Most dogs eat canned baby food when offered. A dog’s taste buds are not very prejudicial, which means they are willing to taste everything life serves on their plates.
And when offered something tasty and strong-smelling like baby food, most dogs would say, “why not”? Since dogs are not very objective when making dietary decisions, it is not up to them to decide.
If you have ever run out of dog food or were trying to entice your dog’s appetite, chances are, you have considered serving your dog canned baby food. However, you were not sure whether canned baby food is safe for dogs to eat.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about dogs and canned baby food – the pros, the cons, and of course, the feeding guidelines that make it possible to exploit the pros while avoiding the cons.
So What's in a Jar of Canned Baby Food?
Baby food formulas are soft and easily digestible meals explicitly formulated for human infants. They are safe for babies between five months and two years old.
Baby food comes in a variety of flavors and includes healthy ingredients like vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats that are well meshed into a soft puree or liquid paste.
Based on the babies’ age for which the formula is intended, some baby foods can contain breast milk, and some can have tiny chunks of the included ingredients.
Can Dogs Eat Canned Baby Food?
Yes, dogs can eat canned baby food. Although the answer may depend on the exact baby formula, the general rule of thumb is that dogs can eat baby food.
However, it is worth noting that dogs have specific dietary needs that canned baby foods cannot meet simply because they are designed for human infants and not for canines.
In general, baby food is safe and can even benefit dogs when fed moderately and combined with an otherwise healthy and nutritionally balanced diet. Baby food should never be provided in excess and must not be used as a sole nutrition source.
Before feeding your dog canned baby food, please scroll down to the section covering the risks of feeding dogs canned baby food to learn more about the types of baby food you should avoid and some other things to watch for.
Benefits of Canned Baby Food for Dogs
When fed temporarily, and in adequate amounts, canned baby food can be great for dogs for the following reasons listed below. However, please read the section covering the risks of feeding canned baby food to dogs so that you avoid certain ingredients.
Canned Baby Food is Rich in Healthy Nutrients
The exact list of nutrients depends on the ingredients used in the formula. However, the following nutrients can be found in almost any canned baby food:
• Protein – building blocks for muscles and vital energy source
• Carbohydrates – fuel the body and promote growth
• Fats – gives energy, promotes brain development, ensure healthy skin and hair, and protect against infections
• Calcium – crucial for healthy, strong bones and teeth
• Zink – promotes cell growth and repair
• Iron – ensures red blood cells production and healthy brain development
• Folate – promotes adequate cell division
• Vitamin A – boosts the immune system, promotes healthy vision, keeps the skin healthy and the hair shiny
• Vitamin K – critical for blood clotting
• Vitamin E – strengthen the immune system and protects against free radicals damage
• Vitamin D – ensures proper calcium metabolism
• Vitamin C – essential for strong immune response, helps with wound healing, and building bones and muscles
• B-complex vitamins – assist in many body functions, from nutrients metabolism to genetic material production.
Bland Diet Substitute for Dogs With Tummy Troubles
Dogs with tummy troubles, that is, vomiting and diarrhea, need to be fed bland diets for several days until the tummy settles. When vets recommend a bland diet, the first choice is a mix of plain chicken meat and rice.
Instead of mixing the ingredients and running them through the food processor, you can use a baby formula made from chicken and rice.
Excellent Cover for Pills and Medicines
Dogs love eating new foods, and for a dog who has never eaten baby formulas, this food can be the ultimate hit.
You can use baby food to trick your dog into swallowing de-wormers or other bitter pills you usually have trouble administrating.
Baby foods have enticing flavors and are strong-smelled, which makes them ideal for masking the pill presence.
Good for Teething Puppies and Seniors
When it comes to chewing abilities, teething puppies and senior dogs are not too different. Puppies may refuse to eat because of sore gums, while older dogs lack teeth. Plus, in older dogs, the smell and taste senses are diminished, making all foods less attractive.
This is where baby food can prove beneficial. It is obvious that the liquid or puree bland does not require chewing.
What is more, baby foods have a strong smell and taste. In fact, so strong even senior dogs with dulled senses can feel.
Suitable for Convalescent Dogs
Dogs recuperating from major surgeries or health conditions can be fed baby food during their recovery periods.
There are several reasons why baby food is suitable for convalescent dogs:
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• It is nutritionally dense and makes the dog satiated without causing bloat od digestive overexertion
• It has a taste and smell most dogs cannot resist
• It can be fed via a syringe.
Excellent Distraction Method
Modern vets do everything for their patients. Not just delivering health treatments, but also making their patients feel comfortable during vet visits.
Usually, vets gave tasty treats, but now more and more vets are starting to use baby food for this purpose. Plus, the vet can quickly administer the shots while the dog is licking the tasty baby food.
Efficient Appetite Promoter
Canned baby food is good for dogs with fussy eating habits. Not all dogs are voracious eaters; some get bored quickly and like trying new things.
Baby foods are perfect for adding variety to the menu because they are available in different flavors and consistencies.
All you need to do is add a tablespoon or two on top of your dog’s regular food, and it is like serving something completely new.
Risks of Letting Dogs Eat Canned Baby Food
With so many benefits, why not give your dog canned baby food all the time? Before you let your dog overeat on baby food, consider these potential risks.
Potentially Risky Ingredients
Not all ingredients in baby foods are safe for dogs. It is advisable to look for single-sourced baby foods, or alternatively, you can use multiple ingredient formulas, but pay extra attention to the label.
These are the ingredients you need to avoid:
• Onion and onion powder – toxic to dogs and can cause anemia.
• Garlic and garlic powder – same dangers as onions. More about this is discussed here: is garlic powder bad for dogs?
• Grapes and raisins – toxic to dogs
• Avocado – also toxic to dog
• Artificial sweeteners – xylitol, one of the most popular sweeteners is very toxic to dogs.
Avoidance of Regular Food
Dogs can be more deceiving than you might think. If your dog is a fussy eater, and it learns that, every time he turns his nose on the dog food, you come running with tasty baby food, he will learn to avoid his regular food all the time.
Why eat the same kibble every day when you can eat tasty and differently flavored baby foods? However, dogs cannot thrive on baby food alone; they need other nutrients too (which brings us to the next issue).
If practiced in the long run, the above-explained scenario can lead to nutritional deficiencies and malnourishment.
A dog lacking essential nutrients is less likely to fight against potential threats and more susceptible to diseases.
Dogs can develop an allergic reaction to some of the ingredients found in the baby food formula.
Food allergies in dogs usually manifest with diarrhea, excessive gassiness, and vomiting. However, skin issues are also possible. In particularly sensitive individuals, certain ingredients can trigger a life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
To avoid such problems, give your dog baby formulas containing ingredients you already know your dog can digest.
Guidelines for Feeding Canned Baby Food to Dogs
As mentioned, canned baby food is rather safe for dogs, but only when used rationally, that is, in moderate amounts and not too frequently.
When it comes to convalescent and senior dogs, you should follow the vet’s guidelines and feed baby foods in the recommended amounts.
However, if using the baby foods in healthy dogs, as appetite enticers, you should consider them as treats.
It is a well-established rule that treats should not account for more than 10 percent of the dog’s daily food intake. The same concept can be applied to baby foods.
If your dog is hesitating eating the baby food try warming it up since dogs prefer warmer meals.
If this is the first time offering your dog baby food, it is advisable to give just a lick or two instead of the entire portion. Despite their dietary indiscretion tendencies, dogs have sensitive tummies, and it does not take much to cause tummy upset manifested with diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and excessive gassiness.
To avoid these problems, start small and observe your dog. If there are no tummy trouble signs in the next 12 hours, you can assume your dog’s digestive system is capable of handling the canned baby food.
So can dogs eat canned baby food? Yes, dogs can eat canned baby food, however, there are certain caveats in terms of feeding frequency, portion size, and ingredients.
All in all, if you are mindful about the choices and practice the tips provided in this article, you can safely add canned baby food to your beloved canine baby’s menu.