Most of us already know that goats are strictly herbivorous. That means they don’t eat any meat, just plants.
That being said, if you’ve kept any kind of livestock for any length of time you already know that many animals are more than willing to swipe food from their neighbors.
Goats are no different, and because goats have a reputation as being good escape artists they are more likely than other livestock animals to get into food that they shouldn’t.
Not all of this food is safe for them. How about dog food? Can goats eat dog food safely?
No, dog food is not safe for goats. The biology and nutritional requirements of goats and dogs are different, and because dog food has animal proteins that they can’t effectively digest, it’s highly likely to make them sick.
If your goats get into your dog’s food, or worse if you deliberately feed them dog food, it is not the same thing as them swiping a little bit of food from the cows or horses.
Dog food is definitely bad for goats, so you want to take pains to keep them from getting into it and you should never feed it to them. There’s more you want to know on this matter, and I’ll tell you about it below.
Dog Food is for Dogs, Not Goats
I know this is one of the most obvious things in the world, but dog food is for dogs, not goats.
This is because dogs have completely different nutritional requirements compared to goats, and vice versa. More than that, dogs are omnivores with strong carnivorous preferences while goats are purely herbivores.
Basically, your goats cannot digest the animal proteins present in dog food, of any kind.
While it’s true that there are some ingredients and nutrients present in dog food that goats can benefit from, its general indigestibility and ingredients that are incompatible with their biology mean it is only going to cause them problems.
You might compare the label on a bag of goat feed and whatever kind of dog food you give your pooch and see a lot of the same nutrients, but this doesn’t mean that those foods are interchangeable in the diets of your animals!
Is Dry Dog Food Okay for Goats?
No, dry dog food is not safe for goat consumption. I often see this brought up in conversation because dry dog food has a reputation as being more “wholesome” or biscuit-like compared to wet dog food which is basically meat paste.
While it might be true that dry dog food has more matter in it that goats can handle, it still contains plenty of things that they can’t handle, particularly crude animal proteins.
This is especially problematic because the little crunchy pebbles of dry dog food might be more familiar and thus more appealing to goats compared to wet dog food.
Nonetheless, you shouldn’t feed it to them. If a few of your goats grab a morsel or two it’s probably nothing to worry about, but don’t make a habit of it.
Is Wet Dog Food Okay for Goats?
Absolutely not. Wet dog food is basically nothing but fat, crude meat, and gelatin. None of these things are safe for goats to eat.
As I hope is clear by now, you should never, ever feed any kind of dog food to your goats but you should especially avoid giving them wet dog food.
Once more, if one of your goats takes an experimental nibble you probably don’t have much to worry about, but don’t chance it regardless. We’ll talk more about these incidental feedings later.
Is Organic Dog Food Okay for Goats?
No. Just because organic dog food is supposed to be higher quality and more natural compared to the factory-processed slop we feed to our canines, and is usually emblazoned with wholesome, fresh vegetables and greenery on the package, that doesn’t mean it is okay for goats.
All those pictures of produce are just marketing, not indicative of what that food actually is.
Accordingly, you should never give this stuff to your goats and even under the very best circumstances it’s still terribly unbalanced for their nutritional requirements.
Is Vegetarian Dog Food Okay for Goats?
For starters, no, because it’s dog food. Second, there’s no such thing as vegetarian dog food because dogs are not in any way vegetarian.
Misguided humans might force a vegetarian diet on a dog to coincide with their own chosen lifestyle (to the marked detriment of the canine) but this food is still not okay for goats.
Can Goats Eat Dog Treats?
No, they really shouldn’t. Many hard treats, like the ever-common dog biscuit, might be more agreeable to a goat but that still doesn’t make them a good thing for a goat to eat.
Ultimately, dog treats are just a subset of dog food, and accordingly should be avoided for the sake of your herd’s health.
What Should You Do if Your Goats Eat Dog Food?
If your goats get just a little bit of dog food, and I’m talking a nibble or a mouthful here, you probably don’t have much to worry about.
It isn’t impossible that this could cause significant indigestion and diarrhea, or maybe even cause a serious disruption of the rumen, but it’s unlikely in my experience.
However, if you suspect or confirm that your goats have gotten into a sizable quantity of dog food, wet or dry, you’ll definitely want to keep them under close observation and contact your vet for instructions.
If you notice that your goats have a distended abdomen that is firm, meaning bloat, seem depressed, lethargic or unable to stand, or if they lose all following appetite, they need veterinary care straight away.
How Much Dog Food Can Goats Eat Before it Causes Problems for Them?
It is hard to say. As I detailed above, an incidental nibble here or there is probably nothing to worry about, but if you, for whatever reason, foolishly decide to feed your goats dog food regularly or if they break into a large quantity of it you can probably expect problems, and potentially serious problems like bloat.
Generally, larger goats will be more tolerant of eating bad stuff like dog food in somewhat larger quantities, whereas young or small goats that have a much lower body mass, will be more sensitive to it.
My rule of thumb is that if they get a nibble or two in passing that was left over from the dogs, or because they broke out and made a bee-line for the dog bowl, there isn’t much to do or be concerned with.
Any more than that, pay close attention to their condition.
Is Dog Food Safe for Baby Goats?
Absolutely not. Goats should never have dog food, and baby goats are the very last ghosts that should ever eat the stuff.
Baby goats are both incredibly sensitive and have very particular nutritional requirements if they’re going to grow up healthy, strong and quickly.
Dog food isn’t going to do anything for them except hurt them and accordingly you should never, ever give any kind of dog food to a baby goat and take all precautions to prevent them from getting it.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.