Kosher Dog Food

Avodah Zara (5:9) | Rabbi Ben-Zion Hain | 12 years ago

Most of the mishnayot through the forth and fifth perek have been dealing with the laws of Yayin Nesech – wine that has been, may have been or will be used for the purposes of idolatry. From what we have learnt, we are all aware that such wine must not be used and as we learnt in the third Mishnah of second perek44, we may not derive any benefit from it what-so-ever.

However, the eight and ninth mishnayot of fifth perek take this law one step further. Not only is Yayin Nesech prohibited but even a small amount (provided it is recognisable on its own – a davar chashuv) has the power to prohibit other kosher wine. The example given by Kehati is that if one barrel of Yayin Nesech is mixed up in one-thousand barrels of kosher wine, then all the wine is prohibited.

In fact, yayin nesech is not the only object that has this power. The mishnah (5:9) lists a number of other objects that are never batel (nullified) and are able to prohibit permissible objects if mixed together. One such example is basar b’chalav (meat and milk).

The Torah writes that a kid may not be cooked in its mother’s milk three times to prohibit three separate acts with regard to mixtures of meat and milk. They may not be eaten together, they may not be cooked together and you may not derive any benefit from them if they are mixed.

The Pri Megadim brings the Mishnah in Temurah (33b) that categorises all issurei hana’ah into “min hanikbarin” which means it must be buried or “min hanisrafin” which means it must be burned. The Mishnah says that basar b’chalav (that is assur mid’oraisa) is a min hanikbarin. Therefore even if the piece of basar b’chalav is burned into ashes, the ashes are assur. The Taz (94:4) brings in the name of the Issur V’heter and the Rashal that such a mixture can be flushed down the toilet. However, they add that it should not be given to a dog even if it is not yours and there is seemingly no hana’ah by you whatsoever. The Mishnah Berurah (Siman 448 Sha'ar Ha’Tzion 75) explains that one should therefore not throw basar b'chalav into the garbage since animals might eat it45. Rather one should dispose of it in a way that it will be impossible to get to.

Another issue regarding pets is food that is made from meat and milk. The Dagul Mervava cites the Rambam (Ma’achalos Asuros 9:6) who explains that if you would cook chailev (forbidden fats) or neveilah with kosher milk or vice-versa, there is no prohibition of eating the food because of Basar B’chalav46.However, there may still be an issur of hana’ah.

The Dagul Mervava brings the Rambam who writes that the issur hana’ah by basar b'chalav is an extension of the issur achila. Therefore, if there is no issur achila there will not be an issur hana’ah. The Dagul Mervava says that in a case of hefsed (loss of money) one can rely on the Rambam and use this type of pet food. However, according to other opinions (Pri Megadim and Chatam Sofer) this mixture is still subject to the issur hana’ah of basar b’chalav and would be prohibited47.


44 Based on a verse in Devarim (32:38).

45 The Magen Avraham is meikel as long as you don’t actually feed the dog yourself.

46 There is still of course the prohibition of eating non-kosher meat or milk.

47 For a definitive psak, please ask your local halachic authority.

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