Dogs tend to play more with each other when their owners watch them, eye contact and engage / Perfect cocker spaniel (C) Canine behaviour study, english cocker spaniel dog blog, puppy tips, behaviour, spaniel grooming, cocker spaniel health

Watch me if you can

I love watching my boys play. In all honesty, I could do it all day long – if only they felt like playing all day long. Seeing them happy and carefree is my source of endorphins. And now it turns out, my presence does a lot of good for pups, too.

According to a study published in Animal Cognition magazine, our dogs are more likely to play with each other if we pay attention to them instead of leaving them alone completely or simply being present in a room.

The researchers observed 10 pairs of dogs who lived together for at least 6 months and were known to play with each other at least once a day. During the study, the dog parents did not use toys or encourage them to play specifically.

But whenever a person was around offering eye contact and occasional praise, the dogs were much more likely to start playing and having fun. The situation was different when a person was not in the room or was present but stared at his phone or computer screen.

The scientists suggested that this dog behaviour might have been caused by several factors including potentially seeking owner’s attention in a manner of little kids, feeling safer, hoping that the owner would join in, or possibly having a release of oxytocin or the “love hormone”.

This is a type of study that “leads to a lot more questions than answers”, but it is obvious that being with our dogs, being present when they seek our attention, is a wonderful way to make them happy and strengthen the bond between us and our pups.

Just like the immortal lyrics go… “Every single day… every game you play… I’ll be watching you…”

Photo credit: by Elizabeth Clark / I am family photography

Can dogs eat pears? Canine nutrition and diet questions answered / animal nutritionist nutrition coach / pears in dog's canine diet nutrition value & benefits / perfect cocker spaniel dog blog / english cocker spaniel diet, nutrition, grooming, care, training, behaviour, puppy tips (C) Natalia Ashton

Can my dog eat… pears?

Carrots, apples, blueberries… more often than not these fruits are on top of the snack list for most canines. But what about pears? I have recently got into the habit of giving my boys a small slice of pear every morning, and the pups seem to love it so much, they give me a look of betrayal if I forget about the treat.

I’ve always knew that pears (but not the seeds) can technically be given to dogs, yet I have hardly seen anyone feeding the fruit to their cockers. Sounds odd, doesn’t it?

And if you like pears as much as I do – and clearly as much as Coop and Fred do – sooner or later you’ll end up asking yourself…


YES! They absolutely can!

Pears can be such a wonderful addition to the menu if your spaniel enjoys the taste. First of all, pears are a source of fibre, quite a bit of fibre, actually. A human serving of fruit provides 6g of it. And the fibre will keep your dog’s digestive system functioning, help to clear out the toxins, maintain healthy anal glands and may even reduce the risk of some cancers. According to animal studies, eating pears also reduced formation of ulcers in the gut.

In addition, pears are full of water to maintain hydration.

Nutrient-wise, the fruit is known as a source of vitamins C and K, and minerals potassium and copper. Thus eating pears may support the immune system, blood clotting, healthy heart and blood pressure, haemoglobin levels, maintenance and production of collagen and elastin for healthy skin and tissues, and bone formation during the growth stage. Human studies also documented an ability of pears to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.

100g of pears also contain between 27 and 41g of phenolic compounds (antioxidants, in other words) including anthocyanins – a type of pigments that give bright fruits and leaves their colour.

The amazing thing about these flavonoids is their ability to protect the body from oxidative stress and, as a result, control and reduce the risk of inflammation and chronic illnesses. In humans, anthocyanins may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s while in animals they have been shown to slow down the speed of age-related cognitive decline.

When studies looked into aging dogs, they noticed that dogs on a diet containing anthocyanins could complete complex tasks much better than “controls” and when the diet was combined with mental stimulation the participants improved greatly within two weeks. The animals were also more agile and eager to play, which could have something to do with the antioxidant’s anti-inflammatory effect.

The bottom line – include pears in your dog’s diet whenever you get a chance. Just remember, the high water, sugar and fibre content can work as a laxative, so moderation is important.

Introduce gradually, starting with a tiny bite-size piece and gradually building up to a thin slice (for an average cocker).

Photo credit: Marjatta Cajan via pixabay

Anal glands health, issues, risks and potential problems in English cocker spaniel and how to prevent them (C) Perfect cocker spaniel, dog blog, canine nutritionist, all about English cocker spaniels, puppy tips, guide, grooming - copyrighted image

Things about anal glands every cocker spaniel parent must know

I think it took me longer to compose a title of this post than to write the actual story. Because no matter how hard I tried, it’s impossible to prettify the subject or make it spam-proof.

But hey, the perks of being a dog mum are always supplemented with conversations about poops and, as you can see, anal glands.

The little glands should be familiar to all cocker spaniel parents because cockers are one of the breeds that may experience problems in the area.

I’ll start with the latest study that looked into the non-cancerous anal sac disorders (ASD) in dogs. According to the results, cocker spaniels were among the affected dogs.

The study considered several parameters including weight and diet, and it seemed that at least some of the dogs needed to either lose weight or change food as a part of their treatment.

Which, to me, means that one of the ways to prevent issues is yet again helping your dog maintain slim physic and feeding him a complete and balanced diet. It can be easily achieved by keeping an eye on your spaniel’s weight, quality of food, portion sizes, amount of treats and activity levels. You know the drill…

Feeding meals that provide correct amount of fibre is one of the simplest ways to maintain healthy anal glands. This is when you should think of commercial complete formulas containing healthy grains instead of choosing grain-free options or experimenting with various types of diets.

You also need to remember to never ever express anal sacs as a part of routine grooming! Nature can do it for you as long as your dog’s diet is balanced.

Unless medically required, squeezing the glands against their will can only lead to injuries, traumas, inflammation and the need to manually express the sacs over and over again. Squeeze them once – and you will have to do it over and over again, first – every few months and then having to pay regular, often monthly, visits to the nurse clinic or a grooming salon.

I often hear dog parents say that they need to express the glands because of the fishy smell. However it is vital to remember that the odour is not always a sign of a physical problem (i.e. impacted glands), but a natural involuntary response to stress or fear. Re-assessing the situation, checking if your dog is happy and content, avoiding stressful events and helping your pooch if he suffers from reactivity or nervousness would eliminate any need to give the glands a squeeze.

And when your spaniel turns nine, you will also need to keep an eye on any odd symptoms that may suddenly appear under the tail and overall because some English cockers carry a specific gene that puts them at risk of anal sac carcinoma. It is important to ask your vet for regular checks and take your cocker to the clinic if he starts to drink or urinate extensively, develops a tiny odd mass or thicker skin under his tail at 4 or 8 o’clock mark, you see blood in stool or bleeding near your dog’s anus, he seems constipated or starts to scoot on his bum. Some dogs may also lose appetite, vomit and become lethargic. The outcomes of the treatment will depend on the stage when the cancer was caught.

So as un-pretty as the subject is, knowing about it can potentially save your dog’s life. Definitely a little lesson worth learning, right?