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How to help your dog maintain a healthy, glossy coat

Ella the black cocker spaniel sits next to a grooming tool, with a shiny glossy coat

How to help your dog maintain a healthy, glossy coat

Read time: 5 minutes

Let’s talk grooming

Grooming can be quite an overwhelming subject for some pet parents, but it really doesn’t have to be! Adopting healthy grooming practices can be a great way to keep on top of your dog’s skin and coat maintenance. It also allows the opportunity for you to notice signs of any problems by examining your dog’s coat, skin, eyes, and nails often.

However, it’s also really important to avoid overgrooming, and to only adopt ethical methods that are suitable for your dog’s breed and coat type. That said, grooming your dog should be reserved for maintenance, and not used consistently as a ‘cure’ for ongoing skin and coat issues.

Here’s my guide on how you can help your dog maintain healthy, hydrated skin and a glossy, shiny coat, beginning with the first key step: Feeding them a healthy, nutritious diet.

How does diet affect the health of my dog’s skin and coat?

Navigating the world of pet parenting has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. One of the major turning points in my journey was when I discovered raw feeding, and the benefits it had on each of my dogs’ coats.

When I first introduced my dogs to fresh, raw food, the positive changes were astounding, especially of their skin and coat health. Within a few days, I noticed that their fur was shinier, glossier and a lot less matted. Their skin was no longer greasy, dusty or flaky, and instead it appeared consistently healthy and hydrated.

It was clear that my dogs were a lot more comfortable in general, and this was when I realised that feeding a great, healthy diet is the first key step to improving your dog’s skin and coat health.

Ethical coat care: Grooming needs for different breeds

Breed and coat type are both very important factors when it comes to grooming. Below I have listed some common coat types in dogs, including some potential problems you might face.

I have also included tips and tricks for healthy grooming practices which you can adopt, to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and hydrated.


Hypoallergenic, non-moulting dogs usually include cross breeds and curly coats such as cockapoos, poodles, malteses and more.

Common coat problems

  • Breeding of these dogs tends to select for tight, curly coats. These are prone to matting which can pull on the skin, causing discomfort.

Healthy grooming practices

  • Curly breeds might require brushing more often but not constantly. A pinhead brush is useful to comb through mats gently, and a soft brush for after to help distribute the natural oils throughout the coat.
  • Some owners of non-shedding breeds might prefer to take their dog to a professional groomer every now and then, to keep on top of coat length. This is a good idea if your dog’s coat grows quickly. Clipping a dog’s coat without any prior experience can be dangerous, so I would always recommend having a professional do this. However, bear in mind that dog groomers aren’t regulated in the UK, so always ensure you do your research beforehand to find a reputable groomer.

Long, silky coat

Long, silky coated breeds can include the cocker spaniel, Yorkshire terrier and Irish setter for example. These breed types generally tend to shed seasonally.

Common coat problems

  • Long-coated breeds might require brushing when heavily shedding. They’re more prone to matting, especially for active dogs. Matting can be more common around the ears for long eared breeds.

Healthy grooming practices

  • A defurminator or tangle teezer can help to remove shedding fur, especially during spring when shedding is heavy.
  • For maintenance, gently combing through the fur a few times per week will help to keep any knots at bay.

Short coat

Short-coated breeds such as jack russells and beagles tend to have relatively low maintenance coats, which can be great if you’re a first time dog owner.

Common coat problems

  • Breeds with a short coat tend to gradually shed all year round.
  • They can be more prone to seasonal skin rashes and irritation due to having a thin coat.

Healthy grooming practices

  • A soft, rubber grooming mitt and bristle brush are useful for removing loose, shedding fur from under the coat. You could also use a defurminator for when they’re shedding a lot.
  • Short-haired dogs tend to have sensitive skin, especially during the spring and summer months. Applying organic, cold-pressed coconut oil to the skin can help to soothe and prevent unwanted seasonal rashes and irritation.
  • Like with any dog, it’s important not to over-groom or use a harsh, stiff brush. This could irritate or damage the skin under the thin, short coat.

Double coat

Breeds with a double coat, such as huskies and Labrador retrievers, tend to have a high maintenance coat type.

The top coat repels dirt and moisture, whilst the undercoat helps to protect from both hot and cold weather. This is particularly useful for working dogs, such as herding breeds who need insulation when the weather is bad.

Common coat problems

  • Double coated breeds shed a lot, so they tend to need a lot of grooming to prevent the under coat hairs from getting caught in the top coat hairs, which can cause matting.
  • If they’re not groomed correctly, they can develop severe matting. This also runs the risk of overheating during the warmer seasons.

Healthy grooming practices

  • Specialist undercoat rakes and slicker brushes are useful for helping to dislodge a lot of the shedding fur. For maintenance in between, you can use a comb and soft bristle brush to help with oil distribution throughout the coat.
  • Double coated dogs should never be shaved or clipped – this damages the undercoat and can affect their ability to regulate body temperature.
  • Some double coated breeds can have feathering and their feet trimmed, but most don’t require trims using scissors.

Cold-pressed dog food

Available in Chicken and Fish

Shop now – 25% OFF

My number one grooming rule: less is more!

Try not to bathe your dog frequently if you can help it. Bathing too often can strip the natural oils from the coat and cause fur to become dry and brittle, which in turn increases the chances of mats and tangles developing. If you do need to bathe your dog, I would recommend using a natural, unscented canine soap bar or shampoo. Also, I would never recommend using doggy perfume or scented detangling sprays. If your dog’s coat is unusually smelly, dirty or knotty, there will be a reason. A natural diet and potentially vet check would be a good starting point.

It’s important to remember that no two dogs are the same. One long-haired dog for instance might require a different coat care routine to another. This can be due to a number of reasons, including varying coat consistencies and genetics. If you’re unsure of your dog’s requirements, I would recommend to follow the rule of ‘less is more’ to start with. Try some different techniques that are suitable for your dog’s coat type, to see what works and what doesn’t.

The final and most important point is to never over-groom, regardless of breed or coat-type. In general, a dog’s coat can do a very good job of taking care of itself when fed a healthy, nutritious diet. Generally, any manual grooming should be for maintenance reasons, depending on your dog’s skin and coat care requirements.

It’s not dog hair! It’s canine confetti…

I hope this blog has been helpful by sharing my top grooming tips and tricks! Remember, the key first step to a healthy coat is a great diet. If your dog requires it, adopting healthy, ethical grooming practices can help to maintain optimal skin and coat health.

Additionally, I always recommend to take consideration of where your dog likes or doesn’t like to be touched or groomed. Some dogs are more sensitive in certain areas of their body than others. So it’s important to get them used to you regularly checking their paws, eyes, and ears. This will help them to associate grooming with a positive event, and make vet visits a more calming experience too.

If you have any grooming and diet-related questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at, and I’ll be more than happy to help!

James & Ella x

James’ Top Tip

Trying to find the right brush for your dog? There are so many on the market, it can be hard to know what to look for. My go-to brush for any dog with a medium-long coat is a Tangle Teezer. They’re easy to use, gentle on the coat and very durable – mine has lasted all six of my dogs for two years now!

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How does spring affect my dog?

How does spring affect my dog?

Read time: 5 minutes

Spring has finally sprung! What does that mean for my dog?

Spring is my favourite time of year. I always feel refreshed and energetic when the warmer weather hits and the days grow longer. However, it’s not just us humans who feel different this time of year. My pack of six certainly enjoy letting me know when spring is knocking on the door!

Have you ever wondered if spring can impact your dog’s health and behaviour? Dogs are known to experience several changes during spring. This blog will aim to provide some helpful information so that you can manage these seasonal changes and enjoy spring with your dog safely.

Why is my dog more excitable during spring?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel more excited and alert this time of year, especially when the clocks spring forward! This feeling is usually referred to as spring fever, and I often find myself noticing similar side effects and behaviours in my dogs too.

Springtime presents a whole host of new smells for our four-legged friends to sniff out, such as blooming flowers and trees releasing pollen into the environment. Small animals coming out of hibernation also leave lots of new scents for your dog to investigate. These seasonal changes can sometimes result in a sensory overload for our dogs.

With all of the exciting new scents, spring can also bring about changes in temperament and behaviour. This could include bolting, escaping from gardens in pursuit of a new smell, and ignoring commands – Inka’s favourite!

Not all dogs react this way during springtime, but it’s important to be aware of the possibility, just in case. Especially as it could put your dog at an increased risk of running into traffic, chasing livestock or an unexpected trip to the vet. Thankfully, there are lots of things you can do to help address these issues.

How to deal with spring fever in dogs

Spring fever can affect dogs in lots of different ways. Over the years I’ve learnt to recognise some of these changes in my dogs, and I thought it might be useful to list a few of them below. Especially as Easter is just around the corner!

Practise recall training

Heightened senses during spring can mean your dog is easily distracted. Dogs can exhibit selective hearing, which means they might not always come back on command. As the weather begins to warm up during spring, my dogs and I like to go out and spend time practising recall in a safe environment. This is a great spring strategy to adopt, because it will help to reinforce your bond and positive behaviour whilst out and about. If you need help teaching your dog recall, check out my recall training video.

Keep your dog under control near livestock

Springtime means an abundance of baby animals, especially in rural areas. Your dog might want to investigate new animal scents during walks. But it’s important to never let them chase any livestock. This is illegal, and also dangerous for both the animals and your dog. Always keep them under control by walking to heel, or on a lead, especially around spring lambs.

Similarly, urban areas can also present new animals such as squirrels and foxes, which most dogs find very tempting to chase! This could put them at an increased risk of running into a busy road. It’s therefore equally important to keep your dog under control in urban areas, to help keep you and your dog as safe as possible.

Cold-pressed dog food

Available in Chicken and Fish

Shop now – 25% OFF

Don’t forget flea and worm prevention

Ticks, fleas and worms can be rife during spring. Ensure your dog is up to date with their flea and worming regime. It’s the best way to keep unwanted bugs and parasites away! If you’re unsure of how to manage your dog’s flea and worming programme, ask your vet for advice.

Rinse fur after walks

Many dogs suffer from skin irritation during spring – including mine! Washing down their legs with water after walks can be a good way to help relieve itchiness. This also helps to remove any pollen and dust stuck to the fur, which can cause discomfort.

Explore new locations

Your dog will be excited by all of the new smells in the air during spring. Mixing up their walks in new places is a great way to help them explore more sensory stimuli. This is not only great for mental enrichment, but it also allows them to safely investigate all of the new smells in the air.

Spring dangers to be aware of

It’s important to remember that seasonal changes also bring environmental risks. Below are some common spring dangers that I always look out for when I’m out with my dogs.

Seasonal allergies

I often find myself reaching for an antihistamine when spring hits. That dry, scratchy throat, runny nose and itchy skin feeling is one I know all too well! Hayfever can be a nightmare to manage for us humans, but have you ever wondered how seasonal allergies can affect our dogs?

You may notice your dog licking and chewing their paws often this time of year. Perhaps they also scratch their ears a lot, scoot their bottom across the floor, or have sore eyes and a runny nose? These are all signs of seasonal allergies, and they can be present in both adult dogs and puppies. They can be very common during spring, and are not always linked to diet alone.

Toxic plants your dog should avoid

Spring brings about lots of beautiful blooming plants! You will probably find that your dog will love to explore in the undergrowth, taking in all of the new sights and smells. However, remember to keep an eye on your dog during walks, as some spring plants can be toxic to dogs if ingested. Here are some common ones to avoid:

  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Lilies
  • Rapeseed
  • Bluebells

If you suspect that your dog has snacked on a poisonous plant, keep a close eye on them. In most cases, a vet trip isn’t required. However, if you notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite or seizures, then the poisoning could be severe. In these instances, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Is your dog ready to spring into action?

No pun intended…

I hope this blog has been helpful to introduce you to some of the common seasonal changes our dogs can experience this time of year.

Knowing what signs to look out for will enable you to be prepared when the clock strikes spring! But remember, every dog is different, and only you know your dog best.

You might find it helpful to write down any changes that you notice in your dog during Spring, in a diary or journal. I like to use this method as sometimes I forget – six dogs is a lot! Re-visiting the diary the following year, before the season’s change will jog your memory and that way you can be better prepared!

As always, have fun – summer is just around the corner!

James & Ella x

James’ Top Tip

Watch out for Spring stinging nettles! These pesky plants are particularly potent and can cause nasty rashes in dogs. To relieve the itch I create a paste or rinse of bicarbonate of soda and water at a 1:1 ratio and apply it to the irritated area. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off with clean water – the irritation should subside and leave your dog feeling much more comfortable!

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The importance of dental care in dogs

The importance of dental care in dogs

Read time: 5 minutes

My best advice for keeping on top of your dog’s dental health

I often get asked how I keep on top of dental care for all six of my dogs. The problem is, many people think of it as a hassle. However, it really doesn’t have to be as stressful or time consuming as you might think.

Dental care in domesticated pets is often overlooked. Sadly, many owners are unaware that bad dental hygiene can actually cause further health problems. Fortunately, more pet parents are now starting to educate themselves on the issues surrounding pet dental health, just like I did. And this is a great first step!

This blog contains my routines, tips and tricks for taking care of my dog’s dental health. I hope they’re helpful for you and your dog too.

What are the signs of poor dental health?

Recognising the common signs of poor teeth and gums in your dog is so important. It’s also a great first step to developing a healthy dental care routine for them.

Smelly breath

All of us pet parents have had to deal with the dreaded dog breath at some stage in our lives! That smelly, fishy odour that we know all too well is one of the most common signs of poor dental health in dogs. When plaque and tartar builds up, bad bacteria will start to decay the teeth. This decay is known to release a foul smelling odour. So, if you find yourself avoiding your dog’s kisses, now might be the time to take action.

Plaque and tartar

Plaque is the sticky substance that builds up on the enamel of your dog’s teeth, much like it can in humans. It’s caused when saliva, bacteria and food particles combine together in the mouth. If left untreated, it will start to react with mineral deposits in the mouth, resulting in tartar. Plaque and tartar build up can cause pain, discomfort and more severe dental problems, such as loose teeth, if left untreated.

Inflamed gums

Inflamed gums are caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up on the teeth. Your dog’s gums might appear red, swollen, or maybe even bleeding. This condition is called gingivitis. It can cause discomfort and can make chewing for your dog painful.

Fussy eating

If your dog shows signs of gingivitis or visible tartar build up, then you might also notice they’re reluctant to eat. This is sometimes an indication that chewing is painful, and it usually calls for a trip to the vet.

However, it’s important to remember that fussiness isn’t always an indication of poor dental health. If your dog’s teeth are healthy, fussy eating is often a learned behaviour. Check out my blog for tips and tricks for fussy dogs.

Chattering teeth

In conjunction with the signs above, chattering teeth can also indicate tooth discomfort caused by plaque and tartar build-up. This can be your dog’s way of easing the pain, so a trip to the vet could be a good idea if you notice frequent chattering.

Can my dog’s poor dental hygiene cause other health issues?

This is a question I get asked often by dog owners and sadly, the answer is usually yes. Ongoing poor dental hygiene can lead to a plethora of health issues in your dog’s later years.

Gingivitis is considered to be the first warning sign before periodontitis occurs in your dog. Unfortunately, periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease, isn’t reversible. If it’s severe, research has shown that it can take up to two years or more off your dog’s life expectancy.

Periodontitis can slowly destroy the bone that supports your dog’s teeth, causing loose teeth and potentially a fractured jaw in small dogs. In severe cases, bacteria from tartar build up can reach the gums and access the bloodstream. This can increase the risk of secondary health issues developing such as liver, kidney and heart disease.

The good news is, unlike gum disease, gingivitis is treatable and preventable. So if you start to notice the signs, it might be worth a trip to the vets before it gets any worse.

In order to treat gingivitis, your dog would most likely undergo a full scale and polish at the vets. This procedure removes the plaque and tartar build up, especially under the gumline where it causes most damage. If good dental care is kept on top of after the scale and polish, sore inflamed gums caused by gingivitis often heal quickly.

How can I improve my dog’s dental health?

My main advice? Dental care for dogs isn’t expensive, but neglect is. When it comes to dental health in dogs, prevention is better than cure. That’s why you should take care of your dog’s teeth from a young age. It’s the best way you can prevent the development of related health issues.

Feed a natural diet

You may not be aware that some ingredients commonly used in commercial kibble, can contribute to poor dental health. The main culprits are the high levels of artificial additives and sugars. These highly processed food particles stick to the surface of the teeth, causing plaque build-up.

Feeding a natural, nutritious diet is the best first step you can take to ensure your dog’s dental health remains in tip top condition. Healthy food, such as Ella’s cold-pressed and freeze-dried varieties, contain no artificial additives, fillers or bulking agents. Instead, only the best, human-grade and natural ingredients are used. These ingredients are easily broken down by digestive enzymes in your dog’s saliva. This reduces the risk of plaque build-up, resulting in a happy, healthy mouth!

Cold-pressed dog food

Available in Chicken and Fish

Shop now – 25% OFF

Daily brushing

Brushing is the gold standard in dental health practices at home. It’s recommended to brush your dog’s teeth daily with dog-friendly antibacterial toothpaste. Practise brushing your dog’s teeth when they’re young; it’s the best way to get them used to it. Adult dogs can also be desensitised to brushing, with some patience and training.

  1. First of all, ensure that you and your dog are in a calm, comfortable environment at home.
  2. Start by putting a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your finger and let your dog or puppy sniff and taste it. You could also use a finger brush too.
  3. You can then slowly progress to putting the toothpaste on the brush. Rest the brush on your dog’s canine tooth, which is easy to access by lifting the top lip up.
  4. Once they’re comfortable with this, you can then start to brush their teeth in small, gentle circles until any plaque starts to come away.

If your dog really doesn’t like their teeth being brushed, removing plaque can also be achieved by gently using your finger to flick it away. This is a good starting point to get your dog used to the feeling of their teeth being touched.

It shouldn’t be long until you’re able to confidently brush your dog’s teeth. Focus on getting into the nooks and crannies, and don’t forget the back teeth! If daily brushing isn’t possible, try to aim for at least three times per week.

Healthy chews

For some dogs, brushing their teeth can be a stressful experience. If this sounds familiar, it’s important not to force it, for the sake of both you and your dog’s safety. Instead, your dog might prefer a dental chew to help scrape any plaque off their teeth. Luckily, there are plenty of options you could go for!

  • Whimzees are specifically designed for teeth cleaning. They’re tough, vegetable-based and most dogs love them! One per day is enough to keep plaque at bay. An alternative and more cost effective option is a raw carrot.
  • Another great option that avoids brushing is to purchase a teeth cleaning dog toy. These toys have lots of ridges and soft bristles to help clean the teeth when chewed. Bonus points for applying some dog toothpaste on the bristles of the toy!
  • One of the most natural healthy chews you can offer your dog is a meaty bone. Make sure that bones are raw and never cooked, as cooked bones can splinter when chewed. Also, ensure you reduce your dog’s daily food allowance accordingly, and take bones away after 15 minutes. Meaty bones should be kept in the fridge to avoid spoiling. The occasional raw meaty bone can really help to improve your dog’s dental health.

When offering any type of dental chew, make sure you choose one which is appropriately sized for your dog. For example, a small chew or toy given to a large dog could pose a choking hazard. Also, it may not last long enough to have an impact on cleaning their teeth.

Keep your dog smiling!

I hope this blog has given you a greater understanding of why and how we should take care of our dog’s teeth. It’s important to treat our dog’s dental hygiene the same as we treat our own, in order to prevent related health issues from occurring in the future.

Brushing our dog’s teeth every single day is not always realistic! Giving your dog a carrot one day instead of brushing is absolutely fine. As long as you’re doing everything you can to keep plaque and tartar at bay, you can be confident that your dog’s teeth and gums will be better for it.

James & Ella x

James’ Top Tip

Don’t forget that bad breath can sometimes be a sign of another underlying health condition, such as kidney or liver disease. If your dog has unexplained bad breath, it’s best to get your vet’s opinion.

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Do dogs get lonely?

Do dogs get lonely?

Read time: 5 minutes

I always find it so hard leaving my dogs behind, after all, they’re a part of the family. But sadly, our dogs can’t accompany us everywhere we go, and often this means leaving them at home.

Some independent dogs cope well with being left alone. Others can find it stressful, especially when we first step out and close the door, they have this particular look that fills us with guilt. You might wonder how our dogs feel during the time they’re left at home. Do dogs experience emotions like we do? Do they feel sad when we leave them, or more specifically: do they experience loneliness?

I’ve learnt so much from my pack over the years, and understanding their behaviour has helped me care for them more than I could before. This blog will aim to provide you with information about how dogs feel emotions, particularly loneliness. I hope that passing on my own experiences and knowledge will help you to understand your dog even more. This will also enhance and strengthen the bond you already have.

Are dogs emotional?

Well, as it turns out, dogs are very emotional animals. A dog’s emotional range is similar to a child’s. They can ‘tell’ us how they are feeling through body language, or by displaying certain behaviours.

Many dogs display signs of anxiety and nervousness when we leave the house, and greet us with wagging tails and excitement when we return. So it can be assumed that they must be miserable when we’re gone. However, I think it’s important to note that dogs can still feel lonely even if we are present. This is especially true if they are the only dog or animal in the household.

Although this thought might be sad, don’t worry! There are signals to look out for and even more techniques that you can use to combat loneliness.

Common signs of loneliness in dogs

There are several signs which could indicate loneliness in dogs, some of which you might have noticed but not given a second thought. All dogs are different, so whilst one dog might display all of the below signs, others might only show one. Some signs are obvious and others are subtle. Here are some of the most common signs to look out for.

Separation anxiety

This is one of the most obvious signs that your dog might feel lonely when left alone. You might notice that your dog displays destructive behaviour, or distressed vocalisation such as barking, whining or howling when you try to leave without them. Some dogs might even go to the toilet in the house, as a sign of anxiety.

Repetitive licking

Usually, licking can be taken as a sign that your dog loves you! However, when licking either themselves, you or other objects becomes excessive, this can mean that they might be feeling anxious. If your dog shows this behaviour just before or after you leave them at home alone, it could be a sign of separation anxiety and loneliness while you’re out.

Following you around

Some dogs follow their owners around the house constantly. Some might even sit outside the bathroom door whining! Dogs with separation anxiety or loneliness issues often do this as they are scared of being left alone. There are dogs that might do this all of the time, and others only when they sense you’re about to leave.

Reduced appetite

An anxious dog is less likely to have a normal appetite. Much like we do when we feel scared or nervous, dogs can have the same feelings, putting them off their food. For example, if you leave for work every day in the morning, your dog will soon learn that routine. Unfortunately, this might lead to them refusing their breakfast due to their anxious feelings about you leaving them.

Ways to combat your dog’s loneliness

You might have realised that your dog displays some or all of the behavioural signs of loneliness. Knowing that our dogs can experience stress and anxiety when we leave them can make us feel sad and guilty. Don’t worry, there are many ways to help make the experience easier for both of you.

Slowly introduce leaving them

A great way to get your dog used to you leaving them is to practice. Start by leaving your dog in a room, stepping out, and closing the door so they can’t see you, but can still sense you’re there. This is a useful training technique as it will introduce them to managed separation and independence. If your dog is particularly anxious, you could start with a transparent door or dog-safe baby gate, so they can still see you.

Once your dog is comfortable with you leaving the room without them, you can start leaving the house for short periods of time. You could also invest in a pet camera, to record your dog whilst you’re out. This is a handy tool, as it will allow you to assess their progress over time. Once you feel that your dog is calm and used to your absence, you can slowly increase the time that you’re gone.

Familiar visitors

Another way to combat loneliness in your dog is to ask a familiar person to check in on them whilst you are out for long periods of time, such as work for instance. Your dog will appreciate the visit, and it will allow them to be let outside to go to the toilet, and perhaps play a game or go for a walk. It’s important to ensure that the visitor is familiar to your dog and not a stranger, as this could cause them more stress.

Keep them busy

Mental stimulation is one of the best ways to distract your dog from anxious feelings and behaviour. You could hide a handful of their daily food allowance around the room before you leave, for your dog to sniff out. If you hide them well enough, it could keep your dog occupied for quite some time. Ella’s cold-pressed food is perfect for this game! You could also leave them puzzles and rotate their toys to keep them busy and engaged whilst you’re out.

Cold-pressed dog food

Available in Chicken and Fish

Shop now – 25% OFF

Getting enough exercise

If you know that you need to leave your dog at home alone, always try to take them for a long walk beforehand. If your dog gets enough exercise, they should be sleepy. This will help them to stay calm when you leave the house, as they should be too tired to worry about being on their own.

Calming aids

If your dog has heightened anxiety, you could use a plugin dog pheromone calmer such as Adaptil, or calming spray on their bed and around your house. The pheromones can have a calming influence on your dog, which can help to reduce stress when you are out.

Additionally, I personally leave a blanket or item of clothing out for my dogs. This is a helpful trick to use, as the fabric will smell like you. This is a reminder to your dog that they don’t need to feel lonely, as your smell will be right there with them. Leaving the radio on is another effective technique that I adopt when I leave my dogs. Background noise can have a calming effect, which can help to distract them from feelings of anxiety.


Lastly, companionship can play a role in reducing your dog’s feelings of loneliness. Dogs are known to form bonds with not just dogs, but many different animals. With careful research and planning, you could look into introducing another pet. Your dog might feel comforted with another animal companion at home with them. Check out my training tip for introducing new pets to your dog.

“A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than it loves itself”

I hope the information in this blog has helped you to understand the emotions that your dog might go through on a daily basis. It’s important to remember that dogs don’t know why we have to leave them, but that’s why it’s great to offer solutions and training techniques to combat their anxieties.

I feel very lucky to have my pack of six to keep each other company when I can’t always take them with me. However, most importantly, I make sure that they all receive equal amounts of attention, as loneliness doesn’t always stem from being an only dog.

If your dog is displaying any of the above signs, it’s important to ensure that they’re safe when left alone. If you’re particularly concerned about their behaviour or wellbeing, it’s a good idea to seek help from a professional.

Remember, you are your dog’s entire world! Anything you can do to reduce potential loneliness or anxiety will have an immensely positive impact on their well-being.

James & Ella x

James’ Top Tip

Getting a new puppy? Crate training from an early age can be a great strategy to prevent separation anxiety and loneliness in a dog’s later life. The crate creates a safe space, where they can relax and feel calm, which is especially beneficial if you need to leave the house often!

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Tips and ideas for fussy dogs

Tips and ideas for fussy dogs

Read time: 3.5 minutes

Tips and tricks to get a fussy dog to eat

Getting a fussy dog to eat can be a time consuming but all too common experience for pet parents I speak to. It’s frustrating when they suddenly turn their nose up at a diet you searched high and low for. It can be extremely alarming when they go without food for some time, especially when we go above and beyond to offer our dogs as many choices as possible.

However, fussiness is often an adopted behaviour, stemming from our desire to give our pets variation. The principle applied to fussy human eaters unfortunately can’t be applied to dogs. Here are some important things to take into consideration when coaxing your fussy dog to eat!

Are they unwell?

My dogs are all great eaters, so if they go off their food, I will always consider their health and wellbeing as my number one priority. They could be feeling unwell for a number of reasons, anxiety, change of environment, a hot day, or a change within their diet can cause them to reject their food.

If your dog suddenly turns fussy, check their poop, as it’s one of the best indicators of a healthy dog. Be aware of any other signs they may be exhibiting. Lip licking, drooling and getting into the prey position may mean they feel sick, and taking a look at their stool consistency will tell you more. If there is cause for concern, a trip to the vet is best. 

Quality food: what to feed my fussy dog

Is your dog getting the best nutritional diet for their health and happiness? You might consider changing their food; however, don’t make a habit of this. Too much variety can exacerbate fussy behaviour.

Something that may put them off dry kibble is if it’s turned stale or rancid. Kibble is often sold in bulk bags, meaning it sits around for long periods of time, losing its smell and taste.

Raw food is great for fussy dogs because it’s a species-specific diet. I recommend sourcing human grade ingredients; this will help entice your dog to eat through top quality produce. 

Feeding my dogs freeze dried raw food means empty bowls at the end of each meal. My dogs have been eating the same diet for three years with no complaints. I like to add a splash of warm water to help bring out the natural flavours and aromas.

Treats and chews in moderation

Treats can be great whilst training, but you can easily overfeed your dog. This can result in them turning their nose up at dinnertime.

If you’re needing to treat them consistently, such as through agility or obedience training, it’s a better idea to use their daily food allowance to do this. When I was training Nala, I took small amounts of her breakfast and dinner to use for treats throughout the day. 

Make it fun: food ideas for fussy dogs

Ditching the bowl can work really well for fussy eaters. If you feed a dry food, using a snuffle mat or scatter feeding can turn it into a fun game, making them work for food.

Lickimats are ideal for wet food, and you can mix other elements in like smelly fish to add different scents. Dogs have 20% fewer taste buds than humans, so smell is crucial. The aromas from extra toppers may be the push they need to entice them to eat. 

Stick to a routine

Dogs love routine. Stick to a schedule every day and be sure to pick up their food if they’ve not eaten it within half an hour. Leaving food in their bowls will encourage grazing, attributing to bad eating habits. 

If dogs know they get a treat five minutes after going on a hunger strike, they’re more likely to continue this behaviour. Be patient with them and don’t treat them to human food if they’re refusing to eat. 

Walking your dog before meal time or playing fetch around the garden may help stimulate hunger. In the wild, a dog would have to hunt its prey before eating, so encourage this natural routine.

Create a calm environment 

There are things that can put your dog off their food, so it’s important to be aware of this. If they are noise sensitive, feed them in a quiet room. Eating around other pets might make them nervous, so feeding separately might help.

Encourage your dog at dinner time through praise. This will show them how to behave and what is expected. It’s important for you not to stress or worry, as dogs can pick up on this behaviour and it may put them off eating. Gentle praise and encouragement is always preferred.

Full bellies and happy appetites

It’s a satisfying feeling, finally finding the right food and seeing a full and happy pup licking their bowl clean. From my experience, I know it can take a lot of patience, resilience and trial and error. And don’t forget; a truly hungry dog will always eat!

Hi, I’m James, founder of Ella & Co.

I’m on a mission to make my dogs lives as happy and as healthy as they make mine. At Ella & Co this means feeding them the best possible diet.

Join me and my pack today!

Posted on

The story of James & Ella

The story of James & Ella

Read time: 3.5 minutes

Every dog owner thinks their dog is the best, and everybody is right.

I founded Ella & Co, a happiness and wellbeing company for dogs, as a way of giving back to my dogs that have done so much for me. Ella, my eldest black cocker spaniel, is the namesake of our company. She is my teacher, therapist and best friend. I wanted to share my story with you; about my mental health and the emotional support I received from my dogs. 

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.” – Robert Wagner

I’ve found it important to talk about my mental health problems throughout my life. I want anyone with similar issues to know they aren’t alone. No matter your background, religion or race; mental health can affect you, regardless of your privilege. 

Dogs have always been there for me throughout my struggles in life with depression and loneliness. My family dog, Tilly, was the first one I went to when I had problems at school. Looking back on it now, I can see how much she helped me. 

For me there was a breaking point; a time in 2017 where the stress and anxiety became overwhelming. I packed up my car and took myself and my dogs to the Lake District. We swam in the icy lakes and walked along snow-capped mountain peaks. I realised I couldn’t cope anymore, but with that recognition came calm, in knowing that I needed help.

“You can tell by the kindness of a dog how a human should be.” – Captain Beefheart

Ella came to every single one of my therapy sessions. I’d make excuses not to go, if Ella couldn’t be there with me. Just being by my side, she was helping me tremendously and had an immense positive impact. It’s not always been easy for me to talk about my struggles with anxiety and depression, but Ella has been the one to encourage me to get the help I needed.

Ella is the first dog I got as an adult. She is the matriarch of my pack and the one who has been there to help and guide me through a large portion of my adult life. I owe a lot to Ella and I believe she is a large reason I was able to overcome the deep struggles I have had with my mental illnesses. She is truly my inspiration and the inspiration behind Ella & Co. 

“When the dog looks at you, the dog is not thinking what kind of a person you are. The dog is not judging you.” – Eckhart Tolle

Research shows that just five minutes of petting a dog can help lower the levels of the hormone that is responsible for stress. That’s why I believe mental health and dogs are inherently linked. It’s the main reason why I have registered Ella as a therapy dog.

In 2018 I became involved with Pets as Therapy and Ella became a recognised Therapy dog; the following year, Mabel joined too. Ella and Mabel visit hospitals, nursing homes and hospices with me, and their joy brings me and others joy as well.  

A dog won’t cure your mental health condition, that’s a missguided thought. But they are the perfect listeners; they can reduce stress, blood pressure, and help ease loneliness.

There are so many benefits to being a dog owner. Being able to see and appreciate a dog’s excitement over the little things, being happy with what you have and not chasing tomorrow, but making the most of today. These are the things we can learn from dogs. 

The world is simply a friendlier place with dogs. They make life less complicated.

How can I give my dogs the best life?

We need to remember what we can do for our dogs in return, to give them the best quality of life. 

This is why I started to research more, in order to feed them the best possible diet. It really was the driving force behind founding Ella & Co. Our dogs are reliant on us for so much, especially their food. It’s only fair we give them the best we can. 

I am sharing this story now, at a point where I have a new zest for life. I have a new sense of purpose, which Ella and the pack have been key in contributing to.

I encourage anyone who is struggling to speak out, to share and talk in any way they can, even if it is just to their dog. Tackling the stigma associated with mental health will come if we have the courage to share. It’s okay not to be okay.

Need to talk?

Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.

Text: 85258


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