Beagles prefer fermented pulses in their chow: U of S study

Dogs have been used to test the nutrition and taste of many Canadian pet food brands. Lynn Weber's Saskatoon research project attempted to enhance the taste of pet food with fermented, Sask. pulses.

Pack of lab pups retiring after years of eating

These beagles are ageing out of the study soon, and will spend the rest of their lives in family homes. (Don Somer/CBC)

A pack of beagles at the University of Saskatchewan's veterinary college are about to retire, even though they're only about seven years old.

"We're just finishing up the last of the studies with these guys so we're actually adopting them out this fall," said lead researcher and professor Lynn Weber.

Weber and her team of student researchers have been working for about a decade on various areas of pet nutrition.

A big part of this work involved studying the food preferences of the four-legged posse. Now, it's time for the canines to move on.

"We've already found homes for all of them."

The beagles will soon head to their new families to live out the rest of their years.

Beagles prefer fermented pulses

Weber's research has evolved in recent years from testing the benefits of adding Saskatchewan-grown pulses to pet food, to attempting to enhance the taste of the food.
The beagles are affectionate with researchers because they cuddle and walk them as part of their job. (Don Somers/CBC)

"We know they're healthier for the dogs and the cats, but the cats don't like the taste of it," said Weber.

"We're improving the taste by fermenting the peas or lentils, or other ingredients, with yeast first."

According to Weber, beagles "will eat just about anything," which is why they're perfect lab dogs, but they weren't quite sold on the pulses.

The team found that fermented pulses taste better to the dogs due to its meaty flavour.

"If you give them enough time they'll eat everything, but they go for the fermented stuff first," said Weber, who also specified the fermentation is alcohol-free.
The pack loves dog food, but prefers the pulses in it to be fermented, because they taste more meaty that way. (Don Somers/CBC)

Weber expects the dogs to adjust well to family life and a more leisurely pace. They're used to cuddling.

"It's an absolute necessity. So I have my graduate students and I have a whole raft of volunteers that come in every day that walk these guys and cuddle with them."

A new generation of beagles will replace the pack retiring this fall.

About the Author

Bridget Yard


Bridget Yard is a video journalist based in Saskatoon. She has also worked for CBC in Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B.