A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
NON-KOSHER PET FOOD
QUESTION: Does one have to check the ingredients of dog or cat food to make
sure it is kosher?
DISCUSSION: Pet food need not be kosher. It may not, however, contain basar
b'chalav (a mixture of cooked meat and milk). The reason is that the Torah
forbids one to derive any benefit from basar b'chalav. If it happened that
meat and milk were inadvertently cooked together in one's kitchen, it would
be prohibited to serve that mixture to the household pet.
However, the only basar b'chalav mixture from which it is prohibited to
derive benefit is a meat and milk mixture which the Torah forbids one to eat
(asur min ha-Torah). If the prohibition is of Rabbinic origin (asur
mi-d'Rabbanan), it is permitted to derive benefit from the mixture(1).
1. Only meat which was cooked over a fire [or if it was placed in a utensil
which was once over a fire - kli rishon(2)] with milk is prohibited. If the
meat was just soaked in milk [even if spices were added to the milk], it is
permitted. If the meat was fried or deep-fried in a dairy substance,
although there are some poskim(3) who allow its usage, the majority do
2. The meat of fowl, when cooked together with milk [which is forbidden to
eat only mi-d'Rabbanan], may be fed to a pet(5);
3. All chayah (non-domestic kosher beast) meat, e.g. deer, buffalo etc.,
cooked together with milk [which is forbidden to eat only mi-d'Rabbanan],
may be fed to a pet(6);
4. Meat of non-kosher species of animals, e.g. horse meat, that is cooked
together with milk, may be fed to a pet(7);
5. Some poskim hold that whey is not considered "milk" in regard to this
There is a disagreement among the poskim concerning meat from a kosher
animal which was rendered non-kosher, either because it was terminally ill
(treifah) or because it was not slaughtered properly (neveilah). The
Rambam(9) holds that benefit may be derived from this type of meat.
[According to this view, the milk in which the meat was cooked would also be
permitted(10).] Many other poskim, however, hold that one may not derive
benefit from this type of meat and it may not be served to a pet(11). This
seems to be the majority opinion(12).
The majority of the poskim agree that a mixture which cannot be served to
one's own pet cannot be fed to another person's pet either, or even to a
It follows, therefore, that one has to check the ingredients of pet food
to determine whether it contains a mixture of kosher animal meat cooked
together with milk. Similarly, on Pesach one must check for any chametz
ingredients before feeding a food item to his pet.
If a forbidden mixture of basar b'chalav was inadvertently purchased or
otherwise obtained, it may not be given to a non-Jew. Neither may it be
disposed of in a way that another person could derive benefit from it, nor
may it be burned, since the ashes and coals of basar b'chalav are also
prohibited, and another person may come to derive benefit from them. The
mixture can only be buried, thrown into a river or flushed down the
Some poskim maintain that such a mixture may not remain in one's possession
at all but must be disposed of as soon as one becomes aware of it(15).
1 Rama Y.D. 87:1.
2 R' Akiva Eiger Y.D. 81 based on O.C. 318:9
3 Chavas Da'as Y.D. 87; Aruch ha-Shulchan 87:11
4 Pri Megadim 87:1; Chochmas Adam 40:1; R' Akiva Eiger 87.
5 Y.D. 87:3.
8 There is a disagreement on this issue among the poskim, but many are
lenient -see Badei ha-Shulchan 87:75.
9 On Mishnah Kerisus 3, quoted by Dagul Mi-revavah Y.D. 87, who holds that
one may rely on this view so as not to incur a loss.
10 Chasam Sofer Y.D. 92. See also Chazon Ish Y.D. 22 who seems to oppose
11 Chasam Sofer Y.D. 92; Pri Megadim (pesicha); Chavas Da'as Y.D. 94:4 and
12 Badei ha-Shulchan Y.D. 87:25.
13 Mishnah Berurah O.C. 248:27-28. See Sha'ar ha-Tziyon (75) who quotes a
more lenient view. See also Sdei Chemed vol.1, pg. 62.
14 Entire paragraph based on Pri Megadim Y.D. 87; Pischei Teshuvah Y.D.
87:2; Aruch ha-Shulchan 87:7
15 See Badei ha-Shulchan Y.D. 87:8 who questions this requirement.