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Can Chickens Eat Dog Food

Have you ever asked yourself, “Can chickens eat dog food?” Here at Secret Life of Homesteaders, we get this question all the time and today we’re here to share our wisdom with you.

Do you own a chicken and dog? Are you wondering if it’s safe to give your chicken some of your dog’s food? Wonder no more!

As an animal owner, you want what’s best for your animals. You probably know that dogs and chickens are two very different species, with different dietary needs.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the pros and cons of chickens eating dog food.

Spoiler alert: it’s generally not a good idea to let your chickens eat dog food (as opposed to letting your chickens eat cat food), as it can lead to health problems down the road.

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Can Chickens Eat Dog Food?

Can chickens eat dog food? The short answer is yes and no. Dog food is not poisonous to chickens which means they can eat it without causing themselves immediate harm.

However, that does not mean it is a good idea to feed dog food to chickens.

Dog food was designed for canines. Canines and birds have very different nutritional needs. The most obvious of these differences in nutritional needs are calcium and protein.

Dogs need a much larger amount of protein than chickens because they are so much bigger and have much different jobs and lifestyles. While chickens need and crave protein, they don’t need nearly as much as dogs do.

Chickens, on the other hand, especially laying hens, need a lot of calcium because they spend most of their time creating and laying eggs. Since dogs do not lay eggs, they do not need nearly as much calcium as chickens do.

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Even high quality dog foods will not support a healthy chicken lifestyle in the same way a commercial chicken feed or a homemade chicken feed made specifically for birds will. This includes canned dog food, dry dog food and even cat food.

Keep your chickens healthy by feeding them regular chicken feed and by keeping them out of the dog feed or other animal food not made for birds.

Related – Simple Homemade Chicken Feed Recipes

And next time you ask yourself can chickens eat dog kibble, you will know the answer as well as what to do to avoid feeding dog food to your birds.

What Happens If Chickens Eat Too Much Dog Food?

There was a period of time when our chickens were eating almost exclusively dog food. They were free-range birds and we did not realize they could get into the dog’s gravity-fed container.

Our egg shells became weak and our once deep orange yolks turned a sickly yellow – even more sickly yellow than grocery store eggs. Egg production also began to drop which was another problem we wanted to avoid.

Our chickens still seemed healthy but the evidence was in the eggs. Within a few weeks of cutting them off from the dog food, our chickens began laying strong, healthy, flavorful eggs once more.

A chicken’s diet plays a big role in the quantity and quality of eggs so if you want healthy and delicious eggs, make sure you are raising chickens that are only eating what they are supposed to.

What Foods Will Harm Chickens?

Chickens are actually pretty resilient creatures. They can eat a lot of different things without getting sick. However, there are still some foods you should avoid feeding them.

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Moldy or spoiled food, for example, can make chickens sick. While chicken feed is designed to be eaten by chickens, it can still go bad if it gets wet or if it’s been sitting around for a while. Inspect your chicken feed before giving it to your birds and throw away any that looks moldy or spoiled.

You should also avoid feeding your chickens anything that contains caffeine, alcohol, or chocolate as these can be poisonous to them.

While chickens love treats, there are some treats that should not be given to backyard chickens.

Here is our top list of foods and treats NOT to feed your chickens:

  • Moldy food
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes (especially green potato skins)
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar
  • Avocados (skins and pits)
  • Rhubarb
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot pits and leaves
  • Raw, dry beans
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus
  • Coffee or tea
  • Uncooked rice
  • Wild mushrooms (human-safe mushrooms are okay)
  • Zylitol
  • Fatty foods

There are plenty of other treats (very tasty treats) that chickens can eat so just stick to those healthy treat options and you’ll be good to go!

How To Keep The Chickens Out Of The Dog Food?

I wrote an article entitled how to keep chickens out of the dog food so if you’re having a problem with chickens getting into your dog food, I would recommend giving that a read.

In short, the easiest way to keep chickens out of the dog food is to make it inaccessible to them. Feed your dogs where the birds don’t have access or when the birds are not around. If that’s not feasible, consider getting a dog feeder that hangs from the ceiling or is otherwise out of reach of the chickens.

white chicken looking at black dog with the caption can chickens eat dog food

You can also try using a feeder that has a weight-activated lid. These are not 100% effective but they will help keep the birds out of the dog food.

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A final tip to keep your dog food safe is to put your dog food in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Chickens are smart creatures and if they see an easy way to get to the food, they will figure it out. A container with a lid will make it more difficult for them to get to the food and will help deter them from trying.

Do you have chickens and dogs? Have you ever had a problem with the birds getting into the dog food? Let us know in the comments below!

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Charlene has been dabbling in and learning about the homesteading lifestyle for almost 20 years. She recently started a real-world homestead with her extended family and is excited to share 20+ years of knowledge and experience with the world!

While she certainly doesn't know everything about homesteading and is learning more every day, she is excited to learn and grow along with YOU!

Charlene blogs about about homesteading at

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