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Grass Seeds and Dogs.

It’s that time of the year (which we love more than any other) where we can once again enjoy walking our dogs in the fields and meadows. We also all know to use some kind of protection, preferably natural, on our dogs for ticks and fleas as well as other little pests. But what about those sneaky grass seeds?

There’s sadly not much we can do beforehand as they are pretty much everywhere at this time of the year. The problem is that they are tiny and they have the potential to cause your dog serious pain. The seeds have pointy ends and are very sharp allowing them to easily get trapped in your dog’s coat. You might be thinking… well, that’s not so bad, however, they can burrow down through the hair and pierce the skin. The worse scenario is, albeit in rare cases, is that the grass seed can burrow under the skin and travel to other areas of the body.

So, if your question is can grass seeds hurt my dog? The answer is yes!

As I mentioned above, grass seeds can easily penetrate your dog’s (or cat’s) outer skin in many areas and if we leave it untreated this can be incredibly painful.

How do you know if your dog has grass seeds?

Two of the most common places on the dog’s body where grass seeds can cause problems are the feet and ears. Grass seeds can easily get stuck between the dog’s toes, which is called the interdigital space, “hold” onto the soft fur between the toes and then slowly make its way towards the skin where it can penetrate the skin with ease. Here it may slowly burrow itself deeper and deeper which can result in discomfort, extreme pain, infection and acute lameness. Your dog will vigorously lick its paws and toes because he’ll be very uncomfortable and/or even lethargic. This is when it’s time to visit your vet! Because sometimes the grass seed may travel under the skin where you won’t be able to see it.

When it comes to the ear the story is similar to the one above. The grass seeds shape allows it to work its way from the fur on the ears, down along the ear canal and can go so deep that it can damage the delicate eardrum. If the grass seed enters your dog’s ear he will shake his head vigorously and he will look very uncomfortable. If you notice this sign take your dog to see your vet straight away.

How to remove grass seeds.

After walks, I use a slicker brush with longer bristles for removing any grass and twigs from my dog’s coat. Especially the Scotties who are like magnets for them! How do I do this you ask?

Grass Seeds and Dogs

If a grass seed is close to the surface of the skin or has just started to penetrate it you can use a tweezer. At this stage the grass seed is easily accessible. Once you’ve pulled the seed out you should disinfect the area. Perhaps give our Soothing Antiseptic Spray a try 😉? On the other hand, if a grass seed is lodged too deeply or there’s pus or blood coming out of the wound, do not hesitate and take your dog to the vet!

Today’s lesson?

Always remember to check your dog’s feet, coat and ears after a walk in the fields, forest and meadows. It’s not just pesky ticks and fleas that you find out there!

Fleas – Know Your Enemy.

Fleas have arrived – your dog’s (as well as yours) enemies are here! Are you angry or frustrated and asking yourself, how the hell did this happen to us?Are they from the hedgehog in the garden, the neighbour’s cat or perhaps that scruffy dog in the park? These thoughts will drive one crazy!

Fleas and flea control.

Fleas have different strategies to ticks when it comes to landing on their host. As soon as a young flea hatches she starts looking for a host. Fleas notice vibration and body heat and as soon as the potential host approaches they’ll jump straight on, bite and then feed on the blood whilst being hidden in warm fur.

When I decided to develop a flea repelling product I wanted it to be safe, not only for our dogs and us but also for the environment. Commercial repellents contain synthetic ingredients that repel fleas and insects, however, many of them have been linked to skin irritation, negative respiratory effects and rashes. They also have a negative effect on bees, fish, birds and the environment in general.

If you’re like me and you don’t want to expose your dog, yourself and the environment to more unnecessary chemicals, you reach for the essential oils. Not only do they smell nice but they’re also effective against insects, fleas and ticks. When we use natural flea and tick treatments on our dogs, they need to be reapplied more often but why? The reason is that the active ingredients in essential oils tend to be highly volatile and, as a result, they may only be effective for shorter periods of time. Because of this, frequent reapplication is often necessary.

Insect Repelling Citrus Spray

Insect Repelling Citrus Spray is 100% natural and has a refreshing, bright and fresh aroma. The high-quality essential oils used in this spray are intolerable to fleas, mosquitos, horse flies, wasps and even ants. It’s suitable not only for dogs but also for large animals and humans.

🍃 Lemon essential oil is one of the best essential oils for fleas. Its strong smell and powerful active ingredients can repel not only fleas but also flies, midges, mosquitos and ants.
🍃 Grapefruit essential oil smells delightful and repels insects, particularly fleas.
🍃 The bright and sunny, spirit-lifting aroma of sweet orange essential oil is not pleasant to insects at all (unlike us 😉).

Can fleas live on humans?

Although different types of fleas prefer different hosts, they all bite humans. Yes, they do and it happened to me once. I didn’t catch it (I assume there was only one) from my dog but I think I picked it up on a packed bus 🙈. And I didn’t actually see the flea but my belly started itching and on closer inspection at home I had about a 2” diameter patch of quite a few tiny bites! I quickly took my clothes off and they went straight into the washing machine. Then I jumped into the shower. I assume the flea/fleas died in the washing machine or I flushed it/them off in the shower because no one else experienced any bites afterwards.

How do you know if you have fleas?

You should check your pet regularly for fleas. The easiest way is to open the coat and look for them, their bites or their dirt. Flea dirt looks like a sprinkling of black pepper. You might also notice your dog scratching more frequently. A flea comb is a very good tool to use as well.

If you’re moving house, renting a room or staying in a “suspicious place” where you’re worried about fleas, do the sock test. I’ve never tried it myself, so I can’t tell you how accurate it is, but here it is anyway…

Put on a pair of white cotton socks and pull them up to your calves. Walk around the room or house and if there are adult fleas present they’ll likely jump up and catch a ride. Because fleas are attracted to heat, shuffle your feet to create warmth on the floor and you’ll see them as brown/black specks on your white socks, if they’re around. Let me know if you’ve ever tried this!

Where do fleas live in your house?

Depending on the stage of their life cycle, fleas live in different conditions.

Flea Eggs: These are laid directly on your pet’s fur every day and the fall spreads wherever your pet takes them. This means that flea eggs can end up in your bedding, furniture and carpets. If you have a cat, then even on your table or shelves. They go everywhere!

Flea Larvae: The larvae are loners and prefer dark, narrow and dusty spaces that give them more protection. This is why they’re hard to find and get rid of and mainly why flea treatments often fail.

Adult Fleas:  These only live and hide on live hosts such as cats, dogs, rodents and other furry mammals. As well as the occasional human… You can find them outside and they like shady humid places.  If your furry friend wanders into these places on hot summer days, he’ll become an easy snack bar for fleas for sure!

How do you get rid of fleas?

Getting rid of fleas is not easy. You have to treat not only your dog but your whole household too. Regular and thorough hoovering is also necessary because apparently, this kills up to 96% of adult fleas. If you’re worried about the remaining 4%, get a professional flea fumigation booked ASAP.

The pupae and larvae are resistant to most of the pesticides used in flea control. And in fact, researchers recently found strains of fleas that are immune to popular pesticides such as fipronil as well as others.
Diatomaceous earth and bicarbonate of soda are popular DIY methods and cause fleas to die of dehydration. Bathing your dog helps too, even if you don’t have a special flea shampoo. Be sure to leave the lather on the coat for at least 5 min. This will trap the fleas before rinsing off. Regular bathing helps to keep the flea population in check. And if your dog has fleas you’ll be able to see them easily while shampooing. If you use a high-quality shampoo you don’t have to worry about dry skin or other issues either 👍🏻.

When it comes to fleas, the popular saying, prevention is better than cure, applies. It’s definitely easier, cheaper and less worrying. Wouldn’t you agree?

Dog Shampoo – Any Substitutes?

Your dog needs a bath but you don’t have any dog shampoo 😱. I bet you’ve found yourself in this situation before?

Before I owned my grooming salon it happened to me countless times and it was so frustrating! I’d get so annoyed with myself for not keeping an extra one handy. It was especially frustrating when one of our Howavart girls decided to roll in 💩.

I grabbed just about anything I had at home to wash her because all I knew was that I had to remove the 💩  as quickly as possible. By anything I mean washing up liquid, my shampoo, my conditioner… anything to make her clean and smell nice. 

Now I bet you’re thinking…can I use human shampoo on my dog?

The answer is… kind of. Basically, in emergencies like this, I wouldn’t hesitate because, yes, human shampoo will clean your dog, however, I wouldn’t recommend using it as a substitute to a good quality, as natural as possible, dogs shampoo.

What is The Acid Mantel?

The acid mantle is a very fine, slightly acidic film on the surface of human skin and it works as a barrier to protect the porous top layer (the stratum corneum) from bacteria and viruses. The stratum corneum keeps the outer body well hydrated by absorbing water and not allowing excessive evaporation.

When we wash our dog with shampoo, like it or not, we wash away the acid mantle. It’s for this reason why most human and dog shampoos, as well as soaps, are formulated with moisturizers – to replace the protective layer that has been washed away. This is at least until the skin is able to replenish itself around 12 hours later. If the stratum corneum is left unprotected without its acid barrier, it will be open to a host of microorganisms. This may show up as dry, flaky, irritated, or peeling skin and perhaps even as a rash of itchy lumps.

The acid mantle is also defined as the relative pH balance of the skin. As you probably remember from your school days, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with levels less than 6.4 considered high acidity, and levels more than 6.4 considered high alkalinity. The normal range of skin pH level for humans is 5.2 to 6.2, which means it tends to be on the acidic side. Human shampoos and other skin products are formulated specifically to maintain this balance. Relative pH balance for dogs ranges from 5.5 to 7.5, tending toward a more alkaline concentration (depending on breed, gender, climate and the anatomical size).

So, what does all this mean?

In a nutshell, if we use a shampoo formulated for human skin on a dog, the dog’s acid mantle will be disrupted and it will create an environment where bacteria, parasites, and viruses can grow happily. Unknowingly many pet owners will repeat wash their dogs with human shampoos for different reasons. Perhaps it’s also more convenient because the human shampoo is always there and it smells nice too?

Before learning about the acid mantle, I too was a culprit. I’d even been advised by a friend who breeds and shows Poodles to use Pantene Silk and Smooth as it protects the hair really well allowing for faster growth too. But what about the skin? I’d never thought of that…

The more we learn, the better choices we can make. Don’t you agree?

A lot of people bath their dogs often because of their smell. This can be caused by a proliferation of bacteria, making the problem worse as the skin’s acid mantle (pH level) becomes more out of balance. If they then use a shampoo that makes the skin feel dry, their dog will scratch thereby creating abrasions for bacteria to invade and this will quickly become a vicious cycle.

In conclusion, what’s the lesson learned?

When you’re choosing a shampoo for your dog check the pH balance as well. Dog shampoos should be in the neutral range, around 7. Many shampoo manufacturers provide this information on their labels and even if there’s no specific number, they should clearly state that the shampoo is pH-balanced for dogs.

On a side note… make sure that the shampoo doesn’t contain artificial fragrance and perfumes and try to find natural skin moisturizers like vitamin E, aloe vera, honey, coconut or argan oil. Don’t rely on the front label alone – rather read the ingredients list.

How do I make natural dog shampoo?

Feeling creative and want to create your own homemade dog shampoo? Why not?! You may have some of these ingredients at home already and others can easily be ordered from Summer Naturals.

Aloe Vera and Glycerine Shampoo
  • 1 litre of water.
  • 230ml of shampoo base
  • 230 ml of apple cider vinegar.
  • 75ml of glycerine.
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
I recently discovered this homemade shampoo for itchy skin too 🙂
  • one cup of oatmeal flour (you can also chop up a cup of oats in a blender until it reaches a powder consistency)
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • cups of warm water

Do you enjoy making your own shampoo? Perhaps you have your own recipe? What do you look for when choosing a shampoo for your dog?

Grief and How We Deal With It.

“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.”

Earl Grollman

Isn’t this quote amazing at capturing what grief is? The beauty of grief too is that everyone feels it and experiences it differently. Some may even question if they’re supposed to be feeling like this, how much they should cry or what’s normal etc? We’re all different and we all deal with situations differently.

I feel very fortunate that at my age I haven’t had to experience many of these trying times as I still have my parents, my sister and my friends. When I was 17 I lost my lovely nan, who meant the world to me, and then John’s mom a few years ago. There have, of course, also been many members of my animal family from childhood hamsters (they were all named Mikinko 😊), to cats and dogs over the years. Although there may not have been that many, each one of them were still painful. 

Grieving for your pet.

Grief and How We Deal With It.

When it comes to grieving for your pet, the mixed emotions can be overwhelming, especially when we have to make the hard decision to have them put to sleep.

We’re flooded with feelings of guilt, loss and sadness as well as flashes of happy memories. For me, the guilt is the worse. The constant questioning if I had done the right thing, had I done enough, should I have done more, should I have tried something else, was it too soon… was it not? These voices can drive one crazy.

We may also experience all kinds of emotions, like shock, anger, disbelief and profound sadness. The pain of grief can even disrupt our physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, concentrate and even think. These are all normal reactions to a big loss. One thing I know for sure is that we need to deal with our emotions and let them out. Marisa Peer says that emotions are like a gas. They need to be let out because if you keep them in it hurts.

When we made the hard decision to take Rosie to the vet I cried… A LOT! I cried every time I looked at her, every time I held her and then all over again the next day on the way to the vet. John and I then both cried saying goodbye to Rosie. For the rest of the day I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t concentrate or even think so I just went to bed in the afternoon and cried myself to sleep. John, on the other hand, kept himself vigorously busy. You see, we’re all different and all deal with our emotions differently.

Endorphins

The next day I started using Comfort Blend by placing just a few drops on my wrist and rubbing it onto my neck. I felt calmer and cried only when I saw Rosie’s photo, collar or pillow. I also went for a run because I knew it would clear my head and that I’d be able to switch off completely. Endorphins flooded my body and then finally, I felt joy. Endorphins, our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, are bumped up by physical activity… running in my case and energetically sorting his workshop in John’s. They’re a kind of “protective system” for the body when it’s hit by intense stress, tension or grief and have numerous other benefits such as: alleviating depression, reducing stress and anxiety, and boosting self-esteem.

Essential oils can help.

Another easy way to release endorphins is by using our sense of smell. Research has shown that the inhalation of essential oils can communicate signals to the olfactory system and stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters which help regulate our mood. An example of one such essential oil is Ylang Ylang, which can be found in Comfort Blend. Another example, as found in one study, is that smelling bergamot, lavender and lemon essential oils help trigger your brain to release serotonin and dopamine. 

Exercise and essential oils were the two things that helped me enormously when dealing with Rosie’s loss. Eventually, happy and funny memories started to appear more. We could talk about Rosie with smiles, not tears, and even laugh at her mischiefs.

She was gone, and I had to accept it.

Accepting the things we can’t change and this acceptance gives us the ability to embrace the new change. We all have great memories from our past. And sometimes feel that we’d like to relive them again and again. But we can’t keep borrowing things from the past. We have to look forward, to move forward.

Stay safe!

Love, Jitka xx

RIP Rosie

This particular blog is not an easy one to write. A few days have passed and I’m still struggling to believe that our Rosie is not with us anymore 😢.

RIP Rosie

For those of you who don’t know who Rosie was, she was my Welsh Terrier and the face of Vita Canis from day one. Not only because she had an undeniably cute face and clever expression. But also because she was always keen on taking an excellent photo. What a star our Rosie was! She always knew how to pose and was always keen to participate. She’d stand on her eyelashes for a treat if I asked her to 😂.

I got Rosie from John’s mom when she was 2 years old. I needed a hand-stripped dog for grooming competitions and she stole my heart from day dot. She was easy going, easy to train (not a typical Welsh). Always friendly with other dogs that we met on our walks (not like some of my other terriers). The only dog she didn’t like was my Kerry Blue Terrier Kimi, which was always a mystery to us. They’d lived together happily for 7 years and then one day they decided to kill each other! Hopefully, they’re friends now 🤗.

Rosie ~ the face of Vita Canis

Rosie was a wonderful companion, a wonderful mum to her puppies. And a wonderful foster mum to other puppies that required extra care. She was also a greedy chop that would eat anything, anytime, no matter the amount. Once I had to pull her out of a bag of dry food where all that you could see of her was her back legs sticking out! She’d also happily eat half a box of Thornton’s chocolate, a tub of butter, cheese, ham and nuts… Which would all be stolen from the fridge or bags of course. This cheeky little persona was also evident when she would shout at us if we didn’t listen!

One of my fondest memories of Rosie is when she hid in my suitcase while we were packing for our first holiday abroad. And also not forgetting the time she pooped in my mom’s suitcase! (I think my mom upset her somehow😂).

Rosie, you were my helper and best buddy at many trade shows. As well as the best demo dog I ever had… you didn’t move a muscle on the table… You were loved by all my students because you made them feel at ease. And you were so incredibly special to me that it’s hard to find the words to describe the love I have for you.

RIP Rosie ❤️ 🌈 ❤️

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