A more natural diet for my dog?

My dog Oscar, a three year old Flat Coated Retriever, has been fed on the same brand of food since he was a puppy. It’s a kibble that comes in three varieties delivered to my door by courier in 15Kg sacks, each of which lasts about a month. Retrievers are not known for their fussiness but I find increasingly that Oscar is missing meals and waiting to see if there are any vegetable scraps or leftover human food instead of enjoying his own food when it’s given to him. Sometimes he is hungry for breakfast, sometimes he will go until evening or even a couple of days without eating. I have tried leaving his food down for only 15 minutes but, stubborn as he is, this does not usually prompt him to eat up quickly. I wonder whether he’s quite simply bored with his food. Some people say that dogs aren’t fussy but he has distinct food preferences. He prefers the fish variety of the kibble, for instance, and loves cauliflower bottoms but doesn’t touch celery.

So I’ve decided to change Oscar’s food. Asking around, our dog trainer and others in our dog class recommended raw food so I’ve just taken my first delivery of Natural Instinct food, in several different flavour combinations. The food comes frozen in plastic tubs, which have to be kept in the freezer. A plus point of this is that the food can be partially thawed and then stuffed into a Kong toy, which will make Oscar work for his food and keep him amused while I’m out at the gym,

Now, I have a family of four, excluding Oscar, and cook every night. Leftovers are usually frozen in boxes to be eaten at weekends when there’s nothing else in the house. I do like these leftovers days, naturally, because all the food is cooked by me and I only cook the things I love. It means that we keep food wastage down and our freezer is kept full and running efficiently. It does, however, mean there’s little room in the freezer for dog food that will last only a week or so.

I’m not going to delve into the fraught subject of natural versus processed dog food here. I’m not an expert and feelings are passionate on both sides of the argument. All I know is that feeding my dog a raw diet will necessitate another freezer which is currently impossible in our suburban London home. The food is more expensive than a kibble, naturally, but, together with delivery charges becomes quite a consideration for our budget.

Then there are the environmental costs of the plastic and polystyrene packaging, and the petrol and carbon costs of the delivery. I understand that these can be recycled but I’m not sure how easy that is in practice. All in all, natural food seems an expensive option for a suburban family. It remains to be seen whether Oscar likes it better.

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P.S.Oscar really likes the new food. He doesn’t even wait until it’s defrosted. It’s going to take me a while to get the hang of defrosting the food blocks but I think it will be worth it. And who knows? Perhaps we COULD have a freezer for dog food. I’ll need a new kitchen first though…

p.p.s. A week later and I think Oscar’s coat is shinier and softer and he looks healthier. The softness of his coat could be because he rolled in fox poo last Wednesday and had to be bathed, so I’ll reserve a definitive judgement on that for a while.

Oscar love the food and always finishes it up straight away. He waits, licking his chops, while I measure it out. So far I don’t think there is any sign of him gaining weight.

His poos are, however, smaller and more solid, easier to pick up, less smelly because I suppose they have far less carbohydrate padding. And he loved the bone we left him on Saturday afternoon. All good.


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