KIRTLEY came running up to me, eager for attention, and I involuntarily turned away.
I wasn’t displeased to see him, but I think even the most ardent dog lover would have been put off by what I saw.
The summer sun had baked firm crusts on the cow pats that dotted the field, but they were not proof to the inquisitive probing of a flat-coated retriever, and it was evident from the brown coating on the tongue lolling from his mouth that Kirtley found them very much to his taste.
I often think of moments like that when talking to pet owners about their dog’s diet.
We can get hung up on whether raw meat diets are more natural, or whether prescription diets provide more balanced nutrition.
The fact is that dogs are by nature scavengers and given the chance will eat just about anything. Often, of course, they get it wrong, and sometimes that can lead to a trip to the vets. But, thankfully, their stomach will often reject something unsavoury (even if they do try to eat it again straight afterwards!).
So, when it comes to what to feed your dog there are no hard and fast rules. We generally advise owners to start with a commercial diet, mainly because it will have been researched to provide all the nutrients your dog needs, but also because it is more convenient to store and feed.
But if you can find a reputable source, then a fresh food diet may suit your pet, particularly if they are sensitive to the additives sometimes present in prepared foods.
Prescription diets can also be a real benefit to your pet, with ingredients to help manage diseases like diabetes, joint disease, kidney failure and liver dysfunction.
Although, as far as I know, none of them contains cow dung; I wish I could ask Kirtley what he sees in it!