Whatever our animals prefer to eat, it rarely fails that they will take a nibble out of just about anything that is within reach, and especially if what is in reach is some other animal’s usual food!
Geese are not exempt from this behavior, and it’s common to see them stealing a bite of chicken feed, horse feed, and even a little bit of food from our dogs and cats if they get the chance.
But that raises a very good question: is it even safe for geese to eat this food? In particular, can geese eat dog food safely?
Yes, geese can eat dog food safely but only in limited amounts. Dog food isn’t even close to nutritionally balanced for the needs of geese, lacking some nutrients they need and having too much of others, particularly protein. But you don’t need to worry if geese manage to steal a bite now and then.
Dog food is one of those things that geese can eat in the sense that it isn’t genuinely toxic or poisonous to them, but if they are eating it regularly, it won’t take long for problems to manifest.
You can give your geese a handful of dog food every now and then as a treat, or let them have it if they manage to swipe a few bites from your pooch, but don’t make a habit of it.
I’ll tell you everything you need to know about your geese eating dog food in the rest of this article…
Dog Food is Not Nutritionally Complete for Geese
We need to clear this up straight away so there is no ambiguity: dog food should not be a regular menu item for geese. It is not nutritionally well-rounded for them…
This is because dog food is for dogs, not geese, and even though both species need many of the same macro- and micronutrients, the food for one doesn’t cover all the requirements for the other.
So your geese can eat dog food without much worry of getting sick or otherwise being poisoned. This can and will get some needed nutrition from dog food.
You can even give them dog food periodically as a treat or incidental menu item if it is convenient.
But you should never make it a routine part of geese’s diet. It won’t be long before nutritional imbalances manifest and cause significant health problems for your geese.
Does Dog Food Have Health Benefits for Geese?
Yes, it does. Dog food has lots of stuff that geese need, including protein, fat and carbohydrates along with a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals that geese need in their diet.
Obviously, geese will get energy from dog food, and the protein and other nutrients will help them grow and heal.
The various vitamins and minerals will be used in all sorts of bodily processes, from basic cellular function, and overall organ health to the growth and repair of bones and connective tissues, production of new red blood cells, fortification of eggshells in laying dames, and more.
These are all dependable benefits that your geese can get from dog food, but despite this, it’s not something your birds should eat every day.
Nutrition Info for Dog Food
The precise nutritional content of any given dog food will vary from type to type and brand to brand, and there are many different formulations depending on breed, age of dog, and more.
But generally speaking, dog food will contain a cross-section of several essential nutrients that dogs need, and ones that geese can still benefit from.
All dog foods contain protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and varying amounts of water.
Looking at the vitamins, all dog foods will contain vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K along with an assortment of the B-complex vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6 among others. Choline is also present as well.
The mineral content will likewise be diverse, although geese and dogs need radically different amounts of these minerals.
Nonetheless, pretty much every dog food will have calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, a little bit of iron and copper, and salt.
Overall, definitely a well-rounded source of nutrients for dogs, but one that is not properly balanced for our geese.
Can Geese Eat Dry Dog Food?
Yes, they can. Dry dog food, whatever the form of the pellets and kibbles, are among the favorite opportunity snacks for geese.
You’ll rarely see a goose that has access to dry dog food that won’t steal at least a few bites, and if they’re allowed, they will happily eat all they can.
However, some dry dog foods are baked very hard, even though they’re processed, and these can be difficult for geese to digest…
Can Geese Eat Wet Dog Food?
Yes, they can, but most geese are somewhat pickier concerning wet dog food than dry. Some geese might be drawn to it, while others might show far less enthusiasm.
One thing to keep in mind is that many wet dog foods have animal proteins in them that are far more likely to play host to bacteria that might be harmful to geese.
If the choice is up to you, stick with dry dog food for your geese.
Can Geese Eat Dog Treats?
Yes and no. Many dog treats are ultimately just dog food and have a similar nutritional profile, though they come in a variety of shapes and different textures.
The classic, bone-shaped dog biscuit is fine for geese nutritionally, but way too difficult for them to swallow as it is. Cracked and crushed, it’ll be just fine.
The typical “meat stick” dog treats are also okay for geese, though many geese don’t like them. Cutting these up into tidbits or bite-size pieces is the best approach.
Also, geese cannot and should never be given the tough rawhide-type treats that dogs are allowed to gnaw on for hours: they’re completely inedible and indigestible by geese, and a massive choking hazard.
Can Goslings Eat Dog Food Safely?
Yes, but only in very limited amounts and rarely. Goslings have specific nutritional requirements, and generally a pretty delicate constitution.
Dog food isn’t optimized for the nutrition of adult geese, and that goes double for little goslings.
Chances are giving your goslings a bite or two of dog food isn’t going to harm them in any way, but it will not take long at all for repeated feedings to result in significant nutritional imbalance.
Goslings are particularly vulnerable to developing diseases and various syndromes resulting directly from improper nutrition while they are small.
Among the most disabling and likely permanent of these conditions, and also the most infamous, is angel wing syndrome, a condition where the wrist bones in the wing do not form properly and stick out at a horizontal, splayed angle.
This is crippling for the geese once they reach adulthood, and they’ll never be able to fly.
Angel wing syndrome typically results from too much protein and carbohydrates along with a lack of certain vitamins and minerals in the diet.
If you don’t want this to happen to your goslings, you must not give them dog food on a regular basis!
How Often Can Geese Eat Dog Food?
If it is fed deliberately, no more than a small serving once a week.
As mentioned above, dog food does provide geese with energy and nutrition but it is in no way nutritionally complete or a part of a balanced diet.
Dog food is really just an incidental, or perhaps emergency, food for geese.
It’s nothing you have to freak out over if they manage to swipe a little bit during the day, or if you want to give them a handful of dog food to eat when you’re finishing off a bag for your faithful dog. But it’s not an item you want to make a routine part of their diet…
Preparing Dog Food for Geese
There’s not much to do if serving dog food to geese. If you’re giving them dry food in any form, simply pay attention to the size and shape of the pellets, and make sure they’re appropriate for the size of your geese.
If you’re in doubt, crunch it up to reduce it to a smaller size so it’s easier for them to swallow.
If you’re giving your geese wet dog food, which I generally recommend against, you can mix it in with some other dry ingredients to form a sort of mash that will be more appealing to them.
Never Give Geese Moldy or Spoiled Dog Food
One hazard that is associated with feeding dog food to geese, though not limited to dog food alone, is the presence of mold and other contamination.
Geese are surprisingly vulnerable to the toxins produced by various common molds and fungi, especially those that attack cereal grains.
One that is particularly infamous, Claviceps, infests rice which is a common ingredient in many dog foods.
This fungus produces a toxin that can cause nervous system collapse, tissue necrosis and even death in geese- and people too for that matter!
You can never give your geese any food, including dog food, that is moldy, spoiled or otherwise contaminated.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.