With the opinions of the wider publish starting to realise that rates can be very cute and loving pets due to a number of videos of pet rats going viral over the last year or so, there has been an increase in the number of people reaching out and asking questions about keeping a pet rat. The majority of these questions are based around the diet of their rat wanting to try and feed their rat the same food mix that they get for their existing pets.
We have already published an article going over if rats can eat cat food or not but since publishing that article, we have noticed a spike in the number of people reaching out and asking if rats can eat dog food. As usual, most of the answers that we see on social media are incorrect and with so many people reaching out and asking about feeding their pet rat dog food, we decided to publish our own article covering the subject.
The main thing that we see people stating is that both rats and dogs are omnivores so they should be able to eat the same foods and although this is correct to some extent, the actual macro nutrient profile in the foods that both animals require is very different. For example, a healthy adult rat should average around 16% protein from their diet where as a dog may need as much as 23% protein or even higher if it is a working dog. Although this may not sound like much of a difference, it increases the workload on your rats liver and digestive system and can result in serious health problems.
Can Rats Eat Dog Food?
Although rats can and will eat dog food if you give it to them, we usually don’t recommend that you give dog food to your pet rt and that you just avoid it in their diet. The protein content of most dog food products is just too high for a rat and although senior dog food products do have a lower protein content, they tend to be more expensive than actual rat food anyway.
This is why we always recommend that our readers just use a high-quality rat food as the primary food source for their pet rats as it often workouts to be cheaper than feeding them dog food anyway. In addition to that, the food has been specifically designed with the nutritional requirements of a rat in mind so its macro nutrient profile line up with the dietary needs of your rat making it much quicker and easier to just feed your rat a rat food than a dog food.
We know that people on social media say that they have fed their pet rat dog food without issue but some of the issues that can occur in your rat will take months to show the symptoms. By the time a pet rat starts to show the symptoms of liver issues it is usually too late to do anything about it too so many of these rat owners on social media feeding their pet rats large amounts of dog food may be causing their pet rat potential harm without even knowing it.
What Happens if A Rat Eats Dog Food?
When a rat eats dog food its liver and digestive system usually go into overdrive due to the higher amounts of protein in the food taking longer to digest. On top of that, much of the protein in dog food is animal protein too requiring more time to digest it and adding additional workload to your rat’s body and over time, all of this adds up and can often result in problems with your rats health.
Liver and kidney issues are common in rats who have been on a high protein diet for too long but there can sometimes be other issues in the rat too. Like we mentioned though, some dog foods can technically be given to a pet rat without this happening with this usually being a dog food mix designed for senior dogs due to it being lower in protein. The majority of normal dog food and especially puppy food due to its higher protein content will usually cause problems in a pet rat though.
Some rats will show some early warning signs of these potential issues with their health if they are fed an unsuitable dog food on a regular basis with diarrhea usually being the most common one that people see in their rats. That said though, many rats will not show any symptoms of these problems occurring in them until it is too late to do anything about then with your vet usually having to break the bad news to the rat owner that their rats liver and/or kidneys have irreparable damage due to the rats dog food diet.
What Are Better Food Options For Rats Than Dog Food?
There are a huge range of suitable foods for a pet rat on the market that are much better options in its diet than dog food. These range from kitchen scraps where you track the macronutrient values to keep the protein content at around 16% to commercially products rat food that is often cheaper than dog food making it a better option.
If you are thinking of trying your pet rat on a kitchen scrap diet or just looking for new treat options that your rat will love, our article going over 23 unique rat treats is definitely worth reading. It goes over a large number of different food options that we have noticed the rat owning community reaching out about feeding their pet rats so can give you plenty of ideas for your pet rats diet.
The majority of our readers should just be going with some decent rat treats that taste great and have a little crunch to them helping get your rats excited about getting them. For the main food of your rats diet, a high-quality rat food is always going to be the best option by far though and as we mentioned earlier, it can work out cheaper than using dog food anyway.
That brings our article going over if rats can eat dog food to an end and although there are some specific situations where rats can have dog food in their diet, it’s usually cheaper, easier, and better to just use products designed for rats anyway. It usually takes far too much time and effort to balance the macronutrient levels for your pet rat when integrating dog food into their diet when there are so many better options out there.