Can dogs eat apples? Benefits of apples in dog diet. How to include apples in dog's diet. Nutrition tips from canine nutritionist. Healthy treats for dogs and puppies

Can my dog eat… apples?

You know what I find really interesting about the “apple to my eye” phrase? Not its actual meaning of devotion towards somebody especial, but the facts that this beautiful fruit can actually support eye health. Yet the crown of “vision food” is always given to carrots. 

We will get to this a few sentences later. But for now I have a question of the day for you…

DOES YOUR COCKER LIKE APPLES?

The simple, crispy and beautiful fruits are coming in season right now, and I really wanted to bring your attention to them as a reminder that dogs can definitely eat apples – and it will be beneficial for them.

Apples contain vitamin A that takes care of healthy eyes as well as helps to maintain beautiful coat and skin. 

They are a source of vitamin C to support immunity and reduce the risk of allergies. Vitamin C is also important for collagen production and taking part in maintaining tissues and joints.

Apples also provide B vitamins important for energy, resilience to stress, proper metabolism and even skin and coat health, plus vitamin K essential for formation of blood clots, enzyme production and transport of calcium to the bones.

The fruit is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and boron. Think strong bones, muscle and nerve cells functions, and DNA synthesis.

Fibre is another reason to include a little apple in the dog’s diet. Apples contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. They not only clear out the toxins from the digestive tract and help it work like clockwork (insoluble fibre), but also feed friendly gut bacteria (soluble fibre such as pectin). 

Research showed that high antioxidant levels in apples prevented growth of cancer cells and reduced cholesterol in both human and animal studies.

REMEMBER before feeding apples to your spaniel that…

… 1-2 thin (2-3mm in thickness) slices are all your dog needs – always start with a bite of two as an introduction

… too much fruit can cause bloating, gas and diarrhoea (so stick with the rule above)

… you can use raw apple slices, grated apple (about 1-2 tsp) or 100% apple pure (1-2 tsp per day for a cocker) 

… apple puree & grated apple are great on lickimats

… always core the apples to remove the middle bit, stalk and seeds

… never let the dog eat spoiled apple or the ones found on the ground (unless they are perfectly nice and have been washed before feeding to the pups)

I am so in love with this fruit, I already talked about it in Beyond the Doughnut where I shared nutrition trivia and recipes. And my upcoming cookbook will have even more ideas. Because apples really are worth it. 


Photo credit: apples by Mircea Ploscar via Pixabay

Probiotics and probiotics in dog diet, importance of friendly bacteria for canine health. Does my dog need supplements? How to add probiotics and probiotics to dog diet? Advice from canine nutritionist and dog nutrition coach. Perfect cocker spaniel. Blog about English cocker spaniels, grooming, training, diet, puppy care, behaviour and more

A simple way to keep your dog healthy for longer

Want to keep your dog healthy for longer? Here’s another diet secret that you need to know…

Aging changes many things including the gut – it may become thicker and less able to move and absorb food efficiency. It can also change the levels of good and bad bacteria that help to control inflammation, reduce the risk of many illnesses, support strong immunity and even have effects on behavior (Pilla et al, 2020, Baum, 2007, Masuoka et al, 2017, Mondo et al 2020)

How can you help? Use age-appropriate diets that contain probiotics (good bacteria) and, importantly, PREBIOTICS (they feed the good bacteria)

In the test study dogs fed commercial food with probiotics not only showed improved levels of good bacteria, but also much lower levels of inflammation markers (known as C-reactive protein). The dog from the non-prebiotic group had high levels of C-reactive protein), higher levels on bad bacteria and lower levels of good bacteria.

So besides checking if your dog food is age-appropriate and complete, look for FOS, MOS and probiotics on the product label.

Do not be tempted to DIY with supplements. It is not a good idea to experiment with pre- and probiotics unless you were specifically prescribed them by your vet.

Do include food sources of pre- and probiotics alongside the main diet as treats (10% or less of your dog’s daily intake) – natural yoghurt, kefir, dandelion leaves, apples and oats (my Beyond the doughnut cookbook has some yummy oat-based recipes)


Photo credit: bacteria by Gert Altmann via Pixabay

Be more dog. A few simple secrets to better understanding & training your spaniel

Do you speak Dog? I know, I know, odd question to ask… But bear with me.

A few days ago, as we finished our little training session, I wondered how much my perception of training has changed over the years. Once upon a time training a pup a few basic commands felt, well, basic… Nothing much. Treats, gestures, cues – job done! 

But as the years passed by and the volume of digested books, studies, courses and experiences settled in my brain, I realised a simple thing – training a dog – and especially COMMUNICATING your idea to the dog effectively – is far from simple, rrrrrrreally far from simple.

More often than not (and here I am talking about regular pup parents like you and me, not professional trainers) getting a pup from A to Z feels like a three step process: the treats and lure, the results and the added cue or gesture or both. Creatively speaking, we see training as Malevich’s Black Square. 

For a typical dog, on the other hand, our efforts are likely to resemble something painted by Dali…

The smell. The dog smells all the distrastive, often invisitable to us, thing around him. He also knows that you have treats in your pocket. He knows what sort of treats they are. He smells your emotions. 

The taste. It makes the brain happy. And the pleasure should be immediate otherwise there’s no point. 

The sight. He watches you most intensly than you’d dare to know. For a dog, it’s not such a cue -> a treat link. It’s also everything in between (it’s known as bridging if you want to be clever). The position of your body, your hand, your eyes, facial expression, any movement you might make, the spot where the treat is placed and received. All these matter to him and will be remembered carefully because  he needs to remember exactly what, when and how gets him the treat.

The sound. Dogs are a creatures of a few words. They like it simple. The first word is to get attention. The second one is to determine an action. High pitched sounds can mean excitement or alarm. Longer (stretched like legato in music, think “staaaay” or “gooood boooy”) words are to slow down, calm, stay still, relax… 

The emotions. Happiness, fear, excitement, stress – all these emotions cause a burst of different hormones that will have an effect on the pup’s ability to concentrate, learn and remember. 

What does it all mean?

For me, communicating an idea to a dog successfully involves a few simple but important points…

… only train when you feel happy, relaxed and well (otherwise the dog will sniff out our own hormones, especially stress hormones – and will mimic them)

… only train when a dog is happy to be trained – he is rested, happy, adventurous, excited and eager to learn

… keep the duration of training based on your dog’s abilities. Do not let him get tired or bored. Think how you’d feel if you were made to sit through a two hour lecture – even if it’s really interesting in the beginning, the brain often gives up on living after an hour unless there’s a break

… watch your own body language – record your sessions if necessary

… use the right tone of your voice depending on what you want to achieve and, please, do not get into the “machine gun”mode saying to your dog “sit, sit, sit, sit” or “come, come, come, come” on repeat. One word – long pause – another word if needed. Otherwise your pup will just hear “comecomecomecomecoooooome” the same way we hear “yap-yap-yap-yap” – it’s just another meaningless and slighly irritating noise…

… choose treats wisely. You don’t need to have a whole bag of high value treats! Mix them up! I use kibble, but if we need high value or more attention, add a few tiny pieces of cooked chicken breast and mix them all up. The kibble get a bit of an extra “flavour”. Everyone is happy

… be precise. Reward within 1-2 seconds with easy-to-swallow tiny treats, with precise action, at precise spot and accompanied by specific word and specific praise. Eventually the praise will (or almost will) replace the treat teasing the pleasure center in the brain with a sound alone. 

Simple? Yes, once you know the why’s and how-to’s. Now all you need to do is to remember these points while putting them into action. And that’s when things suddenly get as complicated as learning and practising a foreign language. It takes an effort but suddenly and eventually everything falls into place.

Image credit: Salvador Dali. Feather Equilibrium. 1947