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Home > Turtles > Can Turtles Eat Dog Food? Facts & Safety Guide

Can Turtles Eat Dog Food? Facts & Safety Guide

freeze dried dog food in a bowl

If you’re interested in a unique pet that can provide hours of fun, turtles are an amazing choice. While you may not be taking your turtle out for training sessions or walks like you would a dog, you will still need to learn how to properly care for these pets. In the wild, turtles are omnivores. This means they eat both meat and plants for sustenance. Of course, when it comes to feeding your turtle, you may consider easy options that are around your house or that your other pets enjoy.

One common question is, can turtles eat dog food? The short answer to that question is no, turtles shouldn’t be eating dog food. While you may want to grab some kibble or a can of your dog’s wet food to make feeding time easier when it comes to your turtle, it’s best to avoid doing this. Turtles and dogs have significantly different digestive systems and nutritional needs, which makes feeding turtles dog food dangerous. Let’s take a deeper look at this subject and help you better understand what is best for your turtle to eat.


Can Turtles Eat Dog Food?

When it comes to dog food, there are a few reasons you shouldn’t feed this to your turtle. First off, pieces of dog food can be considered quite large for certain species of turtle. This can lead to issues with choking. You’ll also find that a turtle’s digestive system isn’t designed to digest dog food, canned or kibble. This is due to the protein found inside. Dog food is often made with muscle and organ meat. These meat sources aren’t typical for turtles. This will cause issues not only with digestion but also metabolism which is why you should avoid it.

Other reasons your turtle shouldn’t eat dog food include:
  • Excessive amounts of protein – this can cause kidney issues or impaction in turtles
  • Obesity – the high starch found in dog food can easily cause obesity in turtles
dry dog food in bowl
Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

A Typical Turtle Diet

Before we discuss what your turtle shouldn’t be eating, let’s try to understand what a typical turtle’s diet consists of and what they need to be healthy. As we already mentioned, turtles are omnivores. This means their diet should be split between both plant and animal sources. However, when it comes to younger turtles, up to 7 to 10 years of age, you’ll find that they need more animal-sourced foods for proper growth. When feeding your turtle, you should allow them to eat what they can in 20 minutes. This is especially true for live prey and pellets. Remove what’s left after the time has passed.

Let’s discuss the needs of a turtle when it comes to proper diet and nutrition.

Animal Food Sources

Until you own a turtle, you may not be aware that there are processed foods out there designed for these pets. Turtle pets, trout chow, and drained sardines are among a few of these. Other than those options, you can also offer your turtle a bit of cooked turkey, beef, and chicken.

It’s also recommended that your turtle get a bit of live prey now and then. This can include shrimp, krill, moths, feeder fish, crickets, and worms. However, you should ensure any live prey is safe for your turtle. Purchasing from pet stores, raising the prey yourself, or searching in undeveloped areas are the best ways to ensure your turtle’s safety and the quality of the prey.

Turtle eating from a bowl
Image Credit: ivabalik, Pixabay

Plant Food Sources

Plant food sources for turtles include both fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens such as dandelions, collards, and mustard greens are common go-tos. When it comes to fruits, apples, berries, mangoes, bananas, and cantaloupes are recommended. Duckweed, water hyacinth, and water lettuce are also safe for your turtle.

There are a few foods, other than dog food, that you should avoid feeding your turtle.

These include:
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Dairy
  • Sweets or junk foods
  • Nuts
  • Potato, rhubarb, or tomato leaves
  • Raw meat


Final Thoughts

As you can see, to be healthy, turtles need a specific diet. Unfortunately, although it is an easy option for owners, dog food isn’t good for your turtle. Not only do turtles have difficulty digesting dog food, they can choke on it, get too much protein, or even become obese which can all be dangerous for your turtle. For this reason, steer clear of dog food and only feed your turtle foods that are safe for that species to consume.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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