Can Dogs Eat Deer Meat? [Hidden Dangers?]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

I remember the day like it was yesterday: my trusty canine companion, Molly, and I were frolicking through the woods when we stumbled upon a deer carcass.

Her eyes sparkled with mischief, and I could tell she was thinking, “Is it lunchtime?”

Luckily, having been a vet tech for years, I do have some knowledge of what’s good or not for her, and of course, it helps that I could whip out my smartphone and did some lightning-fast research (cue dramatic superhero music).

So, my dear reader, you might be wondering: can dogs eat deer meat?

Well, by the end of this blog post, you’ll be a bona fide expert in all things venison-related for your furry friend. But first, let’s take a little detour to discuss raw versus cooked deer meat…

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Dear Dog Owner

Is Deer Meat Good for Dogs?

Is Deer Meat Good for Dogs?

Let’s get this cleared up very quickly: Deer meat is also known as venison, just in case there’s any confusion. Moving on.

Is venison good for your furry pal? Yes, it can be.

Deer meat contains valuable nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals that can be beneficial for dogs.

Protein is essential for muscle growth, and vitamins and minerals support overall health in dogs. 

Deer meat can also provide a tasty and tempting variation in your dog’s diet, adding excitement to their meals.

These are a couple of benefits that your pet can enjoy should you choose to give them deer meat.

However, there are certain things to be careful about when serving venison to your pet.

This is especially true if you’re planning to serve the meat uncooked.

Is raw deer meat good for dogs?

Feeding raw deer meat to dogs is a hotly debated topic.

Some people believe that raw feeding can have benefits like improved dental health and digestion for dogs. 

Now, while there are some possible benefits to feeding your pet raw deer meat, there are also two main disadvantages you’d need to think about. 

First is the potential risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

Next is the insufficiency of deer meat in filling all of the nutritional needs of a dog.

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Thank you. The rest of the article continues below.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Can dogs eat hearts of palm?

How Can I Safely Feed My Dog Deer Meat?

Let’s delve into how you can safely add deer meat to your dog’s diet.

Taking necessary precautions and following proper handling and feeding practices can help ensure your dog’s safety while enjoying the benefits of deer meat.

Get fresh, high-quality deer meat from a trusted source

We take great care in serving only the freshest meats to the human members of the family, so I’m sure that you want to do the same for your furry pal.

Choosing good and fresh meat minimizes the risk of harmful bacteria.

This, in turn, will lessen the risk of your pet getting sick after eating the deer meat.

Proper handling

Be careful when handling raw deer meat to avoid cross-contamination.

Use separate cutting boards, knives, and utensils for raw meat and other foods. 

Remember to wash your hands well after handling the meat!

Store properly

The way you store deer meat will have a big impact on its freshness too.

After you’ve prepared the meat, place the pieces in a clean, sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. 

This way, you will be preventing spoilage and the growth of bacteria, and ensuer that it’s still safe to consume even after a few days or weeks.


Cooking the deer meat before feeding it to your dog can be an extra safety precaution.

Doing this will thoroughly kill potential pathogens and make it safer for your furry friend to eat.

If you are worried that you have fed your dog something it shouldn’t be eating, be sure to observe it closely.

You should keep an eye out for any signs of foodborne illness and symptoms such as loss of appetite, a change in behavior, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Ready for more pawsome knowledge? Can dogs eat relish?

Benefits of Deer Meat for Dogs

Besides being a tasty treat, deer meat can offer several potential benefits to dogs when fed in moderation and prepared properly.

Here are some potential benefits of deer meat for dogs:


Deer meat is a good source of high-quality protein, which is essential for dogs’ overall health.

Protein is crucial for building and maintaining strong muscles, supporting immune function, and promoting healthy skin and coat.


Venison also offers a ton of other nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

These are very important components that make up a great diet for your furry pal’s overall well-being.

They play a crucial role in energy production, immune function, and maintaining healthy organs.

Great alternative to common protein sources

If your pet is allergic or has food sensitivities to beef, pork, or chicken, venison is another good option as a protein source.

They still get similar nutritional benefits without worrying about any potential side effects.

Good for their teeth and jaw

Chewing on deer meat, especially raw or cooked bones, can help promote dental health in dogs by naturally cleaning their teeth and gums. 

The action can help remove any yucky build-up on your pet’s teeth and will reduce the risk of dental issues like gum disease and tooth decay.

Gnawing on a bone can also exercise your pet’s jaw muscles and provide entertainment that can mentally stimulate them.

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Doggy says, read this too: Cooking chicken hearts for dogs

Risk of Deer Meat for Dogs

We’ve gone over the good, now let’s go over the risks related to feeding your pet deer meat.

  • Parasites: Deer meat can carry parasites such as Trichinella, which can cause trichinosis in dogs.
  • Bacteria: Raw deer meat may be contaminated with harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, posing a risk to your dog’s health.
  • High fat content: Deer meat is often rich in fat, which can lead to obesity or pancreatitis in dogs if consumed in large quantities.
  • Bone hazards: Chewing on deer bones can cause tooth fractures, choking hazards, or gastrointestinal blockages in dogs.
  • Spoilage: Consuming spoiled deer meat can lead to food poisoning or other health issues for your dog.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD): Though rare, deer can be infected with CWD, which is a prion disease with no known cure, and its effect on dogs is still unclear.
  • Unbalanced diet: Feeding your dog an excessive amount of deer meat without proper nutritional balance may lead to deficiencies and health issues.

How Much Deer Meat Should I Give My Dog?

It’s usually safe to feed your pup around 25% of their ideal body weight in protein from deer meat or any other protein source each day.

Naturally, if you have a small dog, you’d need to feed it less meat and vice versa.

But remember, every dog’s needs are different, so it’s best to talk to the vet to figure out the right amount based on your furry friend’s size, age, and activity level. 

Your pet’s specific health condition will also affect how much deer meat you can and should serve them.

If your dog suffers from kidney issues, diabetes, or obesity, you need to ask your vet how much meat is safe to give them.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Raw Deer Meat?

Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Raw Deer Meat?

Yes, dogs can potentially get sick from eating raw deer meat.

Raw deer meat can contain harmful bacteria, including common ones like Salmonella or E. coli, which can cause foodborne illnesses in dogs. 

These bacteria can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

They can pose a bigger risk to dogs with weakened immune systems, such as puppies, seniors, or dogs with underlying health problems. 

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Raw diet for puppies

What Deer Parts and Products Can My Dog Eat?

Dogs can typically eat lean, cooked deer meat in moderation.

However, it’s important to avoid giving them any deer parts or products that can pose a choking hazard or contain bones that can splinter and cause injury. 

Deer bones, antlers, and hooves, for example, are not recommended for dogs that have dental problems or digestive issues. 

Can Dogs Eat Deer Bones?


Deer bones can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet.

They are a great source of essential nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, which are important for bone health.

Additionally, deer bones can also provide collagen, a protein that supports healthy joints, skin, and coats for your canine companion.

Feeding your dog deer bones can also be an enjoyable and enriching activity for them.

Not just that, chewing on bones can help keep their teeth clean, strengthen their jaw muscles, and relieve stress and anxiety.

The most important thing to take note here: DO NOT cook the bones! These splinter easily and cause some serious damage to your dog.

You can try freezing raw bones to turn them into a nice cool treat!

How to cook deer bones for dogs?

It’s natural to want to ensure the safety of your dog when giving them a deer bone, but boiling or baking the bone may not be the best approach. 

Boiled bones can become brittle and more likely to break when chewed. 

If you’re concerned about giving your dog a raw bone, an alternative option is to slow-cook the deer bone for a few hours.

Slow cooking can soften the bone, making it less likely to harm your dog’s teeth or digestive tract while they chew on it. 

This can be especially beneficial if you have a small dog with less biting power to handle raw bones.

What Should You Do if Your Dog is Sick After Eating Deer Meat?

If you notice that your furry pal is feeling unwell after eating deer meat, it’s important to take appropriate action to ensure their health and safety. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Call your vet: If your dog seems sick after eating deer meat and is showing signs like vomiting, diarrhea, or acting lethargic, call your vet right away to get professional advice.
  2. Follow the vet’s advice: Your vet may tell you to bring your dog in for an exam or provide instructions for home care. Follow their advice carefully and don’t give your dog any medications or treatments without consulting them first.
  3. Take care of your dog: If your dog has mild symptoms, you can help by offering small sips of water, giving their stomach a break from food for a short time, and keeping a close eye on them.
  4. Keep watching: Watch your dog closely for any changes. If their symptoms get worse or don’t improve, or if your dog seems distressed, contact your vet again.
  5. Keep records: Keep track of your dog’s symptoms, when they ate the deer meat, and any other important details. This can help your vet in diagnosing and treating your dog.
  6. Avoid deer meat: If your dog gets sick from deer meat, it’s best to avoid feeding it to them in the future or any other raw or wild game meat to prevent similar issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is venison low in fat?

Yes, venison is typically low in fat compared to other meats, making it a good protein option for dogs with weight or dietary restrictions.

Is it ok to feed dogs venison occasionally? 

Yes, feeding dogs venison occasionally or in moderation can be safe and provide a good source of protein and nutrients, but it’s important to consider factors such as the dog’s overall diet, any health conditions, and proper food handling.

Can venison trigger allergies in dogs? 

Yes, venison can potentially trigger allergies in some dogs, just like any other protein source. If your dog has a history of food allergies, talk to your pet’s vet before adding deer meat to their diet.

Can dogs get CWD after eating deer meat? 

Getting Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from eating deer meat is pretty rare among dogs. However, it’s always better to be safe by avoiding feeding your dog meat from deer or other wild game that may be infected.

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Deer Meat?

Although deer meat can be a tasty treat for your four-legged friend, moderation and caution are key.

Now that you know the risks, I recommend that you cook the meat well, and remember that a balanced diet is crucial.

With these tips in mind, you’ll keep Fido’s tail wagging and his taste buds satisfied!

Don’t let this be the end of our walk together! Follow the trail to these other posts:

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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