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

Watermelon for dogs. Can dogs eat watermelon? benefits and precautions when feeding dogs watermelon. Nutrition for dogs. Perfect cocker spaniel blog written by qualified canine nutritionist and pet nutrition coach (C)

Can my dog eat… watermelon?

Let’s talk about the biggest berry in the world. The most beautiful, juicy and highly instagrammable summer delight that is watermelon.

Watermelon is delicious and many pups adore it.


YES, they can, but there are pros and cons you need to know before feeding the fruit to your spaniel.

Watermelon is 92% water, which makes it hydrating, especially on a hot day.

It is a source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and group B, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron.

Antioxidants in watermelon may reduce inflammation, the risk of heart disease, age-related macular degeneration and some forms of cancer (according to human and animal studies)

The fruit is a source of amino acid citrulline that may help with reducing blood pressure.

The juice of the wild watermelon showed potential in inhibiting he replication of influenza virus in dogs (Morimoto et al, 2020)

Another study noted that including watermelon in a diet may reduce the risk of diabetes, protect pancreatic cells (Ahn at al, 2011) and reduce and maintain body weight (Wirth et al, 2020, Shaneley et al, 2020)

Dogs who were given watermelon extract as a drink showed reduction in leptin levels (a hormone involved in weight, inflammation control and diseases associated with canine obesity) and inhibited formation of urine crystals (Miyai et al, 2018)


High water and fibre content of watermelon means that dogs should only be given small quantities of the fruit – or they may end up with diarrhoea. Start with a couple of small bites and gradually increase to a tablespoon / ice-cream scoop of flesh.

Avoid the seeds! They can cause blockages if swallowed, and also contain anti-nutrients called tannins, phytates and oxalates (Addo et al, 2018)

Do not feed the rind (both the white and green parts) because it can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea.

If your dog has any diagnosed conditions and/or on prescription medication or diet, particularly anything related to urinary or cardiovascular system, always check with your vet before including watermelon in your pups diet.

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