Mental Health: It Applies To Dogs Too.

October 15th, 2019

This year, World Mental Health day took place on 10th October and it was a part of the larger Mental Illness Awareness Week.

What is mental health? We hear about it and talk about it, but how do we define mental health?

Mental health is a psychological well-being, and the absence of a mental disorder. And simply put, it’s the ability to enjoy life and create a balance between activities and efforts in order to achieve mental resilience. It also means the ability to express emotions and adapt to a range of demands.

These days we have more knowledge than ever before when it comes to the mental health of our four legged friends.

Questions we can consider…

❤︎ Are they enjoying life?
❤︎ Are they able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult situations?
❤︎ Can they adapt to different situations?

One of the causes for mental health issues is not receiving enough interaction. And this issues can demonstrate in destructive behaviour, obsessive compulsive behaviour, anxiety, aggression, fear and depression.

Talk to canine behaviourist.

If you observe this behaviour in your dog I would recommend talking to a dog behaviourist. Adam Dunn, Qualified to degree level (Adv.Dip.Canineprac) and an experienced Canine behaviourist and Psychologist is my go to guy!

He encourages using positive reinforcement methods by using the most up to date scientific studies. Adam is a member of ISCP and ICAN and working towards full INTO membership, he specializes in separation related behaviours, fear and anxiety, aggression, phobias, canine body language, OCD type behaviours and improving wellbeing and self-confidence. He also focuses on how homeopathic remedies can improve your dogs lifestyle and works with rescue dogs from across Europe to adjust to life in the UK.

I’ve hosted Adam’s seminar in my salon twice already and both times proved to be very interesting. Because of the success, I’m sure we’ll be planning one next year. Or alternatively you can come to Vita Canis Style to Rescue on the 26th April 2020. Adam will be one of our speakers there.

Let’s look at…

Stress and Anxiety

To choose the right approach, we need to understand the difference between stress and anxiety.

Stress is a response to a specific stressor, like fireworks, a car journey or a visit to the vet. Anxiety has no identifiable root. And sometimes we have to dig deep to find the cause (which is not always successful).

Stress typically goes away when the stressor disappears. However anxiety tends to stick around for longer and is more difficult to treat. And in the case of anxiety, Comfort Blend works very well in many cases. This synergetic blend of essential oils can be used for dogs suffering from separation anxiety. And also distress, sadness, homesickness or having difficulty adjusting to unfamiliar circumstances.


There are many behavioural changes in older dogs that can be signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or doggie Alzheimer’s such as…

· Getting lost in familiar places
· Sleeping more during the day and less at night
· Getting generally more fearful and anxious
· Performing repetitive behaviour
· Barking for no apparent reason
· Lost and confused
· Walking into corners

There’s no cure for dementia but the synergetic blend of essential oils in the Comfort Blend can help to alleviate the symptoms.

I was using it on my old Kerry Blue, Kimi who passed away about a year ago. The last year of her life saw her getting confused, barking for no reason (well I couldn’t see any reason but I’m sure she had one) at silly hours in the morning and getting lost in the yard. Comfort Blend was a blessing!

This is what Jade Borrow had to say about our Vita Canis Comfort Blend and how it helped her and Disney…
  “My Bichon, Disney, has recently been diagnosed with doggie dementia so has been really unsettled, hysterically barking and not wanting to be away from me. In January I spoke to Jitka and she recommended that the Comfort Blend may work but couldn’t guarantee it as it is new and 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.

There’s no cure for doggie dementia but the synergetic blend of essential oils in the Comfort Blend can help to alleviate the symptoms.

Obsessive compulsive behaviour

Obsessive compulsive behaviour in dogs often occurs because of the Canine Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is an anxiety-related disorder in which dogs engage in repetitive and often self-destructive behaviour, for example, excessive licking. To calm themselves down, dogs often resort to repetitive behaviour. Licking (being sensory stimulation) can distract them from their internal stress.

These dogs may have recently experienced a great deal of stress, or may even have a history of abuse 😞.

What do you do to improve your dog’s mental health?

Low Maintenance Coat: Truth or Myth?

October 3rd, 2019

Some breeds moult constantly, some matt easily, some take ages to dry… but what is low maintenance for one person can be really hard work for another.

Unless you own a Chinese Crested Dog or another hairless breed, you are definitely dealing with dog hair one way or another.

Non-shedding? Really?

All dogs shed at least a little hair at one time or another (as us humans do too) and there’s no such thing as a non-shedding breed. Let’s have a look at some coat types, how much they shed and how much work you need to put in to keep the coat healthy. I’ll try my best to consider you all 🙂.

Coat types

Short and smooth coat

Easy peasy lemon squeezy you may say 🍋. Yes, it’s easier to look after a Whippet’s or Staffie’s smooth coat than let’s say, a poodle, but they do still moult. You’ll find tiny hairs stuck on your socks, on your clothes, in your carpet and they aren’t that easy to get rid of either. Regular bathing and brushing with a rubber brush can help and eliminate the amount of hair. With breeds like a Labrador, Bullterrier or Beagle with short dense hair, I would recommend using the Furminator to remove the excess coat.

When using Furminator, remember to be firm but gentle, and to always stretch the skin. 

While using the Furminator keep checking the skin to avoid redness and irritation. If not used correctly (this applies to brushing as well) it can cause brush burn which is skin irritation caused by prolonged brushing in one area. If this happens Soothing Antiseptic Spray can come to the rescue. This spray has a regenerative effect on damaged skin as the astringent formula will constrict cells where it is applied.

An extra little tip...

Bath your dog as usual, and while the shampoo is in the coat, use the Furminator in the bath. You’ll remove more hair and it will stick on the bathtub and tiles and won’t fly around when you dry your dog.

Wool Coat

This coat can be low maintenance when kept short… but very short. We don’t see many Poodles and Bichons in full coat, do we? Unless they are show dogs, most of the owners like to keep the coat short. A wool coat is very thick and curly and has a lot of volume. It requires a lot of regular grooming, even daily, because it matts very easily and can grow quite quickly. The best way to achieve a matt free coat at home is regular brushing with a slicker brush followed by thorough combingVERY IMPORTANT! 

Line Brushing

The method we use in the salon (and which is also recommended for home) is called line brushing. Line brushing is suitable not only for a wool coat but also long hair, double coats and mixed coats. Line brushing will allow you to methodically work your way through your dog’s coat, down to the skin making sure you cover all the hard-to-reach spots.

I’d recommend putting your dog on a grooming table or some other non-slip work surface, using this area as your ‘brushing station’. It’s also good to spray the coat with some de-tangling or conditioning spray first. With one hand, hold and push the coat up and work in seam line with your slicker brush pulling down a small amount of hair with each brushstroke. Once your brush glides smoothly through the coat you then move onto the next layer. Once you’ve finished brushing, use the comb the same way you used the slicker brush. A comb will help you to double-check your brushing 👍🏻

Long coat

This coat, such as the Old English Sheepdog, Maltese and Shih Tzu also require a lot of maintenance. It needs to be brushed at least three times a week, if not daily. 

Wire coat

I have a few of these at home lol. It’s a very unique coat and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the growth and texture changes. As a result, I can tell you that it’s not black and white… but that would be another story 😂.

The proper way to look after this coat is by using a technique called hand stripping. Hand stripping maintains good strong colour and coarse texture but there are a lot of buts. This is a process which must be done from the puppy stage. Once the coat is clipped it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get the texture back by hand stripping and it would be very sore for the dog. I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS!

Hand stripping is a skill that is very hard to master, and is very labour intensive. It’s therefore more expensive than clipping, and also, not many groomers do it.

Wire coats shed much less when they’re hand stripped than when they are clipped. They still need lots of brushing though, especially their legs and whiskers and many of your terriers are not so keen on it. Regular brushing, handling and perseverance from an early age pays off later on. Why not get Calming Floral Spray to help you out here!

Hand stripping is a skill that is very hard to master, and is very labour intensive.

Double coat

These breeds are nice and fluffy but when they shed it’s as if it’s snowing (especially when you have a Malamute or a Husky) 🌨. I have a Malamute that comes for daycare and at this time of the year, as well as at springtime, hair can be found everywhere. The undercoat comes out in clumps so when I walk him I take the opportunity to pull it out. What you should actually do is get a slicker brush with long pins, like a wide-tooth comb and start line brushing. GOOD LUCK!

Mixed wool coat

This coat can be seen in some crossbreeds like Cockapoos, Labradoodles and Schnoodles and is wavy or curly with different densities. It requires a lot of regular brushing, just like wool coats, as well as regular grooming by a professional. 

The coat is easily managed in the earlier stages of life but once the puppy is about 6/7 months old, or slightly older, the coat starts to change from a soft thin puppy coat to a dense and curly/wavy adult coat. In this stage of life, a lot of new owners lose track of brushing and the then matted coat has to be clipped off. This is far better for the puppy then de-matting, which I wouldn’t recommend. A mixed wool coat grows pretty quickly and the puppy will be a fluff ball in no time… if the owner wants ❤︎.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of using a comb. A comb will help you to catch the smaller or bigger knots you missed with the slicker brush. If the comb is easily sliding through the coat, you did a great job with brushing. If the comb stops, it means there is a knot and you need to go back to a slicker brush and brush the matting out.

Mixed wool coat ( Cockerpoos, labradoodles, Shnoodles…) requires a lot of regular brushing, just like wool coats, as well as regular grooming by a professional. 

Is your dog low or high maintenance?

Jitka xx

Fall Breeze and Autumn Leaves

September 26th, 2019

The red, orange and dark green colours of autumn are somehow wonderfully calming…

Although autumn brings a whole lot of beauty, the colours, crispy mornings, warm jumpers and scarfs… there are however still a few things that can make the autumn time less enjoyable and perhaps, even stressful for our dogs. To name a few: harvest mites, fireworks, Halloween…

🍂 Harvest Mites

Harvest mites are tiny mites that live in dense vegetation and eat plants and other insects. However, in their six-legged larval stage, feed on warm blooded animals. And swarming as an infestation. They’re only a problem during this stage but can cause considerable discomfort to your dog as they attach to the skin. Harvest mites jump up and find the area of the body where the skin is the thinnest which is between the toes and on the belly. But also around the nose and on the ears as well as in the armpits. During this stage, and during late summer up to the first frost, the harvest mite LOVES your dogs as well as cats! They are not picky, they feed on any warm blooded animal.

What you should be looking out for…

Redness of the skin
   Crusting on the skin
   Orange dots and red ‘dust’ like particles on the skin
   Intense itching  

The itching is caused by the fluid that the harvest mite injects into the dog’s skin. It is actually a digestive enzyme that causes the skin to liquefy which then allows the mite to ingest the skin cells. Harvest mites will feed for 2 to 3 days before they drop off the dog.

If you suspect harvest mites on your dog, take him to the vet. Because the treatment of harvest mites in dogs requires medication to soothe the irritation and reduce any inflammation. In the meantime, you can give your dog a soothing bath and apply Vita Canis Skin Relief to reduce itching and irritation.

Harvest mites are a microscopic member of the same family as spiders and ticks – the arachnid family. Did you know that?And this family DOES NOT like Tick Off. Good for us and good for our dogs.

🍂 Conkers & acorns

We used to have a Horse Chestnut tree by our kennels. During autumn time I would frantically pick the fallen conkers making sure none of the dogs would eat them.

Even though serious cases of poisoning are rare, when ingested you can expect signs of drooling, retching, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.What’s even worse, in my opinion, is that they can also cause intestinal blockages. I went through that with Martha recently and it was a very stressful and worrying time. Dogs usually vomit any ingested conkers quickly but if not, treatment to control vomiting may be needed by your vet.

Exposure to acorns in dogs is common in the autumn and winter. The toxic ingredient is thought to be tannic acid which can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Signs are vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy. Ingested acorns can also cause an intestinal blockage, just like conkers.

🍂 Fireworks

As autumn nears, the thought of fireworks starts to spring into peoples’ minds. Especially those whose dogs are frightened by the loud noises and the flying lights and bangs. You’re not alone as there are a lot of dogs that suffer from the fear of fireworks. I’m very lucky that none of mine are scared of the fireworks. They actually get very excited, jumping and barking, trying to catch the lights. In the past though, I had 3 dogs that were terrified of fireworks and it’s heart-breaking to watch them go through this experience. This fear can lead a dog to run away, hide, bark, howl, or even be destructive and more.

How can you help your dog?

Firstly to help your dog deal with this stressful situation you can create a safe zone at home. Secondly close windows and curtains and leave a TV or radio on. Thirdly you can also distract your dog with toys and games. Moreover aromatherapy can help to calm and balance the nervous system and restore peace. Over the years, two products from Vita Canis have proven to be very helpful when it comes to the fear of fireworks. The Calming Floral Spray and Comfort Blend both have natural calming and balancing qualities providing ultimate relaxation for stressed dogs.

🍂 Thanksgiving & Halloween

Even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK I like the whole idea of it. Having family and friends around, sharing nice hearty food, and being grateful for all we have is something we should all make a priority.

How to help your dog dealing with the visitors?

Having people coming through the door can also be stressful for some dogs. First of all, if your dog isn’t easy going or doesn’t like too many people you can place him in a crate or in a separate room. Keep him away from the crowd and place a few drops of Comfort Blend on his/her blanket and give him some chews and toys. A soft bed will also help to make your dog feel safe and relaxed. Secondly if you’re planning a particularly big and loud family get together, you can even ask your neighbour, a dog walker, or pet sitter etc to look after your dog during the celebrations.

Halloween 🎃

For some dogs, banging on the door, laughing kids, lots of noise and scary costumes can be terrifying and literally spooky. Some of these dogs come to us during the fireworks and Halloween season for boarding as we don’t have fireworks here and we can hardly hear them from the town. The added care with Comfort Blend, tuning forks or massage is always available for extra comfort.

🍂 Golden paste

It’s that time of the year when we have to pay a bit more attention to supporting ours and our dogs’ immune systems. Sneezing, coughing, colds and sore joints all start creeping into our lives round about now. 

One thing you can share with your dog is turmeric – it’s like the sun in powder form☀️.

Do you know the benefits of turmeric?

Powerful antioxidant
  Protects liver from toxins

Curcumin is the most researched component of turmeric, and it also has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. In addition it helps in the fight against cancer, diabetes, and gastrointestinal problems.

Make your own Golden Paste!

½ cup of organic turmeric powder – the organic one contains more curcumin
1 cup of filtered water
1 ½ teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
¼ of organic cold pressed coconut oil
How to make it:

Mix water and turmeric in a pan Also you may need more than 1 cup… maybe up to 1½ Then keep stirring on low heat for about 7- 10min until you achieve a dense paste Once you have the paste, add pepper and coconut oil and keep stirring until all the ingredients bond together. Then leave the mixture to cool down and place it in a jar with a tight lid and keep it refrigerated.
Make a fresh batch every 2 weeks.
Most dogs don’t mind the taste. And you can also add it to their food.

Small dogs: ¼ teaspoon per day
Medium: ½ teaspoon per day
Large: ¾ teaspoon per day
Giant: 1 teaspoon

You can even make cute treats out of the paste 👻
Jitka xx

Oh the Joy a Book Can Bring

September 19th, 2019

I love reading and always have. I think I got it from my mom because every spare minute she got (and still gets) she’d grab a book, a cup of coffee or tea and would dive into a story.

We have like a zillion books in my parent’s flat and I’m not even exaggerating! Novels and best-sellers written by various famous (and not so much famous) authors. They have books about animals (especially dogs and horses), plants, art, folklore music, science books… you name it and if we can’t fit them in the flat we take them to our cottage to expand the library there. You definitely can’t throw away a book… IT’S A BIG NO NO IN OUR FAMILY!

Because of space issues, I had to get rid of some of my books. I knew I wasn’t going to get around to reading them but couldn’t throw them away so I took the books to a charity shop knowing that one day they’d find a lovely family.

I’ll admit I’ve actually taken a liking to a Kindle but my heart still lies with a proper, solid, paper book. It’s just easier to take a Kindle on holiday than to fill half your suitcase with books. What if you finish them too? Then what? Nothing to read 😮? I don’t have that problem since travelling with Kindle.

And then there’s audiobooks. When I first heard about audiobooks I’ll admit that I had originally thought that they were for lazy people. “Can’t people make the effort to read?” I thought. Well, how wrong I was! John introduced me to audiobooks on our holiday in India two years ago. My first audiobook was, You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and I got hooked! It’s still one of my favourites. This humorous book opened a completely new world for me… the world of self-help books. It explains how we all screw up from time to time and suggests…

📖 If we want a change we have to decide
📖 Respect yourself instead of caring about being liked and fitting in
📖 How our friends and people around us influence us and suggests getting rid of naysayers
📖 Sometimes it’s better to be happy than right (this is the tough one)

Since this first purchase made I’m officially hooked on audiobooks! I listen to them when I drive, clean, walk dogs and every other spare minute that I can find to feed my brain. How cool is that?!

My latest audio purchase was Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis. I love this book. It’s eye-opening and makes you stop, think and re-evaluate because so many of us aren’t living up to our full potential. We so often feel a tugging on our hearts for something more, but we’re afraid of embarrassment, being far from perfection or not being enough. THIS BOOK IS A WINNER! One of my favourite quotes from it is…

“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”
 At the moment I’m reading, The Biology of Believe by Dr Bruce H Lipton on my kindle. It’s a fascinating book about his ground-breaking work in the field of new biology and when you read it, it will forever change how you think about thinking.
Through Dr. Lipton’s research, as well as other leading-edge scientists, stunning new discoveries have been made about the interaction between our mind and body and the processes by which cells receive information. It shows that genes and DNA don’t control our biology and that instead, DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our thoughts. He uses simple language, humour and illustration which makes it easy to understand.
The last novel I read was a captivating story by Tara Westover called Educated. Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. It’s a fascinating story about the struggle for self-invention.

    I’m already looking forward to our holiday in January where I can read for hours and hours 😍!
What book would you recommend and why?

Jitka xx
My latest book by Marie Forleo – Everything is Figureoutable.
I am looking forward to have this book signed next month. Yay!

Goodbye Itch

September 12th, 2019

A few of my previous blogs focused on environmental allergies. How they impact our dogs’ lives and how we can help them the natural way.

I wrote how bathing your dog at home is very effective. It is a cheap and the sensible thing to do in order to remove the allergens from the coat and skin. Bathing provides immediate relief and the guideline is to bath your itchy dog at least once a week.
Find out what to look for when you are choosing a shampoo and how to make your own rinse here. Environmental allergies are not limited to a certain season of the year anymore. For example, spring and spring pollen. We’re now seeing more and more all-year-round allergens 🤧.

Does your dog suffers from environmental allergies?

Here are few tips on how you can look after his/ her home environment.

I created Vita Canis Skin Relief exactly for this. To help the dogs suffering from environmental allergies and to help them deal with the symptoms.

Skin Relief is a 100% natural treatment for dogs suffering from the discomfort of itchy skin.  It aims to combat itching and provide fast relief to allergic reactions.

I carefully selected the following ingredients…

Calendula oil – because of it’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Aloe Vera – There’ve been numerous reports that have explored the role of topical aloe vera administration in skin conditions. And also in wound healing management, including the treatment of psoriasis, dermatitis, surgical wounds and as a home remedy for burn injuries.

Essential Oils – German Chamomile has excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and cicatrizant (healing properties, such as when our bodies form scar tissues) and relieves itchy skin.

Peppermint hydrolat & essential oil – When peppermint oil is applied it causes local depletion of cold receptors. Therefore suppresses sensitivity of sensitive nerve endings and induces a pleasant feeling of coldness. This overlaps unwanted perceptions such as itching, burning and minor pain. The local anaesthetic action is significant, and when applied, dogs’ stop scratching or nibbling pretty much immediately. ❤︎

I’ve also been getting a lot of nice feedback for Skin Relief and this is the latest one:

My 14-year-old Westie has suffered with allergies resulting in itchy skin and yeast build up for most of her life. Although well controlled with a non-steroid medication and an antifungal shampoo. These past couple of years have been quite bad – especially for her little paws which became swollen and infected.

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

It gave her instant relief and within 3 days the improvement was remarkable. The swelling has gone down and 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 I have also started to use the Paw Butter at night which seems to soften and keep the yeast build-up in check. I honestly cannot recommend this product enough, it’s such a relief to have found something that works.

Emily Mathewson, UK

I absolutely LOVE hearing from you all!! And about where and when my products have helped. If any of you have anything you’d like to share with me please take 2 minutes to pop me a message about any of your experiences.

Jitka xx

Broccoli: Nature’s Superfood

September 5th, 2019

More Herbs, Less Salt Day.. who knew?

When I was scrolling [https://www.cute-]cute calendar the other day looking for inspiration for my newsletters, I came across another unusual day… More Herbs, Less Salt. Yip… you read right… and it’s celebrated on the 29th of August. This day should then inspire us to use more herbs and less salt – obvious from the title, isn’t it?

Personally, I love using herbs, especially fresh herbs 🌿. It’s so easy to pop some fresh thyme, oregano, marjoram or sage into your dish to make your meal taste and smell delicious – even with a simple dish like cooked broccoli. I LOVE broccoli, and so do my dogs (even, most recently, John). I used to steam it until the broccoli florets were al-dente, which was ok but a bit boring. I’d remind myself of all the benefits of eating broccoli and would try to ignore the bitter taste. I also thought of it only as a side dish so was happy that the flavours on my plate wouldn’t clash.

So, what are the benefits of broccoli? There are so many of them, but here are few that impressed me:

🥦 Broccoli is rich in dietary fibre, amino acids, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B6, B9, C, E, K and important minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus – impressive, isn’t it?

🥦 A 100 gm serving of broccoli has approximately 34 calories (YAY!)

🥦 Broccoli florets have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects

🥦 Broccoli combats the ageing process with the help of a compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) present in it. NMN promotes the production of a compound which triggers metabolism and hence prevents genetic changes that lead to premature ageing. Antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and collagen also play a key role in delaying ageing (BRING ON THE BROCCOLI)

🥦 Broccoli derives its purple and green colour from antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium, copper, choline zinc, and phosphorus. These compounds present are really great immune system boosters and they can protect you from numerous infections

Organic Facts is a great website to read all about this and more! It’s taught me so much. 

A few weeks ago I decided to ditch the boring steamed broccoli when I found this sautéed alternative
(Glow15 by Naomi Whittel)❤️
🥑 3 tablespoons of avocado oil (or olive oil, or coconut oil…
🧄3 garlic cloves,
🥦Chopped 1 head broccoli, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
🥕125ml vegetable stock (sometimes I replace it with a teaspoon of vegan bouillon & hot water – if I use this I don’t add more salt)
🧂 ½ teaspoon of sea salt
🍋 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
🌿 Fresh herbs – depending on what I fancy that day
🥘 In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 seconds then stir in the broccoli and cook until bright green.  This should take about 3 minutes.
Add the stock, season with salt and herbs, add lemon juice. Cook the broccoli until it’s tender, for about 3-5 minutes.
Serve on its own or as a side dish… but for me, this can be a complete meal! I sometimes sprinkle a bit of nutritional yeast over or even grated vegan cheese.

My mom likes it with canned tuna and John enjoys it as a side dish (even though the broccoli is taking a bigger part of his plate now). Sneaky, I know 😂.
I don’t use much salt in this recipe and the herbs I use are beneficial for my dogs as well. Go have a look at my previous blogs – What herbs and spices can you share with your dog Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to read up more about it.
If there’s ever any leftover broccoli in my house, my dogs are happy to help. They LOVE broccoli in any shape and form! It’s not a surprise as they’d eat pretty much anything I give them or anything they can find 🤣. Broccoli has a special place in Richard’s life especially. As a fussy eater, at one stage of his life, he would eat anything if I added broccoli to it and it was also his favourite treat for some time. Sometimes I even give them a few florets of steamed broccoli or I cut the leftover stalks for them to munch. It’s a fabulous quick teeth clean 😉.

As it goes though… everything in moderation. Broccoli may cause an upset stomach in dogs so don’t give it to them too frequently. The reason why there’s a high risk when overfeeding broccoli to your dog is because of the substance called Isothiocyanate. This substance, found in broccoli, can lead to gastrointestinal irritation, or in other words, severe upset stomach and let’s be honest… nobody enjoys that!

Do you have any other ideas on how and where and when to use broccoli in your house? Please share!

Jitka xx

A Visit To The Vet…

August 29th, 2019

As if Martha hasn’t been through enough in the last few months with the c-section and looking after her puppies…

I received a message from Zoe, who was looking after my dogs and the kennels while I was at Premiergroom a few weeks ago, saying Martha didn’t finish her food. This was really odd as she’s usually a pretty good eater – not like Richard who is sometimes too busy to eat. I then received another one saying Martha was sick a little later.
When I got home that evening I could see she wasn’t herself and was definitely a bit quieter. She was drinking at least, I thought, but the next day she wouldn’t eat and she was sick a few times again. I remember thinking that she might have eaten something outside as her tummy was upset, so I decided to give her a charcoal tablet.

We’ve been using charcoal tablets in our family for as long as I can remember. When it comes to diarrhoea, sickness or flatulence, charcoal tablets are 100% natural tablets which contain the charcoal. They can also be used to treat the symptoms of indigestion, wind and heartburn. In fact, years ago our vet in Slovakia told me that activated charcoal tablets are the best first aid for accidental poisoning, as it absorbs toxins. 
But back to Martha… unfortunately, the charcoal tablets didn’t work and Martha began getting sick even after she only drank water. At this point, I was worried she would become dehydrated so first thing in the morning we went to the vet.

Our vet, Julie from Abbeyfields vets in Rocester, put her on a drip to keep her hydrated and later scanned her which revealed a blockage in her intestine. I had no idea what it was! I’ve heard stories of dogs getting blockages from bones, toys and socks and even though my dogs are on a raw diet, the food is still well balanced.

My other dogs were absolutely fine so was I perhaps overfeeding her? I gave her much more food than the other dogs, as she had lost weight when she had her puppies and was putting it back on very slowly. Did I cause the obstruction with too much food which she couldn’t digest quickly enough? No toys were ‘killed’ recently, none of the beds were ripped and no toys were missing… so I had no idea what it could have been.

Julie kept Martha on a drip overnight and in the morning, we scanned her again. The mysterious object had moved towards the ‘exit’ so it all looked promising and I was allowed to take her home to monitor her and give her a bit of TLC. I still thought that if I walk her it would get everything moving and she would feel better. She actually did poo afterwards and became a bit perkier but was still not keen on eating. I thought perhaps that her tummy was upset from the anaesthetic, medications or barium 🤷🏻‍♀️.

She then started drinking and was holding it in which made me so happy but then… she got worse again😞. She refused to eat and vomited a few minutes after having a drink but then pooped again so I was really confused as to what was going on!

Back to the vets 🙈. Ella, the vet, kept Martha in again and put her on a drip to investigate what was causing her being sick. She eventually rung me in the afternoon saying that they had to operate as there was still a blockage that was too big to move out the natural way.

I wasn’t worried as I knew Martha was in good hands and I believe worrying is praying for things that don’t actually need to happen but there was a tiny part of me that was concerned because she was still a loved one of mine.

At 17:30 I went to pick Martha up. She was awake and looked so tiny and fragile 😞. The nurses then showed me the object that was causing all the drama! Perhaps fluff from bedding or toys but it was so hard to tell as it was mixed and covered with poo. It was about 9-10 cm long and about 2-3cm in diameter. How long it was in her system… I had no idea. She hadn’t shred any toys recently and all her bedding was in one piece so I assume it had been there for quite some time and it was just moving around 🤷🏻‍♀️.

I stayed up all night with Martha monitoring her drinking, peeing and movement as well as watching her that she didn’t pull the catheter out of her leg (the vet kept it there just in case she would need to go back on the drip). She still wasn’t interested in food but she held the liquids down and that’s always a good sign.

I sprayed her wound with Soothing Antiseptic Spray and treated her with tuning forks to speed up her recovery. The next day we went for a check-up and to get some painkillers to keep her comfortable. Julie was pleased with her progress and said it may take a couple of days until she poops. I fed her very small amounts of food – a little bit of cooked chicken, a little bit of cheese and a tiny bit of scrambled eggs every three hours but she still wasn’t keen on eating. I didn’t blame her as it’s understandable that she didn’t have an appetite after what she had been through.

Sunday was a bit better. She was livelier, eating a bit more and on Monday morning she had a poo. Happy days!! Easy peasy, no pain and no discomfort… I WAS SO HAPPY! After this magic moment, her recovery sped up and she is now back to her normal herself. She’s still eating only a small amount of food, a few times a day, as I don’t want to put too much pressure on her digestive system.

Have you experienced a blocked intestine in your dog? What was the cause and how did you deal with it?  

Essential Oils for Green Cleaning.

August 22nd, 2019

Remember when I called essential oils powerhouses?

When it comes to the power of essential oils we can use it to not only look after ourselves and our dogs but also in our home. They can be very powerful helpers when it comes to keeping your home clean and smelling fresh.

Just as we try to avoid harsh chemical’s in our cosmetic products and pet care products, we should do the same with our cleaning products.

Synthetic fragrances in cleaning products can irritate both ours and our pets respiratory tracts. If you want to go eco-friendly but you don’t want your house smelling of vinegar while also missing the different fragrances of commercial cleaning products, then essential oils can come to the rescue. They not only smell nice but they also have antiseptic properties, are very good de-greasers and have other beneficial properties.

When using essential oils for cleaning we use larger amounts of oils than for therapeutic purposes which is why you can use a cheaper range of essential oils. Summer naturals is a very good supplier. Click here to view their range online. 

So where can you use what?

Dishes 🍽

Lemon essential oil is a very good choice when it comes to washing dishes. Freshly smelling lemon can be used for handwashing as well as for dishwashers. If your dish sponge or cloth isn’t particularly fresh and feels a bit soggy, put three drops of lemon essential oil on the sponge. This can also be done if you want to increase the disinfecting properties. Why not add tree tea oil for a BOOST!

Did you know that you can even make a ‘regenerative bath’ for your sponge:

You’ll need…

🍋 A bowl of boiled water
🍋 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda
🍋 A few drops of lemon or tea tree oil

Soak the sponge for 30 min then rinse under warm running water. Your sponge will feel and smell like new and will thank you for the spa treatment 😊.

Bathroom 🛁

You can keep a mixture of tea tree, pine and eucalyptus essential oils (1:1:1) in a dark, glass amber bottle and add the blend to a gel made of soap nuts.

Another benefit of this blend is if you use it in the early stages of a cold, blocked nose. The aroma of these oils will clear your nasal cavities and helps you to breath easier.

Soap nut concentrate:
🧼 Grab a full handful of soap nuts (buy here) and add 4 cups of water to a pot.
🧼 Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes.
🧼 Let the concentrate cool.
🧼 Drain the nuts and add them to your compost bin.
🧼 Store the liquid concentrate in the fridge for when you need to use it.

Floor cleaning 🧽

When it comes to floor cleaning pretty much any essential oil is suitable… pine, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus or even sweet orange. Whichever one tickles your fancy 😄. For a bucket of water add max 30 drops of essential oils and the fresh aroma will make the cleaning more enjoyable. A great blend is eucalyptus, orange and lavender which has degreasing and antiseptic properties. The plus is that it’s also a repellent so is an ideal combination for spring and summer.

Eucalyptus, lemon and sweet orange also have strong degreasing and antiseptic properties. It’s recommended that you use a blend of 6 drops of eucalyptus, 12 drops of sweet orange and 12 drops of lemon.
  Let me know how it goes!
Jitka xx

When The Struggle Is Worth It.

August 16th, 2019

The Three Peaks Challenge was the hardest physical challenge I have ever done in my life. OMG!

Inspired by my friend Tasha Anderson, I booked the challenge on the 3rd of August 2019. My thoughts were that August is usually nice and warm, and it was. We were very lucky with the weather. It was sunny and warm but not too hot with a few light showers at night while climbing Scafell Pike. To be honest, at that point I didn’t really care what was falling from the sky 😂.

For those who don’t know, the National Three Peaks Challenge is an event in which participants attempt to climb the highest mountains of England, Scotland and Wales within 24 hours. This event is frequently used to raise money for charitable organisations and in my case, I was raising money for Vita Canis Style to Rescue. I’m happy to report I raised £840.

Thank you to all who supported me!!

So during the challenge, the walkers climb each peak in turn and are driven from the foot of one mountain to the next. According to Wikipedia, the total distance walked is estimated at 42 – 44 kilometres (26 – 27 miles) with a total ascent of 9800 feet (3000m). To be honest it felt more like a zillion km!

I prepared for the challenge by running, training at the gym, exercising at home and I thought I was pretty well prepared as I’m an active person anyway. Well… I needed to train harder. I actually needed to go out into the mountains and train there as the road run and gym equipment does NOT prepare you for the uneven surface, slippery rocks, and crumbling gravel. At least I know this for next time.

The first mountain we climbed was Ben Nevis (1345m) in Scotland. I could see the mountain from my B&B window and was thinking to myself… gosh, I’ll be there tomorrow.

We started the morning with a meeting at 8 am at the train station at Fort William. The mountain leaders introduced themselves, the whole process and itinerary was explained and our equipment was checked. When you sign up, you get a list of equipment you must have, like a head torch, hiking shoes, water, hat and gloves and waterproofs – as the weather in mountains can change quickly.

The coaches then took us to the bottom of the Ben Nevis and off we went. I really enjoyed Ben Nevis, the sun was shining, the view was amazing and I didn’t know how but I went up pretty fast and ended up at the top with the first group – the fast guys 😀. I was well chuffed and thought this challenge wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. How wrong I was!!

When we got back to the bus, coffee, tea and cakes were waiting for us and after a quick change and stretching, we were heading to England to climb Scafell Pike in Lake district. The 6-7 hour journey didn’t help my muscles. My legs became stiff, my feet began to swell and my back was hurting from sitting. I then got so angry with myself because I left my roller and my muscle pain-relieving gel in my suitcase in the trailer 🙈.

We got to Scafell Pike just before 10 pm, and it was already dark. My legs weren’t moving as easily as before but I thought I’d be able to shake it off and that with more walking they would loosen up. Another mistake… they didn’t loosen up and the walking didn’t become easier but, in actual fact, harder. I tried to keep up with the fast guys but I couldn’t, tried to convince myself… you can do it… mind over body… one step at the time…quitters never win… winners never quit… and other mantras and self-talk of which some I can’t publish 🤣. Well, I didn’t quit. I was just told to take a break and wait for the 3rd group. I gratefully accepted and I enjoyed the 10 minutes sitting in pitch black dark on the mountain, in complete silence. Tasha told me it would be magical, and it was ✨.

I had thought that Scafell Pike would be the easiest one as it was the smallest. Another mistake! Already tired after Ben Nevis, with no sleep, except dosing off on the bus and then walking up steep rocks in the middle of the night for 2 hours is NOT what I would call easy.

We had warm porridge and drinks waiting for us at the bottom of Scafell Pike and then and we were driven to the last (YAY!) challenge, the Snowden in Wales. We got there at about 7 am. Did I, at this point, feel like walking anywhere at all nevermind climbing another mountain? NO AND NO, but off we set towards Snowden top.

At about 20min from the mountain top, our group was turned around as we were running out of time which was frustrating as the last bit seemed pretty flat. I was disappointed, but on the other hand, was glad it was over. At this point, even walking downhill was a challenge and I was ever so grateful to my two new friends, the faithful walking sticks, who stood by my side the whole time. I will never forget you ❤︎!

The recovery after the challenge took a few days and I used everything I could to ease the muscle pain: the roller, essential oils, tuning forks, massage… and it did work I must say.
I’m so glad I did it and now, fully recovered, I know I will do it again to improve my time.

If you’d like to join me next year, that would be great!!

Here’s some advice for those who would like to do it:

⛰ If you think you’ve trained enough, think again and train harder.
⛰ Do as much hiking as possible and get yourself comfortable on rocky roads and paths.
⛰ Get walking sticks!
⛰ Get a really, REALLY powerful head torch.
⛰ Take salty and sour snacks as well as sweet ones. I was sick of sweets by the end of the challenge!
⛰ Get a good quality camel bag. Mine broke so I was given a 2l plastic water bottle which kept falling down from my rucksack, adding to my frustration.

In conclusion… if you want to do the challenge just do it!! I don’t regret it for a second and it was one of the most incredible, unforgettable experiences!

Jitka xx

The Powerhouse That Is an Essential Oil

August 8th, 2019

As I mentioned in my newsletter this week I’m very grateful to every single person who took their time and completed the survey.
Thank you so much, once again ❤︎.
So many of you mentioned that the products smell lovely. I am, of course, a bit biased but I agree 😊. That, however, wasn’t my intention but it worked out really well. How come, you may ask?

Many people associate essential oils with a nice smell. Odours can not only influence our mood and evoke emotions but can also counteract stress and even reduce high blood pressure.

Only a few essential oil molecules are needed to recreate memories, associations and feelings.

When we inhale essential oils our olfactory nerves send a signal to our brain that results in a perception of smell followed by a hedonic response. This means that the odour perception causes an emotional response, which can be positive or negative. A positive response will make us feel good, be calming or even uplifting while the negative one is alarming, so we pull away, hold our nose, or it can even make us feel unwell. There is more though to essential oils than just a nice or interesting smell that makes us feel a certain way.

All essential oils are powerhouses with many amazing therapeutic properties and here are some of them: Anti-inflammatory – able to decrease swelling and inflammation. German chamomile in our Skin Relief and Paw & Hand Butter works this magic!Analgesic – relieves and diminishes pain. The local anaesthetic action of Peppermint essential oil is significant and can be found in Vita Canis Skin Relief.Expectorant – promotes the discharge of phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract. When we inhale essential oils, about 93% of the particles travel to the lungs then into the bloodstream and other organs. Very effective expectorants are pine, eucalyptus, fennel, and more. That’s why you can find these aromas in commercial inhalers, cough medicines and cough sweets, etc.Sedative – reduces nervousness, distress or agitation. Our Comfort Blend contains lavender, neroli and other essential oils to achieve just this. Essential oils are not a one-trick pony but more like a Jack of all (many) trades. Let’s use lemon essential oil as an example 🍋.

The smell of lemon can boost your energy, alertness and help you overcome mental fatigue. It’s like a breath of fresh air and I think that’s why it’s been used for decades for household cleaning products – to give us the freshness and good feeling associated with a clean home.

Lemon is not only a nice smelling and uplifting oil, but it also has many other properties namely:

🍋 Antimicrobial and antiseptic
🍋 Acts as an astringent contracting and binding tissues
🍋 Carminative action by settling the digestive system and expels gas from the intestine
🍋 Rubefacient by warming and increasing blood flow

Because of its antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, lemon essential oil is an important part of Vita Canis Ear Cleaner. It’s also an immunostimulant so it helps strengthen the body’s immune system. Lemon essential oil is an effective cleanser and that’s why it’s so easy to remove excessive wax and dirt from dogs’ ears.

Let’s also not forget that lemon essential oil is an insecticide meaning it drives away many insects and even kills some of them. It’s also the main reason why it’s one of the main ingredients in our Insect Repelling Citrus Spray.  

Do you perhaps have any recipes to share with us that you use essential oils in?