Open Thread: Dogs & Humans, Best Friends (We Grew Up Together!)

More support for the co-evolution theory, as reported in the Washington Post:

A team of Swedish researchers compared the genomes of wolves and dogs and found that a big difference is dogs’ ability to easily digest starch. On their way from pack-hunting carnivore to fireside companion, dogs learned to desire — or at least live on — wheat, rice, barley, corn and potatoes.

As it turns out, the same thing happened to humans as they came out of the forest, invented agriculture and settled into diets rich in grains.

“I think it is a striking case of co-evolution,” said Erik Axelsson, a geneticist at Uppsala University. “The fact that we shared a similar environment in the last 10,000 years caused a similar adaptation. And the big change in the environment was the development of agriculture.”

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, support the hypothesis that dogs evolved from wolves who found a new food source in refuse on the outskirts of human settlements. Eventually they came to tolerate human contact and were brought into the household to be guards, workers and companions…

The change is at least partly the consequence of dogs having multiple copies of a gene for amylase, an enzyme made by the pancreas that is involved in the first step of starch digestion. Wolves have two copies; dogs have four to 30.

As it happens, amylase “gene duplication” is also a feature of human evolution. Humans carry more copies of the amylase gene than their primate ancestors…

Of course the ‘paleodiet’ enthusiasts will explain that increased amylase adaptation causes autism was an unfortunate evolutionary misstep that’s condemned us, and our loyal companion animals, to degenerate into arthritic, wheezing couch potatoes on a rocky road to premature death. But at least we’ll have plenty of company on the journey.

94 replies
  1. 1
    Raven says:

    “premature death”?

  2. 2
    Raven says:

    “Dogs Decoded” was really good. It’s on iTunes.

    “Dogs Decoded” reveals the science behind the remarkable bond between humans and their dogs and investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs—with surprising implications for the evolution of human culture. Other research is proving what dog lovers have suspected all along: Dogs have an uncanny ability to read and respond to human emotions. Humans, in turn, respond to dogs with the same hormone responsible for bonding mothers to their babies. How did this incredible relationship between humans and dogs come to be? And how can dogs, so closely related to fearsome wild wolves, behave so differently?

  3. 3
    danielx says:

    Hmmm…wondering if similar research might explain Zoey the Alpha Cat’s affection for blueberry muffins with strudel topping. An affection in which she is no longer indulged, to be sure…

    And in other news, another sign of the upcoming Apocalypse…

    Money quote:

    We have no idea how serious Trump is about his interest in the New York Times. For his sake, we hope it’s not too serious. Because it will be a very expensive endeavor that goes nowhere.

    Well, being involved in expensive endeavors that go nowhere certainly won’t be a new experience for the owner and operator of the worst ‘do east of the Mississippi river…

  4. 4
    newtons.third says:

    Cool. Nice to see on the day after we had to put down our 11.5 year old golden retriever, Calvin. He definitely liked the starch. But his last meal was the best. A nice T-bone with a side of bacon.

  5. 5
    Raven says:

    @newtons.third: Aw, sorry.

  6. 6
    Schlemizel says:

    @danielx:

    Donnie is the only casino owner I have ever heard of that has filed for bankruptcy. He’s just that sort of special businessman that can lose money running the house.

    Also2, the NYT says they are not for sale. That makes me think this may be the only type of business The Donnie is any good at, snow business.

    Our meanie cat must come from a line that evolved next to man. Not just starch & grain, anything & everything people eats she HAS to have. It must be bad for her because she weight about 2 pounds. El Tubbo OTOH, hates human food & refuses even meat unless it comes from one of those little tins; yet she must weight close to 20 pounds.

  7. 7
    Schlemizel says:

    oh fer, jesse crisp on a cracker!

    I mentioned the business The Donnie ran where people wager money and lose heavily to the house, yet somehow the clown had to file for bankruptcy protection.

    But we grown ups MUST be protected from that horrific word – ergo, I am in moderation. FYWP

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @newtons.third: During my lifetime, I owned two goldens, one of which we bred. Duchess had eleven pups. We didn’t breed her for money but rather to give the pups to relatives who loved our dog.
    RIP Calvin. Say hello to Duchess and Sunny for me.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    @Raven:

    That stuff about mothers bonding to babies is absolutely true. I’ve never had kids so I don’t know how it feels to be a mom. But my Otis, my first pet in my 54 years, just makes my heart feel like it will burst from all the love he brings out in me. It sounds crazy to say, but I can only compare it to the fierce love my sisters have for my nieces. I put his needs and comfort ahead of my own and would do anything to keep him safe and happy. And when he puts his head in my lap and looks at me with those big brown eyes, I just melt from all the love and happiness he brings me.

    @newtons.third:

    So sorry about your loss. My Otie is a golden, too. The sweetest breed evah, IMHO.

  10. 10
    Elizabelle says:

    @newtons.third:

    Hugs. And your pup went out with style.

  11. 11
    Raven says:

    @geg6: I once did a post here about the dogs in my life.

  12. 12
    Mudge says:

    And what happens if you pour amylase on a couch potato?

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    Raven, I streamed Morning Joe for thirty minutes and without Joe it’s tolerable.

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    @newtons.third: Sorry to hear. Goldens are wonderful (and well named) dogs.

    @danielx: wondering if similar research might explain Zoey the Alpha Cat’s affection for blueberry muffins with strudel topping

    We have a “pastry cat,” our tortie, Olwyn. It is far less understandable than our Russiany Blue mix, Ordell, who had a passionate love for cream cheese frosting.

    What does this do for the theory that dogs hunted with us… and perhaps co-evolved from that as well? This would only put dogs and us together for 10-12 thousand years (dawn of agriculture) instead of the 30-40 thousand I thought was considered likely?

    Now, cats would never have evolved the starch digesting gene (and as far as I know, they do not) because they did not hang around to eat our compost heaps. They hung around to eat the rodents which would otherwise destroy our grain storage.

    So really, aren’t cats responsible for saving our civilization?

  15. 15
    Elizabelle says:

    @JPL:

    And pretty much only without Joe. I’ve never made it through a whole show with him opining.

    Didn’t watch this morning because don’t want to hear a word about Benghazi.

    Plus: we’ve got a lovely dusting of snow on the ground in DC area. Very pretty morning, and looks driveable too.

  16. 16
    danielx says:

    @WereBear:

    So really, aren’t cats responsible for saving our civilization?

    There can be no doubt of it.

  17. 17
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @newtons.third: Sorry for your loss.

    While I’ve never had a child, I have to say that I do treat my pets (African grey parrot, 2 dogs) like my children. Can’t help myself. They’re so sweet.

  18. 18
    bemused says:

    @WereBear:

    Is there anything new to report on the beneful dog food issue?

  19. 19
    WereBear says:

    @Patricia Kayden: While I’ve never had a child, I have to say that I do treat my pets (African grey parrot, 2 dogs) like my children. Can’t help myself. They’re so sweet.

    I don’t see a thing wrong with that. I have not had biological children, but I’ve raised younger siblings and step-children. But I regard it as the same nurturing instinct.

    Pets instead of children?

    I set down some of my thoughts about it in the post above.

  20. 20
    Miki says:

    @newtons.third: Condolences on your loss.

  21. 21
    bemused says:

    @JPL:

    When I turned on Joe not long ago, I heard one on the panel, Jim Meacham?, say something about having to address the sacrifices that must be made vs people’s appetites/expectations, yada. Without hearing any more than that, I think I know he was not talking about the comfortable elites making sacrifices, amirite?

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    Don’t know if you all discussed this, but Stephen Colbert’s older sister is making a for-real run for Congress in South Carolina‘s first district, in bid to replace Tea Partier Tim Scott, recently appointed to serve out Jim DeMint’s Senate term.

    She’s running as a Democrat, and up against Mark Sanford and many other challengers. Primary in March, election in May.

    Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is business development director for a Charleston area wind turbine facility , and has a record of voting in Republican primaries (which is what you might do in the Republic of Crazy, trying to mitigate the damage).

  23. 23
    Miki says:

    There goes the burgeoning “grain free” dog food industry ….

    Just switched my little guy from a “prescription” food the older guy (RIP) was on and got a loooong, rambling fairy-tale from one of the guys who owns the pet supply store about how dogs couldn’t digest grains, yada, yada, yada. I bought the food because it seems to avoid issues other foods have re: where it’s made, where ingredients come from,etc., not because it’s grain free – dogs are omnivores and every dog I’ve ever had (over 50 years) has digested grains just fine.

    Ain’t science wunnerful?

  24. 24
    Raven says:

    @Miki: My pups get herring and sweet potato.

  25. 25
    PeakVT says:

    -8.4 on the thermometer when I woke up. Ugh.

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PeakVT: Flat 0 here in Madison.

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: 48n in Athens

  28. 28
    bemused says:

    @PeakVT:

    -30 here this morning. Coldest night this week. Since sunday, it’s been -2 to -4 for daily highs and -20 to -25 over night. I’m ready for warmer temps to move in.

  29. 29
    Miki says:

    @raven: -7 (up from -9) in St. Paul.

  30. 30
    R-Jud says:

    @bemused: Christ, just reading about temps that low makes my skin crack and bleed.

  31. 31
    danielx says:

    @bemused:

    Damn, it’s only down to 14 here. Explains the palm trees that have recently appeared in my yard….

  32. 32
    nancydarling says:

    we’ll have plenty of company on the journey.

    And damn fine company, too! I can’t imagine my trek through life without the dogs I’ve known and loved. Also cats.

  33. 33
    befuggled says:

    @WereBear: Dogs domesticated prior to the Neolithic wouldn’t have had as many starches available to them because people didn’t eat as many.

  34. 34
    Emma says:

    @newtons.third: Oh, lord. We had to put down our kitty yesterday, so, believe me, I know exactly how you feel. But having them around was worth the pain of their living. Corny but true.

  35. 35
    maurinsky says:

    One of my cats likes starch – when he was younger, he would steal waffles right out of your hands, and today, he is fond of Pepperidge Farm cheddar cheese goldfish.

  36. 36
    bemused says:

    @R-Jud:

    It comes with the territory up here in north country. I won’t say we ever get used to the deep cold but we manage with layered clothing and some essentials in our vehicles.

    It can be pretty scary if your car breaks down in isolated areas on sparsely traveled roads with spotty cell phone coverage. Last night. a couple’s pickup broke down on their way to their cabin on a remote lake. Heard the story from the tow truck driver who went on that call. It was getting cold fast in that pickup for the couple and their three dogs but luckily, someone else was driving on that road and gave them a lift to their cabin. At -30 with no heat in your vehicle, it gets damn cold in 20 minutes. It’s another 45 minutes for the tow truck to get to that spot.

  37. 37
    Elizabelle says:

    @Emma:

    Very sorry to hear that. You’d mentioned kitty was ailing.

    You stay strong and beat whatever you’re fighting.

  38. 38
    Punchy says:

    There peeps out there blaming autism on starch? WTF? Anyone got a good link to this?

  39. 39
    WereBear says:

    @Punchy: High insulin implicated.

    That link should give more googling possibilities.

  40. 40
    WereBear says:

    @Miki: There goes the burgeoning “grain free” dog food industry ….

    It’s a Your Mileage May Vary issue; I have a Norwegian Forest Cat mix whose nickname was Hurl Boy until we got him on grain-free.

    My cats eat as much as they want and none of the four are overweight. Works for me.

  41. 41
    evodevo says:

    Agriculture has only been around for around 8k-10k years. Humans and wolves/dogs have been companions for a lot longer than that. I’d say the amylase genes were under selection in both species after agriculture became widespread. Same with the lactase gene in humans persisting into adulthood – only in the last 10k years or so, and only among those who took up nomadic herding (followed by settled villages raising domesticated animals), i.e. Europeans and some African and central Asian tribes (the rest of the world is lactose intolerant).

  42. 42
    RoonieRoo says:

    @Miki:

    There goes the burgeoning “grain free” dog food industry ….

    I don’t know much about a “grain free” dog industry but the grain free cat industry is doing fine. Cats are the obligate carnivores not dogs.

    Even in the raw feeding world that me and my crew inhabit, grains are an important part of the home made/raw diet for dogs.

    But that study is really fascinating and is another point about the specialness of our relationships with our dogs. Very cool.

  43. 43
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @WereBear: Nice blog! And great article.

    I don’t talk about my pets to my friends who hate animals (yes there are people who aren’t into pets at all of any kind) so I’ve yet to hear anyone accuse me of substituting pets for non-existent children.

  44. 44
    WereBear says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Thanks!

    I know people who don’t have pets. They seem to be people who empty wastebaskets as soon as a tissue falls into it, so I understand.

    But, IMHO, that’s no way to live!

  45. 45
    liberal says:

    Was just going to post this as O/T, and saw you got to it.

    But you didn’t mention this key part at the end: the (non-)evolution of homo sapiens twentysevenpercenticus revealed!

    There’s a theory that this “self-domestication” also happened in the evolution of Homo sapiens.

    As people created permanent settlements — and running away from those you didn’t like (or killing them) became less of an option — there may have been a survival advantage to being cooperative and self-controlled. It’s possible that studying the genes that determine dog sociability might shed light on how a less aggressive, more civilized human evolved, Axelsson said.

    So that’s what did happen for the rest of us 73% (homo sapiens sapiends).

  46. 46
    liberal says:

    @WereBear:

    What does this do for the theory that dogs hunted with us… and perhaps co-evolved from that as well? This would only put dogs and us together for 10-12 thousand years (dawn of agriculture) instead of the 30-40 thousand I thought was considered likely?

    Maybe the 30-40 Kyr figure still stands…hunter-gatherers would have had middens full of yummy garbage, too.

  47. 47
    R-Jud says:

    @Punchy: Someone recently tried to explain to me that my daughter’s autism is a result of my exercising during pregnancy. Specifically the weight lifting. People are assholes.

  48. 48
    quannlace says:

    @Miki: My pups get herring and sweet potato.

    My pups favorite treat: Polish kielbasa. (not too often)
    ***********

    These studies/findings make me smile. When I was growing up, the pervading thought that the process was all one way. Man had domesticated wolves and turned them into dogs, for his own use. There were even some who insisted dog-dom was an unnatural state, a kind of animal slavery.
    But more and more it’s become obvious that they wanted us as much as we wanted them.

    People and dogs: the original special relationship

  49. 49
    Felinious Wench says:

    @WereBear:

    know people who don’t have pets. They seem to be people who empty wastebaskets as soon as a tissue falls into it, so I understand.

    I have 2 sons, a yellow Lab mix, and a calico cat that runs the house. I love my sons completely, but my dog is my baby. It’s unconditional, uncomplicated love. Different from kids, but not any less valid.

  50. 50
    danielx says:

    @WereBear:

    Nephew got married last weekend; I’m told that his bride informed him that he would have to get rid of his cat before she moved in – not because she is allergic but just because she doesn’t like cats. The cat in question being a ragdoll named Hobbs, who is a total charmer and loverboy. I would have had that discussion a lot earlier in the developing relationship, as it would have been a dealbreaker for me.
    “What, you want me to get rid of my friend and companion who loves and trusts me and who I’ve known a lot longer than you? Not. Happening.”

  51. 51
    Closeted epistemic (formerly Lojasmo) says:

    @Punchy:

    http://people.emich.edu/jtodd/.....l_1999.pdf

    Anecdotally, I have a friend with twins who are profoundly autistic. One had marked aleviation of symptoms when started on a gluten and cassein free diet, the other did not.

  52. 52
    Xenos says:

    @evodevo: Nomadic herding does not work very well as a strategy without settled populations to trade with. Nomadism does not predate settled communities, but developed alongside them.

  53. 53
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    The theory behind all that paleolithic diet crap has been thoroughly debunked. They have evidence that paleolithic humans ate grains, though they foraged for them (like for everything else) rather than growing them. Also, vegetarians are generally healthier than meat eaters (I’m not a vegetarian so don’t consider this preaching). Finally, they’ve found and studied paleolithic cadavers frozen in glaciers. At least some of these cadavers have advanced arthritis, clogged arteries, etc. All the stuff the paleo diet is supposed to prevent. If the diet works for you, that’s great, but the scientific evidence from that era does not confirm its proponents’ theories.

  54. 54
    dcdl says:

    I have a friend who is just starting the Paleo diet. She said they ate healthier back then and will only eat what they eat since they were healthy. I tried pointing out that back in those days people didn’t actually live vary long and had health problems. Plus, I don’t see her exercising like them or actually living like them. My friend now just eats meat, vegetables, and a little fruit. She eats as much as she wants of meat and fruit. Tried telling her to learn to portion size, eat more healthy foods, stop eating out so much, and exercising. Guess that is to much work for her to make a life style change.

  55. 55
    gelfling545 says:

    @danielx: When my daughter started seeing the man she is married to seriously he told her that he is allergic to cats. She said “The cat was here first – deal with it.” They are married with 2 kids & 2 cats. I still don’t think he is really interested in the pets but he has adapted.

  56. 56

    OP:
    This is not a very striking case of co-evolution. It’s a ‘duh’ case of co-evolution. Anything that lives with man should develop closer biological eating preferences with him. The geneticists in my family will go ‘…and?’ at this news.

    Okay, but it is kinda cool, even if it’s not surprising.

    @WereBear:
    Cows. Cows are responsible for saving our civilization. Seriously. It’s a plowing thing.

    Man, I seem to be in a contrarian mood this morning.

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @WereBear:

    So really, aren’t cats responsible for saving our civilization?

    Probably not, much as I would like to claim they were. Some breeds of small dog were bred to hunt rats, and desperate people even domesticated European polecats into ferrets as rodent hunters. Now cats are better at it, to the point that they’ve tended to displace the other rodent hunters wherever they’ve been introduced, but they’re just convenient, not mandatory. And, unfortunately, they’re also fantastic at hunting lots of other things, to the point that they alone among our housepets are considered to be a dangerous invasive species.

  58. 58
    Xenos says:

    @dcdl: This is a good point. If I only ate game that I had to hunt with a stone-tipped spear I would probably be damn skinny right now. Either way, the neolithic revolution rocked. Who wants to live before the invention of beer?

  59. 59
    liberal says:

    @What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?:

    They have evidence that paleolithic humans ate grains, though they foraged for them (like for everything else) rather than growing them.

    Not that I disagree with your attack on the paleo diet overall, but how much was really available as grains back then?

    Most of the yummy plant stuff we eat these days is the result of breeding. So, for example, AFAICT while there were indeed fruits, the nice big juicy fruits we eat were largely unavailable back then (and were unavailable until the Chinese invented grafting). Of course, berries are yummy…

  60. 60
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Freezing here, down to 58 degrees this morning. It hit 80 on Monday.

    Love SoCal this time of year!

  61. 61
    liberal says:

    @dcdl:

    I tried pointing out that back in those days people didn’t actually live vary long and had health problems.

    The other thing is that our metabolism is actually pretty well adapted to burning ketones, which is evidence (IIRC) that back then things were feast-and-famine.

  62. 62
    liberal says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:
    Visited N. San Diego County over Xmastime. Wasn’t all that warm, though overall I’d much rather live there climate-wise than anywhere else, especially that shit-hole otherwise known as Florida.

  63. 63
    liberal says:

    @Roger Moore:

    And, unfortunately, they’re also fantastic at hunting lots of other things, to the point that they alone among our housepets are considered to be a dangerous invasive species.

    Yeah, like that proposal to ban cats in NZ.

  64. 64
    Roger Moore says:

    @maurinsky:
    Boy am I glad that my kitty seems to be a relatively committed carnivore. He doesn’t even like all kinds of meat, turning up his nose at beef and lamb. About the only plant matter he’ll eat is cat grass, catnip, and a little bit of plant-based oil.

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    ‘paleodiet’ enthusiasts

    Oh, ram twinkies (the few that are remaining) down these asshats’ throats and watch them suffer.

    Dipshits.

  66. 66

    @Roger Moore:
    Should mongooses be included on this list? Often kept as house pets in their native regions, incredible ratters, banned for importation in the US. They’ve been imported to island countries for rat control and wiped out wide swathes of wildlife, which led to the ban. I can see why they might not qualify as ‘housepets’, but I’m bringing them up for consideration.

  67. 67
    R-Jud says:

    @What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: As someone who goes to a CrossFit gym, I hear a lot of paleo diet enthusiasts spouting bilge. I am always tempted to point out that a TRUE hardcore paleo diet would involve lots of bugs, rats, and bark, and not the heaps of bacon they’re consuming daily.

  68. 68
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @R-Jud:

    I am always tempted to point out that a TRUE hardcore paleo diet would involve lots of bugs, rats, and bark, and not the heaps of bacon they’re consuming daily.

    Mmmmm….bacon

  69. 69
    Roger Moore says:

    @dcdl:

    I have a friend who is just starting the Paleo diet. She said they ate healthier back then and will only eat what they eat since they were healthy.

    Good luck finding it. People think about us domesticating animals, but the stuff we’ve done to plants leaves the animals in the dust. We’ve bred most of their chemical self defenses out of them because they taste awful and make us sick when eaten in reasonable amounts.

  70. 70
    Maude says:

    @R-Jud:
    I was told, as a kid, that people had an appendix because they ate grass back when. It was needed.

  71. 71
    R-Jud says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I have no beef (heh) with bacon! I crumbled a couple strips onto my bucket ‘o’ salad today in lieu of dressing.

    It’s just silly to pretend you are somehow “healthier” or more natural for eating it by the pound.

  72. 72
    Roger Moore says:

    @liberal:

    Not that I disagree with your attack on the paleo diet overall, but how much was really available as grains back then?

    It depends on where you were. The current theory is that in some of the areas where modern grains were first domesticated, they grew naturally in large fields that people could just come along and harvest. The seed heads had a tendency to break apart when they were cut, re-seeding the area for the next year and making the whole process self-sustaining. That was sort of the nascent agriculture stage- people weren’t deliberately planting but were otherwise behaving a lot like farmers.

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @R-Jud:

    It’s just silly to pretend you are somehow “healthier” or more natural for eating it by the pound.

    Agree. I mean, look at Homer Simpson!

  74. 74
    Roger Moore says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Should mongooses be included on this list?

    I don’t think they qualify as housepets, but they are on the 100 worst invasive species list. The only other animal that might count is the domestic rabbit, which some people keep as pets but are really more of a food animal.

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That list is missing the most destructive invasive species of all.

    Homo sapiens.

  76. 76
    Origuy says:

    About.com did a series on plant domestication. In the early Neolithic, about 12000 years ago, people started cultivating wheat and other grasses. Of course, they had been eating them for some time before that and migrating to follow the seed production. Once they were able to control the growth, and choose the plants for seed corn, yields went up and grain became a larger part of the dient.

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I thought exactly the same thing when I saw it. I don’t think it’s politically acceptable to include Homo sapiens on a list like that, though, so we just have to let people who are smart enough to care realize where the real blame lies.

  78. 78
    Pink Snapdragon says:

    The whole grain free pet food industry is fake science stuff. Dry pet food cannot be made without carbohydrates. If you read the ingredient labels you will see that if a food is grain free it is always made with either white or sweet potatoes or a bean, such as garbanzo beans, peas or lentils. In fact, I recently saw a bag of food made with kangaroo and red lentils. If you read the article carefully, it referred to grains and potatoes, not just grains. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual research also referred to beans. The two real nutrition issues are whether the foods are made with actual meat as opposed to by-products and whether the food is primarily meat or ground up grains. On the other hand, there are individual animals who do better on the grain free foods, just as there are animals that do better on food made with lamb as opposed to, say, chicken, or kangaroo.

  79. 79
    geg6 says:

    @Pink Snapdragon:

    The reading the labels thing is the key. Our Otis is not a picky eater, but he has issues with colitis (I am told that this is fairly common in goldens). For years, he ate dry food (actually Beneful) and had no problems. But now that he’s older (he’s seven), he developed this colitis and the dry food made it much worse. We tried the grain-free dry food, which made matters worse. We tried very high-end wet foods with no grain, which were just as bad as the dry foods. I did some research and found the perfect mix for him (pure pumpkin, rice, and Variety Pet Foods wet food http://www.varietypetfoods.com/homestyle-recipes/). The wet food has a lot of meat (few by-products), some veggies, and grains or potatoes. And they are fairly inexpensive for the quality of the food and high meat content. He still has colitis bouts now and again, but not nearly as often or as long. Plus, I can’t tell you how much he loves, loves, loves the food. I get every version and he has a different flavor every day.

  80. 80
    Miki says:

    @Pink Snapdragon:

    The whole grain free pet food industry is fake science stuff.

    Yeppers – and that’s my point. Grain-free/raw food/no vaccines/pet accupuncture/homeopathy/TCM – all mostly based on fake and/or bad science.

    It’s not rocket science – Feed your pet what works for you and your pet. Are they healthy? Great! Keep it up! Not-so-healthy? Try something else until you find something that works.

    IMNSHO, a bigger problem with pets and food is how much rather than what they’re eating. (Not talkin’ ’bout you, Tunch.)

  81. 81
    redshirt says:

    Vaguely OT, I guess, but I always find it remarkable to consider that both the potato and the tomato were unknown to Europe prior to the 1500’s.

    Consider Italian cuisine now – very tomato based. A relatively modern development! Add in the legend of pasta coming from China and you’ve got a “traditional” cuisine that really is only a few hundred years old.

    The Catholic Church long banned the consumption of the potato, as being “Satanic”. It wasn’t until the Napoleonic wars did potato consumption in Europe take off (you couldn’t burn the crop).

  82. 82
    Pococurante says:

    Over my half century on the planet every person I’ve met who didn’t like either/both dogs or cats had some personality flaw that made it hard for them to emphasize with people.

    By the way I strongly recommend Maine Coons – the best of both cats and dogs in one package. We have two brothers from the same litter and they don’t take any guff from our three Australian shepherds.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_Coon

    All five animals have the remarkable ability to find the most trafficked part of the house and lay fully stretched out, refusing to move.

  83. 83
    Gus says:

    @PeakVT: -4 in Minneapolis, but -23 in the Northern Minnesota town I grew up in. And a chilly -42 in Embarrass, MN.

  84. 84
    redshirt says:

    Twas -7.2 when I awoke this morning in Maine. With 30 MPH winds. Fun!

  85. 85
    Heliopause says:

    an unfortunate evolutionary misstep that’s condemned us, and our loyal companion animals, to degenerate into arthritic, wheezing couch potatoes on a rocky road to premature death.

    More problematic is that our evolutionary misstep allowed us to murder, torture, and enslave one another by the million.

  86. 86
    Ron says:

    As bad as the grain-free pet food movement is, it’s not as bad as the people pushing vegan pet food. that has to be the dumbest idea out there.

  87. 87
    LanceThruster says:

    The Dog Paradox.

    Always worth an encore.

  88. 88
    Roger Moore says:

    @redshirt:

    Add in the legend of pasta coming from China and you’ve got a “traditional” cuisine that really is only a few hundred years old.

    Except that the legend of pasta coming from China really is a legend; there’s good evidence that Italians were eating pasta long before Marco Polo. And you can overestimate the importance of tomatoes to Italian cuisine. There are lots of non-tomato sauces- e.g. pesto, alfredo, etc.- that were used before tomatoes were available.

  89. 89
    lectric lady says:

    Recommended reading:
    The Covenant of the Wild; Why Animals Chose Domestication, by Stephen Budiansky

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Pink Snapdragon:

    If I give my cat food with wheat gluten in it, he throws up three times a day.

    If I give him food with no wheat gluten in it, he throws up once a week (mostly hairballs).

    Why is a direct observation that removing a particular additive from my cat’s diet leads to less puking “junk science,” especially when we’re discussing an obligate carnivore?

    I agree that the “grains” idea has bled over from cat foods into dog foods. I haven’t seen anything at all to indicate that non-allergic dogs have a problem with grains since they’re not obligate carnivores.

    Or, more simply, dogs are not cats, so things that are harmful or harmless to one are not necessarily harmful/harmless to the other. You can give small amounts of acetaminophen to dogs under a doctor’s direction but it is always fatal to cats. Etc.

  91. 91
    newtons.third says:

    @Raven: Thanks

  92. 92
    newtons.third says:

    @JPL: Knowing Calvin, he has already sniffed some tail.

  93. 93
    newtons.third says:

    @Emma: Amen.

  94. 94
    Tonal Crow says:

    Of course the ‘paleodiet’ enthusiasts

    If you like the “paleodiet”, you should love “paleoexercise”, right?

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