What's in a Dog's Breakfast? Considering the Social, Veterinary and Environmental Implications of Feeding Food Scraps to Pets Using Three Australian Surveys

Kirrilly Thompson, Lisel O'Dwyer, Anne Sharp, Bradley Smith, Christian Reynolds, Tegan Hadley, Susan Hazel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Diverting food waste away from landfills is one way to minimise its serious environmental impact. Given that over a third of Australian households have at least one pet, the feeding of food waste to dogs constitutes one potentially significant waste diversion path. However, the proportion of dog owners that feed food waste to their pets is unknown. Moreover, there has been no investigation into any relationship between practices of feeding scraps to pets and the animals' body condition, living arrangements (inside or outside) and exercise regime. To provide some insight, this paper presents findings from three surveys across two Australian studies. The first reports both pet and dog-specific findings from two surveys within a wider food waste research project (n = 1017), establishing that 28% of respondents fed leftovers to pets as a main food waste minimization strategy, yet in only 5% of households did this constitute more than half of the household's food scraps. This modest diversion of food scraps from landfill to feeding pets was reflected in the finding that there was no significant difference seen in the claimed level of food discards to the waste stream for households feeding food scraps to dogs and those that did not. The second-a dog owner specific study (n = 355)-found that almost half (44%) of respondents reported feeding table scraps to dogs. They were more likely to be females, owners of medium sized dogs, and in larger households. There was no significant difference in self-rated dogs' body condition scores between respondents who fed table scraps to their dog and those who did not. Further multidisciplinary research is recommended to reconcile the social, veterinary and environmental risks and benefits of feeding food waste to animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7195-7213
Number of pages19
JournalSustainability
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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