Having two different kinds of pets can be challenging at first, but as you get the hang of it, you start loving it. Take dogs and chickens, for instance. Dogs eat chicken, so it will take some training to teach them to live peacefully under one roof. But once they are well-trained, your pet dog might even start taking care of his fellow pets and play with them. Before you realize it, all of you are going to be one big, happy family.
However, while both dogs and chickens are your pets, they have different dietary and nutritional needs that must be adequately met if you want to see them healthy and thriving.
While chickens are poultry birds, dogs are canine animals; you can’t expect them to consume the same food. But can they use each other’s food as a supplement? Let’s find out whether or not chickens can eat dog food.
Can chickens eat dog food? Yes, chickens can certainly eat dog food. They love eating it because of the presence of meat in it. If you use a better-quality dog food containing omegas and glucosamine in abundance, it might even make a nutritious treat for them. But, as is the rule with all treats, you should give these to your chickens occasionally and in small quantities.
What are the dangers involved with feeding dog food to chickens? How can you best serve these to your feathered pet? If you are wondering about such questions, read on to find all their answers ahead.
Do chickens like eating dog food?
Although chickens can survive on grains, they are predators of bugs and insects and crave the protein they receive from eating them.
Dog food contains meat and is packed with proteins, which is probably the reason why chickens are so fond of it. Mixing a little dog food in your chicken’s regular feed once in a while will liven it up for them.
Dog food for chickens – what are the benefits?
Before we understand how dog food can benefit your feathered pet, let’s take a look at the contents of balanced dog food.
What does a balanced dog food contain?
Ideal dog food should contain all the six nutrients that your dog needs in their everyday diet, namely.
Water – Did you know that water makes up about 70% of your dog’s body weight? Both dry, as well as canned dog food, contain different percentages of moisture to meet the need for water in a dog’s body.
Fats – Dogs derive most of the energy they need from fats, twice as much as proteins or carbohydrates can provide. Fats also play a key role in their cell structures, production of hormones, and absorbing vitamins.
Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are essential for the reproductive health of dogs. They also maintain the smooth functioning of a dog’s intestine.
Proteins – Proteins are the building blocks of cells, organs, tissues, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and are responsible for their maintenance and repair as well.
Vitamins – Unlike goats, dogs cannot produce vitamins on their own, and thus depend on nutrition for obtaining them. Vitamins are essential for their metabolic functions. Their deficiency can lead to a number of health issues.
Minerals – Minerals are essential for maintaining the teeth, muscle, and bone health in dogs as well as for maintaining a fluid balance in their bodies.
As far as chickens are concerned, these nutrients are in every way healthy for them as well. Thus, feeding dog food to your chickens occasionally can’t harm them.
Dog food for chickens – downsides
You can feed your chickens dog food without affecting their health negatively as long as you stick to moderation. Although we recommend feeding them high-quality dog food, even lower quality ones won’t harm them if fed occasionally.
The problem arises when you get careless about the quantity. Remember, there is a good reason why manufacturers develop individual pet food for each pet animal instead of making a single all-purpose food for them all. What is healthy for one pet can turn out to be harmful to the other.
Take protein, for instance. Both dogs and chickens need it in their diet. However, too much protein can damage your chicken’s kidney. Since their own feed contains protein as well, overfeeding them dog food can be an over-do.
Chickens are also particular about their taste. While some of them might not eat dog food at all, others might have a special preference to special flavors. In such cases, there is no need to feed them dog food forcefully.
It is a known fact that chickens, unlike dogs, need a variety in their diet. Thus, it is best if you keep changing their supplements from dog food to fruits, vegetables, etc.
How to best serve dog food to chickens?
Serving dog food to your chickens is not a complicated task. There are three common ways you can go about it:
- You can simply offer them dog food as it is or sprinkle it around their coop.
- If you want to be more creative, you also mash the dog food and mix with the regular poultry feed your chickens eat every day.
- Dog food also gets along with other treats such as nuts and seeds.
All you need to be careful about is moderation, and you’re good to go.
Can baby chickens eat dog food?
Why not? It is not like dog food is toxic, or even unhealthy, to chickens in any way. Thus, you can easily feed them to the chicks in your backyard. Just make sure you are not overfeeding them these treats.
Signs to look out for
When it comes to their diet, chickens are instinctively smart and mostly eat what is good for them. However, if your chicken is not consuming a balanced diet, it will show soon. These are the signs you can use to recognize that your chicken’s diet needs a change:
- If the chickens are not producing as many eggs as they used to, even when all the other factors, such as weather, are perfect.
- When your chickens are restless throughout the day for no particular reason.
- If your chickens are engaged in feather-picking frequently.
- When the eggs your chickens lay are smaller than their regular size or are too soft.
Other treats you can alternate with dog food
As we have already stated, chickens are suckers for variety. Consistently mixing up their diet with different treats is a sure-shot way to keep them healthy and happy. The following is the list of foods you can use as their treat.
Although chickens cannot process dairy products properly, they are very fond of all kinds of cheese, particularly cottage cheese. Cheese is rich in protein and calcium and is healthy when fed in moderation.
It might sound strange to most of you, but chickens love eggs. As long as you’re feeding them eggs in a form they cannot recognize, they will eat it lovingly. Scrambled eggs are a great option.
Cucumbers are mostly water and are thus ideal for feeding your chickens on hot summer days.
If you think your chicken is too skinny, you can feed them bread soaked in milk once in a week to fatten them up.
Carrots are a healthy and crunchy treat for your chickens, both raw and cooked. Don’t chop off the greens before feeding a carrot to your chickens; they can eat it.
Warm oatmeal makes an ideal treat for your chickens on cold winter days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is feeding my chickens pasta okay for them? It is okay to feed your chickens pasta as long as you don’t make it a habit. Pasta is rich in carbohydrates; thus, it is best to feed them these in moderation.
Can chicken feed go bad? Yes, the chicken feed can certainly go bad. If it smells or appears moldy, don’t feed it to your chickens. Also, try to finish a packet of chicken feed before it gets older than two months.
Are nightshade vegetables harmful to chickens? Yes. The nightshade plants contain a toxin called Solanine that keeps insects away. Solanine is toxic to chickens as well, and thus shouldn’t be fed to them.
To sum it up, we agree that chickens can eat dog food. In fact, high-quality dog food can be highly nutritious for them. However, making it a habit to feed chickens dog food is not a good idea. Chickens have different dietary needs than dogs. Therefore, it is best if you use dog food only as a treat and not regularly.