Deer have particular feeding habits. If you’re interested in using this less expensive way to feed backyard deer or attract them to hunting grounds, I have some useful information about deer and dog food. Can Deer Eat Dog Food?
Even though deer are vegetarians, they will eat dog food as long as it doesn’t have the scent of meat on it. Dog food is not a healthy food for deer and should only be offered sparingly.
Feeding deer dog food is becoming a more common practice among hunters and homeowners, but you need to know the proper way to do it.
Here is everything you need to know about feeding deer dog food for attracting them in for hunting or for keeping them in view for wildlife watching.
Table of Contents
Can Wild Deer Eat Dog Food
Wild deer can and will eat dog food unless it has the scent of meat. They are vegetarian and will not eat meat or anything that smells like meat.
Many hunters use dog food to attract deer at the bunkers as a substitute for corn or other grains. Deer are attracted to the scent and taste of dog food. They will happily eat their fill until their stomachs are full.
Deer usually drink water before they eat, which is a habit formed by instinct. When they eat the dog food, they feel fuller and more satisfied as the dog food expands with the liquid in their stomachs.
Dog food is a more economical means of keeping deer fed and feeling full. On the downside, if you’re trying to attract deer to come into feeding stations for hunting, a fuller stomach means fewer trips to the bunker.
The Best Way To Feed Them
The best way to feed deer dog food is to introduce new food slowly. Offer small amounts initially so the deer do not experience digestive upsets when consuming new elements in their diets.
Deer have sensitive diets and if they eat food that sickens them, they are not likely to continue returning for more. Gradually increase the amount of dog food left out for the deer over two to four weeks.
This is how long it will take them to adjust to a new diet. In time, their digestive systems will learn how to process the new foods.
How To Prepare The Food
Deer need to eat foods that are naturally found in nature. Some dog foods are loaded with proteins, animal fats, artificial fillers, and carbohydrates.
These are not good choices for the delicate digestive systems of deer which are sensitive. Read the labels of the various type of dog foods offered and find one that contains more grains, fruits, and vegetables with no artificial flavors, fillers, or meat/animal protein.
At least go with formulas that have small percentages of these ingredients. If deer detect the scent of meat, they will not eat the dog food in most cases.
Since deer are used to eating vegetation, woody foods, and what they find in nature, it’s perfectly fine to mix the dog food with grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Avoid using corn at all costs, because this is one of the most detrimental foods to their digestive systems.
Where To Put The Food
It’s best to put the food for a deer in a natural setting that is similar to their natural feeding habitat. Cut down a few branches and form an outline with their natural foods and place the dog food in the center.
This will provide them with a more natural feeling along with some of the foods that they prefer to eat. Only use a few twigs though, so they don’t fill up on the leaves and leave the dog food.
Do Whitetail Deer Eat Dog Food
Whitetail deer eat dog food the same as any other wild deer. While their preference is to eat nuts such as acorns, hickory nuts, and pecans, they will also eat blackberries, blueberries, apples, and other fruits.
Their digestive systems are delicate so the gradual introduction of foods that are low in carbohydrates, and free from fats, corn, and animal proteins are best.
Prepare the food in the same manner as for other wild deer and put it among twigs and branches to simulate a natural feeding area.
Can Baby Deer Eat Dog Food
Baby deer should not be fed dog food. Young fawns require their mother’s milk or natural vegetation. Their digestive systems are still in the process of developing and feeding them dog food could be detrimental to their health.
What Kind Of Dog Food Can I Give To A Deer
There are hundreds of different types of commercial dog food on the market today. Most of them contain unhealthy ingredients for dogs as well as for deer.
Some dog foods are meat-based or contain high percentages of corn fillers and artificial flavors and preservatives. None of these are good options for deer.
If you plant to feed dog food to deer, it’s best to find a plant-based formulation, without meat flavoring, made with organic ingredients.
The best choices for deer are those made with plant-based superfoods and non-GM) ingredients, absolutely no corn fillers, and no artificial preservatives, flavorings, or colorings.
Can Deer Eat Dry Dog Food
Yes, deer can eat dry dog food if it is a formulation that is palatable to attract them to the food and if it contains digestible ingredients.
Again, if the dog food has the scent or taste of meat a deer is not likely to eat it because they are herbivores.
Can Deer Eat Wet Dog Food
Deer are not likely to eat wet dog food. They are used to eating a different texture. Most wet dog foods have a distinct scent of meat or meat flavoring.
This is a food that is not appealing to deer, nor is it healthy for their sensitive digestive systems.
How Much Dog Food Can I Give To A Deer
Free-ranging deer consume an average of two to four pounds of feed daily during warm months. In the wintertime, they may consume up to five pounds per day if the food is available.
Since dog food is not the healthiest option to feed a deer, it’s best to limit the amount that is fed to them. Remember to start slow with a half-pound, and work your way up to approximately two pounds per animal at the most.
A steady diet of dog food can do more harm than good. It’s not a good idea to give baby deer dog food. It’s unhealthy for them and it’s best to allow them to feed on natural foods from the environment or provide them with a diet that is made for young deer. It’s best to offer deer dry kibble versus wet dog food.
Is Dog Food Healthy For A Deer
Dog food is not a healthy food for deer. This is why it should be offered occasionally, and sparingly. Unless you want to spend a lot more than what formulations for deer would cost, dog food is loaded with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and artificial preservatives, coloring, and flavoring that could make a deer extremely sick.
Some deer will eat dog food that has no scent of meat. If the deer becomes accustomed to being fed dog food, he may stop foraging for natural and healthier foods because the dog food is easy for him to obtain without working for it.
This could lead to dire health consequences because the formulations of all dog foods are intended for the digestive system of canines, which is markedly different than that of a deer.
Deer are not inclined to processing the ingredients in dog food and when it is used to substitute their diet, they will become malnourished.
Helpful Tips To Know About Deer Eating Dog Food
When deciding which dog food to feed deer, it’s essential to consider the formulations that are closest to their natural diets. Taking this step could help to prevent digestive problems and ill health.
Here are four helpful tips to know about deer eating dog food:
- Deer have sensitive stomachs and cannot digest corn, meat, fat, or high carbohydrate foods
- Dog food does not provide deer with a healthy and balanced diet
- Excessive amounts of dog food can make a deer sick
- Deer will not eat dog foods that smell or taste like meat
Dog food is not a healthy type of food to feed deer regularly. Deer have sensitive digestive systems that are not made to process most of the ingredients found in dog food formulations.
To avoid making them sick, only feed an adult deer dog food that is free of animal fats and proteins, carbohydrates, artificial color, flavor and preservatives, and corn.
Only offer small amounts in a natural setting and limit the number of feedings to discourage deer from becoming dependent on dog food versus their normal healthy diets.
You technically can feed deer dog food, but it’s not the best thing you can do for their overall health.