Can Dogs Eat Baby Food?
Dogs usually love to eat anything and everything. Their taste buds are not quite as discriminatory as ours are. If you have a newborn at home, chances are they have shared quite a bit of their food with your dog. Your dog may even participate readily in their feeding times.
If your dog is not feeling well and their appetite is less than what it should be, you may be wondering what you can use to entice your dog to eat. Baby food has a very strong smell, so dogs love it, but is it safe for them to eat?
Is Baby Food Good for Dogs?
Baby food is okay for dogs if they eat it only sparingly. Baby food should not be given to dogs as a part of their regular diet. It is not a sole source of nutrition and if they eat too much, it could make them sick.
Baby food can be given to dogs to entice them to eat if they are not eating their regular food. Baby food can also be used to help you give medicine to your dog. It can sometimes be difficult to give medicine that your vet may prescribe to your dog, but hiding it in tasty baby food can sometimes do just the trick!
Also, many veterinary clinics are trying to make veterinary visits easier on pets these days, with a focus on being “fear free”. This involves them keeping tasty and smelly treats available to distract your dog while they do their exams or give shots. Many vets use baby food as a distraction because dogs just love it. It works really great at calming their nerves and allowing shots to be given without any struggle.
Baby Food Flavors Okay for My Dog to Eat
Flavors of baby food that are okay for you to give to your dog include:
- Pumpkin Baby Food
- Banana Baby Food
- Sweet Potato
It is best to get the baby foods that only have one specific flavor in each jar, instead of a mixture of flavors. This is because sometimes the mixtures or “dinners” have ingredients in them that can be harmful to dogs.
Baby Food Flavors to Avoid
Do not give your dog baby food that has the following ingredients in it:
- Onions or onion powder
- Garlic or garlic powder
Garlic and onions have the potential to be toxic to dogs. Some dogs may eat them and be just fine, while others can get very sick. Some dogs could even develop an autoimmune disease called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia.
This is where their body’s immune system thinks that their red blood cells are a foreign invader. Their immune cells being attacking their blood, causing them to become very anemic. This condition can be life-threatening and is very expensive to treat.
Pumpkin Baby Food
Pumpkin baby food is fine for dogs to eat every now and then. Adding a little pumpkin to your dog’s diet can even provide them with a little extra fiber. This in turn can help regulate their bowel movements. For dogs who are having a little diarrhea or softer than normal stools, you can even add a small scoop of canned pumpkin on their food once a day to help firm their stool back up.
Don’t overdo it, though. If you give them too much pumpkin, the opposite effect can happen and their diarrhea could get worse. For large breed dogs, 1 tbsp of canned pumpkin will suffice. For smaller breed dogs, giving just a couple of teaspoons is enough.
Banana Baby Food
There are so many different flavors of baby food out there. Pumpkin and banana flavors are ones that are perfectly safe for your pup to eat occasionally. Again, just a small scoop on their food to entice them to eat is enough.
Make sure to refrigerate any leftover baby food after opening, and discard it after 24 hours.
Just like when offering anything new in your dog’s diet, monitor your dog closely for any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, diarrhea, or vomiting. It would be unusual for them to have a reaction to baby foods, but it is always a good idea to make note if they do. And, again, do not give your dog any baby food that has onion or garlic powder in it!
Is Applesauce Bad for Dogs?
Applesauce is fine for dogs to eat in moderation. It should not be a regular part of their diet, but it can be given as a treat every now and then in small amounts. You could also use it to entice your dog to eat or to help give medication in.
Apples are a good source of antioxidants and fiber, and applesauce can be a good way of incorporating apples into your dog’s diet without worrying about the core of the apple. It is best to look for applesauce that is sugar-free and contains little to no preservatives, however.
When to Go to the Vet
If your dog is not eating their regular diet for more than 2-3 days, you need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. While some dogs may have an upset stomach for a short period of time and feeding them baby food can get them over the hump, other dogs may have a serious medical condition.
It is time to go to the vet if your dog is doing one or more of the following things:
- Diarrhea for more than 2-3 days
- Refusing to eat, even with enticement
- Decreased appetite for more than 2-3 days
- Being lethargic
Offering baby food is not a long-term solution if your dog is not eating their regular food. Yes, your dog can eat most flavors of baby food without harm.
Follow up with your veterinarian if your dog’s symptoms get worse or they are not back to eating their regular food within a couple of days to make sure nothing more serious is going on.
Leslie Brooks graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation she moved to Indianapolis to do an intensive one-year internship at a specialty practice and then began working as a small animal general practitioner. She ran her own house call practice for three years, visiting pets in people’s homes. Currently, she works part time in clinical practice and volunteering her free time to serve pets of the homeless. Read more about us here.