Buyout Shows Americans' Appetite for Pricey Pet Food

Yes, but what about taste? Isn't the $25 pouch of caviar-and-honey kibble more savory than the plain old thing?

To you, maybe. But not necessarily to your dog.

Such concoctions, says Cailin Heinze, VMD, assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, are created to appeal to the human buyer, not to the tail-wagging end-user. There is no correlation, she says, between price and canine taste-appeal.

Heinze, who grew up on a farm, formed an understanding of what dogs like to eat early on.

"The dogs I grew up with," she says, "ate road kill or horse poop. That's what they liked best."

Dogs, says Dr. Heinz, "have a different sense of taste."

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Professor Nestle concurs.

"The more disgusting it is to humans," she says, "the more dogs like to eat it. They like rotten meat flavors. They like garbage."

They will, she says, eat their own waste -- and enjoy it.

It's worth considering how delicious (to your dog) dog food ought to be. Given the epidemic of pet obesity in the U.S., say experts, a little less deliciousness might not be a bad thing.

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