Natural, Plant – based, Vegan…Same, Similar or Not at All?

I believe natural products are better for us, our pets and the environment. This is why all Vita Canis products are plant-based, 100% natural and against animal testing.

You may have noticed that I don’t have the leaping bunny and vegan product logo on my bottles… yet! However I’m always very conscious about what I put into my products as well as what I use for myself and my dogs.

In definition:

A natural product is a chemical compound or substance produced by a living organism that is found in nature. In the broadest sense, natural products include any substance produced by life. It’s safe to say then that plant-based products, like oils, essential oils, butters, etc. are natural, plant-based and vegan obviously. Pretty straight forward wouldn’t you agree?

Animal products

Animal products that are found in cosmetics and pet care products are also natural as they’re substances produced by a living organism. TAKE NOTE THOUGH… THEY ARE INDEED NATURAL BUT NOT VEGAN. Lanoline, glycerine, stearic acid, collagen elastin and keratin are a few examples. However, there are plant-based alternatives to these. But we’ll discuss that another time.

Vegan products

A vegan product is a product without the addition of any animal products or by-products but vegan doesn’t necessarily mean natural. Some of the animal-derived ingredients are not always replaced by botanical, plant-based ingredients so instead. However they are often substituted with synthetic ingredients made in laboratories.

This is why the word ‘natural’ is the most overused word, not only in the beauty industry but also in pet care products.

Did you know that a product can be described as natural even if it contains just 1% of naturally-sourced, plant-based or mineral ingredients?! If you want to be sure of what you’re buying, always check the ingredients! 

Check the ingredients.

When you’re buying a natural product, the botanicals (substances obtained from a plant) are on the top of the ingredients list and the synthetic ones at the bottom. This list starts with the highest percentage ingredient and goes down to the lowest and the ingredients under 1% can be listed in any particular order. All of this is in accordance with the global standard of INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) and the names are also not in their common form (although you should find a clue in the name). An example of an INCI name is Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice for Aloe Vera Juice.

Unfortunately, manufactures are not required to display the full list of ingredients on their pet products (apart from dog food). I think if you’re proud of what you’re making and you know what you’re using you shouldn’t then have a problem with putting the names of your ingredients on the bottles. Am I right? It’s for this reason that you can find a list of all the ingredients used on Vita Canis bottles and jars and if you have any doubts you can always ask me.

What do you look for?

As you can see, vegan is not always natural. However plant-based is natural and vegan. And what do you look for when buying a new cream for yourself or a new shampoo for your dog? Are you checking the ingredients? Are you looking for logos, like the vegan logo and the leaping bunny?

I really hope that I’ve been able to help clear up some confusion that you might have had and once again… if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask ❤︎.

Jitka xx

Geranium is Magical!

Skin relief has been one of our best sellers since the day I launched it.  

I’m really happy about that, however, it shows how many dogs are suffering from itchy skin, and environmental allergies sadly. If you haven’t read my blog yet about bathing your dog, go and have a look over here >>>   It also shows that many dog owners are reaching for a natural approach when managing symptoms of environmental allergies.

Geranium is magical!

This is what one of my clients had to say…

My 14-year-old westie has suffered from allergies resulting in itchy skin and yeast build-up for most of her life. Although well-controlled with a nonsteroidal medication and an anti-fungal shampoo, these past couple of years have been quite bad. Her little paws, especially, became swollen and infected.

Reluctant to get yet more antibiotics, Vita Canis was recommended and after reading about the products I decided to try Skin Relief. I have to say, I was worried that she might be allergic to one of the ingredients, so I only tried it on one of her paws first, putting it on with a cotton pad and using a cotton bud to get in between her toes.

It gave her instant relief and within 3 days the improvement was remarkable. The swelling has gone down her skin has healed and looks so much healthier. She’s no longer struggling when walking and is back to her happy frisky self. I use it once in the morning and once at night after washing her feet and have also started using Paw Butter at night. This seems to soften her paws and keep the yeast build-up in check. I honestly cannot recommend this product enough and it’s such a relief to have found something that works.
Thank you so much.

Emily Mathewson, UK

Why am I improving the formula then, if it works?

My John suffers from itchy skin occasionally – I don’t think he’s allergic to anything but that in his case, it’s actually stress-related. As we know, everything in the body is related. So it makes sense that stress affects the skin. Stress activates the conversion of cortisone to cortisol. It is a steroid hormone, and its release is increased in response to stress. Then increases blood sugar and also suppresses the immune system. Cortisol then accumulates in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) and disturbs its barrier function.

I suggested Skin Relief to John because of its cooling, analgesic and local anaesthetic action that it provides (thanks to the peppermint essential oil). The anaesthetic action is so significant that when Skin Relief is applied a dog stops scratching or nibbling pretty much immediately…and so did John! The relief, however, didn’t last long so I felt that I needed to add something to improve the healing property of the spray.

After some research, I decided on adding geranium essential oil.

Geranium is magical! Geranium essential oil doesn’t only have a lovely aroma but it also has a lot of benefits for the skin:

It is an antihistamine essential oil.
Prevents tissue degeneration and promotes healing of wounds.
Destroys and inhibits odours.
It has antiseptic properties.
Balances the skins natural oil production.
It has a sedative and uplifting effect on the nervous system. 

What happened next?

After adding geranium essential oil to Skin Relief John’s skin improved significantly! It so happened that my friend then approached me for a remedy to help her dog that was suffering from environmental allergies and she asked for something stronger or slightly different from Skin Relief. I took this opportunity to send her the new and improved formula and it worked!

Fighting environmental allergies is a constant battle as allergens are all around us. Allergens aren’t limited to a certain season of the year anymore.  Supporting the immune system and removing allergens from the coat and skin can help while bathing also provides immediate relief. Find out what to look for when you are choosing a shampoo and how to make your own rinse here >>>


We are launching the new Skin Relief on Wednesday 26th.

Jitka xx

* Please note that Skin Relief and the advice above doesn’t replace veterinary care.

3 Reasons to go Natural

Here are 3 simple reasons why to go natural.

Have you ever asked yourself what natural products actually are?

The shortest description of a natural product, according to Wikipedia, is:A chemical compound or substance produced by a living organism that is found in nature. In the broadest sense, natural products include any substance produced by life.

How simple is that, hey?

That then means that natural products include a huge and very diverse group of substances from a large variety of sources. They’re produced not only by plants but also by bacteria, fungi, animals and marine organisms. The term natural also includes complex extracts from these producers and also the isolated compounds derived from those extracts, like vitamins and minerals for example.

3 Reasons to go Natural

Let’s talk about why we should choose natural products, not only for us but for our animal friends as well:

🌳 The skin absorbs what we put onto it.

Yes, obviously not all of it, but about 60-70%. There’s also a difference between absorption and penetration. Penetration is when a chemical makes it into the deeper layers of the skin while absorption is when the chemical actually makes it into the bloodstream. This percentage seems pretty high to me so to be safe it’s better to stick to plant-based, natural products.

What about hand cream? You put cream on your hands and then you put food into your mouth with the same hand. You’d be safer with 100% natural Hand Butter. And your dog’s paws? Does he lick them after you put something onto them? Again, it’s safer with our Paw Butter. It’s not tasty (yes I’ve actually tried it 😂) but it’s not harmful.

🌳 Natural products help the environment.

What we choose to use on ourselves and our dogs doesn’t only affect us but also the planet. Bear in mind, I’m not only talking about the plastic tubs, jars, etc. here, but the products that we put on our bodies also get washed off and find their way into the water.

Let’s take silicone additives like dimethicone and others for example. They’re very often a part of skin and hair care products and they sit on the skin not allowing absorption of anything else. That’s not a bad thing, you may think… at least less nasty chemicals get into my skin, right? This ability to block absorption causes problems for aquatic animals as it is blocking their ability to take nutrients in topically. On top of this, because it’s not biodegradable it pollutes the environment twice – during manufacturing and after we used it! Where do you find it? In skincare and make-up as well as conditioners and de-tanglers where the dimethicone smoothens the hair and provides an easier comb through.

🌳 We’re exposed to so many chemicals already.

All of us, including our animals, are exposed to so many chemicals already so why add more? Apparently, an average woman, thanks to her beauty routine, is exposed to 100’s of different chemicals every day. I don’t know about dogs but then think about what’s in the shampoos and conditioners we use, the flea and tick treatments like Frontline and the plug-ins like Adaptil. Why not start off with our Vita Canis Tick Off Spray, this coming spring, to keep your dog free of pesky tick and fleas. It not only smells wonderful but does the business and of course, is kind to the environment!

All of us would be so much better off if we could lower our exposure to these horrid chemicals wherever possible!

Jitka xx

Dog Showing: Tips from John Averis

Who would be the best person to talk to about dog showing and to get some advice other than the one and only, John Averis.

John is a 3rd generation championship breeder and handler of terriers. His grandfather, Les Atkinson, won Best in Show at Crufts in 1963 with a Lakeland Terrier Rogerholm Recruit. In 1998 John’s mom, Judith, handled their home breed Welsh Terrier Supreme Champion Saredon Forever Young to Best In Show at Crufts.

John has trimmed and handled numerous champions.

Over the years John has trimmed and handled numerous champions including Airedales, Irish, Kerry Blue, Lakeland and Welsh Terriers becoming a true multi-breed specialist. Awards include numerous Groups and Best In Shows at General Championship Shows, numerous Best of Breed at Crufts, Terrier Group Winner at Crufts 2017 with Ch. Saredon Enigma and four times BIS at the National Terrier Club show – the biggest Terrier Show in the world!

Have a read at what he had to say…

Your favourite show, John?

National Terrier.

Many of the terriers are vulnerable breeds… why is that?

I found it very sad that many of the terrier breeds are on a fast decline. I’ve heard many times that it’s because of the coat care but I don’t believe that. Unfortunately, fashion comes into play when it comes to dogs and some of our beautiful native breeds get forgotten. Personally, as an exhibitor of some vulnerable breeds, it gives me great pride in taking top honours with them.

It must be an amazing feeling to see the dogs you breed succeeding in show rings around the world?

As a breeder, it’s a wonderful feeling to see dogs we’ve bred winning top honours. Handling is a game, breeding is an art.

What age do you start training a dog?

After a basic lead training, all stems from there… the earlier the better. From your first grooming session, you’re teaching them to stand square on the table. This especially helps the breeds you have to present to the judge on the table. Once they learn the basic walking on the lead, you start show lead training them.  With terriers, you like them to look alert on the lead while moving. Try to do this with their head up, with the loose lead, not strung up. All this training takes time and the secret is patience. Practice makes perfect.

How often would you train?

Little and often, especially when you’re in the mood. Never do it when you are stressed or in a rush. You need to feel relaxed.

Free stand or stacking?

Both are good techniques. The best way is to have someone video you while you’re practicing. And see what technique suits the dogs’ attributes the best. Always keep in mind that a dog can show itself better than you ever will. So if something catches your dog’s attention let him be and he will show himself.

And other tips for handling?

Always approach showing a dog in a calm and confident way. Any forms of tension and stress you may be feeling will go straight down the lead and affects your dog’s performance. When positioning your dog try to use slow deliberate movements rather than quickly grabbing your dog.

When to enter the first show?

In the UK puppy classes start at 6 months of age on the day of the show. I wouldn’t, however, recommend rushing into this unless you are confident in yourself and your puppy.

What else is included in the preparation, apart from grooming?

If you’re a show novice I would recommend going to a local ring craft to learn the basics of showing a dog. This will teach you the ring procedure and also makes your dog aware of the environment. On top of this, it allows you the opportunity to talk to other show people and get advice. 

What show would you recommend for a novice?

I always recommend starting in a ring craft. While you’re there they’ll have schedules for the local shows – companion shows and open shows. Championship shows come in the form of breed shows, group shows, and general all-breed championship shows.

What would you recommend for somebody’s first show?

Once you feel confident enough with yourself and your dog my advice would be planning. Always allow yourself plenty of time for your journey and ideally you want to be at the show at least an hour before your breed is judged. Find a good spot to set up in, which isn’t far from your bench and not too far from your breed ring. Make yourself familiar with the showground (this does depend on the size of the show). Exercise your dogs, get your ring number and start preparing for your class.

What do you recommend taking to the show?

All you need to take to the show are the essentials, depending on your breed. A brush, comb, stripping knife and scissors… I don’t take my best equipment to the show just in case I lose it. All the grooming should be done at home so all you need are the basic tools. I also always take a spare lead with me and don’t forget your ring clip to put your ring number on. I always forget mine!

Always take a water bowl and water, your bate and/or small squeaky toy, towels and poo bags… and of course, Calming Floral Spray. This is never missing in my tack box! It’s always handy to have if your dog gets nervous because of the crowds, other dogs, noise or the judges.

How to dress? Why is it important?

You need to dress smartly and comfortably. Depending on your breed, the colour of your clothes is important. If you have a black or dark dog it’s advisable to choose a lighter colour to make your dog stand out and not blend into your clothes. 

Any other advice for a novice?

💡 My advice would be to only enter one class. I see so many novices enter more than one class and I always think to myself… why? After the class judging is finished the ring steward will call all the class winners to compete for the best of sex. If you have entered more than one class and you lose in one of them you can’t compete for the best sex. 

💡 You can go to your class, in whatever order you like… first, last in the middle…there is no order but if you win your class you’ll be called back in to challenge the other class winners and the steward will place you in the class order. Always listen to the ring steward’s instructions and also do as the judge asks you as not all judges have the same procedure.

💡 Always make sure you are not between the dog and the judge. The rule of thumb is the dog is on your left side.

💡 If you are looking for advice from other exhibitors always wait till after the breed judging. Most people are concentrating and working on the final preparation to show their dog. With terriers, it can be weeks and weeks of work prior to the show and the last minutes before going into the ring are important and people don’t like to be disturbed.

💡 Sportsmanship is very important, win or lose. Always be courteous to other exhibitors and the judge.

💡 Your dog may be very well natured around other dogs but never assume that the other dogs are as well.

💡 One thing you can be sure of, you will make mistakes on the way. However, the more shows you do the easier it gets.

💡 I get asked at many times at shows about grooming tips and people want to now the finest of details. I, however, found that when I judged, I was surprised by how many people forget the basics like cutting the dog’s nails and cleaning teeth. So, remember the basics!


Jitka xx

What People Say...

Just to let you know we LOVE the Comfort Blend we got from you at Crufts. The girls love the smell and try to lick it, and I find walks are a lot calmer these days. THANK YOU!! Calming Floral Spray is next on my list and maybe a burner with some stones.”
Savannah and Jasmine are  two lovely Italian Greyhounds, and you can find them on Instagram @sister.iggies.ig