Can Ducks Eat Dog Food?

Usually, when we think about a dog and a duck in dining occurrences, we imagine the dog drooling over a fat juicy (preferably cooked) duck.

What if we visualize it from the duck’s point of view? (and no, I don’t mean to imagine how would it be for a duck to eat the dog).

But would a duck eat the dog’s food? Is it healthy for the duck to do so? Would it like it?

I invite you to find the answers to these questions and other exciting things related to ducks eating dog food by reading this article further.

A Little About Dogs

A Little About DogsA Little About Dogs
Credit: @liderdelamanadaa

Dogs are domesticated descendants of the extinct grey wolf, distinctive by the up-turned tail and having a carnivore menu (That sounds a bit too far away from the omnivorous ducks’ menu, doesn’t it?).

But dogs are omnivorous: they have ten genes involved in the digestion of starch and glucose, and they can also produce an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into sugars, called amylase.

These genes and enzymes are usually missing from a carnivore animal’s body; dogs have developed them over the thousands of years of evolution with humans’ side, living on the leftovers of their meals that didn’t always contain meat.

However, the dog didn’t go full vegetarian, and it still prefers meat as the first choice, thus is considered omnivorous with a carnivorous predisposition.

And we have arrived at a common culinary point between dogs (canine mammals) and ducks (water birds): the omnivorous diet.

A Little About Ducks

A Little About DucksA Little About Ducks
Credit: @margrethe66

Ducks are water birds, meaning they live on and near freshwater sources like lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, springs, and even the sea.

The ducks are omnivorous birds, and the classification made by their feeding habits shares them in two categories:

The diving ducks: dip deep underwater for nourishment, submerging easier due to their heavier body, which, in counterbalance, slows the ducks’ flight take-off.

The dabbling ducks: feed on land or the water’s surface, diving partially without submerging entirely; they have a serrated pecten along the beak that helps push the water out and keep the food in.

Although ducks are omnivores, some of them prefer meat over plants or the other way around; ducks with a flat beak will enjoy more plant-based nourishment, while the ducks with pointed beaks have a fished-based diet.

Ducks’ Menu

Ducks’ Natural Nourishment

The duck’s omnivorous feeding allows the bird to enjoy a wide variety of nourishment, assuring the animal a balanced diet.

To point out the balanced variety of ducks food, let’s see what the bird eats on categories:

  • Greens: grass, lettuce, peas, aquatic vegetation (algae, pondweed);
  • Fruits: grapes, berries, melon, pit fruits, pears, peaches, plums, bananas;
  • Nuts: any type of, as long as it’s just the core and doesn’t have salt or other flavors;
  • Grains: wheat, corn, barley, milo, birdseed, oat, pit seeds;
  • Meat: insects, worms, crustaceans (crayfish), tiny water snails, small amphibians.[1]

Ducks food substitutes

Otherwise said, no matter what form the food comes in, as long as it contains nutrients offered by the above categories of nourishment, the ducks will be happy to consume it.

So, if you wake up with a duck on your hands and you do not have ducks food around, you can feed it with salad mix, sweet corn, rice, seeds, vegetable bits or pealing, frozen peas or corn (defrosted), fishing bait, eggs, fish, and even dogs food.

Yes, Ducks Eat Dog Food

Ducks Eat Dog FoodDucks Eat Dog Food
Credit: @dippy.dale

Is Dog Food Good For Ducks?

We know by now that both animals, although coming from way too different species, have a common culinary attribute: they are both omnivorous.

We also already know what kind of food and nutrients the ducks need, so let’s see if the dog food can provide them:

A balanced ducks’ diet (just like a dog’s diet) should include water plus the five necessary elements: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

As water birds, ducks’ bodies require a lot of water; the dog food, both dry and wet, but especially the wet one, can offer a duck the necessary moisture the bird needs.

The proteins are needed in both ducks’ and dogs’ nutrition to maintain and repair the body; dog food contains meat that could assure the duck’s necessary for protein.

Ducks’ bodies need a lot of fat to develop, the absorption of the nutrients depends on fats; dog food is famous for being rich in fat, and it would be an excellent source of fat for ducks.

Carbohydrates help the correct functioning of ducks’ intestines and maintain reproductive health; dog food, especially the dry one, has carbohydrates due to vegetables and grains it contains.

Vitamins are required for the animals, both dogs and ducks, metabolisms, so they mustn’t be missing from dog food.

The minerals’ role is to maintain the muscles and bones in good health and hydrate the body; again, both animals need it, dogs’ food contains it, ducks could gladly profit from it.

So, dog food is nutritious and healthy for ducks to consume; moreover, ducks seem to enjoy the consistency and flavor of dog food.[2]

Dry Dog Food VS Wet Dog Food

Dry Dog Food VS Wet Dog Food 1Dry Dog Food VS Wet Dog Food 1
Credit: @amazingway2live

The dry dog food comes in various combinations of vegetables, grains, meat, and eggs, as dry beans of different shapes and sizes.

One of these beans’ roles is to challenge the dog’s teeth and jaw, and they might be a little difficult for ducks to swallow(as they don’t chew); therefore, it is recommended to mash it or mix it with water before feeding it to the ducks.

Just as tasty for ducks, the wet dog food is canned, and it contains more water (appreciated by ducks) and more meat, which means more proteins and fat.[3]

For ducks, too many proteins and fat can be harmful, causing them obesity; moreover, the high levels of protein from (wet) dog food could lead to the appearance of bird’s wing deformation, the condition called “angel wings”.

Dry Dog Food VS Wet Dog Food 2Dry Dog Food VS Wet Dog Food 2
Credit: @librarybecky

So, between smashing and wetting the food and risking the bird’s health and life in the medium-long term, we quickly conclude that dry dog food is healthier for ducks than wet dog food, with the condition to be smashed and moistened and not given in excess.

When is Dog Food Not Good For Ducks?

When it’s Too Much

As discussed above, too much dog food fed to the ducks can fatten the birds, giving them obesity, and too much protein can cause the “angel wings” condition.

Moreover, a single type of dog food might not contain all the nutrients ducks need, so too much dog food of the same type might not be healthy for the bird.

Ducks need to be fed a wide variety of dog food to ensure they receive all the nutrients their body requires, and even that occasionally, as excessive dog food can harm the bird.

When it’s Too Big

Remember? Ducks do not chew their food, and the dog food, especially the dry one, comes in dry and hard beans of all shapes and sizes.

If the dog food, especially the dry one, is too big, the duck can not eat it as it might choke with it and die suffocated; so the ducks can eat the dog food, it is indicated to smash it or moisten it before giving it the ducks.

When it’s Molded

When it’s MoldedWhen it’s Molded
Credit: @ekramer_90

Molded dog food should be discarded and not fed to any animal, dog or duck, as it can be toxic; more than that, a few types of mold fungus is fatal to the ducks.

When a Relative is on The Menu

Some dog food contains duck for meat, and it is, first of all, a matter of moral if you should or shouldn’t feed a duck dog food containing another duck.

Beyond that, there has been reported that cannibalistic ducks changed their behavior, becoming more hostile and fierce.[4]

Can Ducklings Eat Dog Food?

Can Ducklings Eat Dog FoodCan Ducklings Eat Dog Food
Credit: @duckenaround

Ducklings can eat dog food in certain conditions: first of all, it must be ground enough to make sure the baby ducks can swallow it.

If the dog food is too dry, it must be served near a water bowl, so the ducklings can drink whenever they feel the food is too dry and can’t swallow it.

While dog food has so many nutrients good for ducks’ health, it is not healthy for the ducklings to have a diet based only on dog food (we have seen above what excesses can do).

However, occasional proteic boosts of dog food, given with regularity as treats to growing ducklings, will assure them a higher level of proteins, better health in general, and turn it into a muscular, strong adult duck.

Fun fact: You can use the occasional dog food treats to train your growing duckling.

Can Wild Ducks Eat Dog Food?

Can Wild Ducks Eat Dog FoodCan Wild Ducks Eat Dog Food
Credit: @2021_elisa

Yes, you may take a handful of dog food and feed the wild ducks in the city park or nearby pond from time to time; after all, they are still ducks, still omnivorous.

However, even if the ducks live in the wild, it doesn’t mean they are not capable of finding food daily, so the “rules” of home-duck feeding apply for wild ducks also:

The dog food is welcome as occasional treats; too much of it, added to the wild bird’s natural menu, can lead to fattening the duck or, in some cases, making them more aggressive.

Of course, wild ducks are still ducks, which means they also have a tiny throat, so wild ducks can eat dog food if it’s crumbled and wetted.


Ducks, domesticated, wild, and ducklings, can eat dog food because it’s healthy and nutritious, and they enjoy its flavors and consistency.

Ducks can eat dog food if it is smashed or moistened with water so that the birds can swallow it easily without choking.

When fed in small, occasional treats to ducklings, the dog food helps the birds’ physical development, gives them better general health, and grows into muscular and more robust adult ducks.

Dog food in excess can harm the ducks, causing them obesity (which may lead to the bird’s death) or the condition called “angel wings”, given by excess of protein (found more in the wet dog food).

Wild ducks also can eat dog food, and it has the same benefits for them as it has for the domesticated ducks; of course, the same feeding rules should be followed to avoid the ducks’ harming (by choking or excess).

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