Dog food is highly nutritious, containing lots of vitamins and minerals, so it’s perfect for your pet dog. So, if you also have a pet gerbil, you may wonder whether gerbils can eat dog food.
Dog food is made from meat, which gerbils don’t eat. Gerbils can eat insects, but not meat from animals. Dog food also doesn’t contain the right nutrients, i.e. too much fat and protein. It’s mineral and vitamin content is optimized for canines, not rodents. Dog biscuits can be eaten by gerbils, but they’re still not a recommended snack.
While gerbils are omnivores (consumes food of plant and animal origin), their digestive systems can’t easily process meat. That’s because their guts are accustomed to breaking down fibrous vegetables and grains instead.
Can You Feed Gerbils Dog Food?
Gerbils shouldn’t be fed dog food. That’s because dog food doesn’t have the right nutrient balance for a gerbil. Gerbils need precise amounts of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, which dog food simply doesn’t have.
Furthermore, dog food is almost entirely meat. While gerbils are omnivores, the only meat they eat is from insects. Big chunks of meat aren’t suitable for your gerbil, whether they’re in dog food or otherwise.
Instead of meat, gerbils need to eat fresh foods like grains, seeds, nuts, leaves, fruits, and root vegetables. They should eat a gerbil food mix that contains each of these things to meet their nutritional needs.
A gerbil likely wouldn’t eat dog food if it was offered it. That’s because gerbils don’t eat meat in the wild, so it may not recognize that it’s food. If that’s the case, it would sit there and go off before your gerbil touched it.
Can Gerbils Eat Dog Biscuits?
Dog biscuits are more suitable for your gerbil. According to the Pet Food Institute, these have been manufactured for over a century. They’re typically a couple of inches long, shaped like a bone, and are the same texture as normal biscuits.
They have different ingredients to regular dog food which makes them more appropriate. Flour is the key ingredient in dog biscuits, because they’re made like regular biscuits, except they’re flavored for dogs.
They also contain some kind of fat or oil, derived from a plant, fish or animal source. Again, oil is a necessary ingredient when making regular biscuits/baked goods, which is why it’s included here too.
For protein, dog biscuits usually contain animal by-products. Examples include bone meal and offal, which otherwise would be waste products. A dog biscuit may also contain milk or egg as its source of protein.
This means that a dog biscuit has a balanced profile of carbs, proteins, and fats. They’re also not meaty, which is good for your gerbil. They still aren’t the optimal snack, but are far better for your pet than dog food.
Do Gerbils Eat Dog Treats?
Dog treats are solid, dried meat that is made for your dog to chew on. Others are made from thick, dried skin. Others still are small rounds that contain different ingredients like cheese or beef.
Whether the treat is suitable for your gerbil depends on the kind. Those made from meat are less appropriate than dog biscuits.
While gerbils don’t eat meat, they may eat dried meat or dried skin. These products are perfect for gerbils to chew on, and are safe to ingest. So, you could consider supplying either as a gnawing toy for your gerbil.
Can Gerbils Chew Dog Treats?
Dog treats are solid, crunchy, and tough. Gerbils enjoy hard foods because they like to gnaw on things. It’s good for their teeth.
Gerbils, like all Rodentia, have teeth that continually grow. That’s because the rodent’s teeth are important for both eating and self-defense, so they evolved to grow them continually.
But, if the gerbil can’t gnaw on things, its teeth grow too big for its mouth. They can even cause cuts, piercing through the gums or roof of the mouth. This can cause sepsis and/or death. Gnawing on solid foods like dog treats would prevent that.
However, there are many other foods and toys that your gerbil can gnaw on. These are more suitable for your pet than a dog treat is.
Is Dog Food Bad for Gerbils?
Dog food won’t harm your gerbil. It doesn’t contain anything toxic, and if it’s fortified it will contain many vitamins and minerals.
However, it isn’t good for your gerbil either. It contains too much meat, which your pet will find it difficult to digest. The minerals and vitamins it does contain will be specifically picked out for dogs, not gerbils.
You should avoid dog food and pick a more suitable meal for your gerbil.
Will Dog Food Make Gerbils Sick?
There’s nothing in dog food that’s poisonous to your gerbil. Foods that poison gerbils are few and far between, because they’re omnivores. Like most rodents, they must eat whatever they can find.
It can also cause diarrhea. According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, diarrhea can be a sign of Tyzzer’s disease. But it can also relate to your pet’s diet.
Dog food contains lots of water. The meat is treated with water to make it weigh more. But also, the food will likely have a sauce or gelatinous jelly around it. This is largely water, too. Excess water causes diarrhea in gerbils.
Also, meat isn’t what a gerbil is used to eating. Often when an animal eats something new, it can have a bad effect on its digestion. This may occur if your gerbil has too much meat. It could cause flatulence and make diarrhea worse.
Nutritional Values of Dog Food
The precise nutritional values of dog food vary depending on the brand and kind. Some are made with chicken, while others are made with beef. Others still contain lots of fish or lots of vegetables. And while some are high quality, some contain less meat and more filler.
There is no one level of nutrition you can expect from dog food. However, there are rules which hold true of most dog foods that will still apply. Dog food will typically contain ingredients such as:
- Meat and meat by-products, at around 50%. These meat products are treated with water before they’re added to the dog food so that they make up more of the food’s weight.
- Grains (used as filler)
- Vegetable by-products, e.g. beetroot or carrot (used for additional nutrition)
- Oils and fats
- Meat stock (used for flavor)
Around 8% of the can will be protein, while 5% will be fat. This is slightly too much protein, and too much fat. The rest of the calories in dog food will come from carbohydrates, which isn’t a problem for your pet gerbil.
Minerals and Vitamins in Dog Food
Dog food may contain different vitamins and minerals, depending on the brand. Some brands are fortified, meaning that they have had extra nutrients added during manufacture.
This makes them better for your pet. Common brands fortify their foods, calling them ‘complete and balanced’.
However, not all animals require the exact same vitamins and minerals. Take vitamin C. Other animals need it, or they’ll develop health issues like scurvy. But no studies have shown that gerbils need vitamin C. When they’re deprived of it, they don’t experience the same issues.
It doesn’t matter if dog food has some vitamins and minerals. It’s created with dogs in mind, containing whatever dogs need. Gerbils have different needs.
Should You Give Gerbils Dog Food?
You shouldn’t feed gerbils dog food from a can. It’s not suitable for your gerbil. You should feed your pet something designed for it, like gerbil food mix. Other reasons you shouldn’t feed your pet dog food include:
- Dog food attracts pests like flies if it isn’t eaten quickly
- Because you can only feed a small amount at a time, the rest of the tin would go to waste
- Wet dog food would seep into your pet’s bedding, or make the floor of the cage dirty
You should also avoid feeding your pet gerbil dog treats or dog biscuits. These are more suitable because they contain more appropriate ingredients. However, the treats are far too big to put into a gerbil’s cage. Doing so would encourage your gerbil to overeat.