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Dogs and their senior moments.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are the most emotionally-triggering degenerative diseases for humans and for our four-legged companions.

We don’t know what’s going on in our dogs’ heads, what they think and how are they’re feeling about the premature ageing of their brain. Do they, perhaps, just go with the flow and it’s just a new normal for them? I’m guessing this is the case…

Dogs and their senior moments – doggie dementia.

Dogs live in the moment.

They don’t worry about things like we do. And isn’t it so beautiful? Maybe something we should learn from them. Living in the present moment means letting go of the fear of what the future holds. Because of this, I assume that the behavioural changes coming with ageing are the new normal for them… they don’t overanalyse it and just take it as it is. Even though this might be the case it’s still very emotional for us to watch. And we do try anything we can to help them.

One of the things we can do is to modify their diet…

I’m not a nutritionist. However, I love to read and learn about healthy foods, not just for us but for our furry companions as well.

These are the foods that I’ve learned are beneficial for the brain:

🧠 Food rich in Omega 3’s

Research shows that people whose diets contain daily omega 3’s have been shown to have 26% less risk of having brain lesions that cause dementia compared with those who do not. About 60% of our brain is made of fat and half of that fat is the omega-3 kind.

Our brain uses omega-3’s to build brain and nerve cells and these fats are essential for learning and memory. Also they are helping the brain maintain shape. All mammals have a similar brain structure so why not apply this to our dogs’ care and diet?

Sources of Omega-3’s:

Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring)
Cod liver oil
Algae
Flax seeds
Olive oil
Chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Walnuts


🧠 Berries and cherries

These fruits contain anthocyanin. It is a class of compounds (in fact, a pigment) with antioxidant effects that protect the brain from further damage caused by free radicals. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and contain lots of vitamin C and E.

🧠 Turmeric


I’ve written about turmeric and its benefits a few times. And here’s another bonus from this exotic spice… it has numerous benefits for the brain! Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there. Also it’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

If you want to know more about turmeric, pop over to my blog Have You Tried Turmeric?

🧠 Hemp seeds

In addition to protein, magnesium, iron and zinc, hemp seeds also contain approximately 30% oil as well as a good amount of omega-3’s.

🧠 Pumpkin seeds

These seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage. Also they’re an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc and copper.

And there you have it…

If you’re wanting to support your brain, add these foods to your diet. Don’t, however, forget coffee to increase your alertness, improve your mood and sharpen your concentration. On top of this… dark chocolate… it’s packed with a few brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants 🍫.

JUST DON’T SHARE THESE LAST 2 WITH YOUR DOG!!!

My excuse? I’m having another cup of coffee and another piece of dark chocolate because I’m feeding my brain 😂

Jitka xx



Senior Moments – Part 1

Our dog, our most loyal companion, isn’t able to tell us if he starts becoming forgetful or why he’s suddenly obsessively licking and barking or why he’s awake at 3am wondering where everybody is.

Dog dementia – Did you know it’s real and do you know what it is?

Dog dementia, clinically known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, affects nearly 30% of dogs aged 11-12 years and 70% of dogs aged 15-16 years. It’s also often called “Doggie Alzheimer’s” because the symptoms are so similar to Alzheimer’s disease which can affect us humans.

A dog’s cognitive function encompasses everything from perception and memory to awareness and judgement. Over time, that cognitive function becomes compromised when nerve signals fail to transmit as fast as they used to. If you’ve noticed any odd behaviour in your older pet that you don’t have an explanation for, it could be down to dementia.

Common symptoms of dog dementia include the following:

🧠 Difficulty navigating through familiar environments

When we let our Rosie (who’s almost 16) out, she goes to the wrong door or the wrong side of the door when she wants to come back in. This is because doggie dementia affects the part of the brain that is involved with orientation.


🧠 Confusion and disorientation

Rosie will sometimes bark or moan and we have no idea why or she’ll go and lie on the empty shelf in the kitchen. I used to have a few books there but once she started trying to squeeze into the small space I had to remove the books and let her have the shelf for herself.

🧠 Regression in housebreaking skills

Rosie’s always been a little piglet when it comes to following “no pee/ poo” rules. I sometimes used to think she’d do it in protest when something (we) upset her… like not letting her finish a tub of butter that she stole from the fridge or a bag of nuts that she pinched from my hand bag.

🧠 Obsessive behaviours like licking and barking

Obsessive licking is the latest thing when it comes to Rosie’s strange behaviour. In the morning she’ll sit in her bed and obsessively lick the edge of it, irritating Jazmine who shares the bed with her. Because Jazmine has her own issues it doesn’t occur to her that she can just leave and go to a different bed. Instead she starts to growl at Rosie who is oblivious to the frustrations she’s causing and what does Rosie do… she carries on licking. I then have to move Jazmine to another bed 🙈.

Food for thought: Licking is thought to reduce stress hormone levels and release calming hormones.

🧠 Unprecedented anxiety

🧠 Reduced interest in past favourite things like food, family, and games

Rosie is still very interested in her food as well as everybody else’s luckily. Her motto is “the more the better” and occasionally she will still play fetch, chew on a Kong toy or destroy a fluffy one.

🧠 Unusual sleep/awake patterns

This is the biggest issue with Rosie and it was even worse with Kimi. Both used to wake us up at silly hours (like 3am) and demand their breakfast. We’re now at the point that if Rosie wakes up at 4:30-5am, it’s ok with me. I don’t even have to use my alarm anymore. If she’s not up by 6 I usually start to worry if she’s ok. 

Dog dementia doesn’t have a cure but there is something you can do to help manage it and that is… use essential oils and watch their diet.

From my own experience and from other dog owners as well, the essential oils in Comfort Blend can improve quality of life for dogs with dementia. Bergamot essential oil (which is one of the main oils in Comfort Blend) has various uses when it comes to the treatment of dementia symptoms. It’s also an excellent and popular option for relieving anxiety and nervousness and even mild bouts of depression.

Ylang Ylang essential oil is another great oil when it comes to calming the mind and combatting stress, anxiety and insomnia.

“My Bichon has recently been diagnosed with doggie dementia and has been really unsettled and hysterically barking and not wanting to be away from me. In January I spoke to Jitka and she recommended that Comfort Blend may work but couldn’t guarantee it as it is new and she hadn’t tried it on a dog with what Disney has. I bought a bottle and although I know nothing will cure it, it has most definitely settled him down a lot. He’ll go and relax by himself in a cage and I can now leave a room without him panicking on my whereabouts
Thank you so much for this product.”
 
Jade Borrow and Disney 


If you’re struggling with what might be Dog dementia in your dog, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll try help out anyway I can.

Jitka xx

Motion sickness: What can you do.

What implications could a car journey have for your dog?

Most dogs get excited when walking towards a car but for those who suffer from motion sickness, the brakes come on, the tail goes down and they’ll most probably crawl or try to escape. Just as a human knows, dogs like this know that even a short car journey means stress, a possible upset stomach, drooling or diarrhoea and for some, all of it.

I know how it feels. As a child, I suffered from motion sickness and even a short 20-minute drive to our cottage included a stop or two for me to get out of the car to get some fresh air. It got better with age and I’m fine now but I still can’t read or text while sitting in the car (panic not, I don’t mean while driving 😂).

Motion sickness is more common in puppies and youngsters than in older dogs.

We presume it’s because the ear structures used for balance aren’t fully developed in puppies. If the first car ride ends up with nausea the dog will begin to associate car travel with uncomfortable sensations, even after his balance system fully matures. Because of this, we have to try to make the first car journeys as relaxing as possible from an early age. Stress can also add to motion sickness (such as if a dog rides in a car only to go to the vets) and the negative sensations associated with a car journey will then be more pronounced.

Motion sickness doesn’t only mean vomiting. Other signs of motion sickness in dogs include:

🚙 Excessive Drooling
🚙 Listlessness
🚙 Uneasiness
🚙 Yawning or panting
🚙 Whining or barking
🚙 Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)
🚙 Fear of cars 

To help your puppy and prevent motion sickness in dogs, try the following approaches:

🚗 Help your dog face forward while traveling by strapping him or her into the seat with a specially designed canine seatbelt or put your dog in a crate so that he can see what’s going on around him.
🚗 Take short car rides to places your dog will enjoy, such as the park, beach or woods.
🚗 Lower car windows a few inches to equalize the inside and outside air pressure.
🚗 Keep your car cool.
🚗 Don’t feed your dog before traveling.
🚗 Give your dog a treat or two every time he or she gets into the car and be excited about it!
🚗 Give your dog a toy that he or she enjoys and can have only in the car.
🚗 Start with short rides (just a few minutes).
🚗 If necessary, spray your dog with Calming Floral Spray again.
🚗 Give your dog a one to two-week break from car rides.
🚗 If possible use a different vehicle to avoid triggering your dog’s negative response to your usual vehicle. 

You can also:

🚕 Walk your puppy/ dog towards and around the car without getting into it.
🚕 Spend some time with your pup in the car with the engine off. 


Please note: If a dog continues to appear ill even after several car rides you should consult a veterinarian about treatment for motion sickness!

Do you know what I’m going to do on my next car drive? I’m going to take Calming Floral Spray and a book, I’m then going to spray myself… AND READ (still not me driving 🤣)!!

I’ll keep you posted on the result!

Jitka xx

5 Reasons Why the Elderly Need a Pet.

I’m writing this blog while visiting my parents in Slovakia. It’s so nice to be home and to spend time with them because I get to enjoy mum’s cooking, play cards, watch old films, chat and of course, walk Cherry 😍. Do you remember her? She’s the little black and white chihuahua that changed my parents lives considerably for the better.

“After the final no there comes a yes. And on that yes the future world depends. No was the night. Yes is this present sun.”
Wallace Stevens

We’ve had dogs in our family since I was 13. After my parents lost our last dog a few years ago, mum didn’t want another dog. This surprised me but she said she didn’t want the responsibility and was also worried about walking a dog on the icy roads in the winter. As a result, for a few years, she just looked after her friends’ dogs while they were on holiday. The thing is that every time she had a little holidaymaker with her she lit up because she had somebody to look after, walk and play with… a little project, something to occupy her and something to entertain her.

I tried to convince her that a little dog would be good for them both but there were always arguments like who would look after him/her if they came to visit me? What if my dad leaves the door open and the dog escapes? How will the regular holidaymakers react and how was she going to walk her/him in winter when worrying about falling? After years and years of me begging, we slowly started to discuss each obstacle and they became smaller and smaller.

As Marie Forleo says… everything is figureoutable.

We eventually got to the point where we discussed what breed to get. When choosing a dog or another pet for an elderly person choose wisely and think ahead!

The benefits of pet ownership for my parents are fabulous and the love, affection, stimulation and joy that Cherry has brought is obvious (this isn’t even mentioning the health benefits such as lowering stress, blood pressure and increasing mental acuity) but owning a dog also carries daily chores and responsibilities and the elderly person has to be up for it.

This is why we settled on a Chihuahua and we haven’t regretted it for one minute.

A small dog doesn’t require as much exercise as a medium or large breed would and I don’t have to worry that the dog will pull my mom over on an icy road. It’s easy to travel with and let’s not forget… less expensive to look after.

There are other benefits too…

1) Taking Care of Something

My sister and I left home years ago and my sister’s kids left the home town as well. Once the last dog left, there was no one to look after. The desire to be useful and of value doesn’t magically disappear when people retire and their kids grow up and build their own independent lives. It’s very satisfying to take care of another living thing for them too

2) Getting Out

Having a dog, requires walks (especially because my parents live in a flat). Going out every day helps my mom to stay connected to life – to other dog owners, the vet, and maybe eventually a groomer as well. Having a pet is a good way to stay involved in your community.

4) Companionship

My parents have been together for 52 years. In the past ,when they worked together and looked after us, there was always something to talk about but after retirement they kind of grew apart… spoke less and had no common interests. Cue Cherry and the whole energy changed! This lovely little dog gave them a reason to talk more, to laugh together and to love.

For many elderly people loneliness can become an unwelcome companion and getting older can lead to depression as well as physical problems. A dog can change an elderly person’s life, their schedule and personality. A dog is never unavailable or off duty and smaller dogs, in particular, are even easy to travel with meaning you can have him/her by your side always.

5) Having a Routine

We are creatures of habit and we need our routines and the routine of caring for a pet can give structure and purpose to your daily life. Perhaps there comes a time where an older person doesn’t want to get out of bed and the dog would need her to?

I hope I’ve given you all something to think about. Maybe you’ve had these same experiences too? 

I LOVE feel good stories so please send me a message and share your experiences with me ❤︎

Jitka xx

Jumping into 2020

Dogs can’t make new year’s resolutions.

Also they can’t change their daily habits to improve their lives without us. It’s our responsibility to ensure our dog is looked after when it comes to weight, exercise, brain stimulation, and overall health. 

With this in mind… here are 5 Practical New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners!

1. Keep them in shape.

A popular new year’s resolution is to get in better shape by changing eating habits and exercising more. A dog, however, is not going to look in a mirror and judge his body and decide that the time to do something about it is now. He doesn’t know that extra weight can increase the risk of many types of cancers and can cause diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and faster degeneration of affected joints as well as urinary bladder stones.

We do though and only we can do something about it.

We are the ones who choose the food and treats that we give to our dogs as well as the amount. A dog can’t open a fridge or a cupboard (unless you don’t shut it properly) and feed himself, therefore, we need to know what to feed him and how much as well as keep an eye on his waistline. 

I’m a big advocate of raw feeding. Modern dog food is high in simple carbohydrates, low in protein, and full of unfavourable fats which is a perfect recipe for your dog to gain weight. With all this in mind, why not feed your dog a more natural diet which is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and has the right amount of good fat?

Every species needs to eat biologically appropriate food.

For example, pandas must eat bamboo and dogs, like wolves, need high-quality animal protein to thrive. Next time you buy food for your dog, check the labels. How much and what kind of protein is in your dog’s food and how much carbohydrates does it contain (rice, wheat, potato, corn)?

When you change your dog’s feeding plan make sure that the whole family is on the same page. Who is the weakest link in your family? Who is the one that will always sneak a treat under the dining table? 👀

2. Check the smile.

As we all know dogs have sharp, strong teeth, and powerful jaws. They not only need their teeth for eating but also carrying stuff around, playing, communicating, chewing your slippers and steeling your sandwich. In the wild, their teeth and jaws once enabled them to hunt, catch and eat prey.

Dental issues are one of the most common health problems in dogs and these problems with teeth and gums can have a negative impact on a dog’s overall health and quality of life. I’m talking about…

🦷 Discolouration of teeth
🦷 Visible tartar build-up
🦷 Inflamed gums
🦷 Bleeding gums
🦷 Bad breath
🦷 Difficulty to eat
🦷 Loss of appetite
🦷 Apathy
 

Did you now that it is estimated that by the time they are 2 years old, 80% of dogs begin to show signs of oral disease.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a biofilm that develops on the teeth. It’s a white-like matter largely composed of bacteria that has an unpleasant odour that worsens the longer it remains in the mouth. It not only smells bad, but it also causes tooth decay and gum irritation.

If plaque is not removed, it turns into tartar.

Tartar is a yellow or brownish hard substance also known as calculus that remains fixed to the surface of the teeth and is hard to remove. Plaque and tartar are the primary cause of loose teeth and gum disease but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Emmi-Pet Teeth Cleaning System is non-invasive and effective. It will not only benefit the dog’s teeth but their health in general as unhealthy teeth and gums will affect the dog’s whole body. Ultrasound reaches deep below the gum line to kill germs and bacteria and cleans the teeth and gums to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar.  At the same time, it increases the blood flow to the gums to heal wounds and stop bleeding.

The Emmi-Pet effectively combats:

Gingivitis and periodontitis
Oral cavity diseases
Plaque and tartar build-up
Bad breath


The Emmi-Pet toothbrush is vibration free and no brushing is necessary.

3. Spend more quality time as a pack.

Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, pack animals such as wild dogs and wolves, hunt together, eat together, rest together and raise their pups together. Now I’m not suggesting you take your dog on a hunt but maybe a walk in a different field or a different park would be nice for him because he’ll get to explore different territories. 

If you can’t take your dog off the lead then make a change and let him choose where to go (just make sure it’s safe). Let him decide how long he wants to sniff that one tiny leaf for 🐕‍🦺. 

Perhaps even plan some extra cuddle time while watching TV? Studies show that a little extra TLC goes a long way towards happiness and health ❤︎.

4. First aid course.

For many of us our dog is frankly our most loyal companion and as dog owners, we are fully responsible for them. Many owners would, however, struggle to help their dog in an accident or emergency. Just like us our dogs are susceptive to serious health conditions like strokes, poisoning, heart attacks, broken bones or even organ failure and it’s very important to know how to deal with situations like this. What is the best way to learn how? Yip… take a First Aid Course .
 
Click here to see if your first aid is up to scratch.

5.  Brush, brush, brush, comb.

When it comes to grooming advice the internet is FULL of tips on how to groom your dog. Some of them are good, some not so good, and some are just shocking 😱.

Read my blog here to get some REAL puppy grooming tips!

Consistency is key when it comes to grooming. With a puppy, you have to brush and comb him every day, especially if your puppy is really fluffy. I’m telling you, he will get even fluffier and wrigglier with age… unless you do something and the time to do something is now.

Grab your brush, comb, Calming Floral Spray and some tasty treats and go for it. Do this daily for just a few minutes every day and soon it will be a new habit 👍🏻.

So there you have it! 5 new years resolutions for you to kickstart your and your furry friends way into a GREAT 2020!

Jitka xx

What People Say...

When we got home from the hospital with our new arrival it was clear that Perri, one of our miniature poodles, maternal instincts kicked in and went into overdrive. She was immediately acting like a mother separated from her pups and just wanted to care for the ‘naked puppy’. She has a history of being so motherly, even to the point that she has produced milk for puppies that aren’t hers even before she had a litter and has mothered every type of animal she could. She was panting, pacing and unable to relax for long at all. She could whine for England!

We tried other herbal remedies we had at hand for a previous anxious dog and nothing worked at all. She stopped eating and stressed herself into overheating too. Her stress was starting to impact the other dogs and she just couldn’t unwind. No matter if we worked off her energy with a walk and she wasn’t even interested in her usual mind games or call games. We also couldn’t offer long-lasting treats and chews too often as they gave her an upset stomach.

As soon as the Calming Floral Spray arrived I gave the bed a spritz and put some on her coat and the change was instant. She just got on her bed and fell asleep. She stopped panting and barely whines now, started eating again and she only does a bit of whining if the baby cries. We have now been able to positively reinforce her calm behaviour. I honestly can’t recommend this enough to people.
Natalie Griffiths