A-Z of dog wellbeing: Coat and skin

Komondor dog

Your dog’s general coat appearance is a good indicator of their general health. A healthy coat should be shiny and smooth, not brittle or coarse, and healthy skin should be supple and clear, not greasy, flaky or bumpy.   What options are there to help improve your dog’s coat?

Why is the coat and skin so important?

The skin is the largest organ of your dog’s body and it does an amazing job:
Continue reading “A-Z of dog wellbeing: Coat and skin”

A-Z of dog wellbeing: Balls!

Does your dog lovedog chasing tennis ball nothing more than chasing and fetching a ball for you to throw over, and over, and over, and over, and over…?
Could too much of this favourite canine game have negative consequences?

Why dogs love chasing tennis balls

Our dogs’ ancestors in the wild had to rely on their hunting instinct, practising their predatory behaviours such as stalking and chasing in order to hunt and catch food to stay alive.  Compare this with your pet dog, who simply has to wander into the kitchen to find a bowl of tasty food. Continue reading “A-Z of dog wellbeing: Balls!”

A-Z of dog wellbeing: Anxiety

If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, then you know how scary some situations may be, but have you considered that your dog may also suffer from anxiety?

What is anxiety?

dog looking worriedAnxiety is a normal physiological reaction to the anticipation of potential (real or imagined) dangers that triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response. While a certain amount of anxiety is healthy for both us and our pets, if it is regular and continual then it can result in long term damage.
Continue reading “A-Z of dog wellbeing: Anxiety”

Are you walking your dog illegally?

Illegal dog tag

When we excitedly collect our new fur-baby and rush to the pet store to buy their collar and engraved name tag, did you stop to consider if you are actually including the details that are required by law?

A dog collar is more than just a decoration. When it comes to taking your dog out in public, it is a legal requirement.

If your dog’s tag has just a name and phone number, then you’re breaking the law! Continue reading “Are you walking your dog illegally?”

Adder bites – symptoms and treatment

The Adder (Vipera berus) is commonly found in the south west of England and is the only venomous snake native to the UK, most active in the afternoons between April and August.

Adders are 40-70cm in length, and range in colour from pale grey to dark brown, olive green, yellow or reddish brown. However, in spite of this colour variation, they are all recognisable by the zigzag pattern on their backs with a V or X shape on the head.

Dogs are curious by nature, and will often unintentionally provoke an adder into biting but adders are not aggressive animals; they will only use their venom as a last means of defence and this means that, fortunately, adder bites are relatively rare.

Signs your dog may have been bitten

Most bites are to the face or forelimb with the most common symptoms being significant swelling to the bite area, and lethargy.
You may also notice these additional symptoms however fewer than than 5% of patients display the more severe signs:

  • lameness
  • fever
  • increased heart and breathing rates
  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • wobbly gait (ataxia)
  • convulsions

If you suspect your dog has been bitten by an Adder:

  1. Don’t panic. Your dog is highly likely to make a full recovery if treated promptly and correctly.
  2. Keep them still. Carry them back to your car wherever possible as movement increases venom uptake into their circulation, or walk them back gently.
  3. Get to the vet. Call the vet to let them know you are coming, prepare a fluid drip and to ensure they have the anti-venom if necessary.

Most dogs spend a few days at the vets but go on to make a full recovery, usually within five days.

Helping the canine helpers


Recently I received the sad news that Heidi, a qualified Dog A.I.D Assistance Dog I have worked closely with over the last few years, had passed away after a short illness.  A fabulous Westie, well-loved by all the trainers, clients and friends of Dog A.I.D, she captured the heart of everyone she met.

She was also adored by her baby ‘brother’ Barney; a young Westie who it is hoped will join the Dog A.I.D scheme and step into Heidi’s paw prints to take over as ‘chief helper-out’ for his owner.

Since Heidi’s passing, Barney had been sad and was obviously mourning the loss of his big ‘sister’. He wasn’t being his normal 9-month-old puppy self, so his owner contacted me to see if there was anything I could do to help.

I’ve worked with Barney before when he was just 16 weeks old so his owner was already familiar with the Herbal Choices methodology and I have his vet’s permission to work with herbs.  This meant that I could prepare a few of the key essential oils, frequently chosen by other animals for grief and sadness, for him to work with.  That afternoon I posted him a package of inhaler sticks, each infused with one essential oil.

I’ll let his owner explain what happened when she opened the parcel…

“Well it was incredible.


He tentatively sniffed the angelica. Then paid attention to the others. He double checked then took the stick with frankincense to his bed and snuggled with it for around 30 minutes.

In his own time he got up and did zoomies round the room for the first time since Heidi was first taken ill, so probably a week. He had a couple more sniffs then jumped up on the sofa and went to sleep.”

The resin and sap of the Frankincense tree (Boswellia carterii) protects, seals, and heals a wound in the plant. And, just like a physical wound, the resin-based essential oils are known for their ability to heal physical and emotional wounds as well.

Frankincense can induce feelings of mental peace and relaxation, lowering anxiety, anger, and stress, and helping to release pent-up emotions. It promotes deep breathing and relaxation which opens the breathing passages, supporting the lung meridian where the energy of grief is held according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, and allowing the grief to be processed in a healthy way.

Obviously Barney hasn’t read this information but he, like all other animals, has the innate ability  to identify and best utilise the plant extracts they need to restore their emotional and physical balance, especially when we make a range of products available to them through the Herbal Choices process.

“Self healing for dogs rocks – I am a complete convert.

I had done some work with Lesley and Barney when he first arrived but this evening was incredible.”

If you think your animal is holding on to grief or other emotional trauma, either current or from their past, then they may benefit from a Herbal Choices session too.


I am very proud to be a volunteer dog trainer for Dog A.I.D  – the amazing Assistance Dog charity that helps people with physical limitations to train their pet dogs to complete the tasks that they need a little help with, like emptying the washing machine, taking off socks and jackets, opening doors… their capabilities as a qualified team are endless!

 Watch the video about what Dog A.I.D does

In loving memory of a wonderful, life-changing dog. My sincere thanks to Barney’s mum for allowing me to share this story at such a difficult time. 

What’s cooking?

BlackberriesAfter my autumn forage last week, I thought I would share some of the lovely remedies I’d made from the bountiful supplies we gathered from the hedgerow.

Some of the ‘weeds’ are still drying in the airing cupboard, but that didn’t stop me!  The berries were the most pressing (no pun intended) as I wanted to use them before they went past their best. Continue reading “What’s cooking?”