Eating Pet Food

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Orleander, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. gluon Banned Banned



    You get all sorts of yummy goodness from a tin of felix cat food. Tuck in me, me old chum!
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    So why do pets thrive on it?
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    * * * * NOTE FROM A MODERATOR * * * *


    I am not a nutritionist. The following is offered only in the spirit of intellectual discussion, for example in contemplation of surviving a disaster, or feeding an expanding population. No one should modify their diet or experiment with food not intended for human consumption, without consulting a doctor or a nutritionist. If you want to be prepared to survive a disaster, please stock up on human food for the humans in your family and feed the pet food to your pets, or better yet, consult an authoritative website.

    Sorry, as a Moderator I gotta say that and I hope you all take it seriously.

    Back to the discussion...
    That's true. The nutritional requirements of dogs and cats are not identical to those of humans. But you should be able to read the vitamin and mineral content off the package and compare it to the MDAR (minimum daily adult requirement) for humans.
    You could probably survive for a month or so with virtually no ill effects if you're in good health and don't have any unusual nutritional disorders of your own. If you add vitamins and mineral supplements to your diet to compensate for the what the pet food lacks you might actually be able to subsist on it.

    The problems you have to deal with:
    • Dogs and cats need more protein than humans. We are the most carnivorous of the apes, but dog and cat intestines are even shorter than ours and it's not reasonable to suppose that we could all subsist on the same diet. It's possible to consume too much protein.
    • Dogs and cats need virtually no fiber in their diet since their intestines are so short. We need fiber. You'd have to add something like purified sawdust to compensate or you could become constipated to the point of extreme discomfort or even impaction. (See Disclaimer above.)
    • Dogs have a very low-pH metabolism (very acidic saliva and stomach) and can consume many species of bacteria with no ill effect. In fact they need a certain level of bacteria to aid their digestion, which is why in the wild they eat the contents of their prey's intestines and in captivity they simply eat stool. Your dog will be delighted to eat dry kibble that's been sitting around in an open container, but the bacteria that have built up on it could make you very sick. (Ironically some kibbles are loaded with preservatives as if they were meant for humans. They can kill off your dog's intestinal culture. If you find him in the yard scavenging for poop, give him a dollop of yogurt every day, and stop buying that cheap brand of food with a six-month shelf life.)
    • Dogs and cats have different requirements. Cat food is much higher in protein and should not be fed to dogs; dog food has filler and should not be fed to cats. One of the few evolutionary differences between Canis lupus lupus (wolves) and Canis lupus familiaris (dogs) over the past 15,000 years is that dogs have adapted to the more omnivorous diet of a scavenger, with smaller brains that require less protein to support and teeth somewhat more suitable for chewing garbage than ripping apart live prey. Since cat food has more protein than dog food, cat stool is loaded with it and it's very difficult to stop your dog from doing what is natural and healthy for him as well as good for a natural environment: eating out of the cat litter box.
      Then you must be buying the really cheap stuff. It's a cliche that the pet food industry has spent tens millions of dollars crafting a product whose appearance, texture and odor is appealing to humans, rather than to the species it's intended to feed. I wish I had saved a can of Pard dog food from 55 years ago to show you in comparison. The smell would drive you out of the room but then when you saw it tumble out into the dish you truly would vomit. No one talked about cats being "finicky eaters" in the 1950s. Cat food was designed to smell good to cats, not people.
    Indeed. I noted that in my list. Humans need fiber to keep the stuff moving through our relatively long intestinal tract.
    Remember that dogs are scavengers so what we refer to as "offal" is something they would eat by choice. Even wild canids will eat the remnants of other predators' kill, especially the digestive organs and their contents, as I noted earlier.
    Don't make the mistake of judging pet food by human standards. Besides, brains, stomach, kidneys, tripe, tongue and other organs are considered delicacies by many people. (Look up "sweetbreads," and "menudo" or "chitterlings/chitlins.") I enjoy tongue myself as sandwich meat, although I don't like the look of it as a hot dinner entree. Once again, dogs and cats are different so what's good for a dog is not necessarily good for a cat. Dogs eat what the cats leave behind.
    Cats are apex predators in their ecological niche and should not be given plant tissue to eat, except the bit of grass they might eat for reasons I don't quite understand.
    Dogs, on the other hand, voluntarily domesticated themselves because (for one reason) human camps were littered with garbage which to them represents perfectly good food going to waste. They are perfectly content to eat the remnants of our cooking and our meals. Still, like cats, they are not adapted to eating cooked grains. Many dogs can digest a bit of it, but many others have the same kind of enzyme problems we do and may not be able to digest a particular grain such as wheat or corn.

    Even humans are not well suited to grains, since they don't have a proper ratio of amino acids and are woefully deficient in vitamins and minerals. At the close of the Mesolithic Era, when we stopped being nomadic hunters with a meat-intensive diet, the life expectancy of an adult human who had survived the rigors of childhood was in the low 50s. By the Roman Era, when everyone except the aristocrats were subsisting on grains, it had plummeted to the low 20s.
    Remember, dogs and cats are two different species with different requirements. Dogs were the camp janitors.
    That's not only risky but unnecessary--for dogs. They thrive on bacteria. Furthermore, the preservatives kill off their intestinal culture and are therefore actually harmful. Finally, all those preservatives in their stool will sterilize the soil in your lawn!
    Indeed. And those dyes may not be healthy.
    Once again, don't make the mistake of judging pet food by human standards. We do NOT have the same nutritional requirements.
    I don't know what country you live in but they can't legally put plastic in pet food in the USA. If you're buying the crap from China, stop it.
    Once again, dogs and cats are not the same. Dogs will happily eat roadkill. The organ meat (in small amounts) and the bacteria are good for them.
    Dogs are scavengers. Even wild canid species like jackals and coyotes will help themselves to a corpse. It's their job, dude. What's the difference between hunting down a lame old goat and eating one that already died?
    Rancidity has been identified as a cause of cancer in humans. I don't know if it has the same effect on pets. Nonetheless, a cat would not eat something that smells that bad; it would have to be camouflaged.
    Once again, dogs are nature's janitors. This may be an unsavory image but it's all part of the cycle of life. I would, of course, worry about the method of euthanasia. If they used an overdose of an opiate I wouldn't want that going into my dog.
    As noted, pet food is generally crafted to be appealing to humans, not its intended consumers. Still, dogs are scavengers by nature, not finicky eaters. If your dog is turning up his nose at food that appears to be totally healthy (after you've read the label and made sure of that), then you should just permit him to skip that meal. He'll eat it with gusto tomorrow. Dogs don't need to eat on a regular-as-clockwork schedule like humans do. I don't agree with the contingent who says every dog should go one day a week without eating, but I have no qualms about skipping a day on rare occasions. Especially a small dog. Large dogs can get twisted stomachs and die if they eat too much at one time, so many people recommend that they should be fed two smaller meals every day.
    Thank you. Although these days in the USA that's a rare practice.
    Please don't feed your dogs cat food. It has too much protein and can cause organ damage. For the same reason, don't make a practice of giving them more than an occasional treat of organ meat like liver and kidney, which is perfectly fine for cats. (In the wild they don't get that much of from scavenging since the original predator loves it too.)

    The Chinese consider chicken feet a delicacy. As for the heads, brain tissue is very nutritious.

    We deprive our dogs of food they're built to digest, such as offal and stool, and we feed them stuff they're not built to digest, such as wheat and corn. But considering what we feed ourselves, I suppose it's no surprise that we don't give our pets healthy diets either.

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    I want some fetal tissue!
  8. Enmos Registered Senior Member

    I heard that chocolate is poisonous to cats.
  9. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    Really? I didn't know big dogs could die from eating too much. My dog is big very big, he weighs more than I do, but he hates to eat dried dog food, he doesn't like it. (He won't eat banana's either) Whenever I give him only dried food, he refuses to eat it. And if that's all he gets for the day, he'll get so hungry that he'll eat a few pieces every so many hours. And beg through the window. It seems like torture for me to make him eat it. Like someone making me eat a giant bowl of Lima Beans. Especially when I have other stuff I could give to him. Sometimes he catches his own food, but I really don't want him eating strange animals. Is pet food really better than feeding him left-overs?
  10. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    Thank you Fraggle. Excellent post.
  11. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. He knows a lot.
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's called Gastric Dilation Volvolus, also distended stomach, bloat or distended abdomen. You can Google it. The stomach twists and flops over about half a turn, so both the entrance from the esophagus and the exit to the intestine are blocked by folded tissue. The dog will gain weight and become listless, the stomach contents become impacted and harden. The success rate of emergency surgery is very high, but since it's not a well-known condition people often wait until it's too late and the dog dies.

    Because of the physics and the geometry, it's very much a problem for large dogs. It's the classic square-versus-cube math problem: as any linear dimension (say length) of an animal increases, the surface area of any tissue (say wings) or cross-section (say muscles) increases as the square of that dimension, whereas the weight and volume the tissue has to support or lift increases as the cube. This is why small birds have tiny wings whereas the wings of large birds comprise almost their entire silhouette in flight. (An ostrich would need a 300-ft wingspan to get off the ground.) The muscles that hold a dog's stomach in place work just fine on a 20-lb dog but they're overworked on a 100-lb dog. Allow the dog to stuff that stomach with 20 lb of food and you've got a potential problem.

    These days most authorities recommend feeding a dog two meals a day for a variety of reasons. I don't do that because my dogs don't have time for a nice leisurely patrol after breakfast, but they only weigh 18 lb so I don't worry about it. It is high recommended for a large dog like yours, to avoid filling the stomach to the point that the force of gravity will cause it to twist and block.
    I don't know how many times I've had to point this out to people: Dogs are scavengers. In the fifteen thousand years they've lived with us, they have evolved away from being primarily predators and now have a metabolism that is adapted to eating refuse. Their nature is to eat virtually anything that is even remotely edible, and worry about its nutritional value (and digestibility) afterwards.

    If a dog refuses to eat something, he has become a little too much like the humans he lives with. Right down to his ability to expertly mimic the human drama of, "Ooh ooh, I can't eat that, it's too icky! Please give me a pepperoni pizza and some rocky road ice cream. Ooh ooh, I feel faint, I need a hamburger right away or I'll swoon." Sound familiar?
    Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, but that's not your problem. Your problem is the "large dog alpha syndrome." The alpha instinct has been largely bred out of dogs because that's the only way our dual-species community can function smoothly. The dogs have to instinctively defer to our authority. Wolf packs are small because if there are twenty of them there will be two alphas vying for dominance and they won't get anything done. Feral dog packs are much larger.

    But for a really large dog, it's easy for the little bit of alpha instinct he has to take over. Especially if the humans in his life allow it. He might not actually try to boss you around, because those dogs were culled from the herd ten thousand generations ago and their genes are extinct, but he'll do more subtle things like command you to change his diet.

    Don't fall for it.
    Dogs are really masters of drama, aren't they? Just don't fall for it. They are very empathic and know what it takes to get through to you. Another of Fraggle Rocker's Dog Aphorisms:


    We had some friends whose dog would only eat roast beef. He was a master of drama and the whole family bought into this ritual of roasting the beef and feeding it by hand to little Snooky-Poo every night. Then they had to go away for a family emergency and on such short notice they found a friend who was grudgingly willing to dog-sit. I'm sure you can write the rest of this anecdote. The dog went on a hunger strike for exactly two days and then his instincts got the better of him. When they came home his head was buried in a bowl of kibble and his tail was wagging.

    But wait, there's more to the story: These people were actually disappointed! The dog who would only eat roast beef had become part of their family culture and they missed it! Don't let this happen to you.
    Well look at it this way. Dogs have lived with us for about fifteen thousand years. "Dog food" has been in production for about one hundred years.

    As I've noted before, dogs domesticated themselves. This happened long before we invented the technology of animal husbandry; we had no ability to tame and breed animals. A few brave and curious wolves wandered into our camp and a few brave and curious humans stood there with their spears ready. . . and watched the wolves clean up the garbage. It was a match made in heaven. The wolves got free food, we got the camp cleaned up, protection from predators, cuddly pals for our children to play with, and eventually we learned that by using our complementary hunting skills we could bring down more game than either species could do by themselves.

    And in the bargain we discovered that it was possible to live in harmony and cooperation with another "tribe." I think it is no accident that after living in small extended family units for millions of years, regarding other tribes as enemies, a mere two or three thousand years after learning to live with dogs we invited the nearby human tribes to work together to build civilization. Religion is dyslexic: we should be worshiping DOG.

    Anyway, back on topic, dogs don't need dog food and got along without it for eons. Even in cities, dogs were considered the janitors. Humans were slobs, even in royal palaces. They tossed bones on the floor and let the dogs clean them up.

    So if you want to feed your dog table scraps, go for it. Just take into account the fact that the human diet has changed dramatically over the past 150 years and it isn't quite as healthy for our scavengers as it used to be.
    • Preservatives. Dogs have very short intestines and need to maintain a bacterial culture. The preservatives in a lot of our food will kill those bacteria, which is why they run out to eat stool. The preservatives in their stool will sterilize the soil under your lawn. Give them some yogurt, but better yet, try reducing the preservatives in your own diet.
    • Antibiotics. A lot of the meat, eggs, milk, cheese and other animal tissue we eat is pumped full of antibiotics. This will also kill the bacteria in your dog's intestines, as well as breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria in both him and you, and the goddess only knows what it will do to your lawn.
    • Protein. As I noted, dogs don't have as high a protein requirement as wolves. Their brains, which require a lot of protein for maintenance, are measurably smaller, one of the few easily noticeable differences between dogs and wolves. You should not let a dog eat a pure-meat diet, and especially don't let him get too much of the really high-protein meat like liver and kidney. I.e., put the turkey giblets in your stuffing, not in the dog food.
    • Bacteria. All canids have a scavenger's metabolism with a low pH. They need to eat bacteria. So don't be compulsive about giving them clean food, it's actually not what they need. It wasn't very long ago that dogs cleaned our streets.
    • Vitamins and minerals. I'm a little weak on this because we feed our dogs good commercial food and it's loaded with vitamin and mineral supplements. If you're going to give your dog human food, do a little research and make sure you're not depriving him of something he needs that you don't. You can buy vitamin pills for dogs. I haven't had much luck with human vitamins, they don't seem to like the taste of something in them.
    • Sugar, salt, etc. Virtually all processed and packaged human food is pumped up with sugar and salt. This is especially true of "convenience food" and "junk food," but check the label on something as prosaic as a loaf of bread or a can of refried beans... and if you read the ingredients on your kids' cereal box you'd better be sitting down. Almost all mammals except cats love the taste of sweetness and your dog will quickly adapt to it, but he can become obese as easily as you can. He will also adapt to saltiness and it will do the same thing to his blood pressure that it does to yours.
    • Teeth. Chewing crunchy kibble helps keep their teeth clean. If all their food is cooked and soft you should be sure to give them something to chew on like beef bones, or you may have to have their teeth cleaned regularly. Which brings us to...
    • Bones. No poultry bones, they're hollow and will splinter. Yes yes, dogs have been killing birds and eating them for millions of years, but occasionally one dies from an impacted bone. You don't want it to be yours. No pork bones, they are also likely to splinter.
    • No pork. I didn't know dogs keep kosher, but all the authorities insist that pork is not healthy for dogs. I don't understand it but my wife does and she's the alpha.
  13. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    I think it makes a difference if those bones have been cooked or not.
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Our vet says no. He pulls a bone splinter out of a dog's throat about once a month and it doesn't matter if it's a pork roast or the toss-em-a-raw-chicken diet that's now in vogue.

    My wife makes her own food in a pressure cooker. That softens up the bones so she can put the whole mess in a food processor and pulverize it. The dogs get plenty of calcium with no risk.
  15. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    Why is chocolate so dangerous to dogs?
  16. shorty_37 Go! Canada Go! Registered Senior Member

    I am not sure but I always hear that....NEVER give dogs chocolate or they will die. I wouldn't even think about doing that, however I know a few ppl whos dogs got into chocolate and nothing happened.
    My best friends dog got into a box of chocolate at Christmas that was under the tree when they weren't home. They came home to find the box ripped open and the chocolates all gone, a whole box. She was freaking but nothing happened to him at all. :shrug:
    Is it really as dangerous as they say or is it an exaggeration?
  17. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    I don't know. My dog has also eaten chocolate before (on several occassions, because he he used to dig in the trash and pantry) and he's just fine.
  18. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    What breed is your dog, Cutsie?
  19. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

    Chocolate contains theobromine, which has some similarity to caffeine. Dogs don't handle it as well as humans. This is a general trend in biology/veteranary medicine. Humans have a much higher resistance to drugs/chemicals than most other animal species. It's often refered to as the blood brain barrier.

    Here is a link that describes theobromine:

    Although avoiding giving any chocolate to a dog isn't all that bad an idea, the case for it being "poisonous" is a little over stated. You need to consider the size of the dog, and how much you let him eat. Giving a 120 lb. dog a "snicker mini" once or twice a week probably won't do any harm. But don't let a chihuahua eat a whole bag of hershey's "special dark".

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    One thing is certain, dogs _love_ chocolate as much as we do. Don't leave a bag where they can get at it, they'll eat the whole thing as fast as they can, wrappers and all.

    Here's another good link:
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  20. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    Then what's up with this? Are dogs lactose intolerant so they make special ice cream for dogs??

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  21. kevinalm Registered Senior Member

    Iirc, most adult mammals tend toward lactose intolerance. A case of evolution in action. Only humans supplement their diets with milk (cows, goats, etc.) into adulthood, so evolution has favored those who retained the ability to produce the proper enzime(s) past the age of weaning. I seem to recall that there are even differences in the incedence of lactose intolerance between various human populations corresponding to the reliance of milk in the diet of their ancestors.
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Here's another explanation of the problems with dogs and chocolate. Theobromine is one of the psychoactive chemicals in chocolate that make it so popular. (The other is caffeine.) It's a mood elevator without being the physical stimulant that caffeine is.

    Humans can metabolize theobromine readily. But it's much more difficult for dogs, so it can easily reach a toxic level in their bodies. Like humans, every dog has sligthly different body chemistry and a tiny amount of chocolate won't hurt any of them, but two ounces might kill a small dog and a pound might kill a larger dog. Since chocolate tastes good and dogs are gulpers, they could easily gobble that much before you can intervene. It's best to have their stomach pumped if it happens.

    It's also deadly for cats, but cats are almost unique among mammals for the absence of sugar receptors on their taste buds, so they're not attracted to it.
  23. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    really?? My cat goes crazy over grapes. I always thought it was because they were sweet. :shrug:

Share This Page