Keeping both goats and dogs as pets under a single roof is not that unheard of these days. Unlike popular belief, goats and dogs can get along quite well if trained properly. Over time, they grow fond of each other and learn to live peacefully in each other’s company. Those who own them both have confessed that they play together frequently and are protective of each other. But what about their food? Can dogs and goats share food as well?
Can goats eat dog food? The straightforward answer to this is no. While goats and dogs can live under the same roof, the two animals have different dietary needs; dogs are omnivores, while goats are herbivorous ruminants. Dog food contains meat, which should not be fed to goats.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about feeding dog food to goats.
Do goats eat dog food?
You must already know this, but goats are curious beings. They have a tendency to put everything they can find into their mouths. This habit is extended even to non-edible things like paper, cardboard, etc.
Although goats are purely vegetarian, you can also find them putting meat products into their mouths. This is not because they can eat everything but because that is how they explore anything new.
As far as dog food is concerned, half its contents are similar to that of goat feed: corn gluten, barley, wheat meal, etc. Being the grain lovers that they are, goats absolutely love eating dog food.
What is dog food made of?
In the last section, we found out that goats love eating dog food. However, just the fact that they love dog food doesn’t make it healthy for them. But how will you determine whether dog food is healthy for goats or not? By looking at its ingredients.
Let’s break down the ingredients of dog food into two categories.
Corn gluten, wheat, and barley
Corn gluten, wheat, and barley are all packed with dietary fibers and are particularly rich in the following minerals:
These minerals are essential for most of the animals, including both goats as well as dogs. This part of dog food is, therefore, safe for goats. Moreover, all the commercial goat feeds contain these grains, and goats are used to grazing them in the farms. Thus, there is nothing wrong with goats wanting to eat dog food for these.
While scanning the dog food’s ingredients, when you go further down the list, you will find.
- Processed chicken fat
- Poultry by-products
- Meat by-products
As we mentioned earlier, goats are herbivorous animals. While these products add necessary protein in dogs’ diet, they don’t sit well with goats. Moreover, by “meat”, many manufacturers mean goat-meat, which is perfectly normal for dogs to eat. However, in the case of goats, it draws a picture of gross cannibalism.
Dog food for goats: Health risks
For goats, the central risk factor in dog food is the presence of any kind of meat or animal by-products in them. Goats are herbivorous ruminants, with a digestive system designed uniquely in order to digest and utilize the cellulose present in plants.
For a digestive so intricately designed, only a plant-based diet is appropriate. Now, imagine what would happen if you add meat to it: the recipe of disaster.
Goats don’t have the digestive structure required to digest meat, which is why all meat by-products are bad for them. However, the most harmful of all animal by-products is animal fat. Since your goat will not be able to digest it, the fat will get deposited on the inner walls of your stomach, forming a coating of sorts.
This coating will thereafter, hinder (and eventually completely inhibit) their ability to absorb nutrients from any food they eat. In other words, goats will eat their regular diet without being able to use any nutrients from it, and can eventually die of starvation.
The risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in goats
The Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a cattle disease that attacks the central nervous system of animals and is believed to be lethal. Initially, the BSE was seen only in cows, and was thus also known as the “mad cow diseases”.
However, in recent years, many scientists and veterinarians have found traces of this disease in sheep and goats as well. The common symptoms of BSE are.
- Lack of coordination in any physical activity
- Loss of appetite
As of now, the disease is considered to be untreatable. The infected animals die within 6 months of the onset of the disease in most cases.
What other foods should you avoid feeding your goat?
Goats have a strong digestive system and can eat most things without any difficulty. However, this doesn’t mean that nothing is poisonous for them. Following other food that should avoid feeding your goats.
Fruits and vegetables
Avocado – Like most animals, avocados can prove to be lethal to goats. The skin and pit of avocado fruits contain a fungicidal toxin called persin, which is life-threatening to goats. Ruminants can die instantly if they consume persin.
Cherries – All parts of the cherry plants- fruit, seed, leaves- contain cyanide. When goats eat cherries, the cyanide present in it prevents their cells from using oxygen. If consumed in a large quantity, it can end up killing your goat.
Potatoes – Potatoes, like other nightshade vegetables, contains solanine, a compound that might be okay for humans but is extremely harmful to animals like goats. Therefore, it is best not to feed them these vegetables. Other nightshade vegetables include tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, etc.
It might come as a surprise to you, but there are as many as 400 plants that are recognized to be poisonous for goats. Take a look at the list given below.
- White snakeroot
- Lily of the valley
Grasses and weeds:
- Velvet grass
- Poison hemlock
- Jimson weed
- Indian poke
- Death camas
- Water hemlock
Trees and shrubs:
- Wild black cherry
- Wild hydrangea
- Black locust
- Carolina allspice
The following are the plants that do not poison goats but can make them uncomfortable:
- Pine trees
- Creeping Charlie
Due to your goat’s curious nature, you might often find them nibbling on items that are not edible. When you do, don’t let them eat it. In fact, it is best if you keep items like a tin can, newspapers, cardboard, cigarettes, etc. far from their reach. However, tree barks are part of their natural diet and are therefore safe.
Frequently asked questions
How much food should I feed my goat in a day? A goat needs to eat about 2-4 pounds of hay in a day on an average. However, not all of it should necessarily be fed to them in the form of commercial feed. Goats are natural browsers and like to move around and forage. Therefore, you should let them out into a safe grassland for at least an hour every day.
What should I plant for my goats? Like we mentioned earlier, goats are different from other cattle animals. They are not grazers but browsers like deer. Therefore, they prefer eating plants, shrubs, and trees to grass. Instead of creating a pasture, it is better if you plant shrubs and trees in your backyard. Your pet will enjoy these more.
What should I feed my goat if I want it to gain some weight? If you want your goat to gain weight quickly, your best options are food that is rich in carbohydrates, such as corn and oats. However, you should feed them these grains out of a trough, giving them more than usual access.
Which hays are the best to feed goats? The best hays for goats are legume hays such as vetch, soybean, alfalfa, clover, lespedeza, etc.
Summing it up
To conclude, we will reiterate our initial statement: goats should not eat dog food.
While dog food contains ingredients that are healthy for goats (corn gluten, whole wheat, etc.), the other half of it contains meat by-products that goats, being herbivorous, should not eat.
Therefore, even if you have both dogs and goats at home, you should never mix their food.