If you’re the owner of a blue tongue skink, you’ve most likely come across the information that you can feed your skink with dog food. Even though the idea of feeding a lizard with food formulated for dogs sounds crazy, many BTS owners swear by it. But is this really true and should you change your skink’s diet?
Blue tongue skinks are opportunistic omnivore generalists – just like dogs, and as such, they can eat dog food. Over the years, herpetologists have proven that blue tongue skinks that have been fed dog food have lived healthier and longer lives than skinks on any other diet.
Keep reading if you’d want to learn more about dos and don’ts when feeding your BTS dog food. We’ll give you a complete guide on what to look out for when selecting the dog food by yourself, and we’ll also recommend dog foods you can give to your BTS.
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Is it okay for blue tongue skinks to eat dog food?
As mentioned before, blue tongue skinks are opportunistic omnivore generalists, meaning they’ll eat almost anything when in the wild (). In order to meet their nutritional needs, they need ingredients from both plants and animals.
Since dogs are also opportunistic omnivore generalists, dog food is the closest we have to an ideal BTS diet.
Dog food contains not only animal meat but also animal by-products, such as organ meats like spleens, livers, lungs, and kidneys, as well as other edible parts of an animal (bones and tissues).
For animals that would feed on carrion and whole prey when in the wild, these by-products are not only palatable but also an important source of much-needed nutrients.
When selecting the dog food for your BTS, you should opt for dog food that contains not only animal meat but these animal by-products as well.
In addition to meat and animal by-products, dog food also contains some vegetables and fruits, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, providing a variety of flavors and nutrition for your skink.
Even though the dog food is formulated for dogs and vitamins and minerals added to it are in the correct amounts for them, dog food is still a good option for blue tongue skinks.
Feeding blue tongue skinks with dog food has shown a great impact on their overall health and lifespan.
What kind of dog food is good for them?
Even though the dog food is created for omnivorous vertebrates, and therefore is safe for your BTS, you should keep in mind that not all dog food is formulated equal.
When choosing between canned food and kibble, you should always opt for the canned one.
You can occasionally use kibble if you add water to it, but you should keep in mind that the difference between dry and wet food is not only in the moisture.
Dry dog food is more concentrated and dense so it can cause stress on your skink’s kidneys and digestive system and will be harder for it to process. It’ll also be harder for you to add vitamins to it.
Dry dog food has more preservatives so that it has a longer shelf life.
Since skinks cannot digest grains as easily as dogs, you should look for grain-free dog food. However, grains are fine as long as you select a high-quality dog food that is not filled with cheap carbohydrates.
Can blue tongue skinks eat only dog food?
You can use dog food as a staple food in your BTS diet.
Although dog food already contains some veggies and fruits, you can also add some cut-up vegetables and greens, such as squash, pumpkin, turnip greens, dandelion greens, zucchini, etc. Dice greens and veggies and mix them with the dog food (1:1).
You can also get some baby food and stir it into the dog food (1:3). As you can see, you should give priority to vegetables over fruit, since they offer more nutritional benefits for skinks.
How much food to give to your blue tongue skink?
When feeding your BTS, you can give it the serving size of the adult’s head, which comes at 1-2 tablespoons of dog food (around 1-1.5 oz). The feeding schedule will depend on your skink’s age, weight, and growth.
Newborn skinks should be fed every day, juvenile skinks every other day, sub-adults twice a week, and adults once or twice a week. Since cans are usually around 13 oz, one can of food will last for a week or two if you have only one adult BTS.
How to store the extra dog food?
If you don’t have enough skinks to use up the whole can per one feeding, you might wonder what to do with the extra food left in the can. Once you open canned dog food, you should never put an open can in the refrigerator.
Instead, you can put the food in an airtight container for a few days (3-5, not more than a week), or you can pre-portion the food in ice-cube trays and put it in the freezer.
Once the food is frozen, you can pop the cubes out and put them in a ziplock bag. When it’s time for feeding, pull out the cube and thaw it out.
If you feed your blue tongue skink dog food, do you have to add any supplements?
Dog food, just like any other pre-made food is already fortified with vitamins so adding multivitamins to it can potentially cause vitamin overdose.
However, if you aren’t providing the right nutrition ratios to your BTS, you could add powder supplements of vitamins and minerals, as well as occasional supplemental proteins for variety.
What dog food should you get for your blue tongue skink?
With all that choice, getting the right dog food for your blue tongue skink can be quite confusing. We’ve prepared this checklist for all of you who have no prior knowledge about dog food brands and their products.
First and foremost, when selecting the dog food for your blue tongue skink, all ingredients should be labeled so you identify them.
Things to look for when choosing dog food for BTS:
- as much of whole animal as possible (not just meat but bones, tissues, cartilage)
- meat including poultry, rabbit, lamb, bison, and even kangaroo
- good calcium-phosphorus ratio (2:1)
Things to avoid when choosing dog food for BTS:
- artificial colors and flavors
- filler items like potatoes and rice (look for minimal amount)
- veggies that could be dangerous to your skink
- rodents (they are safe to give to your BTS, but keep in mind that rodents can be fatty)
- fish (high in fat and salt, and can contain parasites, as well as toxic metals like mercury)
If you have certain concerns about the safety of a certain dog food brand or formula, always check reputable sources before giving the food to your skink. Look for food brands that have had no or only a few recalls.
And as promised before, here are dog foods we can recommend for your blue tongue skink:
Nature’s Logic creates wholesome and nutritious pet food free of common allergens, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. There are no synthetic vitamins and minerals, as well.
It’s made of muscle meat and organ meat with added dried fruits, vegetables, and greens. The brand offers a variety of protein options, including chicken, beef, lamb, rabbit, and even venison, ideal for rotation. There have been no recalls noted.
Zignature is a promising young pet food brand that creates natural dog food with a limited number of ingredients and is high in protein from quality meat sources.
It prides itself on its “meat first” policy, meaning that the first product in any Zignature food will always be quality meat. It also contains essential fatty acids and antioxidants, as well as added vitamins and minerals, helping your BTS maintain optimum nutrition with every delicious bite.
Zignature Dog Food has never been recalled.
And what about cat food?
If you have a skink baby or a juvenile skink, you can try giving it cat food at first. Since cats are carnivorous, cat food is higher in animal protein content which is fine for younger skinks.
Cat food is also a good option for skinny skinks but if given for a prolonged period of time, it can cause obesity. When giving cat food to juvenile skinks, you should make a switch to dog food between 6-12 months of age.
Wellness CORE food is formulated by animal lovers, nutritionists and vets. With quality meat sources as the top ingredients, you can be sure that this pate is packed with high-grade animal protein.
It’s grain-free and made with no carrageenan, artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. This food is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will have a good impact on your pet’s immunity and well-being.
Dog food may not be perfect but is an adequate solution for now. As long as you select the right product for your BTS, dog food is actually a quite good option.
It produces animals that live healthier and longer life than animals on any other diet. Hopefully, there’ll be more research in the future when it comes to blue tongue skinks and we’ll have more information on their nutritional needs.