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Why are dogs afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

  1. Aug 11, 2012 #1

    Pythagorean

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    There appears to be many cases of people's domestic dogs showing anxious and aversive behavior around cooked lamb.

    Examples:

    Dog afraid of lamb jerky

    several different exmples over the years of people asking the internet why their dogs cower every time they cook lamb:

    http://ask.metafilter.com/82237/Why-is-my-dog-scared-of-cooked-lamb
    http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/dogs/dogs-terrified-when-lamb-being-barbequed-129471.html
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100428192856AAFmrQv
    http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-257945.html
    http://www.dogster.com/forums/Behavior_and_training/thread/382511
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2012 #2
    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Conjecture
    Maybe the dog isn't afraid of the cooked lamb. Maybe the dog is afraid of the spices that are often used with cooked lamb.
    I can't imagine a carnivore being repelled by cooked lamb. Lamb is very fatty. Fat is something every carnivore loves. However, lamb is seldom cooked alone.
    Lamb is very fatty. Fatty meats take on spices very well. Lamb is often used in Middle East dishes that include onions, peppers, etc. Maybe the spices irritate the dog's sensitive nose.
    In one of your links, there was a family that had several dogs. One of the dogs was adapted from an animal shelter, and the other dogs were raised with the family all their lives. Only the dog that was raised in an animal shelter was afraid of the lamb.
    Maybe the dogs that were raised with the family got used to the spices used with meat. They may have started out irritated by the smell of spices, but got used to it. The dog from the shelter never had a chance to get used to spices.
    These people should offer the dog from the shelter some lamb chops without any flavoring. No onions, nothing. I will bet the dog will gobble it right up.
     
  4. Aug 11, 2012 #3

    phinds

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Uh ... you would NOT want to get between my wife's 135lb Great Pyrenees and a lamb chop. YOU would be the one exhibiting fear, not him. :smile:

    EDIT: we don't cook them with spices, so that may be one difference.
     
  5. Aug 11, 2012 #4

    turbo

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    I don't like the smell of lamb-chops being fried or the smell of leg of lamb being roasted. Maybe I'm part dog. :confused:
     
  6. Aug 11, 2012 #5

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Possibly... but I'd think if that were the case, it would have a chance of showing up in other meats or not showing up in dog treat lamb. I'm willing to bet it's a compound unique to lamb meat.
     
  7. Aug 11, 2012 #6

    Evo

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Lamb is a very common ingredient in most high end dog foods. Dogs love lamb, so it could very well be strong spices that the dog is objecting to. I personally have never known a dog to dislike lamb.
     
  8. Aug 11, 2012 #7

    turbo

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Duke loves premium lamb and rice foods. Never tried him on fresh-cooked lamb, though.
     
  9. Aug 11, 2012 #8

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Here's something someone dug up from one of the linked threads above. I know lamb is used in some dog foods. Not sure if particular processing techniques destroy relevant components or if it is, in fact, just spices.

    But you'd think the complaint might show up with the spice in other situations, not just with lamb. Either way, still a mystery to me. As turbo mentioned.. there is a particularly unpleasant odor in lamb, possibly the one mentioned below:

    Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
    Volume 69, Issue 4, pages 403–413, December 1995
     
  10. Aug 11, 2012 #9

    Evo

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Now days, lamb is much, much milder than the lamb/mutton of even when that article was written. New Zealand spring lamb is very mild now. The lamb and mutton before used to have a very gamey smell, which is why so many spices were used to try to mask the taste/flavor. But lamb has always been a favorite of wolves, so you'd think dogs would love it, but maybe raw more than cooked? Cooking does change things. But when your dog snacks in the cat box, he's not going to turn his nose up at lamb.
     
  11. Aug 14, 2012 #10
    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    the other day after reading the thread, i gave up some of the left over lamb racks to my dog and he didnt seem to mind.
     
  12. Aug 14, 2012 #11

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    It doesn't happen to all dogs; Not sure if all the people reporting it have similar breeds of dog or not. It's probably similar to non-conditioned human food aversions that relate to a particular human's biochemistry.

    There was a good post about this here in the biology forum (about human diet preferences based on genetics). Can't find it though.
     
  13. Aug 15, 2012 #12
    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    As a control, you can offer your dog the same type of lamb dressed up in spices.This way, we can tell if your dog has an aversion to spices.
    You could even offer him two dishes at the same time at opposite sides of the room. Just lamb on one side, and lamb with onions on the other. If he has free choice, then it wouldn't be cruel.
    I'll bet he runs up to the bowl without spice. If not, then I am wrong. I'll be glad to have the onion spiced lamb.
     
  14. Aug 15, 2012 #13

    marcusl

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Maybe for some dogs it's the same as some humans' reaction to the smell of cooking Brussel sprouts--they just can't stand it!
     
  15. Aug 16, 2012 #14

    Evo

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Be careful about feeding onions to dogs and especially cats. Onions are on the "caution" list of what not to feed your pets.

    http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/people-foods.aspx [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Aug 16, 2012 #15
    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    I am sorry that I suggested an experiment with onions. However, Evo’s link may be providing the real answer to the question.
    Looks like some spices are poisonous to dogs. Onions, garlic and chives can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
    Suppose the dogs in question had lamb chops flavored with both onions and garlic. Suppose they got really, really sick but survived.
    That would be a real good reason to be afraid of spiced lamb. The dog sniffs that spice and runs the other way.
    I still think it is the spices, not the lamb meat itself.


    Here is what Evo’s link says concerning onion-like spices.
    http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/people-foods.aspx [Broken]
    “Onions, Garlic, Chives
    These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.”

    Here is what Evo’s link says about salt. Maybe the dog remembers what happens after eating a salted piece of lamb meat.
    “Salt
    Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!”

    Warning to other's. Don't let the animal learn the hard way. Don't trust it to make the right decision. Don't offer these spices to a dog or cat!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  17. Aug 16, 2012 #16

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    The video in my OP shows a processed lamb dog treat. I wonder if onion and salt were added to the lamb treat by the manufacturers? I wonder if the product got recalled then?
     
  18. Aug 17, 2012 #17
    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    You didn't watch the entire video. It wasn't the lamb and it wasn't the spice. It was the waxed floor.
    The text to the video claims the doberman was afraid of the slippery floor, not the treat. The lamb treat was placed in the middle of the waxed floor. The doberman couldn't step on the waxed floor, although a smaller dog did so.
    Later in the video, another lamb treat was placed at the edge of the waxed floor near the doberman. The doberman ate it right away.
    There is some variation between dog individuals. Since this is a Physics Forum, I present a conjecture. Small dogs may navigate better than large dogs on waxed floors.
    The weight of the dog may be distributed evenly on the dogs paws. However, the large dog has more area on its paws then the small dog.
    I am not sure precisely how the scaling laws work for static friction of different surfaces. However, my intuition says that a large dog will not be able to stop as well as a small dog.
    The large dog also risks more damage from falling than the small dog. There, the cube-square laws apply. If the doberman trips, it could be hurt a little worse than if the small dog trips.
    So the doberman has a justified fear of the waxed floor, which the small dog does not. It has nothing to do with the treat. Both dogs ate the treat, when offered to them under safe conditions.
    So it has nothing to do with the treat itself. It was the floor beneath the treat.
     
  19. Aug 17, 2012 #18

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    Uhm... no, it's not a doberman (it's a lab) and there's no mention of a wax floor. The dog goes on the couch later in the video and is still afraid of the treat.

    I think you watched a different video... if you watch the specific video it's pretty obviously the dog treat. It's a direct relationship with the distance of the treat to the dog's nose. He gets away, relaxes a bit, then the owner brings it closer again and it freaks out, barks, swipes at the treat, etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
  20. Aug 17, 2012 #19

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    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    If you just google dog scared cooked lamb and actually take the time to sift through all the google results, you will literally find like a 100 reports (granted, they're anecdotal).

    It helps if you put dog ~afraid ~cooked lamb as I have below so that it uses any words similar to afraid or cooked (some people say roasted or scared).

    https://www.google.com/search?q=dog...cp.r_qf.&fp=f48835924c66f7ad&biw=1228&bih=582

    If you google dogs afraid onion or dogs afraid of chocolate, you get nada. Dogs aren't afraid of those things, even though they're poison to them. And lamb isn't poisonous to them, so I don't think it's an intelligent call on the dog's part, just some random biochemical response to something in lamb.
     
  21. Aug 29, 2012 #20
    Re: Why are dog afraid of the aroma of cooked lamb?

    ??

    A sheepdog my dad had would cower/act anxious if lamb was being cook.

    clearly cooking / processing is the difference between your "dogs love lamb" and the experience of many people. What does the dog eating lamb have to do with the emotional response of the dog to the lamb being cooked? I am afraid of cows..., dislike the smell of the raw meat & while it's cooking, but love to eat beef.

    At least you identified the fact it would be related to scents, but are any of the "possible" spices you suggest as a cause used exclusively for lamb?

    Lamb has a very unique taste to it, perhaps similar to dog. perhaps it relates to breeding of herding dogs. But too few seem to have this response, so I'd think it's an "error" / irrational behavior on the dogs part.
     
  22. Sep 2, 2012 #21
    Hello,

    I just recently stumbled upon this forum even though I had done a similar search about 9 months ago. I have a 2 year old bernese mountain dog who is extremely outgoing and loves all types of food. Last year at Christmas we put a lamb roast in the oven, not 15 minutes after cooking he started showing extreme signs of stress- pacing, whining, circling. The other dog in the house was fine. I could tell he was very busy "smelling" and I took him outside the house- big mistake as I could not get him back inside. He ended up going home with my parents and returning to my house a week later. I had never seen him so anxious and terrified.

    Just tonight he began acting the same way and I believe our neighbors are grilling lamb kabobs. He is pacing, tail tucked and constantly looking up into the sky smelling the air. This dog would gobble any other type of meat and has never been food picky. I am sharing this as I believe this must be a compound specific to lamb. I am currently a vet school student and I cannot find any information or studies that have been conducted, so I am curious to see what you guys dig up.

    thanks
     
  23. Sep 3, 2012 #22
    A hypothesis has been proposed here that some dogs are afraid of the spices used with lamb, not the lamb itself. I propose the hypothesis that the dog doesn't even have to smell the spice at that time. If he had gotten sick from the spices in lamb meat, then he might associated the smell of lamb meat with those spices forever. He remembers being poisoned by the lamb, and has no way to know whether it was the lamb or the spice.
    Your neighbors were likely using spices. Kababs are usually cooked with onions and other spices. You don't know what your neighbors were cooking, but you believe that it was "kabob". If it was a kabab, then you can't even be sure that it was a lamb kabob. You may have decided that it was a kabob by the smell. The smell of a kabob mostly comes from spices. Even if the neighbors weren't using spices, he may be remembering the lamb meat.
    You haven't stated whether you were using spices with your lamb roast. Maybe he smelled spices. Maybe he smelled only lamb and remembered having once gotten sick with lamb.
    You should try to offer your dog unspiced lamb meat. Just cook some lamb without putting any onions or garlic on it. Maybe he would eat it. That would falsify your hypothesis. If he is afraid of unspicy lamb, please tell us whether your dog ever ate spicy meat of any king. Maybe he got sick one time eating lamb meat. Or maybe he never got sick in his life. That would suggest that he is afraid of the meat.
    Another hypothesis proposed here is that sheep dogs may have been bred to dislike the smell of sheep. I don't believe it. The shepherds would have been feeding their dogs lamb all the time because that was the most easily available meat in their area.
    Onions and garlic are slightly poisonous to dogs. Some dogs like small quantities of spice, like some humans like cigarettes. Maybe some dogs are repelled by spices, just like some humans find cigarette smoke offensive. So the question is whether these dogs that get anxious around lamb are anxious about meat or spice.
    People are relating contradictory anecdotes, here. However, the ones claiming dogs are afraid of sheep meat should tell us how the dog reacts to spices. If there is a dog who likes onions, and is afraid of "plain" cooked lamb, then that would support the hypothesis that some dogs are afraid of lamb meat.
     
  24. Sep 3, 2012 #23
    Thanks for the response Darwin123

    1) He never has eaten lamb- I have had him since he was a puppy so I know he was never poisoned by lamb meat previously. He didn't even try any the days he was upset. His dog food is lamb free (turkey & chicken). In fact, I don't think he has ever had bad food poisoning to even associate with spices.

    2) We do not put any unusual spice on our lamb- no different than other meats. He has eaten hamburger with gusto and we use lots of spices in our burgers.

    3) A previous post on this forum mentioned a particular molecule unique to lamb aroma. I would bet money it has something to do with that compound. This dog has never shown a fear to any other type of food ever. Probably similar to how some humans can detect the smell of asparagus in their urine, while other humans are completely oblivious.
     
  25. Sep 3, 2012 #24

    Pythagorean

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    I really don't buy the lamb spice hypothesis myself, I think the compounds in the lamb itself are more likely given the scope of the anecdotes. I have shown papers that identifies unique compounds in lamb, whereas spices are used in a wide variety of combinations. Of course, this is all speculation still, but you'd think you'd actually see anecdotes surrounding the spice itself (since spices can be used with such versatility) rather than the lamb. It stands to reason that it's more likely that it's one of the unique lamb compounds.

    This is still just a hypothesis though, awaiting more robust evidence.
     
  26. Sep 3, 2012 #25
    Okay. Maybe some dogs are afraid of lamb meat.
     
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