Can Foxes Eat Dog Food? (Wet, Dry, Biscuits or Treats)

do dogs eat dog food

Our house backs onto some woods which makes our neighborhood a great place for going on dog walks and seeing wildlife. We will often encounter wild foxes in our road as they tend to scavenge for food after dark, with some even being as brazen to come out during the day.

In recent months the foxes have started to look a little bit skinnier, which made me think they have lost a food source. I’ve been very tempted to leave out some dog food or biscuits for them but wasn’t sure if this was a good idea or not.

To find out I did some research. You can read my findings below on whether foxes eat dog food in a wet or dry format or even if it’s ok to give them dog treats and biscuits. It also includes advice on feeding pet foxes like fennecs as well as red and grey wild ones.

Can foxes eat dog food?

Foxes can eat dog food, in particular wet dog food that is primarily meat-based. The majority of a fox’s diet should be meat protein as in the wild they eat insects, small rodents, berries, birds, rats, mice, frogs, worms.

That means that you can safely feed foxes commercial tinned wet dog food, raw meat, and cooked meat. They are not fussy eaters at all and will also gobble up dog treats and biscuits if available.

However, just because you can let foxes eat dog food, it doesn’t mean you should. I believe that foxes should eat as natural a diet as possible.

If you do let your local foxes eat dry dog food, wet tinned, treats, or biscuits, then bad habits can form and be hard to break. I talk more about the potential downsides of feeding wild red and grey foxes dog food lower down the page – please take the time to read it before you leave any food out for them.

Foxes being able to eat wet dog food isn’t just something I say is safe though. There are also plenty of authoritative resources online who say the same. For example, on the BBC Wildlife pages, they state:

“Being carnivores, they like cooked or raw meat and tinned pet food. Foxes also like other savoury items such as cheese, table scraps, bread soaked in fat, fruit and cooked vegetables. However, be aware that anything you put out for foxes could equally be taken by dogs, cats and other wildlife.” 

Whether it’s baby foxes or adults, all ages of fox should be fine eating dog food that you leave out for them. 

Do foxes eat wet dog food?

Given that we know foxes are able to eat tinned pet food, it stands to reason that wet dog food is ok for them to have. This assumption is supported when you consider that studies have shown that 95% of a wild fox’s diet consists of meat.

In the main this consists of small animals such as rats, mice, birds, and frogs. Foxes aren’t fussy eaters though, they will also feed on worms, insects, and even berries to a lesser extent.

The excellent Fox Project website also states that:

“Canned dog food is fine. Peanuts are also popular, cannot be carried away, and will satisfy a fox’s ‘sweet tooth’, and, because these small items take more time to gather, you will have the opportunity to watch foxes in your garden for longer periods without causing problems to your neighbours.”

But what about the various variations of foxes, both pets and wild varieties? Well, I decided to look into that as well to see how suitable things like dog biscuits, treats, and canned food was for their diets.

Can foxes eat dog treats and biscuits?

Whilst it would be okay letting a fox eat wet dog food, I’d be a bit more wary over dry food or biscuits and treats. The bottom line is, it won’t kill a fox, but it’s not going to be as protein rich in meats like wet food is.

do foxes eat dry dog food
Urban foxes will eat anything you leave out for them! Image by E.McLean on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/OVWn1sbGIYQ

I would avoid treats but look at the ingredients of the dry food and dog kibble. If the dog biscuits are predominantly meat-based, then it should not be a problem. Grain based treats would be though, as foxes don’t tend to eat a lot of grain in the wild.

Can fennec foxes eat dog food?

Fennec foxes have become popular pets in recent years, and you don’t even need a license to keep one in the UK. Not that I’d advise it, as they need a lot of taking care of and a specialist environment.

Similar to wild red and grey foxes, fennec are also omnivores with many owners feeding pet foxes a mixed diet including cat food, dog food, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit.

Why I decided not to feed the wild foxes

During my research I read a lot of differing points of view about whether you should even feed wild foxes, no matter how hungry you think they might be. One particular piece of online commentary actually persuaded to not feed foxes dog food at all. Here’s a quote from the Fox Project again:

“Foxes are lazy by nature and, if too much food is provided, foxes allow their territory to contract, losing much of it to other foxes. Suddenly, you are on holiday and the food source dries up. The only way your foxes will find enough food is to go back to the old ways. But the old territory is no longer theirs. Other foxes that have become established in these areas will not take kindly to sharing resources, and trouble may ensue.  

Another good reason that you should not feed foxes dog food includes concerns over breeding. If foxes get comfortable with a large and reliable food source, they can breed creating further scavenging problems in your neighborhood.

A larger fox population that is reliant on you feeding them dog biscuits or wet food will also stop hunting. That means you might even see an increase in rats in your local area. Lazy foxes who get fed by humans will lose the will to hunt, as they no longer need to in order to survive.

Then there’s a concern that by letting a fox eat dog food, you are making them more at ease with human contact. Whilst that’s great for you, it might not be for everyone. In effect, by removing the fear of humans, your well-fed fox could then go onto enter people’s home through back doors, or approach people who aren’t as friendly to them as you are.

This could mean problems such as pest control being called to cull foxes, or even the possibility of a fox biting a person or child.

And then there’s the issue of how your dog will react. If you own a dog, you will already know what they think about foxes. Encouraging them onto your property could drive your dog crazy… and do you really want your dog rolling in fox poo? We all know how bad the smell can be!

Handy Hint: If your dog has rolled in fox poo and you cannot get rid of the smell then please follow my step by step cleaning guide which works a treat!

How to feed a wild fox dog food safely

If you still do decide to let your local foxes eat wet dog food or dry dog biscuits from your backyard or garden, then please do it responsibly and safely.

1. Do not touch the foxes

When the fox comes up to the dog bowl, don’t be tempted to go outside and approach them. If you touch a fox it could bite you.

Whilst rare, there is a slight risk of humans contracting Weil’s disease (leptospirosis) from foxes, or even toxoplasmosis. There is even a small chance of rabies in certain countries, although it has been eliminated in the UK, and most of the United States.

2. Do not overfeed them

If you give the fox too much dog food, he’s going to get over-confident. This can create problems not just for you, but also for the fox and possibly your neighbors.

For example, two of our sets of neighbors own chickens, so they aren’t going to be too pleased to know that I am encouraging foxes into our local area with the promise of tasty dog biscuits.

If foxes cannot eat all the dog food in one sitting, they will often take it away with them, and bury it somewhere for later. They can cache food in various create places but will often dig up well kept gardens to do it!

There’s also a risk that if the fox leaves any dog food behind that he can’t eat, this could in turn attract other unwanted visitors such as mice and rats. It’s not good having rats in close proximity to dogs, as dogs can get sick from rodent droppings.

3. Do not leave the food close to your door

The more foxes get used to humans, the more chances they will take. Urban foxes will get increasing confident, and if there’s a food source near an entrance to your home, the natural progression could be for them to enter to find more.

4. Do not lets dogs and foxes share the same bowl

If the dog and fox share the food source and bowl then there is a risk of disease or parasite transmission. According to recent press reports in the UK, dogs can get ill from wild red foxes, with the Daily Mail writing:

“Dogs are at increasing risk from a deadly parasite spread by urban foxes, experts say. Cases of lungworm infection –an animal disease that causes breathing problems and internal bleeding – have doubled in recent years.”

There’s also a very small chance (and I mean a tiny risk) of dogs contracting rabies from drinking water. Considering that foxes are a rabies vector carrier it’s a consideration worth thinking about, as is the chance of your dog getting parvo.

Conclusion

It’s tempting to feed foxes, and it undoubtedly brings joy to a lot of people. But, having done my research into foxes being able eat dog food, I don’t think we should be doing this.

I mentioned seeing how the foxes in my local woods looked skinny. I read an interesting comment on a fox charity website where they said they had checked 15,000 wild foxes down the years, and not one of them had been starving.

That tells me that foxes are perfectly fine finding their own food, even if it is scavenged from our bins!

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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