health issues like joint stiffness or a poor coat, it’s almost impossible to verify whether the supplement they’re giving their pet has the ingredients it claims in the active quantity listed on the label.

Working with renowned veterinarian Dr. L. Phillips Brown, Borghese also launched a line of supplements for dogs with the same principles of providing verifiable ingredients that are ideal for pets. “The ingredients in these supplements are standardized,” Brown says. “They are made in the United States, and what’s on the label is in the product.” Batch testing helps to verify that ingredients are present in the correct amounts that are necessary for the supplements to be effective.

Knowing precisely what you’re giving your dog is important. It can be difficult to take the guess work out of shopping for pet supplements and care products, but the most important thing to demand is information about the exact ingredients in everything from food to shampoo to supplements. Armed with that knowledge, you can give your pet a healthy, happy life. For more information on pet-safe products, go to www.royalpetclub.com.