Puppy life that flies by

Despite my intentions of keeping a daily dairy of Coopers life, I failed. I had a feeling I would – and my brain and gut agreed. Sadly.

The time is flying by. One day Coop is a shy little pup scared to get out of his plastic bed – and before you know it, the boy is stomping up the stairs (yes, I know!), barking like a pro, running around parks and gardens and losing his teeth.

As of today, our routine is pretty straight forward. Get up at 5 for a toilet break, sleep until 6:00, then get out for a walk, come back for a shower and blow-dry, have breakfast followed by a quiet play time (doggies do need their 30-60 minutes of post meal calm as nature intended, after all), nap, play, lunch, play, nap, training, play, nap, dinner, walk and proper run, shower, little play and bed time.

I must admit, the walks are such a blessing. Cockers are naturally mad, sweetly mad, but mad… Multiply it by 100 and that’s a kind of energy bust a cocker pup is dealing with on a daily basis. Being house-bound meant a constant and intense search for ways to burn that energy up. It was exhausting… I didn’t think I’d last much longer. Luckily, the quarantine was over and we ventured out. For us it was a much-needed relief. For him, a happy way to tire himself out, release that energy and explore the world.

Coop adores being out very much (still doesn’t really do his business outside and waits to get back to the garden, but hey, he doesn’t do it much indoor either, brilliant pup!). He also loves his shower after each walk and is now happy to be blow-dried. The latter took me a few baby steps to make sure that he is happy and comfortable, but we got to the point where the boy finds it rather relaxing and almost falls asleep by the end of each “session”.

He also lost his first two teeth and is going through the chewing stage, so some furniture had to be sprayed with bitrex and Cooper got a fresh supply of toys to destroy: his favourites are definitely the rope (the hemp one failed, but cotton is brilliant), his Giraffe and Owl (I had to re-order these two), Kong Bear and chews with a plastic bottle inside. I also ordered him Wild Duck – fingers crossed he will enjoy the textures. Admittedly, Coopers interest in toys changes every day, if not every hour, so I have to be constantly inventing new games and rotating everything he’s already got.

And this is pretty much it for now. Oh, yes, and he does sleep next to me at night – shoot me, I know it’s wrong, but I love seeing his little face (and sometimes his bum) just before I close my eyes and as soon as I wake up in the morning.

leo, the lion, simply fido organic dog toys | best toys for puppies | www.perfectcockerspaniel.com

We Love | Hear them Roar

One of my conscious decision about raising Cooper was the choice of toys. They had to be safe, beautiful, but also organic or natural, free from toxic colourings or nasty artificial fibres. I honestly thought it would be a difficult task considering that nothing like that existed half a decade ago. Surprisingly, they were out there and so sweet I had to stop myself from buying every single one!

Leo, the Lion, is on my wish list right now. He is from Simply Fido and absolutely gorgeous. Considering that Coop is in love with his little Simply Fido Bunny, the Lion will be very welcomed in our household whenever he arrives. Most likely, I’ll give it a few more months, though, until we get the grown-up teeth and stop chewing everything to shreds.

Plants that can be toxic for dogs

Cooper and the garden plants. That’s a whole new story of a curious pup mouthing on pretty much everything that grows. He finds them exciting. I find it stressful. As a result he runs around the garden like an insane bunny on speed (something that happens daily at 7AM and 7PM) while trying to nip on the leaves here and there.

Every time it happens, I want to die yet have to get myself together and run along with him sticking my fingers in his tiny mouth and pulling out bits and pieces of greenery. To be fair, it’s not as bad as it sounds. We moved some of the plants away. Coop lost interest in the others. There are days when he completely ignores his favourites. Then there are days when the pup cannot wait to bury his little face in a lavender bush, pull out a few fragrant stems and chew, chew, chew! For him, it’s an adventure, a game, a normal daily activity of discovering the world.

I remind it to myself daily whilst doing my best to distract him from the garden flora with his favourite toys. Still, I am constantly checking every plant and every leaf to make sure my boy is safe and also be aware of the symptoms, so it was good to come across a list of dangerous plants in the Book of Clinical Nutrition for Dogs (yes, being a human nutritionist makes me somewhat of a nutrition geek).

Instead of listing specific names only, it grouped the plants by their families, which, I thought was brilliant because while the common names may differ, the Latin IDs are always the same. Besides, this list makes a lot of sense when it comes to the actual substances that are dangerous for our pooches. In a way, it also gave me a peace of mind by listing the symptoms – lets face it an online source that lists everything as “lethal” isn’t exactly helping whilst knowing that some plants are not immediately life-threatening and the dog can be saved puts you in control of the situation.

Calcium-oxalate-containing plants (Araceae family): Anthurium, Arum, Caladium, Dieffenbachia, Monstera, Philododendron, Schleffera, Begonia

Toxic effect: stinging and irritation of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat, oedema of the mouth and respiratory tract, produce salivation and difficulty swallowing. Occasionally vomiting and diarrhoea.

Soluble oxalate-containing plants: Rheum (rhubarb leaves), Amaranthus, Oxalis (wood sorrel), Calendrinia, Portulaca, Rumex (docks), Digitalis purpurea (foxglove)

Nerium oleander (contains digitalis-type glygosides) highly toxic, dogs (especially puppies) are likely to consume dry leaves

Ricius communis (castor oil plant, especially the seeds containing ricin)

Toxic effect: nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, diarrhoea with blood, rapid weight loss, heart failure, changes in behaviour, death.

Solanine-containing plants: green (sprouted) potatoes, nightshades (Solanum dulcamara and Solanum nigrum), ornamental pepper, Japanese cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)

Toxic effect: depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation.

Allium species: onion and garlic.

Toxic effect: haemolytic anaemia if eaten in sufficient quantities (15 to 30g per kg or more than 0.5 % of pets body weight – source + source +  source).

Laburnum (Cytisus laburnum or Laburbum anagyroides, all parts)

Toxic effect: vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors

Cyanogenic plants: Nandina, Acacia, Aquilegia, Euphorbia, Hydrangea, Lotus, Nerium oleander, Passiflora, Prunus, Trifolium.

Toxic effect: excitement, salivation, convulsions, racing heart, pale gums, vomiting, death.

Brunfelsia species

Toxic effect: convulsion, neurological disturbances, constipation

Cycads, e.g. seeds of Zamia floridiana

Toxic effect: vomiting and jaundice (yellow eyes and skin is one of the first signs)

Rhododendron & Azalea (grayanotoxin found in Ericacecae family of plants)

Toxic effect: salivation, vomiting, weakness, seizures, slow heart beat

Delphinium (larkspur)

Toxic effect: digestive upset, heart problems, behavioural changes

Tobacco plant (nicotiana tabacum usually ingested in a form of cigarettes)

Toxic effect: depression, salivation, shortness of breath, diarrhoea

Cannabis sativa (marijuana)

Toxic effect: muscle tremors, weakness, “glassy eyes” – often spontaneous recovery within 24 hours

Microcystis aeruginosa & Anabaena flosaquae – blue-green algae and contaminated water, most likely to occur in dogs licking their coat after swimming or drinking contaminated water / plus Oscillatoria species

Toxic effect: vomiting, weakness, muscle tremors, liver failure, paralysis, death.


How to protect your dog from ticks

Ticks are my enemies No. 1. In fact, any bugs that can harm my dogs are my enemies, but ticks always come first. The very idea of them gives me shivers because while it is relatively easy to deal with bees, wasps and mosquito bites, ticks are known for carrying viruses and disease that can lead to a tragedy.

We lost Oscar to haemolytic anaemia.In his case it was due to the immune system “miscommunication”, but it can also be caused by ticks carrying Babesia parasites. For a long time we were lucky not to have them in the UK, but sadly, they are definitely appearing in the country here and there according to the reports and I want to do anything in my power to share the information that may possibly save  your dog’s life and protect you from a heartbreak and loss we’ve experienced.

What can be done to prevent tick bites?

Learn about tick season in your area and try to avoid places known for “tick colonies”. Normally it starts in spring and ends in early summer, then re-starts in autumn around October time. Also remember that ticks love long grass, damp areas and shady woods.

Check your dog every day and definitely – after each walk. Unless your pup has dark hair, the ticks are pretty easy to spot as they craws through the coat. Ticks never attach themselves straight away because they needs to find a suitable spot and prefer eye lids, nose, ears and genitals – wherever the skin is the thinnest. While they are busy locating the spot you can go through your dogs fur in a manner of an ape checking her babies for bugs, and then use a comb to brush the hair and increase your chances of finding a few offenders that will look like millet-size black insects.

Hoover your home daily to remove any ticks that went off searching for their new victims.

You may wish to use an anti-tick collar, but I am not a huge fan of those because the chemicals can cause skin irritations.

Have a tick removal device called O’Tom Tick Twister at home. It makes tick-removal more effective. Admittedly, it’s best to ask your vet to show you how it’s done or watch this video, but easy enough to master.

Rose geranium oil makes a natural tick repellent and the beauty of it is that the oil doesn’t need to be diluted prior to application. Having said that I personally still mix a few drops in some almond oil (approximately 10 drops per 1tbsp of oil) before using it and, because the scent is rather strong, prefer adding the drops to a DIY’ed bow that I tie around the collar at the top of my dogs neck (so he doesn’t get all the smell hitting his sensitive nostrils).

A chemical-free and rather interesting solution is TickLess Pet – an ultrasonic device that repels ticks through the power of sound undetectable to human ears. I came across it a couple of months ago and haven’t had a chance to use yet, but I definitely will.