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Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 7195-7213; doi:10.3390/su7067195

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

1
The Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, Adelaide, Greenhill Road, Wayville SA 5034, Australia
2
School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University, Sturt Road, Bedford Park, South Australia 5042, Australia
3
Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia
4
Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia
5
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 2 May 2015 / Revised: 25 May 2015 / Accepted: 26 May 2015 / Published: 2 June 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [169 KB, uploaded 2 June 2015]

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. View Full-Text
Keywords: pets; lovestock; lifestock; livestock; companion animals; dogs; food waste; leftovers; informal waste stream; domestic; household; sustainability; waste management pets; lovestock; lifestock; livestock; companion animals; dogs; food waste; leftovers; informal waste stream; domestic; household; sustainability; waste management
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Thompson, K.; O'Dwyer, L.; Sharp, A.; Smith, B.; Reynolds, C.J.; Hadley, T.; Hazel, S. What’s in a Dog’s Breakfast? Considering the Social, Veterinary and Environmental Implications of Feeding Food Scraps to Pets Using Three Australian Surveys. Sustainability 2015, 7, 7195-7213.

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