Can A Tortoise Eat Cat or Dog Food?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

We aim to get our tortoises on the right food from the start since we know how crucial it is to their long-term health. Therefore, if you’re wondering whether or not your tortoise can consume dog or cat food, you’re not alone. Perhaps you came across the tortoise chowing down on dog food. Is there any risk to them if they try it?

Since a tortoise’s nutritional needs are so different from those of a dog or cat, it is not recommended that they consume the food of either dog or cat. Tortoises shouldn’t consume either dog or cat food because of the high protein and fat content.

While it’s true that some individuals do offer cat and dog food as treats, this is not suggested. Your tortoise being seen when he or she is enjoying a tasty treat from the dog dish is not likely to pose any major issues.

Remember that your tortoise is an herbivore whereas cats and dogs are omnivores, and you can see why this is something you need to resist at all times. All of the requirements for these diets are distinct from one another. To have a better grasp on this, let’s observe a few specifics.

Is Cat Food Safe For Tortoises To Eat?

Tortoises should not eat food intended for cats and it is not safe for tortoises. The dietary requirements of cats are rather particular, and cat food has been developed specifically to meet those needs.

Cat meals that have been specially formulated often include a significant amount of animal proteins and carbs, in addition to particular vitamins and minerals.

It is important to note that tortoises will consume everything that is placed in front of them, and this is something that should not be overlooked.

Caring for baby tortoises presents unique dietary challenges, as Patty Mesich, an expert on tortoise and box turtle, points out.

‘Babies need to be offered food daily. It is best to give them a soak in shallow lukewarm water first, then offer food. This can help to entice appetite. Diet depends on the species,’ Mesich explains.

She emphasizes the need for species-specific diets, advising against protein and fruit for certain species like Russians and Sulcatas.

This aligns with the common misunderstanding among pet owners who may not realize that just because a tortoise can eat something, doesn’t mean it’s suitable or healthy for them.

Such insights are crucial in guiding beginners to establish a healthy feeding schedule that caters to the specific needs of their baby tortoises.

Why Should You Avoid Feeding Tortoises Cat Food?

Your tortoise may consume cat food if you offered it to it, but it would be bad for its health in the long run. As vegetarians, our tortoises exclusively consume plant-based foods.

1. Your Tortoise Is Herbivorous, While Cats Are Carnivorous

Your tortoise is an herbivore and subsists on a plant-based diet, whereas your cat is a carnivore and consumes animal products.

You can’t feed your cat a plant food diet since they just won’t receive enough nutrition. Pet owners have been accused of cruelty for trying to convert their carnivorous animals to a vegetarian diet.

In the same way, feeding your tortoise meat-based food is not nutritionally valuable nor morally correct.

2. Cat Diets Include Higher Levels Of Protein

High in protein but harmful to tortoises, your cat food contains just the best components for your feline friend.

Because it is inhumane to experiment on animals, no one has looked into what happens when tortoises eat cat food. Protein is essential for carnivores to develop muscle, thus we know that their diet is high in that.

We now know for a fact that tortoises fed a diet rich in protein are more likely to have a wide range of health issues.

A rapid rate of growth is terrible news for your tortoise. Because it can induce the shell to “pyramid,” this, although not immediately fatal, may have fatal consequences.

Is Dog Food Safe For Tortoises To Eat?

There is a growing movement toward feeding dogs an omnivorous diet that includes relatively little meat as a result of the recognition that dogs are not true carnivores.

Because of this, a lot of people may wonder whether it’s okay to feed their tortoise dog food. The response is still the same as it was before with regard to cat food, and that is that you should not give a tortoise dog food.

In addition, there are extra dangers associated with providing tortoise dog food due to the significant amount of fat that is included in it.

Why Should You Avoid Feeding Tortoises Dog Food?

1. High Protein Content

The size of the animal is the most noticeable distinction between a tortoise and a dog. A dog, being a warm-blooded animal, must generate its own body heat, making it stronger and quicker than a tortoise.

Because of this, a dog needs a high-protein diet to be healthy. However, as we have seen, giving your tortoise a food that is particularly rich in protein is not a good idea since it may cause a wide range of bodily problems.

2. High-Fat Content

Protein is an essential part of the diet for many animals, and it is no different for your dog. But dog food differs greatly in the fact that it is quite fatty.

As you may guess, tortoises shouldn’t eat fatty meals either. If an animal cannot digest fat, it may survive on a diet of vegetables alone, as is the case with a wild tortoise.

Their bodies are unable to properly digest the fat.

What Health Risks Are Associated With Tortoises Consuming Fat?

The fats that a tortoise consumes will not be metabolized in the same way as it is in our bodies. You may be curious to know what might take place on a tortoise if it consumed fat on a regular basis.

When a tortoise consumes fat, the fat is forced to various sections of its body, where it is stored as fatty deposits. In the same way, excessive eating causes obesity in humans.

Tortoises, in contrast to humans, are incapable of ever digesting the fat, therefore it will remain in their bodies indefinitely.

Since a tortoise’s shell is permanently attached to its back, it is not ideal for a tortoise to be overweight.

Because of this, your tortoise’s internal organs will be subjected to stress, which will prevent them from performing their functions properly.

Therefore, your tortoise is not safe to ingest the can of dog food since it contains an unsafely large amount of protein and fat, which will result in poor health.

What Happens When A Tortoise Gets Excess Protein?

We have made many references throughout this post to the fact that eating an excessive amount of protein is hazardous for a tortoise, but what could occur if they really did consume an excessive amount of protein?

Your tortoise would acquire a condition referred to as “pyramiding,” which is an issue that has an effect on the skeletal frame of your tortoise.

The “scutes” that make up the carapace of your tortoise are similar to small plates in appearance.

This results in the scutes being elevated, which gives the shell a rough appearance and texture. The consumption of excessive amounts of protein is thought to be the primary contributor to pyramiding.

When people hear that a tortoise should not ingest an excessive amount of protein, they often refrain from giving it any at all.

Not giving your tortoise enough protein is just as disastrous as giving it too much. Protein is important for your tortoise, but it also needs plants in its diet.


There is only one clear response to the question of whether or not a tortoise can consume food intended for cats or dogs, and that reply is no, they cannot.

Regardless of not having food to feed your tortoise on that particular day, you shouldn’t even consider doing it. I would recommend that you stock up on some dry tortoise food just in that case.

It may take some practice before you master the art of tortoise nutrition, but doing so will pay off in the form of a long and robust life for your pet.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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