It is a seemingly stupid question whether humans can consume dog food or not. However, it is also a very intelligent question, as we never know what dire situation (apocalypse maybe?) we might be where we have to eat dog food? Or maybe curiosity may lead someone to take a taste of the dog food?
After all, our dogs enjoy whatever scraps of human food that we give them; so, isn’t it reasonable to think it can work the other way round too?
We will discuss in this article on the safety of eating the dog food by us, i.e. humans.
In-Depth Analysis Regarding the Safety of Human Consumption of Dog Food
A small taste of dog food is unlikely to cause any harm and dog food when eaten for a short term will not harm you. Well, it is obvious that dog food was never intended for humans to eat and also is not made according to the same production standards like human food. However, after all is said and done, eating a small amount of dog food is not likely to cause any major catastrophe.
Ingredients of Dog Food
Dog food is usually made of a combination of byproducts of animals, soybeans, grains, minerals and vitamins to provide adequate nutrition to your pet. The commercially prepared dog food that has animal byproducts consists of scraps of meat, skin, ground bones, damaged animal parts and organs that are considered unfit for human consumption (1). All the ingredients may sound unappetizing to people, however, they are not technically dangerous for humans to eat as long as they’ve been processed, cooked and stored correctly.
However, the forms of vitamins present in the dog’s food can be harmful for you. Menadione is a synthetic form of vitamin K that is present in some types of dog food. This form of vitamin (vitamin K3) is perfectly safe for the dogs; however, according to the research, this vitamin can be toxic in high doses to the humans(2). Menadione is present in lesser quantities in the commercial dog food; however, it is better for the human race to still steer clear of it; especially on a long-term basis.
Humans & Dogs: Different Species; Different Nutritional Needs
Even though we have established that dog food is edible and may not cause harm if taken on short term basis, it is still a good idea not to make your pet’s meal a regular part of your meals.
Humans and dogs have different nutritional needs and the food for your dog doesn’t contain the required nutrients a human body needs to stay healthy.
Vitamin C is a good example, as it is an important nutrient for immune system and skin health in humans(6, 7, 8). Human beings rely on food for getting their daily dose of Vitamin C, as it cannot be produced in their bodies (5). Dogs on the other hand, can produce Vitamin C in their liver, so dog food need not always contain vitamin C.(3, 4)
So, please do not think of opting for dog food on a regular basis for obvious reasons and the other not so obvious ones, such as the lack of nutrition.
Important Points Regarding Dog Food Consumption by Humans
Consumption of dog food is okay for humans on a shorter basis only.
Dog food can increase the risk of developing food borne illness if taken by human. Just like human food, the food for dogs can also get easily contaminated by bacteria and make you sick. Small children are at greater risk for all the harmful things from dog food consumption.
There are some nutrients present in dog food that can be toxic in high doses if taken by humans. Other than this, the total nutrition profile is also not sufficient for humans.
Even if you eat dog food that is fully cooked or canned wet food, you could still easily get sick.
It is important to ensure that dog food is properly handled and stored, as per the instructions on it.
There are some types of dog food that are completely raw and not at advisable for human consumption.
Eating undercooked or raw meat can easily cause infections from organisms, such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.
If you find that the food for your dog is contaminated, then you can get it recalled from the stores. Keep yourself updated regarding any pet food recalls to prevent accidental poisoning of your pet or yourself.
Dog food can also be a choking hazard for your children; especially in case of dry kibble. If you have children at home, then make sure to keep dog foods out of their reach and keep an eye on them when you are feeding your dog.
In case your child consumes dog food accidentally, then you need to contact local poison control authority or the pediatrician for information regarding the measures to be taken.
If you are curious, then you can definitely take a lick (no pun intended) of the dog food; however, it is not advisable to eat it on a long term basis for so many reasons besides it being a food for your dog. Dog food doesn’t meet the nutritional requirements of the human body even though it can be deemed technically safe for human consumption. Eating dog food can increase the chances of food borne illness; especially in children. The presence of menadione or vitamin K3 in the dog food is toxic to human beings in increased amounts.
Thus, we can conclude that dog food can be safe to consume in case of emergencies, as it is not inherently harmful for humans; however, just because you can eat it, doesn’t mean you should.
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