Can Chickens Have Dog Food? A Comprehensive Guide

“Can chickens have dog food?” is a question that many chicken owners might find themselves asking. While chickens can technically eat dog food, it should not make up a significant portion of their diet. Dog food lacks certain nutrients chickens need and contains too much protein.

Can Chickens Have Dog Food
Can Chickens Have Dog Food

Issues with Feeding Chickens Dog Food

Dog Food is Too High in Protein for Chickens

Chickens only need 16-18% protein in their feed. Dog food, on the other hand, contains around 25-30% protein on average. Too much protein can cause health issues in chickens, such as kidney damage and excessive thirst.

Dog Food Lacks Calcium

Laying hens, in particular, need extra calcium for egg production. Dog food does not provide enough of this essential nutrient. A lack of calcium can lead to thin egg shells and other health problems, such as egg binding or osteoporosis.

Dog Food Lacks Nutrients Chickens Need

Dog food is formulated specifically for dogs, not chickens. Chickens have different nutritional requirements, so dog food does not give them everything they need. For instance, chickens need more vitamin A, vitamin E, and certain B vitamins than dogs do.

Acceptable Amounts of Dog Food

Limit Dog Food to Under 10% of Diet

Small amounts of dog food are okay as an occasional treat or supplement. But over 10% can cause nutrient deficiencies and health problems.

Best to Avoid Dog Food Altogether

It's safest to feed chickens a complete layer feed formulated for their needs. Consider dog food an emergency food only. This way, you can ensure your chickens are getting all the nutrients they need.

Providing a Balanced Diet

Give Chickens Layer Feed

Use a commercial chicken layer feed as the staple food to meet all nutritional requirements. These feeds are specifically formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients for chickens.

Supplement with Treats

Give healthy treats like vegetables, fruits, and grains in moderation. These can provide additional nutrients and variety to the chicken's diet.

Provide Calcium Supplements if Needed

Add oyster shell or limestone grit to give extra calcium for egg production. These can be mixed into the feed or provided in a separate dish.


While chickens can eat small amounts of dog food, it should not make up a significant part of their diet. Chickens have different nutritional needs that dog food does not meet. It's best to feed them a complete chicken feed and supplement with some treats for a balanced diet. Only use dog food sparingly as a last resort.

In conclusion, while the question “can chickens have dog food?” can be answered with a yes, it's not the best choice for their health and well-being. So, next time you're tempted to give your chickens some dog food, think twice and opt for a more suitable option.

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