diet, health & first aid

Diet, Barf feeding, List of things they can’t have & healthy snack suggestions, First aid kit Basic first aid

Click on the word or scroll down to the information.


Diet – Food Manners and Matters

The better quality the food, the better the dog. Better quality doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. Check the label for the amount of protein in the food- we will only buy it if it is around 70- 80%.

Vary the times of the meals by about half an hour. Dogs that are fed exactly to time can get distressed when a meal is unexpectedly late. 

* Don’t forget after each meal the pup will have a biological reaction to poo. *

By the way, if you have fruit trees, remember fallen fruit can ferment if left, which they will eat (and be intoxicated by), given half a chance.

Yoghurt frozen in a Kong is a great treat which occupies and soothes toothache, stock (no onions, of course) works equally well. Place cling film over the end of the Kong, put it in a mug then fill and freeze- there’s a hole in the bottom from which the liquid would steadily leek. It’s good to have a couple as they take a few hours to freeze.

When training begins, the more a pup enjoys the reward the faster the penny will drop and very often the favourite reward is some food. It is advisable to keep an eye on your pup’s intake at this stage as it is easy to over-feed. If you are using treats frequently then it may be wise to forgo one meal, or maybe use the food from their meal as the rewards. As manners improve and tasks are being completed consistently, then food rewards can be steadily replaced with vocal thanks, some fuss or play.

The experience of holding a raw chicken wing while a young pup works it out and chews is a fantastic bonding experience. It is worth considering substituting one meal a day. Initially the process may take a while, maybe 10 minutes and it can be a bit icky if you’re not used to handling meat- the looks of appreciation you get more than make up for it. Very quickly the pup will be able to eat the raw chicken independently. Nutrition wise, chicken has a perfect protein/ calcium ratio in the flesh/ bone content of the meat; the gnawing works the pup’s jaws and brain, cleans their teeth and soothes their aching gums.

BARF feeding

We have read and researched dog diet to a great extent and we feed our dogs on what is known amusingly as “BARF”- Biologically Appropriate Real Food- Raw meat (with bones for calcium) or cooked meat (without bones as they are shatter into sharp shards when bitten).

Adult dogs get tripe most mornings, and chicken quarters most evenings with veg and supplements of offal, fish, egg and alternative meat protein throughout the week.

Through out the day offer the dog various bits of veg or fruit, vary it to ascertain your dog’s taste. I find that most dogs will play with green veg, but like apples and sometimes pears- they all like the fruit from a cherry (the stones have arsenic in though, so rememberer to discard them) and redcurrants from our garden, Smudge likes my watermelon and strawberries, Willow changes her mind but Poppy definitely doesn’t like either. They all like tomatoes (they especially make a game with a cherry one) whereas Tara didn’t. Poppy doesn’t like peanut butter either, but Willow and Smudge do. It is good to offer many different things to see what they enjoy.

 Metabolic Memory- Cravings explained

If your dog is prone to eating weird stuff and they aren’t teething, check the quality of their food. Anyone who suddenly says “Oh! I really fancy some  [asparagus, for example]” has felt metabolic memory in action- it is effectively your body saying “Oh! I need some potassium” in language we can understand. (There is a high content of potassium in asparagus). When your body lacks a nutrient, your brain remembers the where it comes from and gives you a craving for that food.

Do not give your dog chocolate, onions or leeks, grapes or raisins, chocolate, avocados, macadamia nuts, pecan nuts or walnuts, high lactose foods, fruit pits, stones or seeds, fermented fruit, alcohol, large quantities of garlic, added sugar and salt or cooked bones.

Raw chicken bones are fine and can be a good source of calcium for a growing pup. Other popular and healthy “human” food include apples, carrots, strawberries, (seedless, rind-less) watermelon, blueberries, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes (skinned), low lactose bio yoghurt and eggs.

Your first aid (peace of mind) kit

in a container, including… 


(round ended) scissors,

sticky tape,

antiseptic cream or the like,

lint free sterile pads,

bicarbonate of soda (for bee stings),

vinegar (for wasp stings),  

hand  sanitiser.

your vets number clearly written and obvious 

Health and First Aid Tips

Firstly, lastly and above all, don’t panic, follow your common sense.  If you are worried or uncertain, contact your vet.

  • Choking: Be aware that puppies will put everything they can in their mouths, so environment controls are important. A chocking pup will wretch and paw at their mouth, so look for signs of an obstruction. Try to flick whatever it is forward and out of their mouths. They will probably be quite distressed and afterwards may well involuntarily snap shut their mouths, so watch your fingers.
  • Cortisol is the hormone that dogs release when they are stressed. It can take several weeks after a shock for this hormone to dissipate, so if your dog has taken strange or had a nasty shock, you may need to be extra positive and reassuring for a little while longer than you would expect.
  •  Cut paws are quite a common problem and rest is required. If bandaging is needed, it will need hourly changing. Iodine sprays can help keep the cut clean without moisture, but it may be a struggle to aim. Don’t use lint or cotton wool balls on the cut as they leave behind little bits of fluff which are difficult to remove. Spurting bright red blood will need immediate veterinary attention.
  • (Labrador) Droopy tail: A lab who loves to constantly dive in and out of cold water may be susceptible to a sprained tail- which cannot wag 🙁 Usually this clears up itself, but an trip to the vets and an anti-inflammatory maybe needed if it still looks sore after a week.
  • Heatstroke. Never leave a dog in the car without water unattended. Ever. Always carry a good supply of water and constantly consider whether the dog needs shade. Prevention is the key, heatstroke can be fatal. If you suspect a dog may be suffering from heatstroke, they will pant at first, then froth at the mouth, then collapse. Wipe their mouths, ring the vets and while waiting sponge down the whole dog.
  • Oxytocin is a happy, bonding hormone that gets released into the owners’ and dogs bloodstreams when they are cuddling and grooming. Nursing mothers and babies also bond with this hormone. It is this increased level of the ‘love’ hormone which is said to be so good for people and a great stress relief. Watch the dog for signs whether they are enjoying the interactions and give the pup space if they need. Their mood will change depending on their hunger, thirst, sleepiness and toileting requirements.
  • Vomiting: Dogs sometimes vomit, it doesn’t seem to be the same ghastly experience we humans have- they usually seem to very quickly recover. However, the vet needs to know when the dog is vomiting regularly, is lethargic and uninterested in sustenance.
Info written by Susan Lyall ma cantab of Affinity, Dog Training, Northampton, Northamptonshire. 


Back to our training information guide.

back to the top