Why Does My Toddler Eat Dog Food?

My 20-month-old likes to eat dry dog food. He competes with the dog for it. Why does he do this?
Alberta

Whatever the reason is that your toddler is eating dog food, it's not a good idea for him to continue doing it. Aside from the fact that dog food isn't nutritionally sound for humans and dog dishes aren't especially sanitary, the small, dry pieces could pose a choking hazard. And dogs are often very territorial over their food. Even a gentle dog can turn on a child who is playing with its food. Dog food dishes should always be off limits to kids to help avoid bites.

Only put enough food in your dog's dish for that meal, and then pick the dish up after the dog is done. Make sure your child knows to stay away from the dish, and not to bother the dog while he is eating. Encourage your toddler to try other finger foods that are better suited to humans, like cereal or crackers.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011

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