Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Pet Food: Ethical Issues

  • Josh Milburn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_586-1



While “pets” (hereafter, “companions”) would traditionally have been, and occasionally continue to be, fed primarily on leftover human food, it is now much more typical in the West for companions’ guardians to purchase or prepare “pet food” – particular foodstuffs designed with companions in mind. Recipes for dog food were being published as far back as the eighteenth century, and commercial dog food was first developed in the nineteenth century, with commercial cat food available by the 1930s (Sandøe et al. 2016, pp. 16–17). The rise in dog and cat food was influenced by a curious combination of health concerns: first, commercial pet food was presented as more healthy for companions than human leftovers, while, second, an increasing focus on the quality of human food meant that slaughter processes came to produce more waste products, which could then be made into pet food (Sandøe et al. 2016, pp....


Food Waste Nonhuman Animal Vegan Diet Humanist Approach Companion Diet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Cochrane, A. (2012). Animal rights without liberation. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Donaldson, S., & Kymlicka, W. (2011). Zoopolis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. FEDIAF. (2014). Facts & figures. Resource document. European Pet Food Industry Federation. http://www.fediaf.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Secretariat/facts_and_figures_2014.pdf. Accessed 9 June 2016.
  4. Garner, R. (2013). A theory of justice for animals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hadley, J., & O’Sullivan, S. (2009). World poverty, animal minds and the ethics of veterinary expenditure. Environmental Values, 18(3), 361–387. doi:10.3197/096327109X12474739376578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Milburn, J. (2015). Not only humans eat meat: Companions, sentience and vegan politics. Journal of Social Philosophy, 46(4), 449–462. doi:10.1111/josp.12131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Milburn, J. (2016, forthcoming). The animal lovers’ paradox? On the ethics of ‘pet food’. In C. Overall (Ed.), Pets and people. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Rothgerber, H. (2013). A meaty matter. Pet diet and the vegetarian’s dilemma. Appetite, 68(1), 76–82. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2013.04.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Rothgerber, H. (2014). Carnivorous cats, vegetarian dogs, and the resolution of the vegetarian’s dilemma. Anthrozoös, 27(4), 485–498. doi:10.2752/089279314X14072268687844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Sandøe, P., Corr, S., & Palmer, C. (2016). Companion animal ethics. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  11. Warwick, C. (2014). The morality of the reptile “pet” trade. Journal of Animal Ethics, 4(1), 74–94. doi:10.5406/janimalethics.4.1.0074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wayne, K. (2013). Just flourishing: The plausibility of selective extinctionism. Unpublished manuscript presented at the MANCEPT Workshops, University of Manchester.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada