A healthy dog is a happy dog

Your dogs health and nutrition affects their behaviour.

The health and diet of your dog directly affects not only their physical well being but their mental well being all so.

A dogs behaviour can sometimes be related to ill health or poor diet.

Dog Nutrition

Foods That Are Toxic To or Just-Plain-Bad for Dogs


  • Alcohol – Can cause intoxication, coma, and death
  • Avocado – The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. The toxic ingredient in avocado is called persin. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart, vomiting, diarrhea, death, inflammation of mammary glands, cardiac failure, respiratory distress, generalized congestion, abdominal enlargement.
  • Apple, Almond, Apricot, Peach, Cherry, Plum, Pear, Prunes & similar fruit – The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs as well as humans causing diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, (Stem, Seeds and Leaves).
  • Baby Food – Can contain onion power which can be toxic to dogs
  • Broccoli – Gastrointestinal irritant
  • Cat Food – Usually too high in protein and fats.
  • Chocolate – Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous. A dog can consume milk chocolate and appear to be fine because it is not as concentrated, but it is still dangerous.
  • Citrus Oil Extracts – Can cause vomiting
  • Coffee, Coffee grounds, tea and tea bags –Drinks/foods containing caffeine cause many of the same symptoms chocolate causes
  • Eggs (raw) Raw eggs can cause salmonella poisoning in dogs. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans and are not as likely to suffer from food poisoning, but it is still possible. If your dog has a partial blockage in their intestines where food can be trapped, e coli or salmonella could breed more easily.
  • Egg white contains the protein ‘avidin’ which forms a stable and biologically inactive complex with biotin. The avidin in egg whites will tie up the biotin so it cannot be used by the dog.”**
  • Fat Trimmings – Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis
  • Iron – Human vitamin supplements containing iron can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.
  • Macadamia nuts – Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis.
  • Marijuana – Can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and changes in the heart rate.
  • Milk and other dairy products – Some adult dogs do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea. Lactose-free milk products are available for pets.
  • Mushrooms – Acute gastric effects, liver and kidney damage, abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
  • Nutmeg – Tremors, seizures and death
  • Tobacco – Nausea, salivation, vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Onion – Gastrointestinal upset, anemia, destroys red blood cells
  • Grapes, Raisins, Prunes – Kidney failure, as little as a single serving of grapes or raisins can kill a dog.
  • Persimmons Seeds – Can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis
  • Salt – Excessive intake can cause kidney problems
  • Tomatoes – Tomatoes can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias. Tomato plants and the most toxic, but tomatoes themselves are also unsafe.
  • Yeast Dough – Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines




Growth Plates


Growth plates, located near the end of your puppy's leg bones, allow your pet's bones to grow. When he matures, these growth plates close and can no longer be seen on X-rays. Because the growth plate material is softer than bone, it's vulnerable to injury. That's why it's important not to stress young dogs with strenuous exercise. Once his growth plates close, he's ready for serious athletic activity, By the time your dog is a year old, he's no longer a puppy. By that age, dogs have reached sexual maturity and they're finished growing. In most canines, the growth plates are closed by the age of 1. However, larger breeds take more time to mature, and their growth plates might not close until the age of 18 months or more.

The Effects of Spaying and Neutering on Canine Behaviour

Based on section from Aggressive Behaviour in Dogs by James O’Heare

© 2006 James O’Heare. All rights reserved

Spaying and neutering is an often suggested remedy for various behavior problems. This article will be a review of the effects of spaying and neutering on behavior.

Neutering Male Dogs

Neutering (Gonadectomy) the male dog removes the source of circulating testosterone by removing the testicles, which is presumed to be the major influence on observed changes in behavior following gonadectomy.

Testosterone affects the male dog’s brain intensively at two points in their development. The first is probably prenatally (Hart and Eckstein, 1997) and the second is during sexual maturity. In the uterus, testosterone can diffuse through the amniotic membrane and through uterine blood flow. Once it reaches the male dog’s brain, it brings about gender-specific structural changes that then relate to later development of sex-typical behaviors. Remember that these structures start out female and develop into male structures. These changes masculinize the male brain structure. Prior to sexual maturity, male dogs display male-typical behaviors. During the second significant surge of testosterone in the sexual adolescence period of development, increasing testosterone levels continue to act on these already established anatomical changes to again increase the frequency and magnitude of male sexually dimorphic behaviors. “Testosterone titers start to rise by the time the male pup reaches 4 to 5 months, where after testosterone levels reach a maximum at 10 months of age and then fall to adult male levels by 18 months of age.” (Dunbar, 1999, p. 68) The fact that the dog experiences two significant surges of testosterone, one of which has significant effects on the anatomy of the brain prior to gonadectomy, it is not surprising that gonadectomy does not have total control over sexually dimorphic behaviors.

Ben and Hart at the University of California carried out one of the most extensive surveys on the effects of gonadectomy on dogs, finding that at least in intermale aggression, aggression was reduced by neutering in 60% of cases with rapid reduction in 25%, and gradual reduction in 35% (Fogle, 1990, p. 53). Neilson, Eckstein, and Hart, (1997) found that approximately 25% of adult dogs that were aggressive toward humans or other dogs in the household can be expected to have a 50 to 90% level of improvement after gonadectomy. A 50 - 90% level of improvement can likewise be observed in 10 to 15% of dogs that are aggressive toward unfamiliar people or human territorial intruders after gonadectomy. Neilson et al. also found that neither the age at which the gonadectomy was performed or the duration the problem behavior existed for affected the behavior after gonadectomy. Hart and Eckstein (1997) performed a review of the research and literature on the effects of gonadal hormones on objectionable behavior. They relay that gonadectomy affects sexually dimorphic behaviors and that aggression toward other dogs and “dominance over owner” are particularly sexually dimorphic. They point out that much previous research has largely been based on guardian survey studies and has not experimentally controlled for the placebo effect in that guardians may either instate some form of changes that constitute behavior modification or they may imagine changes that in fact did not take place or did not take place to the extent they believed they did. Although this is a serious lacking in the validity of the studies these same affects can be expected in real life gonadectomies performed as part of behavior management plan. To the extent that the guardian makes changes in their behavior or the environment that result in decreases in aggressive behaviors simply as a result of having the gonadectomy performed these same results can be expected in behavioral cases. A large scale German study by Heidenberger and Unshelm (1990) found very similar results to those described above.

Testosterone tends to promote greater reactivity in dogs. They trigger a little quicker to aversive stimuli and respond a bit more intensely and for slightly longer duration. Affecting the magnitude of aggressive behavior could be particularly helpful in many cases.

Some general statements and recommendations can be formed from these studies and notions.

  • Neutering cannot be expected to reduce aggressive behavior in all dogs
  • Neutering will not always completely eliminate aggressive behaviors
  • When the neutering is carried out cannot be expected to influence the rate or magnitude of changes in behaviors
  • How long the problem behavior has existed does not tend to affect the level or trend of change in behavior after neutering
  • If an intact dog demonstrates aggressive behavior neutering should be considered as an adjunct to other behavior modification practices
  • Early neutering is probably not helpful at preventing aggression and may pose certain medical risks.

Spaying Female Dogs

Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus, the source of estrogen and progesterone in female dogs. Estrogen and progesterone levels ebb and wane in cycles. The most significant influence cycling fluctuations in estrogen and progesterones have on female dog behavior is pregnancy related behaviors (female sexually dimorphic behaviors). “While estrogen increases in the dog’s body for a short length of time, progesterone remains in circulation, influencing the brain for two months after each estrous and can have a dramatic effect on canine behavior. The most common behaviors are those associated with pregnancy, nest building, guarding possessions and milk production.” (Fogle, 1990, p. 54)

The most notable problem arises when the dog guards items maternally. Other problems can involve irritability, conflict with other dogs and energy reduction. Possessive guarding in intact females that occurs in cycles is usually a hormonal guarding.

With a lack of testosterone to masculinize the brain in utero, female dogs maintain their female brain structure. Both males and females start with the basic brain organization for male and female behaviors. The phenotype results from the probability or frequency with which the feminine or masculine system is activated in very early development.

Sexual dimorphism is a matter of degree rather than an all or nothing phenomenon. Most male dogs behave typically male and most female dogs behave typically female in terms of sexually dimorphic behaviors. Some male dogs display fewer or lower magnitude male sexually dimorphic behaviors and in some cases display some female sexually dimorphic behaviors. Likewise, some female dogs display fewer or lower magnitude female sexually dimorphic behaviors and in some cases display some male sexually dimorphic behaviors. Think of it as a continuum. One explanation for this is the basic similarity and integration of behavioral systems of males and females of the species. Another explanation is that the masculinizing effects of testosterone are a matter of degree rather than a zero-sum trigger and that some individuals in the uterus are exposed to greater or lesser amounts of testosterone.

It has been found (O’Farrell and Peachey, 1990; and also discussed in Hart and Eckstein, 1997) that the only two behaviors affected by spaying of female dogs was “aggressive dominance” toward guardians and indiscriminate eating. In this case, the aggressive behavior increased after spaying. This effect was only noted in female dogs ovariohysterectomized before 12 months of age, and that already demonstrated aggression. Female dogs ovariohysteretomized after 12 months of age presented no risk of increased aggression. Hart and Eckstein (1997) point out that female dogs are in a progestational state for two months following an estrus period and spaying them during that time creates a sudden removal of the source of progestins (which tend to have a calming influence on animals). It is proposed that this removal of progesterone may promote irritability or aggression in some individuals.

Another piece of this puzzle may involve androgenization of fetal female dogs. It is suggested that either or both of two mechanisms may lead to a slight masculinization of female brains in untero. If a female is positioned between two males in utero, their brain may be masculinized by diffusion of testosterone through the amniotic membrane. The other mechanism involves caudally (closest to the tail of the animal) positioned males androgenizing rostrally (closest to the head of the animal) positioned females in utero through the fetal blood supply. For a good discussion of this, see Hart and Eckstein (1997).

In a study by Kim, Yeon, Houpt, Lee, Chang and Lee (2005, in press) it was found that female German Shepherd Dogs spayed between five and 10 months were significantly more reactive than an intact group. The intact group was not exposed to a sham operation so even though the measures were taken well after the surgery it is possible that the results are due to the surgical procedure rather than the absence of ovaries and uterus. It is also possible that the results are only reasonably generalizable to German Shepherd Dogs. This study does suggest though that spaying may cause more reactivity in dogs. Replication will be important.

Some statements and recommendations can be derived from the above:

  • Females should not be spayed within two months after their estrus period to avoid sudden contrast between the presence and absence of progesterone
  • If a female demonstrates this consistent “dominance” related aggression pattern prior to spaying and prior to 12 months of age the risk of increased aggressive behavior must be balances against the inconvenience of an intact female dog and potential health detriments of remaining intact. Spaying can simply be delayed until behavior modification has achieved progress
  • Early spaying is likely not helpful at preventing aggression and may pose certain medical risks.

Kennel Cough


Kennel Cough photo

Kennel Cough, or Infectious Tracheobronchitis as it is properly known, is a highly contagious disease in dogs.  The cause is quite a complex interaction of common respiratory viruses and a bug called Bordetella Bronchiseptica.  It is the Bordetella Bronchiseptica infection that causes the very bad cases.

Once your dog has been exposed to the infection, it will generally take five to seven days before the signs of the disease are seen.  Kennel cough usually causes a dry, hacking cough, runny nose and sometimes sneezing.  The gagging cough and retching associated with this disease are upsetting for your dog and you.  Depending on its severity, the signs of kennel cough can last from a few days to several weeks.  However, even after the coughing has stopped, your dog can remain infectious for up to three months.

Kennel Cough is a social disease in that it is only spread by very close contact.  When the dog coughs the bug is expelled in droplets and will immediately die unless inhaled by another dog.  Accordingly, a dog can only pick up the infection when it shares common air space with an infected dog.  This is one of the reasons that the illness has adopted the term “kennel cough”.  Boarding kennels are an ideal environment for the disease to spread rapidly as large numbers of dogs are kept in unusually close contact.

Any reputable kennel will insist on a kennel cough vaccination prior to admitting a dog for boarding.  This is an additional vaccination to the annual booster injection and needs to be administered by your vet at least 7-10 days prior to going into kennels.  Puppies can be vaccinated from just two weeks of age.  The vaccination is unusual in that it is given via the nose.  This is due to the way the vaccination works.  Instead of producing antibodies in the blood, it produces a local immunity in that the antibodies are produced in cells lining the nasal cavity.  This means they are ready to attack the bug when inhaled.  The kennel cough vaccination lasts from 6 months to a year, depending on the vaccine used by your veterinary surgeon,  and will need to be repeated if another visit to the kennels is planned.

If your dog has not been vaccinated against kennel cough and contracts the disease it is worth having the vaccination immediately as it will help to shorten the length of the infection.

So, when making your holiday plans, entering your dog for a dog show or just going for a walk in the park, don’t forget to ensure that your dog is protected against infectious bronchitis.

Dog Nutrition

Benefits of Raw Feeding

The benefits of raw are endless....

... lest we ever forget, dogs were hunting and scavenging long before words like pellets, tins, conveyor belts & over-processed kibble had made it into the Oxford dictionary. Dogs and cats are finely-tuned carnivores, anatomically assembled to accommodate raw, ‘nutrient-packed’ meat.

Our BARF recipes, (Biologically, Appropriate Raw Food) are painstakingly prepared meals consisting of top drawer meats, veg and minerals, meticulously mixed to accurately replicate what your pet might have eaten in the wild, and what your domestic carnivore is meant to thrive on today!

Raw, unlike their cooked or over-processed rivals, provides extra nutritious goodness, enhanced vitality and stamina and a natural shield against all manner of unfortunate afflictions.


Benefits our customers most commonly list:

  • better overall health
  • better digestion and less digestive upsets such as colitis, runny stools
  • fewer and better formed stools
  • better smelling breath, less tartar, cleaner teeth
  • glossier coats
  • more stamina
  • no itchiness
  • food enjoyment
  • a calmer, yet more focused, nature

As many of us have long suspected, nature tends to always know best












Salt, while commonly used for cooking in the kitchen, is quite poisonous to dogs and cats. The use of salt to induce vomiting in dogs and cats is no longer the standard of care and is not recommended for use by pet owners or veterinarians! Other sources of salt can be found throughout the household: in homemade play dough, rock salt (for de-icers), paint balls, table salt, sea water, enemas (containing sodium phosphate), etc.

Salt poisoning in dogs and cats results in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy, walking drunk, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death when untreated. Treatment for salt poisoning includes careful administration of IV fluids, electrolyte monitoring, treatment for dehydration and brain swelling, and supportive care.

If you think your dog or cat have been poisoned by salt, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment advice.

Poison type: Foods

Alternate names: hypernatremia, paintballs, paint balls, homemade play dough, sea salt, enemas, de-icers, table salt


Product Code: PF-VX-HC-100
Brand: Verm-X
Ingredient: Chicken
Function: Internal Parasites

Verm-X Herbal Dog Treats - Natural Intestinal Hygiene Control for Dogs

Looking for a natural alternative to Frontline or Advocate? Try Billy No Mates Tincture as it's a very effective, natural Flea, Tick and Mite Repellent for dogs and cats. Simply add it to your pet's food or drop it onto a treat. We suggest Billy No Mates is used from Easter onwards to provide complete, natural cover for your pet.