By Zoe Appleyard-Ley, Rockster
For many of us the saying “Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything” is true. Fourteen years ago, whilst we were on our honeymoon, Sven and I found a dying street dog on the steps of “La Conca del Sogno”, south of Naples, who captured our hearts. We cancelled our honeymoon to rescue him and embarked on our journey as a family with “The Rockster” by our side. The truth is however, he rescued us right back in so many incalculable ways.
There is something inexplicable about the bond we form with our dogs; they become our rock in life always there with a paw whenever we need a hand, and in turn their trust in us is absolute. They love us unconditionally and, like children, are utterly dependent on the choices we make for them. These choices will affect their quality of life and in the end their lifespan.
The single most important choice we make for our dogs is what we put inside their bodies, together with exercise and the cuddles they love so much. They trust us to understand what exactly we are feeding them – and of course, if there is nothing else on offer they will eventually eat whatever we put in their bowl.
Yet some estimate the average age of dogs since the Second World War has fallen by over a third. Dogs are increasingly dying of organ failure or cancer, and their lives are increasingly being afflicted by allergies, diabetes and a vast array of immune and stomach conditions from food that has such low quality ingredients masked by labelling that appeals to loving owners striving to do the best by their dogs.
Shrouded by ignorance yet well intentioned, we battled for years to get The Rockster eating “natural” dog foods. His natural reticence possibly came from an innate and genetically-wired understanding of what is harmful, common to street dogs. We were utterly appalled when we learnt what really goes into even the “premium” dog foods and our subsequent gut-wrenching guilt led us to develop a food for him I only wish I could get my children eating regularly! He is now age-defying, anything between 17-19 years old, and even recently fathered puppies. It is also incredible to see how many other dogs’ lives it has transformed.
I can only implore those who truly want to nurture their dog from the inside to really understand the label on their dog’s food and investigate a little further. Does it give the breakdown of 100% of the ingredients? It’s not just about what percentage of meat content – what part of the animal has been used or was it actually meat “paste”, let alone by products or derivatives? Had that meat been pumped with steroids, hormones, antibiotics or worse? Last month a dog died from ingesting a fatal euthanasia drug in horse meat found in a “beef” premium food…
Whether you feed dry, raw or complete wet food, the origin and quality of the meat is actually a big deal. The bottom line is, good quality real meat is not cheap for humans or pets. All dogs are omnivores and also need plant-based nutrients, not grain based fillers to make the production price cheaper. It’s common sense but 0.005% of anything is a marketing gimmick, and will do nothing for your dog. Their digestive tract is short and sometimes even the most well-intentioned home-cooked meal can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Just as with human food, the low price of dog food can often be an alarm bell, and a false economy which in the end may carry a price tag no loving dog owner wants.
As I implore my children every day, even the occasional “superfood” is better than none!