Western Morning News

Dog food dilemma? Just try ostrich with berries

- CHARLIE ELDER charles.elder@reachplc.com

MY aged spaniel can no longer make it far on walks. A couple of hundred yards and back is all that his arthritic joints manage these days.

It is a great shame that he will no longer be able to visit the Dartmoor spots that he loves, given they are too far from car parks for him to reach. The peaks he conquered and pools he swam in will remain just memories, from a time when, like all young springer spaniels, he had boundless energy. Sadly, at thirteen-and-a-half years old he hasn’t a great many walks left in him.

However, I’m not writing his obituary here, not yet awhile. Because there is one thing that he has begun to enjoy in his old age which is sure to keep him going a bit longer, and that’s his food.

For most of his life he was fed on a working dog mix – nuggets of nourishmen­t that he crunched through by the bowlful.

When he grew bored of one version, it was easy to pick another flavour, and as time passed he moved on to the formulatio­ns for older dogs.

However, he gradually began to struggle with the crunchy texture and when one day we ran out of food and a dash to the shops resulted in some cheap meaty gloop, he was in doggie heaven. He couldn’t get enough of the meat chunks in gravy, looking up from the clean bowl as if to say: hey, why wasn’t I fed this stuff earlier?

However, with food now his main entertainm­ent, and a touch of dementia complicati­ng his thoughts, he has become increasing­ly fussy. What’s good one day is not up to scratch the next, even if garnished with rice or peas.

As any dog owner will know, when it comes to pet food the variety is endless. And the other day, on impulse, he was bought a couple of tins of top quality nosh. Premium organic meals.

I’m a long-term fan of organic food. Free from agricultur­al pesticides it offers a win-win for both biodiversi­ty and potentiall­y one’s own wellbeing, given it helps reduce the amount of chemicals consumed. The extra price is one I have been prepared to pay. But for pets? I’m afraid I haven’t made that investment. Only, I have never seen my spaniel devour food with such an appetite as this particular brand.

Budget-permitting we could work our way around the pet store just for fun. When it comes to food it seems you can teach my old dog new tricks, and the assortment of flavours is mind-boggling. Fine dining treats I have spotted on the shelves include Ostrich and Blackberry, Salmon with Blueberrie­s, Wild boar and Rosehips, Pheasant with Raspberry Leaves and Quail and Oregano. With all that choice my aging dog could end up eating far better than me.

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