This is a hot topic that comes up quite frequently on goat forums and on goat owner websites. You might have recently gotten miniature dairy goats, or you might be considering getting them, and want to know if you can feed your goats dog food.
First of all, the answer is no, they should not eat dog food on a regular basis.
Also, it is important to remember that miniature goats are still considered goats, and even though the word “miniature” was used in their name, they are not any less goat-like than other types of goats. That means that they have very similar nutritional needs as full sized dairy or meat goats.
And honestly, you might be surprised at just how much dog food differs from goat food when you take a look at both on an ingredient list (simply type in the brand name into Google and click on the link for the ingredient list). However, there is one reason why dog kibble might be superior to your average goat hay; most higher quality commercial grade horse/goat feeds contain more legumes (peas, beans, soybeans) than grains. Legumes are lower in starch and fat, but have more fiber. Dogs on the other hand are considered omnivores, so dog food contains more meat meal, cereals/grains, by-products of animal carcasses (mainly feathers), fats or vegetable oils.
However, this doesn’t mean you should regularly feed your goat/s dog food without giving them any hay at all!
Both goats and dogs have teeth that are designed to chew up highly fibrous foods like grasses and hay. There aren’t many rocks in nature for them to grind their food against either (the only time I’ve seen goats use a rock is when they want to sharpen their incisors themselves), which means they suffer from a calcium deficiency if they only consume hay. While dogs get all the minerals and nutrients they need through their meat, dairy and mineral supplement (with some veggies for fiber) in dog food; goats need to get theirs by eating actual grasses and hay (this is why you should never feed your goats solely alfalfa pellets: it can lead to liver problems).
Like with humans, too much fiber in one’s diet has health risks, but when fed correctly the two don’t clash; what works for one species may not work well for another though!
Can goats eat dry dog food?
Goats are perfectly capable of eating dog kibble. However, there are many types of commercial dog food that you should not feed your goats on a regular basis (I am specifically referring to the low quality ones without meat or animal by-products).
However, if it is dry enough for dogs, it’s probably fine for your goats as well…but remember to always read the ingredients list! If you see lots of grains and legumes, don’t buy it.
Can goats eat dog fennel?
Goats have been known to eat anything from small branches to tin cans. I have never seen a goat (yet) try and eat dog food, but they do like chewing plants and hay.
If your goats want to eat the fennel plants that you’ve left out for your dogs, don’t worry about it; this is not going to make them sick! Goats will sample almost everything at least once (and sometimes several times) before deciding if they like it or not. However, because there are many plants that can be poisonous to goats I wouldn’t leave their “stuff” lying around for too long though; anything that has been chewed on should always be removed after a few days (a week at most).
Can goats eat dog treats?
Goats are very curious and they love to taste new things. If your goats want to eat dog treats; let them! They will not make them sick, but their body might get used to the treat (at which point it’s no longer a “treat”) so remember that if you give your goats dog food regularly then suddenly stop about 5 years later because you got a real goat or two, there is a good chance they’ll have trouble adjusting to hay again.
Can goats eat dog biscuits?
Again, if your goats want to eat dog biscuits, let them! Just like people food and treats that we’d give our dogs; some of these may be healthy for the goat and others might not.
Some smaller dog biscuits (the tiny ones) can be quite harmful to a goat’s gastrointestinal system as they are meant to clean the dog’s teeth! But if you watch them closely as they eat those, you should realize it within minutes or even seconds after they start chewing on it.
This is why it is very important to watch new foods before deciding whether it is safe for them or not: I’m all for letting the animals choose what and how much they want to eat (and more importantly: not eat), but we must remain cautious.