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

Benefits and risks of raw honey in canine diet / dog nutrition and healthy home made treats for dogs / canine nutritionist in UK / perfect cocker spaniel / dog blog about English cocker spaniels, tips on grooming, hand-stripping, diet, nutrition, food, health, raising a cocker spaniel puppy (C) Natalia Ashton

Can my dog eat… honey?

“Honey” may be one of the sweetest names for a golden cocker spaniel puppy, but it is also one of my favourite “superfoods” and natural ailments.

Nutritionally, about 40% of honey is fructose, 40% – glucose, 15% – water and 5% – other sugars plus 80 trace vitamins and minerals including B, C, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, iodine, sodium, copper, manganese, zinc, boron, silver and silica. Manuka honey also contains some proteins and fatty acids.

No wonder that honey is praised for its antibacterial properties, source of energy, and an ability to maintain healthy digestive, nervous, immune and skeletal systems, support haemoglobin levels, improve memory function and aid natural detoxification.

Studies that were done on humans or rats linked manuka honey to the blood sugar control, reduced risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and several cancers.

In dogs, a 2016 pilot study concluded that medical grate manuka honey could be used for treatment of ear infections (but please do discuss this with your vet before going ahead!)

But can the dogs really eat honey?

The answer is… IT DEPENDS.

Whilst a little honey may be beneficial for healthy adult dogs without underlying health conditions, it should not be given to overweight and obese dogs, dogs who have diabetes, and must never be fed to puppies under 12 months of age or any dog with the weakened immune system.

Raw honey may contain botulism spores (two other common sources are raw meat and carcasses of dead animals) and be potentially fatal. Adult dogs are resistant to the bacterium, but neither puppies, nor ill dogs have enough natural defences for protection.

The spores cause paralysis, extreme salivation, vision problems, runny eyes, difficulty swallowing and breathing and death due to either paralysis of the heart or lungs. If a dog does recover, he requires maintenance therapy for life. First symptoms may take between a few hours to up to 6 days to develop and often begin with weakness in rear legs that appear within 24 hours after ingestion of the spores.

For this reason, all puppy parents must check any foods or treats for presence of honey and avoid them until their dog’s first birthday. It is also essential to check that grooming products, especially balms and creams, you use for a puppy are free from both honey and beeswax (cera alba).

The good news is dogs naturally love honey (because they do love anything sweet) and honey may provide some goodness for all healthy grown-up canines, so treat them to a 1/4 tsp (cocker spaniel size) of good quality raw honey a few times a weeks without worried.


Adapted from Beyond the Doughnut: 30 meals & treats your dog will love.


Photo credit: Karsten Masden and Florian Kurz via pixabay

Are dried, raw and dehydrated treats safe and good for my dog / Bully sticks, pizzles, rabbit ears, pigs ears, rawhide treats, liver treats, fish skins for puppies / Nutrition advice for dog owners / How to choose dog treats safely? / Dangers of raw and dehydrated dog chews / Fanconi syndrome in dogs / Perfect cocker spaniel (C) dog blog, cocker spaniel advice, health tips, grooming tips, puppy training, diet, questions / Natalia Ashton

Faconi’s syndrome: the tricky aftermath of dog treats

Have you heard of Fanconi’s syndrome? If you ever thought of feeding your dog any dehydrated treats or chews, you need to keep reading.

Faconi syndrome is a defect that alters the ability of the kidneys to absorb and retain certain nutrients, electrolytes and water. It can be a hereditary disease that would only affect certain breeds such as Basenji.

However, over the past decade (it was first reported in 2007), the acquired form of the syndrome caused serious problems in many dogs, particularly toy, small and medium-sized ones.

The dogs would start urinating more than usual. They’d loose weight, appetite and become lethargic. About 60% had digestive symptoms, 30% showed signs associated with kidney function, and the remaining 10% developed tremors, convulsions and skin irritation. Some dogs were affected much more than others.

Upon examination, all these dogs had one thing in common. All of them regularly ate jerky treats or chews.

At first, the unsafe treats thought to be from China, but later on it was established that the country of manufacturing did not matter, and the reports on acquired Fanconi’s syndrome came from all over the world including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore.

Additionally, the treats were made from various ingredients – not just the chicken as it was originally thought – and included poultry, beef, glycerine and vegetable base (dried sweet potato chews and certain dental chews).

The root case of the illness is yet to be established, so please think of all the uncertainties and potential problems if you choose to give your dog any chew- and jerky-type treats.

The symptoms are not very easy to spot and if a dog develops them and is taken to the vets, the other causes need to be ruled out first, and the Fanconi’s test may take up to 2 weeks. This means that unless the dog is diagnosed fast, he may not always make it or will be left with chronic kidney problems.

Even thought these cases are rare, a few minutes of chewing bliss aren’t worth the risk. So it’s a good idea to consider a safer and healthier options including dog’s main food, fresh chopped carrots, cucumbers or apples, or even making your own treats at home.