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Dog taking treat: chemical-free nutrition

Health & Nutrition

We are passionate about the health and well being of the dogs in our care, which is why we are constantly sharing what we learn to keep your dog happy and healthy! The following is a variety of dog related resources and information that we practice at Dog Trouble and would like to share with you, so that together we can change dog’s lives for the better! Visit the Jo Cottrell YouTube Channel for a Playlist of videos on health and nutrition topics. Jo Cottrell also runs a number of Clinics on a range of topics including Health & Nutrition and provides dog owners with a Health & Nutrition Consultation. To book a consultation please contact us.


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What a dog eats is directly linked to how a dog feels and in turn behaves.  It’s not rocket science to understand that if you feed your dog poor quality food that is not designed for dogs (carnivores) a dog’s health and behaviour will suffer. 


For many years we have been brain-washed with amazing marketing by pharmaceutical dog food companies to believe that dogs should eat a dry (kibble) based diet, that is actually full of carbohydrates and sugar!  Thankfully after huge amounts of research, people were reminded that dogs are carnivores and thus eat meat, in addition to small amounts of plant/herbs. 


Since 2010 raw food diets that actually provide dogs with the ancestral diet they naturally eat have become adopted by many dog owners who have listened to the research and applied common sense!  As a result more dogs on a raw food diet are experiencing better health predominantly because they are not eating a processed carbohydrate based diet.

For further information about dog nutrition and the link to cancer in dogs watch this amazing Dog Cancer Series.

We stock a wide range of Supplements for your dog in our online shop and in the Dog Trouble Shop at Birchin Inhams Farm.

An illustrated guide to Dog Nutrition, by Jo Cottrell, is available from the Videos & Guides section of the Dog Trouble Shop.

Here at Dog Trouble, we believe in the importance of natural health and well-being for dogs, avoiding exposing dogs to unnecessary toxins wherever possible, which includes making you aware of the current research: Vaccinations Guide.

Vaccinations and Immunity

Before puppies are born approximately 5% of antibody is transferred from the mother to the puppy via the placenta, with the remaining 90% provided from the colostrum milk that the puppy first suckles when it is born.  This provides a puppy with PASSIVE immunity to the various viruses and bacteria that the puppy may be exposed to within the first 3 days of birth.


This antibody immunity will then decline gradually to being non-existent by around 14-16 weeks of age.  When vaccinating a puppy it is important to understand that in order for the vaccine virus to work we must let the level of natural antibody received from the mother to get to a low/non-existent level in order for the antibody from the vaccine to work, causing a natural immune response in the puppy to ensure immunity.  If not the natural antibodies received from the mother will prevent infection from the vaccine virus and will not provide immunity.  This is why it is important that the last dose of vaccine needs to be given at 14-16 weeks of age to provide ACTIVE immunity. To ensure puppies have responded you can then get a titre test done 2 or more weeks after their last vaccine at 14-16 weeks, to ensure the vaccine has worked.  If they test for a negative level of antibodies then you can re-vaccinate, however it is important to know that some dogs never respond to vaccines and are termed a ‘non-responder’.  The old practice of repeating a vaccination to try to ‘get it to take’ is pointless and dangerous. If your dog is a non-responder it is a non-responder and no amount of vaccination will change that.


many years now we have been led to believe that we have to vaccinate our dogs yearly, however according to the The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) protection from puppy and kitten shots is likely to be 3-5 years and in some cases life-long.  In other words, the core vaccinations given to our pups can, in most cases, be expected to create lifelong immunity.


While grateful for the protection that vaccines offer, much research has been carried out to provide dog owners with the facts about vaccinations and the alternative options available, enabling us to now make informed decisions about providing protective immunity for our dogs and the appropriate use of vaccinations.  The most reliable and successful option is the use of Titre testing.


Titre Testing

A “titre” is a method of measuring antibodies in a blood sample for specific diseases – Canine Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper, to help minimize the risks of disease and unnecessary vaccinations. A vet will draw a small amount of blood and then run that blood through the test. An antibody titre is not a snap shot in time as some veterinary professionals will report, however it gives an insight into the life of the animal. Simply put, these tests will provide evidence of whether or not your dog is positive (protected) or negative (not protected) for antibodies to protect them for the core illnesses we vaccinate for.  If you get a negative test result you have the choice to either re-vaccinate your dog for that disease ONLY or administer homeopathic nosodes and then re-test for immunity with a titre test at least 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine/nosode.


Some vet practices will lead you to believe that your dog requires the combination vaccine yearly which covers all 3 diseases, which is incorrect and can lead to an adverse reaction in your dog.  If re-vaccination is given where the dog is already immune then the vaccination can actually cause adverse reactions, whereas a titre blood sample will never give an adverse reaction.  So surely it is better for the health of your dog to get a titre test to check the level of antibodies before you consider vaccinations?

The most recent Canine Vaccination Guidelines say that reported side effects from vaccines vary from injection-site reactions, lethargy, lack of appetite and fever to more serious adverse events, including allergic reactions, auto-immune problems, behaviour changes and, rarely, sarcoma, tumours or death. The decision about when to vaccinate requires a risk benefit analysis. Most experts agree that vaccines are critical to the overall health and wellness of our dogs (and cats), but many also agree that giving a vaccine when it is not needed exposes animals to unnecessary hazards.


An alarming fact is that small dogs are given the same amount of vaccine as large dogs! In their article, A Large Vaccine Problem For Small Dogs, Dogs Naturally reports that Researchers (Moore, Guptill, Ward et al) looked at veterinary records  gathered from Banfield veterinary clinics for two years to find any trends in reactions suffered three days after vaccination. What they found was that small breed dogs (especially if they were young or neutered), were at the greatest risk.  In fact, the risk increased as the body weight went down, just like a sliding scale. Overall, dogs weighing 11 pounds or less were four times more likely than dogs over 99 pounds to suffer an adverse event (and medium sized dogs also had an increased risk over larger dogs).


So it is important to provide protective immunity for your puppy by giving vaccinations at 14-16 wks, then giving a titre test to check for antibodies 2-4 weeks after, then again every 5 years or more to test Immunity.  With older dogs 10+ years you may want to test yearly as old dogs may lose their antibodies.  If you get a negative result you can either vaccinate against that one disease or treat with a homeopathic nosode.


At Dog Trouble we are passionate about not exposing dogs to unnecessary toxins/chemicals which contribute to a variety of medical conditions, diseases and behaviour issues.  There are a number of chemicals and toxins within our environment that both we and our dogs are exposed to on a daily basis.  However with knowledge gained from research and from actually observing your pets, exposure can be reduced within your dog’s environment and lifestyle. This article by Jo Cottrell provides a detailed look at improving your home environment and "Providing your Dog with a Chemical Free Life".


At Dog Trouble we use essential oils to help with a number of conditions.  During a consultation, Jo will advice clients on the essential oils that may be of benefit for their dog. These oils can be purchased from Caroline Ingraham's online shop.


Jo has studied Zoopharmacognosy under Caroline Ingraham, a leading expert in the field of animal self-medication and the use of plant extracts, and has built up an extensive knowledge of the oils and self-medication practices that can help your dog.


As Caroline states: "Considering that animals have many of these pharmacologically active plants in their habitats, it should not be surprising to discover that they use plants to their advantage. The Ingraham Theory explains how an innate ability to self-medicate on appropriate plants is possible. Animals are born pre-setup with multiple signaling pathways that link different problems to different olfactory and gustatory pathways. Therefore everything is based on internal signals, there is no requirement for the animal to learn which therapeutic plants are the most appropriate for any given condition."

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