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Sherry’s Corner » Snacking Science

Snacking Science

      This was the title of an Associated Press article on how the world has different ideas about flavor.  At first I thought that perhaps it connected flavors of pet snacks with breeds–logical but not so!  Although lemon pepper Tang is a favorite in Afghanistan, the authors did not link this preference also to Afghan Hounds nor Green Tea-flavored Oreos, a favorite in China, to the Pekingese. Yet, it is not unreasonable to assume that dog owners in other countries share their snacks with their pets.  But, as the article points out, a panel of consumers determines which flavors make it to market.  This, of course, is not the case when it comes to our pets.  Consumers have little to say. 

      A Cornell nutritionist once explained the pet snack choice process to me.  A jury of experts composed of veterinary nutritionists gather when they are not monitoring the weight of calories consumed in the Iditrod– gather to give advice on new pet snacks. They judge on the basis of the name of the snack–will it appeal to pet owners and is the shape appealing–i.e., small steaks, snacks that look like bacon, etc.  Smell plays a minor role.  Yet, of course, smell is probably the most important pet sense involved in choice of a pet snack.  (My nutritionist friend pointed out that once a snack smelled so bad to all the judges that it was immediately rejected. However, when put to a live dog test it was the favorite but never made it to market because they felt the pet owners would reject it.)  It is useful to perform your own taste test by placing three or four different kinds of snacks in a bowl and watching to see which one is eaten first by your dog.  I like to do this at bedtime and call it their “bedtime snack time”.  Ginger-flavored snacks rule in my house, with peanut butter a close second. (There is evidence that Labrador Retrievers will eat anything!)  

      Of late pet foods have come up with “toppers” to help entice finicky eaters, older pets and recovering pets to eat their regular ration.  I have found a spoonful from a can of Mighty Dog does the trick for my dogs.  And, a friend told me her husband gives their dogs a dollop of oatmeal on top of their dog’s breakfast as a treat. 

      Since I agree that no matter what the pet food label says if it is processed dogs may not be getting much value from the protein, fat, etc., I supplement with the real thing.  Come for breakfast at my house and you will probably see liver chunks and yogurt along with the regular food; dinner always has a hard boiled egg, green beans and carrots. I keep a huge jar of animal crackers as snacks.  They are low calorie and the Springers love them.

TWITTER, SOCIAL NETWORK AND THE PET POPULATION. The need to share and to be in a warm, bonded relationship with others has been one of the strongest reasons to have a dog as a best friend.  One has to wonder what effect the growth of social networks will have on pet adoption as well as the dog and cat population!  This trend is a research study worthy of funding by the American Kennel Club and the large humane societies.

       We know pets give unconditional, unjudgmental love.  Pets also do not reveal our secret desires and dreams.  A dog, a cat is truly a soul-mate.  How many soul mates can you have on Facebook and are they all your best friends?  Will anyone in a social network be able to take the place of a dog?  My choice.  A dog on my lap–not a Dell!

 

Jun 10, 2012 | | Uncategorized

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