Anna Webb – Nutrition & Behaviour expert has studied at the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). Anna is host of the award-nominated podcast A DOG’S LIFE, and regular BBC contributor, Talk TV, GB News. She lives in London and is owned by Prudence a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier. www.annawebb.co.uk
Christmas – ‘tis a time that can be stressful!
When you consider that 10% of Britain’s pooches spend Christmas Day at the emergency vets, its proof that the festive season can be very stressful on many levels.
Dogs don’t know it’s Christmas, although they certainly know something is happening. That’s in part due to us getting so worked up about the presents, the cards, the decorations, the Christmas tree, the lights, all the food and of course the visitors.
A recent study from the University of Belfast confirmed that dogs are able to smell our stress and react to our moods. Another study tested the levels of cortisol in stressed owners, finding that their dogs also had high cortisol levels, compared to dogs with less stressed humans. This implies stress is contagious!
We’ve all had an onslaught of stress through the pandemic reflected in anxiety in our pooches at a record high. Adding to this, the ‘cost of living’ crisis and an uncertain economic forecast is fuelling stress at an expensive time of year.
Supporting your dog to stay calm is not just for Christmas, but through your dog’s life-stages. Minimising responses to stressors can be achieved overtime with careful training, desensitisation, socialisation and diet.
The aim for a calm, trained and well socialised dog that can cope with everyday events, travelling, being home alone, trips to hotels. A dog that relishes life and the fun adventures to experience with their owners
There’s so much science that concurs with my belief that the backbone to a calm, happy and healthy dog is a fresh, balanced and species appropriate diet comprised of animal fats and animal proteins.
It’s a natural diet that fuels the microbiome and creates a healthy gut and intestinal flora. Overly processed foods by contrast are between 40-70% plant-based ingredients like rice and barley, which are complex carbohydrates, creating sugar high and lows, mood swings and less focus.
We know that a healthy gut is the ‘second brain’ promoting robust mental dexterity, which is why I feed to nourish the microbiome, which is also where 90% of our immune system resides.
If you are what you eat, investing in your dog’s diet is a cost saving! Just as I take certain supplements like collagen to help replace what depletes naturally with age, I’m keen to boost both Prudence and Mr Binks biologically, mentally and physically.
The world of supplements can be confusing at best, and at worst a minefield. It also can get quite expensive. This is why I’ve opted to add Calming from Pawable.
As a ‘multi-approach’ supplement, it combines herbs like Chamomile, Ginger, Thyme, and Turmeric with fruits like Goji Berries, offering a natural anti-bacterial and an anti-inflammatory support.
Understanding the huge benefits of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, Pawable has taken the interesting approach to eliminate any potential risk of fish oils oxidating, and being redundant to any health benefits.
Rather Pawable has selected minimally processed Schizochytrium Algal Omega-3 Powder, which as a Phytoplankton, is a highly bio-available source of essential fatty acids comprising both Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Thoughtfully combining this with Coconut oil into the Calming formula offers a spectrum of essential fatty acids - coined as ‘brain’ food to promote that interplay between a healthy gut and cognition.
Calming offers the perfect combination of ingredients to help nourish the microbiome, boost the immune system and help reduce inflammation, which is the root of all disease, whether it’s arthritis, allergies, diabetes, pancreatitis, even obesity.
For me to invest in your dog with the right diet, supplements, exercise and training pays dividends, especially in promoting a calm, confident and adaptable pooch.
A dog is for life, not just for Christmas!
Preparing the home for the festivities with your dog in mind, so they enjoy themselves without accidents involving the Christmas tree, or eating mince pies, Christmas cake or a box of liqueur chocolates.
Any foods with raisins or grapes are potentially toxic to dogs, of course chocolate especially the dark varieties, contains theobromine, an enzyme that causes an extreme allergic reaction in dogs.
I suggest keeping your dogs’ routine as normal particularly with their meals! Ensure they have a safe place to retreat to like a dog bed in a quiet room, to get away from too much excitement and have time out.