Dogs will eat pretty much whatever they can wrap their jaws around, including fish food and the odd garbage buffet.
You buy the very best food that you can afford for your precious betta buddy, right? But what’s the score if your dog goes on a fish food binge? Is fish food bad for your dog? Will eating betta fish food make your dog sick? And do you need to call your vet if your dog ate betta fish food?
In this guide, we investigate what happens if your dog eats your betta fish food.
Is Betta Fish Food Poisonous To Dogs?
Your dog’s digestive system is fairly robust and can cope with most of what your dog throws at it. That can include leftover foods, roadkill, and even dog and cat poop! Yuck!
However, some dog breeds have more gastrointestinal issues than others. For example, German Shepherds and Goldendoodles can get sick or suffer attacks of debilitating diarrhea if they eat the wrong type of food.
Some human foods can be highly toxic to dogs. For example, did you know that eating a lot of chocolate, grapes, and raisins could very easily kill your dog? So, take care to put fruit cake and other such foods well out of reach of your dog.
Fortunately, most betta fish food will not harm your furry friend. The high-quality commercially prepared aquarium fish food you buy for your betta doesn’t contain any ingredients that could harm your dog. However, dogs with severe food allergies or intolerances can experience digestive issues brought on by some things used to make cheaper fish food.
Interestingly, many vet-approved pet foods contain fish and shellfish derivatives, as those foods make an excellent alternative food source for dogs that are allergic to chicken and beef.
What Ingredients Are In Betta Fish Food?
So, like all fish foods, the commercially prepared betta fish pellets or flakes that you buy for your fishy friend typically contain:
- Nitrogen-free extract
However, although bettas are generally regarded as omnivores, in the wild, they primarily eat meat. To keep your fish healthy, you need to replicate that diet as closely as possible in the tank environment.
There is generally more protein in fish food than other pet foods, which is good news for your meat-loving betta. The protein element of betta fish food consists of fish meal and whole fish oil, which are the byproducts of processing fish for human consumption. Often, fish foods contain vegetable or legume proteins sourced from soy or peas.
Take a look at the labeling on your betta fish food, and you’ll notice many of the following basic ingredients:
- Sea algae
- Fish meal
- Worm meal
Fish don’t require many carbs in their diet since they take most of what they need for growth from proteins. However, many of the cheaper fish foods on the market are bulked out with cheap carbohydrates that contain very little in the way of nutrients, such as wheat, rice, and maize meal.
Fish foods explicitly created to enhance brightly colored species of tropical fish often contain additives, such as sex hormones. You can also buy fish foods that include added vitamins, minerals, and even medication to improve your fish’s health and vitality.
According to the current FDA regulations, all fish foods must be clearly labeled to show their ingredients and nutritional content. For medicated foods, the product packaging should clearly show the dosage recommendations and any contraindications.
So, if your dog does scoff a whole bunch of your betta fish food, take a quick look at the product label to see whether any of the ingredients in fish food might be dangerous for your dog.
Common Types Of Fish Food Your Dog Might Eat
Some fish species require special kinds of food that might not be composed in the same way as regular fish food.
So, how could that affect your dog if he ate one of these more specialized foods?
The foods that you give your betta fish usually contain a rich blend of proteins and fats. The higher protein levels in fish food can upset the canine digestive system if your dog eats a large amount of betta fish food.
Watch your dog closely for signs of tummy upsets, such as vomiting, loose stools, or changes in behavior. If that happens, don’t feed your dog anything else! Offer him lots of water and call your vet for advice.
What Risks Does Eating Betta Food Pose For Dogs?
Eating a small amount of betta food won’t harm your adult dog. However, if your pet does chow down on vast quantities of betta food, he could suffer a minor tummy upset.
Also, you need to bear in mind the size of your dog. For example, a tiny Chihuahua that eats a whole package of fish food is more likely to suffer an upset tummy than a St. Bernard that eats the same canister of flake food.
What About Live Or Frozen Betta Food?
As you know, bettas enjoy frozen or live meaty foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and the like. So, what if your dog ate those foods?
Well, the good news is that, aside from being disgusting, eating bloodworms and the like won’t harm your pet. Generally, the worst that could happen is that your dog will get diarrhea for a few hours until the food passes through his system.
Betta Food Packaging
As you know, dogs will have a go at eating pretty much anything. Puppies are especially fond of chewing stuff they shouldn’t get hold of. That means that your dog will probably eat the fish food packaging as well as your betta’s fish food, and the whole lot will disappear before you have a chance to rescue it.
Although the fish food itself is not dangerous to your dog, any form of product packaging is. Some packaging materials, such as cardboard, will most likely be digested by the acids in your dog’s stomach, passing through the dog harmlessly.
However, plastic and aluminum foil cannot be digested and often cause serious problems by getting stuck in the dog’s digestive tract. Small plastic items, such as fish food tube lids, can become wedged in the dog’s throat, causing choking.
When To Call The Vet
If you think that your dog has eaten a container of fish food or appears to be choking, you should call your vet immediately.
Tiny pieces of plastic can be extremely sharp. That means that the material is more likely to become trapped in the dog’s throat or gut, potentially causing choking or obstructing, or lacerating your pet’s intestines. In serious cases, peritonitis occurs, which can be fatal.
In most cases where a dog has eaten plastic packaging, your vet will want to examine the animal. If your vet can’t remove the plastic easily, surgery might be required.
What Is Dog Food Made Of?
So, what’s the difference between betta fish food and dog food?
Let’s compare them:
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not carnivores. Like betta fish, dogs eat a mixture of meat, vegetables, and fruits. As you will know, if you’re a dog owner, your canine companion will actually eat pretty much anything he can get his jaws around!
However, a good, balanced diet for a dog should contain the following ingredients:
Dogs need lots of protein in their diet for growth and healthy development. Most of those proteins should be sourced from meat meal, meat, or fish. Note that high-quality dog food will have those ingredients shown in the first couple of ingredients on the food packaging list.
You can also find dog food that contains a lot of vegetables as a protein source. That’s fine for your dog, as long as the food contains more meat protein than plant protein.
Like your betta fish, your dog needs plenty of fiber to keep his digestion working efficiently.
That fiber generally comes in the form of vegetables and rice, helping to bulk out the food. Dog food often contains cereals as a form of fiber, but those ingredients don’t contain much nutritional value and are often used to pad out cheap food.
Unlike bettas, your dog derives most of its energy requirements from fats. Common fat sources in high-quality dog foods include canola oil, flaxseed, and chicken fat, none of which appear in betta fish food.
Dog food typically also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for giving your dog a shiny coat and healthy, supple skin. Omega-3 is also important for brain and eye development in puppies.
Dogs don’t need many carbohydrates in their diet. An overload of carbs can cause problems with the balance of the dog’s blood sugar levels. However, sometimes dog foods contain low-glycemic carbs, such as sweet potatoes, which is fine.
Minerals And Vitamins
Dog food usually contains essential vitamins and minerals, and so does betta fish food. Unlike other food groups, the dog’s body cannot store most minerals and vitamins. So, if your dog eats too much, his body will simply excrete the excess in his urine.
So What Happens If My Dog Ate Betta Fish Food?
So, at the end of the day, it’s pretty unlikely that your canine friend will get sick if he does manage to get hold of your betta fish food and eat it.
Most likely, a dog that eats fish food will simply have diarrhea for an hour or two, or he might vomit up the food. Once the dog’s digestive system has eliminated the food, the dog should be fine with no long-term health effects.
However, it’s always prudent to read through the list of ingredients on the product packaging to see if the food contains anything that could potentially cause your dog’s stomach upset. If you’re at all concerned, give your vet a quick phone call to double-check.
On the other hand, if you think that your guilty-looking hound has gobbled up any plastic or foil packaging, there is always the danger that your dog could develop serious health issues. For that reason, we advise that you seek precautionary advice from your veterinarian just to put your mind at rest.
Basically, it’s pretty unlikely that your greedy dog will get seriously sick if he does get hold of your betta fish food. In fact, most of the nutritional content of good quality fish food is the same as in dog food.
Your main worry is that your dog has eaten plastic packaging that could splinter into dangerous fragments that could injure your dog.
Did your dog eat your betta fish food? What happened?! Tell us your story in the comments box below.