Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food?

Did you find a stray deer in your backyard and want to feed him? Are you wondering: “Will deer eat dog food?” Don’t do it before you read this article!

Deer are herbivorous animals found all around the world. These mammals need vegetarian food that is high in nutritional value for their survival.

So, will deer eat dry dog food? Well, the answer is yes; if they do not smell meat in the product, they will eat it. But that does not mean that it is good for them! Let us learn more about why feeding dog food can be dangerous for deer.

Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food

Why Should You Not Feed Dog Food To Deer?

It contains meat that is harmful if given in large quantities to deer.

Dogs are carnivorous animals. But when you keep a dog as a pet, most dry dog foods contain a high percentage of grains like wheat, barley, rice, and legumes that provide essential proteins, including vitamin E and linoleic acid.

As it contains plant matter, most people think they can give dry dog food to deer as well. But that is not true. These foods also contain corn, which is harmful to the health of the deer.

You can give dry dog food occasionally to deer. In fact, deer have been known to eat meat from time to time, so it’s not the meat that is the problem. 

But don’t make it a regular practice. Because if your dog food contains carbohydrate-based grains such as corn, it can cause chronic wasting disease, bloating, and other diseases in deer and may result in death.

It’s good to feed a starving animal, but you should know that deer are wild animals and experts usually advise not to feed animals if you are not aware of their diet. 

Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food

What Is The Difference Between Dog Diet And Deer Diet?

Deer are herbivores which means they eat different kinds of vegetation like grass, shrubs, fruits, berries, saplings, buds, and others. Their primary source of food is browse, the tip of shrubs and trees.

But, their metabolic needs change with the season, which means they need different types of food in different seasons. For instance, they mainly eat lichen or acorn in winter.

Deer have tiny stomachs, but they require food with high nutritional value. They cannot exist by depending on a single food source for a long time.

If I talk about dogs, they can easily survive by depending on a single food diet. The primary food source of a dog is proteins that mainly come from the flesh and bones of other animals. 

They like to chew raw soft bones, which are an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous. The bones are just supplements, and a canine needs only 10 percent of animal proteins from his daily calorie intake.

The canines are omnivores with a bias towards carnivorous diets. The digestive system and the teeth structure of a dog allow a dog to feed on both plant and animal matter. The primary difference is that dogs mainly eat animal protein, whereas deer eat plants. 

Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food

Is It Dangerous For Deer To Eat My Dog Food?

Yes, it is dangerous for deer to eat your dog’s food. The ingredients of the dog food vary greatly. Most of them contain corn and other carbohydrate-based grains that are not good for the digestive system of deer. I am listing some of the detrimental health issues below.

#1. Bloating

The gastrointestinal PH is severely affected when there is a change in the diet of a deer. A deer may suffer from acidosis and bloating if it consumes a large amount of highly fermented carbohydrates like wheat, grain, barley. The rumen acidosis may lead to the death of the deer.

The metabolism of the deer becomes slow in the winter season. So, if bloating becomes acute, it may cause the death of the deer.

Many people feed corn cobs to deer unknowingly, which is dangerous for the life of deer. If you feed a large amount of corn to a wild deer, it can cause acidosis or enterotoxemia and finally lead to death.

#2. Starvation

It may sound strange that deer dies of starvation even when their stomach is loaded with food. However, that food may be loaded with indigestible matter. Unfortunately, deers eat anything in winter to build their fat reserves. 

So a deer will obviously eat dog food when he is hungry, but that may lead to death. That’s why wildlife experts suggest not to feed a deer, especially if you don’t have knowledge o their dietary needs. There is are some places in the world where it is illegal to feed deer.

#3. Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that can affect a deer because of contaminated fluid, food, and drinking water. A deer with chronic wasting disease shows losing balance, rapid weight loss, and various neurological disorders.

Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food


Enterotoxemia occurs when a deer eats mainly carbohydrate and starch food, especially grains. The Clostridium Perfringens Type D bacteria resides in the lower digestive tract of the deer. 

When the deer ingests a lot of carbohydrates and starch, it increases the growth of Clostridium type D bacteria which causes acute indigestion, depression, diarrhea, colic, and may lead to death.

Will Dear Eat Dog Food?

Yes, deer will eat dog food. 

Deer eat anything you offer when they are hungry. But regularly eating dog food is harmful to the health of the deer.

Dog food is usually loaded with carbohydrates, proteins, artificial preservatives and colorings, fats, and other things that can make make a deer extremely sick. It can lead to enterotoxemia, acidosis, bloating and may cause death. So better to avoid dog food as much as possible.

Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food?

Yes, they will, but it is dangerous for them.

Yes, deer will eat dry dog food if it does not smell of meat. But if you feed them daily, it will make the deer extremely sick and may put his life in danger.

Again, if the deer is habituated to dog food, he will stop foraging for natural foods because dog food is easy to obtain without wandering. It can lead to dangerous consequences because the dog’s food is made by seeing canine’s digestive system and not deer. 

The stomach of deer is very sensitive and small, and they cannot digest dog food. They require natural food of high nutritional value.

Dog food cannot provide all the essential nutrients to a deer. So excess consumption of dog food can lead to acute bloating, acidosis, and death.

Will Deer Eat Dry Dog Food

Can Deer Eat Wet Dog Food?

Wet dog food usually has the smell of meat. So deer do not eat wet dog food.

A Few Final Words

You can technically feed dog food to deer. But as it contains a high percentage of corn fillers, carbohydrates, preservatives, and colorings, it is extremely harmful to the health of the deer. So, you should avoid giving dog food to deer as much as possible. You should always focus on plant-based materials to feed deer.

We thank you for reading this article and don’t forget to share this article on social media so that it can reach many deer lovers. You can ask us any questions about deer food in the comment section. We will be happy to answer all your queries.

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