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Do Deer Eat Dog Food?

With wild deer becoming increasingly popular in our towns and cities as they search for food, we see more and more people reaching out each month and asking various questions about what they should be feeding the local deer in their area.

One of the more common questions that we see from people looking to feed wild deer is if deer eat dog food or not. Although this is controversial due to most dog food options being designed for omnivores and deer being herbivores, we wanted to publish our own article on the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand what types of dog food they can offer the wild deer in their area as well as how they are able to avoid accidentally causing any digestive upset in the local deer too.

Please note that all recommendations in this article are for dry dog food mixes, not wet dog food and we would only ever recommend that you try a dry dog food as a food source for a deer.

We have added our table of contents below to make our article as easy as possible to navigate and read.

The table of contents should make it quick and easy to skip to specific sections of the article without having to go over the full article but we would recommend that you at least skim the full article if you are considering feeding your local deer dog food.

Do Deer Eat Dog Food?

Mot wild deer will happily eat dry dog food given the chance with many people feeding their local wild deer population various types of dry dog food kibble.

Dog food can be a quick, easy, and cheap way for you to help feed your local deer population in the winter months when food is scarce.

Although some deer will happily eat all types of dry dog food, especially if they are hungry due to a lack of food in the area, kibbles with meat or fish in them can cause digestive upset in the deer.

This is why we would recommend that you try to only feed the local deer a vegetarian dog food kibble if possible as it prevents these issues due to containing only plant based foods.

If you are specifically purchasing the dog food for the local deer and not to share with your dog then you will usually find that actual deer feed is cheaper than what most dog food kibbles will cost you.

This adds the additional benefit of the feed being based on the deer’s natural diet too helping to offer a more nutritionally complete diet for what they require. We also have a dedicated article going over various inexpensive foods that you are able to use to feed deer that are more nutritious than dog food too.

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Dog Food For Deer?

The nutritional benefit of dry dog food for deer will actually depend on the specific dog food kibble that you feed the deer as different brands can use very different mixes that have different nutritional profiles.

The vast majority of dog food kibbles will offer a good source of carbohydrates and protein as well as a number of essential vitamins and minerals though.

If you do choose to go with avegetarian dog food kibble then you will usually find that it does contain a better nutritional profile for wild deer due to it being meat free and being made up of food sources that deer are able to digest and draw nutrients from.

This is why we would always recommend a vegetarian or vegan dog food kibble over a regular one with meat based food in it for feeding deer.

The laws for pet food in North America and Europe are also very specific on what can and can’t be contained within the dog food so even the cheaper dog food mixes will have to meet the minimum requirements.

This is why it is safe to assume that if you are in North America or Europe that even the cheapest dog food kibble that you are able to find will offer the bare essentials to help deer through a tough winter.

Should You Feed Wild Deer Dog Food?

Feeding wild deer dog food is a double-edged sword as it helps the deer get through the harsher months where there may not be much food available but also gets them used to interacting with humans.

In some situations, this can form a bond with seeing humans = food and deer potentially becoming aggressive towards humans who don’t feed them but this is very rare.

One good compromise that we have seen people make is that they will walk to an area where they know the local wild deer frequently and leave piles of dog food there for the deer and then leave.

You can usually watch the deer feed from a distance without issue but the deer get food and don’t form get too familiar with humans or form the link of seeing humans meaning they will be fed.

This is generally the encouraged method of feeding wild deer in many areas as it offers the advantages of feeding wild deer without the disadvantages.

Just keep in mind that in some areas, especially in the colder months wolves or other predators for deer may be close to them so always factor in your own safety first.


That brings our article going over if deer eat dog food or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand the types of dog food that wild deer will usually eat as well as how you should go about feeding the wild deer in your area too. Although most deer will eat dog food kibble, especially vegetarian dog food kibble, some will be totally indifferent to it and simply ignore it.