It may be difficult, at times, to get specific food for sugar gliders at the pet store; added to that the way sugar gliders can be such fussy and picky eaters. Many pet stores keep a supply of dog food handy for such scenarios when the specific food for sugar gliders are not available. But is dog food safe for sugar gliders?
Sugar gliders can eat dog food, and it may be safe for your sugar babies as a one-off instance. While dog food is a source of protein that is needed by sugar gliders as well, it needs to be given to them sparingly. Dog food cannot replace the main diet for your sugar gliders.
To understand why it is not recommended to give dog food to sugar gliders regularly, you need to look at the various factors that make up each of these two animals’ diets and understand what distinguishes the dog food from the general diet recommended for a sugar glider. Keep on reading to find out more about these factors.
Sugar gliders eat a healthy mix of nuts, vegetables, and fruits. While some may argue that it is okay only to feed them with fruits and sugar syrup, it is not the best dietary regimen for them as it may lead to weak bones, seizures, and tremors. You could feed them with fruit, seeds, corn, oranges, lettuce, and other such high-fat food for occasional treats.
The type of food that needs to be avoided when it comes to your sugar gliders is cheese, onion, garlic, chocolate, lima beans, caffeine, apple seeds, rhubarb, and fruit pits. These are considered to be very harmful for your sugar gliders. Some of these, like cheese and chocolate, are highly processed even.
Sugar glider’s diet involves naturally occurring food, and these processed foods do not provide the same nutritional value.
The two are very different animals. While the dogs have been domesticated for ages now, sugar gliders still mostly live in the wild. The latter’s diet mostly revolves around eucalyptus gum, sap, and honeydew, while dogs have learned to eat a variety of food that is vastly different from the sugar gliders.
Sugar gliders generally tend to have a calcium dense diet. In case their diet has more phosphorus content than calcium, then the calcium will be leached from the bones in order to balance the blood levels. This will result in the softening of bones and general weakness. For dogs, their diets contain as much as 60 mg/kg (30 mg/lb) of phosphorus, which may not be the best for sugar gliders in the long run.
Dog food is manufactured, keeping the growth requirements of dogs. Needless to say, the size and anatomy and function of the two animals are quite different. So, the nutritional needs will also be different. Even if you portion out the amounts according to the size, getting the nutritional value correct in every serving may not be optimum.
For scale, imagine feeding one whole grape to a sugar glider. It is equivalent to a human eating a whole watermelon in one sitting. While watermelon is great for humans to consume, eating excessive quantities will have drastic repercussions on the human body. It works the same way with sugar gliders. What is right for one may not be right for another.
Since dog food does not contain the optimum level of nutrients that may be required by sugar gliders for their growth, in the long run, there may be harmful effects suffered by the sugar gliders because of this diet.
Dog food generally contains phosphorus-rich particles, which is not recommended for sugar gliders. Sugar gliders need calcium-rich food instead, and if they are unable to get that, then the calcium from their bones will begin to deplete, causing many health issues to these sugar babies and may even lead to an untimely death.
Many pet storekeepers encourage feeding dog food to sugar gliders. This is okay in case of an emergency. Or when the local pet store has run out of the specialized food for your sugar gliders. But as the name suggests, dog food is meant for dogs keeping their nutritional needs in mind. So, dog food will not have what the sugar gliders will need to thrive in the long term.
In fact, having dog food in moderation and occasionally will not harm your sugar babies as most of the time, dog food is an excellent source of protein for your fur babies. Also, some may even think that since the dog finds it to taste great, the sugar gliders too will think the same.
For sugar gliders, it is important to have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. Dog food generally tends to have a higher phosphorus ratio, so add more calcium-rich food to maintain the 2:1 ratio.
Mass-produced dog food is not healthy for your sugar gliders. In fact, many dog owners may agree that these highly processed food items may even be harmful to the dog as well. Unfortunately, pet storekeepers dishing out dog food when they run out of sugar glider feed at the store is also something that needs to be discouraged.
The ingredients that go into the cheap, mass-produced food cans are very likely to cause more harm than good to the sugar gliders. They are rich in preservatives and chemicals and do not contain the required nutrients for sugar gliders.
Rather buying sugar glider food in bulk will help prevent a scenario where you need to head to the store and grab whatever dog food is available. The Happy Glider Fruity Flavour Sugar Glider pack comes in a resealable bag of 3 lb (approximately 1.3 kg) and has a blend of toasted grains, protein sources, vitamins, and minerals, which is perfect for your sugar babies.
Sugar gliders are drawn to naturally occurring sugary foods. Fruits and vegetables are generally considered the best option for them, and they are also the safest and healthiest options for these marsupials.
In the wild, they tend to feed on a lot of other things, which are generally difficult to replicate at home or an industrial level. Small slices of fruits and vegetables mixed with crickets, mealworms, spiders, etc. and boiled eggs can be combined together to form their meals.
Here is a video on the sugar glider care that discusses these sugar babies’ dietary requirements in detail:
Dog food is safe for sugar gliders, if given occasionally or if you have to serve the sugar glider with dog food in a pinch. The only thing to bear in mind is not to give dog food to your sugar gliders on a regular basis, and your sugar glider should not depend solely on dog food for all his nutritional requirements.
Dogs and sugar gliders are very different animals with differences in nutritional needs. So, what is good for your dog may not be equally good for your sugar gliders.
- Sugar Glider Care: Food and Diet
- Wikipedia: Sugar Glider
- Sugar Glider Info: Food Sugar Gliders Should Avoid
- Sugar Glider Zone: Sugar Glider Care
- NCSU.edu: Caring for your pet sugar glider
- The Spruce Pets: Feeding Sugar Gliders
- Bridger Animal Nutrition: Diet for Animals with Kidney Disease
- Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital: Calcium Deficiency in Sugar Gliders
- Exotic Nutrition: Unsafe Foods for Sugar Gliders
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