Can Turtles Eat Cat/Dog Food?

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

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My neighbor, Rafid, has turtles and cats. He often consults about the turtle’s lifestyle and food habits. Some days back, he asked me if he could sometimes add cat food to his turtle diet. So I wondered, can turtles eat cat/dog food?

Turtles can eat small bites of cat/dog food. But pet foods have different nutritional values than a turtle’s diet. That’s why it’s pretty unsafe to feed turtles cat or dog food as a staple meal. It’s better not to add these foods to their daily nutrition plan. 

But do turtles like cat/dog food? Are pet foods as good as small treats? In this article, I will tell you everything, so stay with me.

Key Takeaways 

  • Turtles are fond of cat or dog food because of the meat protein. 
  • Cat/dog foods have the same scent and look like turtle pellets 
  • Unfortunately, cat or dog food lacks vitamin D and calcium. 
  • These pet foods can make turtles fat and cause numerous health risks to the heart, kidneys, and liver. 
  • Lack of calcium can lead to slow growth of turtles, especially baby turtles. 
  • Pet foods can’t match the turtle’s diet requirements. 
  • Instead of cat/dog food, you can give your turtles fruits, commercial turtle treats, worms, and aquatic plants.  
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Can Turtles Eat Cat Or Dog Food? 

Turtles eat cat or dog food because they love protein intake and meat food sources. But giving turtles cat or dog food can be harmful as cats have different dietetics. 

Moreover, a cat or dog’s diet is full of meat protein, but turtles require more calcium and minerals. This dietary conflict can make turtles sick if you feed them cat or dog food daily. 

However, it also causes malnutrition issues. It can’t be part of their daily feeding routine. You can give it occasionally. So cat or dog food isn’t prohibited for turtles, but it is also not ideal for them. 

Why Do Turtles Like Cat Or Dog Food? 

Cat or dog foods have a similar smell as turtle or fish pellets. And turtles are fond of these pellets. For example, they often eat betta fish food if they have low food sources. They also love to eat some human foods. 

Most cat or dog foods contain chicken or poultry by-product meals that attract turtles.

Yet, these pet foods look like turtle dry foods. Turtles eat every food that smells like their food, such as ocean plastic waste, because it smells like shrimp

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Cats Or Dog Food To Turtles? 

Even though cat and dog foods can’t harm turtles with a little bite, it can be a crucial health risk when they eat them frequently. After giving my turtles cat food, I’ve tried to notice major health issues.

1. Causes Malnutrition 

As these pet foods contain solid meat protein, it doesn’t match the dietary needs of turtles.

You can give these foods to your pet turtles in a small amount. But if you replace their regular meal with pet food, it can weaken their body, and they keep losing their shell’s strength. 

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2. High Risk Of Digestive Issues 

Cat and dog foods have low-quality fibers that can cause bloating. I’ve also noticed my turtles suffer from constipation when I feed them cat food. However, it harms their health in the long term. I had to take my turtles to the vet for constipation and constant vomiting.

3. Rich In Fat Components 

Fat ingredients in food are injurious to a turtle’s physical fitness because they can lead to obesity. If the turtles become fat, it’s tough to haul their head into the shell. Additionally, fat turtles can’t swim well. It causes severe heart and liver problems. 

4. Overdose Of Protein 

As I’ve already mentioned, commercial cat or dog foods include high protein. It can form metallic bone diseases like pyramiding that cause abnormal shell shape. Thus, it can be a reason for their kidney and bladder issues. 

5. Not Suitable For The Diet Plan 

According to turtle dietetics, vitamins and calcium are essential for better fitness.

But cat or dog food lacks vitamin D and calcium. The absence of vitamin D and calcium can lead to weak metabolism and low immunity.  

Nutritional Differences Between Turtle’s Diet and Cat/Dog Food 

Ingredients Turtle’s Dietetics Cat/Dog Food 
Fiber High fiber from vegetables and fruits Medium fiber components 
ProteinMostly from leafy greens and insects like earthworms, snails, and shrimps.From a large amount of chicken, fish, and poultry by-product items.
Carbohydrates As low as possible. Medium to high fat from solid meat. 
Vitamins Good amount of vitamin D, vitamin D3, vitamin A, and vitamin B A moderate amount of vitamins
Fat Low-fat components Animal-based fat 
Minerals High calcium Low to medium calcium 
Pet Turtle Diet Feeding Chart infographic

What To Do If My Turtles Eat Cat Or Dog Food? 

If turtles mistakenly eat cat or dog food, it’s not a major issue because eating a handful of these pet foods can’t cause severe problems. 

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But you should be careful and keep checking your turtle’s activities. 

Whenever you notice something unusual in their behavior, take them to the vet immediately, if possible, and follow the instructions. Also, find out how they find cat/dog foods and restrict their access to the specific zone. 

What Treat Can You Give Your Turtles Instead Of Cat/Dog Food? 

One of my friends, Riko, used to give cat or dog food to his box turtles because he lacked ideas for a turtle’s occasional treats. But when his turtles became sick, he was looking for 

some safe treat options for them. 

The vet suggests good occasional treats like fruits, mealworms, wax worms, small feeder fish, and commercial turtle treats. These alternatives are also the favorite of turtles. But it’s not for their natural dietetics plan. You need to feed these treats occasionally. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can Red-Eared Sliders Eat Wet Dog Food?

Red-eared sliders can eat wet dog food, sometimes in a tiny amount. But not as their staple food because they mostly require aquatic turtle pellets, live foods, sea insects, and leafy veggies. 

Do Water Turtles Eat Dog Biscuits? 

Water turtles won’t eat dog biscuits because they contain high carbohydrates and are low in calcium, vitamins, and other nutrients. So it’s good for them to avoid such food sources. 

Do Baby Snapping Turtles Eat Cat Food?

Baby snapping turtles eat cat food, but it can’t provide enough nutrition to them. Feeding them cat food can affect their natural growth and make them obese. 

Before You Go…

That’s all! Now you have the answer to can turtles eat cat/dog foods. Surely, turtles can, and they love to eat them. But if they eat, it can lead to a lifetime health problem. 

When there are numerous safe food options available, it’s not essential to feed turtles these pet foods. If you want to get a glimpse of a safe food list and find more options for your turtles, you can visit the link below. 

Can Turtles Eat Worms?

What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat? [Safe Food List]

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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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