Hot dogs can be part of a balanced turtle diet, but can also cause serious damage. It all depends on the type of hot dog and how much the turtle is currently eating.
What are hot dogs? And can turtles eat them?
In an effort to answer this question we must first establish what constitutes a hot dog. Although there may be plurality in opinion, here are the ingredients that seem to appear in all brands of “hot dogs”: meat (usually pork), water, salt, spices/flavoring(s). If you can find one with no additives whatsoever it would probably work best for your pet turtle because they can only process so much food at once.
Are reptile safe hotdogs okay for turtles to eat?
There are several reasons why reptile safe hot dogs are NOT a good idea for your turtle. First, as mentioned above, there can be many different ingredients that can affect your pet’s health in different ways. Meat can cause impaction if too much is eaten and can also bind to protein-digesting enzymes making it harder for your pet to digest what they’ve eaten. Secondly, the high salt content can make it hard for turtles (and other aquatic animals) to regulate salt levels within their bodies which can prove fatal over time. Thirdly, “pure” meat products (aside from eggs) tend to have very little in terms of nutritional value.
Only about 26% of a hot dog can be assigned as protein (a turtle needs more than that to have the proper nutrients for growth and development) and there are almost no vitamins or minerals. Fourthly, most brands of hot dogs can contain bacterial organisms harmful to your pet including: Clostridium perfringens and Staphylococcus aureus. Lastly, “stuffed” hot dogs can cause impactions from the bread product itself because these can expand within your pet’s stomach if not chewed properly.
What kind of hot dogs can my turtles eat?
If you must give your turtles meat then consider feeding them “bologna-style” lunchmeat such as bologna, pepperoni or salami. These can be found in most grocery stores and can help your pet meet its protein requirements for the day while still being low-salt content and minimal ingredient (if it is truly meat only). Also, there are many treats out there that can double as a good meal replacement such as: small pieces of cooked steak, shrimp, fish or skinless chicken tenders (like those from KFC).
Mixing different foods can also make for a nutritional feast. You can mix together some low-sodium/minimal ingredients hotdogs with raw vegetables (cooked if you want to avoid the splintering effect when eaten), low sodium human food grade baby cereal powder or wheat germ. On top of that you can always supplement with calcium-enriched human food grade vitamin/mineral drops.
Can turtles eat corn dogs?
Corn can be dangerous for your pet turtle. The high starch content can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive tract over time causing serious problems such as: bloating, gut stasis and eventually death (from impactions). If you must provide corn try to keep it minimal (no more than five kernels per day or so) and only feed it cooked for optimal digestibility and safety.
Can turtles eat hot dog buns?
Bread of any kind can be problematic for your pet. For one, the “dough” can expand within their stomachs making them feel full and can cause impaction over time. Secondly, the high starch content can be very hard for your pet to digest and can make them feel sick. There are some breads out there that can be somewhat safe to eat such as pumpernickel (which can also have its own health benefits) or wheat bread but only in small amounts and only if it’s cooked.
If you must feed your turtle hot dogs then try using a combination of meat/fish, fruits, and vegetables with occasional supplements of calcium-enriched human food grade vitamin/mineral drops (or gel food) to keep your pet healthy. It would be best not to feed any kind of “junk” foods on a regular basis because they contain little nutrition and can lead to long-term health problems.
I have a big soft spot for turtles. I grew up near a pond that was full of snapping turtles. Now and then I’d see them crawling across our front yard, which was always exciting.
Now I write about turtles for this website as a fun side hobby. Glad you stopped by!