Does Dog Food Attract Fish?

Your dog always whines and whimpers if you leave them home on your fishing trips. It was much the same story this morning, so you pack a canister of dry dog food, grab your fishing gear, and you’re on your way with Fido in tow. Yet dog food is just for dogs, right? Or can you catch fish with it?

Yes, dog food attracts fish, especially catfish, panfish, and carps. Most anglers use dry pelleted dog food, either on its own or combined with flour, water, and cornstarch to make it doughier. Wet dog food is another option, although it’s a lot messier!

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about using dog food to catch more fish, including tips on how to reel in your favorite fish species. Make sure you keep reading, as you never know when you’ll need an alternative to artificial and even live bait! 

Can You Use Dog Food to Catch Fish?

You’ve tried a lot of bait choices over the years to reel in more fish, especially when you go through a bit of a fishing dry spell. You’ve even used unique artificial lures such as spinnerbait or soft plastic worms.

All the bait you’ve tried though is meant for fish. You can’t fathom using dog food–wet or dry–for fish. After all, the stuff is formulated for dogs, right?

Yes, it is, but dog food is a viable option for catching fish. If you ask your angler friends, sooner or later, you’ll come across someone who will readily admit to using dog food to fill their cooler with fish. 

Some anglers use dog food on its own. Others combine it with cheese or bread to make a super mix that seemingly no fish can resist. More still will make it doughy with cornstarch and other ingredients (more on this later!).

The main question you may have when starting out using dog food as fish bait is whether you should reach for the canned wet food or the pelletized dry food. You can use either or!

Obviously, wet food is going to be the messier of the two options, which is why a cheesecloth or pantyhose will come in handy. 

Dog pellets might start out dry, but when they’re in the water for too long, they can swell up and become flaky and crumbly. Thus, there are downsides to both options. Weigh your options before choosing the type of dog food you want. 

It doesn’t seem to matter which dog food brand you select. You can dip into your dog’s supply of food, but please make sure you replenish it. If your dog eats expensive food and you’d rather not waste it, you can always buy cheap dog food to catch fish.

What matters most is that the dog food is flavorful. If your dog will eat it, then it should certainly suffice for the local fish!  

Which Fish Are Attracted to Dog Food?

If you use dog food as fish bait, which species of fish can you expect to come biting on the line? Any of the following are viable options if these species live in the bodies of water near you.


The one species of fish that’s the most receptive to dog food is undoubtedly the catfish. Some people with pet catfishes feed them dog food. Supposedly, doing so long-term can be bad for the fish’s health. 

However, even if you’re catching and releasing catfish, one instance of feeding catfish some dog food should not cause any adverse effects. If you fish to keep and kill your fish, then it doesn’t matter so much what you feed them. 

Why are catfish so receptive to dog food, you ask? As we’ve talked about on the blog, catfishes happily nosh on just about anything that’s even remotely edible. That goes for people food such as bacon or cheese as well as dog food, pelleted and wet dog food alike. 


The bluegill–which is also known as the bream or the sunny–is another fish species that will bite for dog food. In the United States, you’re likeliest to find bluegills in western New York, western and northern Minnesota, western Texas, Florida’s coast, Virginia’s coast, and the eastern Rocky Mountains. 

Even in other bodies of water throughout the US, you could reel in bluegill. Using dog food as fish bait is a good way to bring in more of this panfish. Their usually bland, insect-filled diet is livened up by the presence of other food like dog kibble. 


With at least 10 species, we bet there are some carp swimming at your favorite lake or river. 

In the US compared to other parts of the world, carp aren’t as beloved, but we say why not give carp a try? You’ll have less competition when fishing for carp than other fish species. Plus, you have a trick up your sleeve, using dog food as fish bait!

Eating carp is quite an interesting experience. The smooth texture of the fish combined with its mild flavor and white meat means that even those who don’t really like seafood might be able to sit down and enjoy a meal of cooked carp. 

Tips for Catching Fish with Dog Food 

You figure that in exchange for bringing your dog with you on your fishing trip that they won’t mind you using a little bit of their food for fish bait. Now that you’re going to try this well-known bait option, here are some tips for success.  

Wrap Wet Food and Sink It

Not only is wet dog food messy, but it tends to float. To get the food at a depth that fish will bite for, we recommend tying up a serving of wet dog food in a cheesecloth or even pantyhose. Include a rock or a small anchor with the makeshift bindle, then toss the whole thing into the sea.

The dog food will begin sinking due to the weight of the rock. At that depth, fish will see the bait and go for it. Act fast and you could have a catfish or bluegill on your dinner plate tonight! 

Mix Dry Food or Use It on Its Own

Some anglers use dry dog food as is right from the bag. Others, as we said, make the dog food even more durable by mixing it with other ingredients. All you need is some cornstarch, flour, and water.

When you combine those three products with the dog food, the result should be dough-like. The doughy bait will stick to your fishing hook better. Unlike dry dog food on its own, the dough won’t begin to swell up and fall apart on you either. 

Throw Dry Food onto the Surface as a Decoy for Your Lure 

You can also use dry dog food sort of as a decoy, or as a means of telling the fish that yes, you’re here. Toss a handful of dry dog food into the water. Some fish like catfish will come up to the surface of the water to feed if there’s enough of their favorite food up there. Have your fishing line ready, as you could reel in a big one! 

Other Non-People Food You Can Use as Fish Bait

On the blog, we’ve talked a lot about giving up your pepperoni or bacon to the fish as bait, but this can put you in an unenviable position. If you like the thought of using non-people food for fish bait more, here are some other options in the same vein as dog food. 

Cat Food

Maybe you prefer cats over dogs. Even though you’d never bring your cat on your fishing boat, you can cop some of their food for bait. You’d use cat food in much the same way as dog food, making it into a dough or sinking wet food with pantyhose and a small rock. 

Pickerel, crappy, and bluegills will bite for cat food! 

Chicken Liver

Okay, so technically, chicken liver is people food, but it’s not exactly the most sought-after part of the chicken. If you can stand the texture of chicken liver, you could catch more freshwater striped bass and catfish for your troubles. Striper, bluegill, and trout also readily munch on this part of the chicken. 

Cigarette Butts

We talked about this in a recent post, but yes indeed, cigarette butts are a viable fish bait option. We’re not sure why it works, but it does. As we suggested before, you don’t have to smoke cigarettes to find butts. You can always scrape off others from the ground if they’re in good enough condition. 


Just as weird as using cigarette butts as fish bait is soap. The latter is a much more popular and thus acceptable option among anglers. When we say soap, we mean hard bar soap, not soft liquid soap.

Chemical-free, scent-free soaps will attract the most fish. Ivory soap is one such brand that anglers recommend, but plenty of other brands should work as well. The lye in soap smells great to catfish, as strange as that sounds.  

Common Food Used to Catch Fish

So far we’ve covered some items used to catch fish that are fairly uncommon. Before we end, let’s touch on some food items that are used a variety of fish in a pinch. You don’t necessarily need the latest fishing lures or live bait!

Click the links to read more on each food items and what type of fish they attract.

Final Thoughts

Although it’s not the weirdest fish bait choice, dog food is certainly up there. Wet and dry dog food alike can catch more fish, especially carp, catfish, and bluegills. Now that you know this little fishing trick, you’ll have a lot more fun the next time you go fishing! 

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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