Dog foods are formulated to provide our canine companions with the calories and nutrients they need. But you might not realize that most commercial dog food preparations can potentially benefit our feathered friends, too.
But the question you might wish to ask yourself should not be whether you should feed birds dog food but whether you should buy commercial dog food.
Do Birds Eat Dog Food?
You might be surprised to learn that many birds will eat dog food of various kinds. They have been known to ‘steal it’ from dogs’ bowls on porches when they are not looking!
And if you put dry food in a feeder, you are sure to get many ‘return customers’ seeking to take advantage of this energy source and the nutrients it provides.
Which Birds Eat Dog Food?
Crows, ravens, grackles, bluebirds, jays, starlings, pigeons, doves, sparrows, finches, cardinals, titmice, siskins, thrashers, chickadees, and more have all been known to eat dog food when it is offered. And there are likely to be plenty of other garden birds that will take a bite of available dog food.
Of course, which birds take a fancy to the dog food you offer will depend on which type of dog food you put out and its specific list of ingredients.
Amazingly, some birds, like American crows, have even learned to take dry dog food and carry it to a nearby pond, birdbath, or water feature to soften it before they eat it.
Is Dog Food Good for Birds?
You might not realize it, but dog biscuits are often added to commercial bird feed mixes to bulk them out. You may see green or red pieces between the seeds in commercial mixes.
But you should not place such mixes straight into a bird feeder because birds may choke on the large dry pieces. Dog biscuits can be fed to birds, but they should be broken up and soaked in water to soften them first.
The things that make dog foods and dog-biscuit treats beneficial for dogs can also benefit birds. Dog foods can be a good source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
Should You Feed Dog Food to Wild Birds?
However, while dog foods can have some beneficial nutrients, it is important to determine exactly what they contain.
Some dog foods are not as nutritionally beneficial as others, and some foods are far less healthy for dogs and birds.
Unfortunately, many commercial dog foods are not always as ideally tailored to meet a dog’s health needs as we may wish to believe. And there are also problems associated with many ingredients utilized in complete dog diets. So it is important to choose the right dog food for your dog’s and our planet’s health.
To feed dogs and garden birds, I would recommend seeking organic dog food that meets a dog’s nutritional needs without harming our planet. A healthy, eco-friendly, and sustainable dog food option will also be best for feeding the birds.
Look at the ingredients list when choosing a dog food and think about how and where each one of its ingredients was grown.
Remember, even the best specialized dog food available should not be offered as the primary source of nutrition for garden birds. It should only ever be considered a supplemental source of food.
Before you think about what else you might feed birds in your garden, you should always begin by looking at the food that your garden itself might provide.
Try to grow as many different native plants as possible to draw in birds and other native wildlife to the space.
That way, you can begin to create a healthy habitat with plenty of seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, etc., for different types of birds to eat. Add plenty of flowers that attract beneficial insects to the space for birds to eat as part of their natural diets.
Only once you have ensured that there are plenty of natural food sources in your garden should you consider additional foods that you might leave out for garden birds.
Which Type of Dog Food Can You Feed to Birds?
If you have pet dogs and leftover food that you would like to feed to your feathered friends, it is important to carefully consider the type of food before you decide to provide it to wild birds in your garden.
Can Birds Eat Dry Dog Food/ Kibble/ Dog Biscuits?
Birds can benefit from the fiber in dried dog food, and the carbohydrates they contain can be part of a healthy and balanced diet.
In moderation, you can offer these dry dog foods to birds. Some will, as mentioned above, take these foods even when they are dry.
However, with dry types of dog food, it is best to soak it before feeding it to the birds since the dry chunks can sometimes be a choking hazard. Soaking will also mean that a broader range of birds can partake.
Can Birds Eat Wet Dog Food?
Wet dog foods can also often be fed to garden birds.
The best dog foods will also benefit birds with the right mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Though, as mentioned above, they should not be a primary food source, providing some at a bird feeding station once in a while is a good idea.
Because of its high protein content, wet dog food is sometimes fed to baby birds by those seeking to rehabilitate them.
However, trying to feed a baby bird yourself is not a good idea. Call in the experts, rather than taking a DIY approach, since if you get the diet wrong, you could do more harm than good.
How To Feed Dog Food to Birds
The best way to feed dog food to garden birds is to place a small quantity in a shallow dish or tray where birds can access it.
However, it is essential not to place it somewhere it might begin to attract neighborhood pets or other pests in the area. If it is not eaten by birds quickly, you should ensure that you do not leave it lying around for too long.
Fresh dog food left around might attract small mammals or rodents and could draw in predators that might threaten garden birds. It might also begin to grow mold, which could pose a risk to your feathered friends.
If birds are attracted to an area where dogs are fed, make sure that dogs don’t scare or hurt them as they swoop in to try to take their share.
Remember, dog food is not a substitute for natural food sources for birds in your garden. But as an additional food source, good quality, organic, sustainable dog food could be a great bonus to backyard birds.