We’ve read that the City of Palo Alto is working on a program for composting food scraps, in order to become a Zero Waste community. One suggestion for dog owners is to consider working towards zero waste of food scraps by improving their dog’s diet. Of course, you need to rule out chicken bones, chocolate, grapes, and all the various food hazards for dogs. At the same time, instead of buying expensive food that seems to aspire to human-quality cuisine for dogs, you can set aside a bowl for food scraps each day and mix those into your dog’s bowl with their kibble or whatever they are fed.

We no longer waste unfinished sandwiches, oatmeal, rice, stew, or whatever else has been on the menu. We mix this in the kibble to boost its food value. You would be surprised how much gets wasted each day in a typical family once you start setting it aside. Your dogs will be very pleased to be included in the family cuisine. We’ve been told that dogs actually eat this way in some other countries, and if you look back over time, the compact between mankind and canines has been for dogs to be sustained on whatever the humans have had around to provide them. Dog food was not invented until a clever Englishman came up with the product in the 19th century, and the rest is history. Here’s a nice history of dog food from the Terrierman’s blog.

Today of course the dog foods are high quality, scientific and nutritional, but at the same time we don’t feed our children from a feed bag blessed by a scientist and are pretty sure we meet their nutritional needs. There are a lot of views on what to feed dogs, including those who make dog food from scratch, as well as the raw meat folks, and we’re not advocating any particular approach as this is rather a religious issue for some people (although again raw meat has been a treat but in no way the staple of domesticated dogs). Your dog’s stool will tell you how he is tolerating his food, whether store-bought or from scraps or scratch. We just offer the suggestion that you can repurpose many scraps, improve the nutrition of your dogs at no cost, reduce garbage waste, and make them quite happy in the process.