Can Turtles Eat Dog Food? Harmful Or Beneficial?

Jan 2, 2022

can turtles eat dog food?

Turtles relish eating varieties of food. But obviously, not all foods are safe for them. For example, turtles do not have a digestive system apt to process dairy products. So, you might want to avoid giving it to your little friend.

But what about giving your turtle other pets’ food? Can you give a turtle dog food? And is it even safe?

To ferret this query, we have to dive into further discussion. 

Can Turtles Eat Dog Food?

No, you shouldn’t give dog food to a turtle. First, the nutrient content in dog food and turtle food differs drastically. Second, it isn’t wise to feed processed dog food to a turtle because its system will not be able to digest it. 

Dog food contains protein, which is also necessary for a turtle’s growth. However, the protein found in it can be traced back to muscle and organ meat, bones, and other plants and vegetables. 

These protein sources aren’t the typical food repertoire that turtles find in the wild. In addition, their digestive system is not built to metabolize animal meat, usually the ones found in dog food.

Thus, it makes dog food an inappropriate choice for turtles. 

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What About Feeding Wet Dog Food To Turtles?

Compared to dry dog food, wet ones will be easier for turtles to swallow. However, you shouldn’t think of them as solids that your turtle can nibble every now and then. 

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Feed Dog Food To Your Turtles

  • Excessive protein
  • Causes obesity
  • Can cause choking

Excessive Protein

Dog foods have a high amount of protein than what a turtle typically requires. And when they consume excessive protein, it can cause pyramiding and other kidney-related problems. 

Baby turtles and juveniles need protein to supplement their shell development. It also helps in their muscle growth. 

However, adult turtles lean towards fiber-rich food. Therefore, too much protein can cause impaction (impact on feces).

Causes Obesity

Yes, turtles do become obese if they devour too much of anything. Of course, you can put dog food on that list, too.

If you are housing your turtle in a small tank and feeding it high-starch pellets – or, in this instance, dog food, your turtle will likely get obese. 

Check for these signs to know if your turtle is overweight:

  • An overweight turtle will be unable to withdraw its body extremities simultaneously. 
  • You can notice fat bulging out of its armpits and in front of its hind legs. 
  • On land, it will not be able to hold its own weight – which gives the impression of a turtle beaching. 

Can Result In Choking

Compared to regular turtle pellets, dog foods are larger, which can choke your reptile friends. Turtles do not chew food like dogs and cats. Instead, they will directly swallow whatever food they find in front of them. 

Therefore, chances are high that your turtle will choke on the dog food, mainly if you feed them dry ones.

What Happens If Your Turtle Accidentally Ate Dog Food?

Do not panic if you have accidentally fed your turtle dog food. These foods do not have any components that can instantly make your turtle sick. 

However, they pose a risk when fed regularly and in excess. 

Now that you’ve known whether turtles can eat dog food or not, let me list down the safe and healthy foods for your reptile pals.

Worms

Turtles love worms. You can feed them earthworms, mealworms, bloodworms, red wigglers, waxworms, grubs, redworms, silkworms, hornworms, butterworms, and American nightcrawlers. 

But feed moderately.

Aquatic Plants

If you have an adult turtle, it is recommended that you serve him plant-based foods. Some plants you can serve to fill your turtle’s belly are java fern, duckweed, waterweed, and moss. 

Veggies

Veggies are a good choice of food for adult turtles. Include kale, cauliflowers, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, endive, and carrots in their diet. 

Fruits

Remember that fruits have fructose which can cause sugar spikes in turtles (Yes, turtles do suffer from high blood sugar). 

This is why you need to limit the frequency of fruits and their composition in your turtle’s regular diet. Fruits shouldn’t comprise over 10% of a turtle’s diet.

Some safe fruit choices for turtles are grapes, apples, bananas (preferably with skins), mango, starfruit, tomato, melons, and kiwis. 

Meat

Meat has a high amount of protein necessary for baby and juvenile turtles. 

Provide only cooked meat to your turtles. And do not use oil or any seasonings. Instead, you can boil and cut them into bite-sized pieces before giving. 

You can feed them chicken, pork, and beef.

Apart from these, there are other foods that your turtles love devouring. 

They are:

  • Feeder fish
  • Pellets
  • Shrimps
  • Strawberries
  • Crickets
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs

What Foods To Avoid Giving Turtles?

Here are some of the foods that you should avoid giving turtles:

  • Sweets and desserts
  • Anything related to dairy
  • Snacks and junk food
  • Bakery items
  • Raw meat
  • Nuts
  • Oxalate-rich food (Spinach) 
  • Leaves of potatoes, tomatoes, and rhubarbs

Final Words On Can Turtles Eat Dog Food

Turtles are omnivores and can eat from a wide range of food. So, it is unnatural and not up to scratch that we have to feed them other pets’ food.

And if your turtle rationing lays barren, you can give human foods that are completely safe for turtles. 

Do check this article if you want to know what a turtle can eat from human foods. 

What Can Turtles Eat From Human Food? Avoid These Foods

Relevant Articles:

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Can Turtles Eat Onions? Why You Shouldn’t Feed It!

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.