Can my dog eat baby food is a question quite frequently asked of dog nutritionists like myself. While dogs can technically eat baby food, there are certain important caveats pet parents need to be aware of. As a dog nutritionist, I understand why pet parents may occasionally consider giving their dog baby food. At times of chronic digestive upset for example, or when a senior dog needs encouragement to take its medication. So if you’re wondering, can dogs eat baby food, the answer is yes, they can.

The question is, should dogs eat baby food? And, more importantly, are there any circumstances under which baby food could be harmful to a dog?

Food is food

I am forever reminding clients that long, long before the relatively recent introduction of commercial pet food, there was no dog food, there was no cat food and there was no human food. There was just food. And while cats more or less catered for themselves, human beings and man’s best friend ate exactly the same food. That’s the way it was for thousands of years before commercial dog food became mainstream. Something that is within living memory of many of us!

An event that neatly sandwiches the invention of commercial dog food in the late 1860s and its becoming mainstream well after the Second World War is the creation of modern preserved baby foods. The story goes that when the infant son of American Harold Clapp became ill in the 1920s, the doting father fed the child homemade pureed vegetable soup.

Young Jack not only survived but thrived, and pretty soon, Clapp’s Baby Foods was supplying tinned baby foods to parents all over America. Today, Harold’s company is a household name to millions of parents the world over. Today, Harold’s fledgling company is known as Gerber!

Should I give my dog baby food?

So having established that dogs have eaten the same food as human beings for thousands of years, it would seem logical that dogs can eat baby food. So the question is not so much can dogs eat baby food, but should dogs eat baby food and under what circumstances?

Most ready-prepared, tinned or jarred baby foods are fine for dogs. They are not a long-term solution since they don’t contain all the nutrients your dog needs on a daily basis. But under certain circumstances, when all else fails and you simply can’t get your dog to eat anything else, baby foods can at times be a literal life saver. If your dog is under the weather and you are in desperate need of an appetite stimulant, baby food might just prove to be the solution for your troubled pet.

That said, there are a number of previously mentioned caveats that you should consider before feeding your dog baby food. Onions are toxic to dogs as is the artificial sweetener xylitol. Always check the label before giving your dog baby foods. (Incidentally, despite what you may have heard, garlic is fine for your dog, but not onions or any other member of the allium family)!

There is also a question of whether you should give your dog baby food when there are actually healthier alternatives. Remember Harold Clapp’s lightbulb moment when he found that giving his ailing son pureed homemade vegetable soup helped him on the road to recovery? Well there’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same for your dog. In fact it would actually be healthier for your pup because fresh food is always healthier than highly processed food which can be detrimental to health because of the cooking processes employed.

How to give your dog baby food

If you’ve decided to give your dog baby food in order to stimulate its appetite or with a view to disguising medication, how should you do it?

Well, there a number of ways:

  • If your dog is terribly poorly and refuses to eat anything else, try warmed-up baby food. If it seems too thick, mix it with a little warm water. The warmed baby food will be gentler on the tummy and the process of warming it will help bring out the aroma.
  • If you want to encourage your dog to eat its regular food, use the baby food as a topper, always ensuring it never makes up more than 10% of its normal diet.

You may think your dog is a fussy eater, but if your best friend is picky with its food, there could be more going on than you realise!

What type of baby food should I feed my dog?

Since protein is so important to your dog, it’s best to look for baby foods that contain meat. Opt for those that contain chicken, beef or lamb as opposed to those that contain only fruits that would normally be used as a dessert for a baby.

There’s nothing wrong with banana, pumpkin or sweet potato. Dogs can safely eat and enjoy all of those. And while there’s little real meat in a jar of baby food, a little protein is better than none. There’s precious little real meat in dry commercial dog food but most dogs seem to survive if not thrive on that!

In summary then, dogs can eat baby food, providing it doesn’t contain onions or xylitol. It would be healthier to make your own simple formula with the help of a canine nutritionist, but any port in a storm as they say.

My dog won’t eat what can I do?

Importantly, don’t rush your pet to the vet just because it is temporarily off its food. Vets are not trained in dog nutrition. Your vet is likely to prescribe medication to hide the symptoms which invariably results in yet more serious health issues.

If you are struggling to get your dog to eat, book a consultation with a dog nutritionist, someone trained in animal nutrition. When a dog refuses to eat, there is invariably a digestive issue at its heart, don’t muddy the waters with medication.

If your dog is a fussy eater, see my downloadable Fussy Eater Feeding Guide. Feeding it baby food might get your best friend eating again while you seek help from a dog nutritionist to examine the cause of your dog’s pickiness. Again, not the remit of a vet who has no training in such matters. Speak to someone who understands dog nutrition. Speak to a dog nutritionist!

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.

5 Comments

  1. Margaret Judge

    Just got an 8wk old puppy,from a reputable breeder,he not a good eater,struggling to persuade him to eat,he will eat some chicken but not his proper food

    Reply
    • Anna

      My chihauhau will not eat any brand of dog food wet or dry. A

      Reply
  2. India

    My 6 year old dog just had a surgery to remove a mass on his gum so we switched his food to soft canned meat and it’s caused constipation. I was doing research and saw that sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin purée may help but I can only get this in baby pouches in my area – is this okay for him to consume? The only ingredients are the veg and a little bit of water. Do you think this would even help?

    Reply
    • Anna

      Yes or you could cook them

      Reply

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Homemade Dog Food Recipes

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4 out of 5 dog health problems can be cured or improved purely with a healthier diet. No vet intervention, no expensive medication, just fresh food.

When it's been scientifically proven that fresh food is healthier and life expectancy greater, why would you feed your best friend anything else?

Homemade Dog Food Recipes

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