Friday, July 17, 2009

More web claptrap from pet nutrition expert


7 reasons dogs and cats should not get table scraps or eat people food
1. Giving pets table scraps supplements their diets with unnecessary calories. Animals depend on the nutrients found in food specially formulated for them. If they eat people food, they will eat less of their own food and miss out on adequate nutrition.

COMMENTS FROM DR. WYNN: There are really two different issues. Yes, most dogs and cats eat formulated foods, designed to provide complete nutrition. If you provide a lot of some other, non balanced food, it could cause very real deficiencies. But this one irks me – “Giving pets table scraps supplements their diets with unnecessary calories”. Well, yeah, if you assume people are giving junk food, pure meat and cheese, etc. But let’s try to parse this out for the majority of people who are capable of understanding the difference between veggies/fruits and everything else. How about a better sweeping statement, that goes like this: “Giving pets table scraps supplements their diets with unnecessary calories, unless the scraps consist primarily of fresh veggies and fruits”.

2. Animals who eat their normal amount of pet food in addition to the extra calories in table scraps can easily gain weight. Obesity puts animals at risk for health problems.

COMMENTS: see #1

3. Receiving table scraps or people food encourages unhealthy food behaviors. It can cause food aggression in both cats and dogs, and it encourages begging at the table.

COMMENTS: Ok, help people understand how to give fresh foods in the bowl at mealtime, or as a reward for a requested behavior.

4. Some food is toxic to cats. Cats are carnivorous and cannot digest many vegetables or starch. Franny Syufy from reminds pet owners that “...may have forgotten that the gravy slathered over your Thanksgiving turkey used broth that was flavored with onion, among other things. While it is tasty and harmless to humans, onions are very toxic to cats.” In her article titled “Human Foods for Cats?” Syufy lists onions, garlic, green tomatoes, raw potatoes, root vegetables, chocolate, grapes and raisins, and milk as food especially toxic to cats. (If the cats insist on drinking milk, they should drink lactose free milk such as CatSip, which can be purchased at most pet stores.)

COMMENTS: milk toxic to cats? Are you kidding me? OK, some cats might not tolerate it, like humans with lactose intolerance, but toxic? And what on earth is she talking about with root vegetables being toxic? Ok, onions are toxic, but sweet potatos? Burdock? Perhaps we need better sources for our information than

5. Some foods are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate in large quantities, and dairy products. Onions can also be poisonous to dogs so pet owners should be aware of the ingredients in anything they feed to animals (even onion powder can have adverse effects on pets.) Fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis, and excessive levels of sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes.

OK, I’ll support this except that I still don’t think that lactose intolerance is in the same class with toxicity.

6. Animals cannot digest all food. Corn and sugar are especially tough on animals' digestive systems. Potatoes, lunch meat, and condiments often have high sugar contents.

COMMENT: I’m not sure what this means – corn and sugar are tough on digestive systems? Sugar is highly digestible, but lots of it will lead to metabolic problems. Corn – it’s not digestible if given as whole kernels because none of us break down that cellulose kernel coat very well. But it’s digestible if processed either by human teeth (dogs don’t spend a lot of time chewing), a food processor, or in dog food factories. Do we want a corn-BASED diet? No, but let’s try more precision when we talk about the effect corn has on digestive systems.

7. Any meat product containing bones can break and puncture the throat, stomach, or intestines, or cause constipation by actually blocking the digestive path. Even if bones do not cause an injury, they are sure to cause discomfort. Crushed bones or very frail bones typically do not cause problems. (If the dog insists on getting the bone from the roast, monitor the dog and remove the bone once it breaks or becomes small enough to be a choking hazard.)

COMMENT: I’ll go with this. By the way, I’ve never found authoritative support for the raw feeding claim that cooked bones are more brittle than raw ones. I can see how it might be true but I’ve never seen a good explanation. Has anyone else?
Likewise, dogs receive too much protein from cat food, and dog food lacks important nutrients like taurine for cats. There's a reason these foods are labeled for what they are. The best way to ensure animals get adequate nutrition is to find a quality pet food they enjoy and stay consistent.

COMMENT: Cat foods do not supply too much protein to dogs. Protein is not toxic unless you have severe kidney disease. What cat foods do provide along with all that meat is a high fat level, and that can lead to diarrhea and/or pancreatitis. But there is no doubt that cats can die from eating dog food – which I’ve seen happen when food is left down for the dog free choice – yet another reason not to do that!


  1. Thank you for your responses....there sure is a lot of junk on the internet.

  2. Excellent comments Dr. Wynn.

  3. Re: #7
    Here's a start:
    The Taphonomy of Cooked Bone

    Vertebrate Taphonomy (Google books, p. 316)

    Taphonomy = study of the grave

    Fundamentals of biomechanics: equilibrium, motion, and deformation (Google books p. 139)
    “Glass and dry bone are brittle.”

    Bone broth:

  4. Wow, it has taken me 6 months, but I have finally followed through with these references. Thanks for posting these Cathy.

    They do talk about the effects of cooking on bone, but in the first study from Duke, the increased brittleness does not occur significantly in bones cooked for 3 and 9 hours - it only occurs after boiling for 27 and 81 hours. Who cooks bones for that long to feed their dogs? The next two discussions in books refer to increased brittleness in dried bone, which really does not apply to the cooked bone we were discussing here.

    So I'm still looking for authoritative references that show that bones are more brittle when cooked (in normal, household ways). Not that I'm recommending that people give cooked bones - just questioning the dogma.