Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? 4 Harmful Side Effects

Are you a dog lover and worried that your dog is always eating your cat food? I guess most of us who have both Dog and Cat as pets may face this situation. In your mind, you may be thinking, can dogs eat cat food?

Cat foods tend to be really high in fat content, high in calories and lots of protein. So, it is not ideal food for your Dog. Dogs generally have sensitive stomach towards other foods. In this case, your Dog might suffer from gastro-intestinal issues, allergies and diarrhea if they eat Cat’s food.

Dogs like to be Pet so much but doesn’t mean they should have their way always when it comes to health and nutrition. As a Pet Lover, it is your responsibility to make sure your pet stays healthy. Let’s learn a little bit about nutrition and the difference in dog food vs cat food before jumping into can dogs eat cat food question.

Can dogs eat cat food
can dogs eat cat food?


Nutrition: Dogs vs. Cats

Dear pet-parent; here’s sending virtual hugs to you for raising a great dog and a fine cat. Cat and dog quibbles are no urban legends either, and neither are you any less than a legendary parent! You are kind, empathic, caring, affectionate, and loving; we know that.

Raising the two of them to get together well must have been quite a feat! You are doing it well and right. But, now that you have this question (a very important one) it’s our duty to help you out.

Can dogs eat cat food? In two words, the simple answer is ‘not really’. Is your dog obsessed with eating cat food? You might want to deal with that habit.

How do you manage it? Do not worry. Keep reading. Thanks for your time.

Let’s start with a basic. What’s the difference between them?

Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can live on a mixed diet of animal protein and plant produce. Our favorite felines are, on the other hand, obligate carnivores. It means they derive most of their nutrition from meat.

Due to this basic difference, your dog’s full nutritional needs are not met when you feed them cat food. Besides, he may get sick.

Besides, your cat may not like it.

Can dogs eat cat food occasionally? Most dogs seem to like it a lot. Some pet-owners use it as special treats for their dogs. Just make sure that you are not overdoing it, no matter how much they like it.


What Should I Feed My Dog?

So, what is the right food plan for your pet? It depends. Options include various grades of off-the-shelf diet, homemade food, and even a raw food diet.

It should also depend on the age and breed of your pet, their activity levels, and dietary preferences. Moreover, you may also have to deal with symptoms of food intolerance. When that happens, the vet will suggest an elimination diet.

Can dogs eat cat food in an elimination diet? Vets prescribe this diet when dogs suffer from indigestion symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. The fat-rich cat food would not solve the problem of finding an alternate diet.

Know the foods that you should never give to your dog. These include chocolate, ham, beef jerky, garlic, onion, and avocado among a host of other items. You should be careful about sharing table scraps with your pet.

Besides, you may need to feed supplements and vitamins. You should also be aware of picking the best treats for them.

Can dogs eat cat food regularly? We will discuss that too. Is it bad if dogs eat cat food? It will not likely cause an immediate problem, but it’s likely to get worse in the long-term.

Another issue here is how often you should fill up their feeding bowls. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends different timings for puppies and adults. A pup should be fed three to four times daily at six months or younger than that. Change it to twice daily for adults.

Let us breakdown the different options to help you make an informed choice.

But before that, here are some standard precautions you should follow. Wash your hands with soap every time you handle dog food. After each use, properly wash the feeding bowls. Abide by the storage instructions on the package to prevent contamination.


Commercial Dog Food

Off-shelf products are available in three main categories and various sub-types. You can either pick up the dry ones or kibbles, get moist food available in cans, or feed a raw food diet.

You might be buying food for your cats and dogs together. Can dogs eat cat food? Better, stick to dog foods only.  Cat foods can be tasty no doubt, but they are not the ideal options for our canine companions.

Dry Dog FoodWet Dog Food
Contains less moisture. You have to take care of filling the water bowl.Contains more moisture. It meets the water requirements of the pet.
Longer shelf life, but contains higher amounts of chemicals and preservativesShorter shelf life, you should always check the expiry date on the container
Considered better for teeth health because it involves a lot of chewingLess chewy, means you have to take additional care of dental routine
Relatively cheaperCostly option
Requires lessRequires more since it contains a lot of water

Look at the label before buying any kind of packaged food. It should have an AAFCO label (Association of American Feed Control Officials) stating the food as “complete and balanced.” Read the package label carefully. It contains a lot of important information about what you are feeding your pet.


Raw Diet and Home Cooking

Raw food diets are growing in popularity. But, it’s a controversial issue. Some vets suggest that a raw food diet improves coat conditions and offers a hike in energy levels. Nevertheless, the high protein content may not be best for puppies and adult dogs with digestive problems.

Raw food may consist of harmful bacteria.

Here’s some more insight on can dogs eat cat food. The high protein and fat in cat food is tastier for the dog. But, at the same time, it’s unhealthy. If your dog has developed such a habit, you can try a raw food plan instead.

You should prefer products with powdered bones. Full bones can cause broken teeth or stomach puncture.

If you are home-cooking, be sure of providing a balanced diet. It is time-intensive, but you have a great many recipe options.

The vet might suggest a hypoallergenic diet if your dog has food intolerance or food allergy. Can dogs eat cat food when they have food allergies? You may want to avoid it since the high-protein content of cat food can further escalate the problem.


What is the Difference Between Dog Food Vs. Cat Food?

Cat food consists of high amounts of animal protein. Generally, a cat would require 2 to 3 times more protein than dogs do. Even a kitten should be fed a protein-rich diet, at least 1.5 times more than a puppy’s diet.

A main ingredient that is present in cat food is the essential amino acid Taurine. Their bodies cannot produce it. The body of a dog makes its own Taurine.

Another such component is Arachidonic Acid. Cats must obtain this Omega 6 fatty acid from their diet. A dog’s body can make its own Arachidonic Acid.

Cats have a particular requirement for Vitamin A. It is found naturally in animal tissue. Their bodies lack the gastric enzyme that can convert Vitamin B-carotene in plants to the active Vitamin A.


Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Cat food is like junk foods for dogs. It is yummy but can cause health problems in dogs. If your dog is gaining extra weight, cat food might be the reason.

Complications of Giving Cat Food to Dog

Obesity in dogs is a major issue. It shortens their lifespan and causes various health issues.

Overweight animals have an increased risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It can lead to a degeneration of affected joints and osteoarthritis. Formation of urinary bladder stones is another common problem.

Cat foods also contain high levels of iron. Digesting it can be stressful for the dog.

Can dogs eat cat food as a high protein alternative? When a dog eats a super protein diet (aka cat food) regularly, this excess protein fails to assimilate in their systems. Their bodies need to excrete this extra nutrient by excretion. This puts stress on their liver and kidneys.

Too much protein can disrupt the calcium-phosphorus ratio. This can disrupt bone growth and affect the kidneys. It can also cause pancreatitis. For particularly sensitive dogs, it can result in diarrhea and vomiting.

If the animal needs more protein (for especially active breeds), you can choose a high-protein packaged dog food.

If you neglect your dog eating cat food, you are encouraging a potentially bad habit. It can show up as stealing food from the kitchen or the garbage bin.

Can dogs eat cat food as a wet food alternative? No, they should not. Wet foods for cats have a different formula than that for dogs.

Another major concern is your cat not getting enough nutrition. It can lead to cat and dog conflicts.


My Dog Ate Cat Food. Now What?

Do not worry. It is not going to cause any instant harm. The only problem is that your dog may develop a feeding habit that’s not good in the long-term.

Can dogs eat cat food without any side effects? No, side-effects will be there, especially with packaged food because these are made differently for cats and dogs. Next, you need to train your dog.

Can dogs eat cat food
can dogs eat cat food? when can dogs eat cat food?


How to Train the Dog to Stop Eating Cat Food?

You are not alone in this. Almost all pet-parents who raise cats and dogs together have this issue. With the right training, you can prevent your dog from eating cat food.

While training, remember to be patient. You will also have to find a treat that he prefers more than eating cat food. You have to say a strict ‘No’ every time your dog sneaks in to get a grub from the cat’s bowl. The ‘No’ should not mean to scare your fur baby, but teach him to obey your command.

Start with reading your dog’s behavior. Does he eat cat food before eating his own? Or, is he eating it after he finishes his meal? Sometimes, it can mean that your dog is not getting enough nutrition, especially when he is going for it before finishing his meal.

Can dogs eat cat food when they are hungry? No, they should not. You should try increasing the amount of your dog’s diet so that he stays full.

You can also try different approaches to training your pet. First, you need to remove the cat’s bowl whenever you catch your dog sneaking onto it. Act as a physical barrier and reward your pet with his favorite treat.

Continue this practice daily during their feeding time. Eventually, he is going to realize that you don’t want him to eat cat food without the treat.

Can dogs eat cat food as a treat? No, they cannot, especially when you are training them to stay put from cat’s food.


Make the Food Bowls Distinguishable

Don’t use similar food bowls. Different shapes and sizes are available. Getting one with a different shape would establish the right feeding pattern for your dog.

To do this, you can start by feeding them at different times. You can also keep your dog physically away when you are feeding the cat.

Feed the cat in a room where the dog cannot enter. Many pet owners prefer to install a selective pet door only for small animals. This is going to work if your dog is a big one.

Can dogs eat cat food when you are not looking? Dogs do it all the time! If you see your cat’s feeding bowl empty, chances are that your dog stole it. It seems funny but it’s not.


Teach Your Dog the “Leave It” Training

Can dogs eat cat food even after you train them not to do that? It can happen, but it means you have to be more patient.

Instead of just saying ‘No’, you can practice the ‘Leave it’ command. Use the training schedule mentioned above.


Separate Pets Around Food Time

You can even take your dog for a walk when you have filled the cat’s bowl.  This distracts them, and at the same time, makes them happy. Soon you should be able to establish the good habit of not eating the cat’s food.

Another great alternative is to buy a good dog-proof cat feeder. You can shop for some very neat options over the internet. These innovative feeders keep the dog away automatically.

Some pet-parents build their own exclusion feeder. You would simply need a big plastic box with an opening that allows only a small animal (guess who) to enter.


Try Giving Dog Food that Tastes Like Cat Food

If you are feeding kibbles to your dog and wet food to the cat, this can be a problem source. Try giving the dog canned wet food for a change.

You can also try separate raw food plans for your cat and dog. Home cooking is a good alternative to try here. Consider preparing a flavored meal for your dog that tastes just like cat food.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs eat cat food is one of the most frequently asked questions by pet parents. Here, we have got you covered with all the answers.

Can I Mix Cat Food With Dog Food?

No, you should not do that often. You are establishing a bad behavior pattern for the dog. It is also unhealthy in the long-term.


My Dog Will Only Eat Cat Food. Is It Safe?

If your dog has developed this habit, you should train him to change it. It is not a good thing for your pet.


Can Dogs Eat Cat Food Once?

Many pet-owners ask can dogs eat cat food for one day.  One day is not going to cause a problem. However, you should be careful about not trying this regularly.


My Dog Ate Cat Food And Is Now Sick. What Should I Do?

Note down the symptoms. Is your dog having diarrhea and vomiting? Are there any other signs? Your dog might have developed food intolerance. You need to consult a vet. The doctor will give your dog meds, and suggest an elimination diet to find the right food plan.

If your dog continues to eat cat food, the problem is going to escalate. For the long-term, you should be training your dog not to do that.


Can Dogs Eat Cat Food In A Pinch?

It is a common question. Many pet-parents ask can dogs eat cat food in an emergency. So, you have run out of dog food and it’s too late to go to the shop.  You can try giving them cat food. It is not going to cause any instant harm, but keep it moderate.

Do not overdo it because the high fat and protein content is not good for dogs.

You should try to avoid such situations though. Always take care to keep your pet food supplies well-stocked for both your pets.


What Happens If My Dog Eats Cat Food?

In the short-term, it can lead to an upset tummy for sensitive dogs. It causes obesity and reduces their life spans in the long-term. It can also cause pancreatitis.


Is It Okay For A Dog To Eat Canned Cat Food?

No, Dogs should not eat canned cat food. Canned cat foods are fat-rich, and may cause gastro-intestinal issues for dogs.


Takeaway – Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Can dogs eat cat food? Gorging on cat food is not a healthy choice for the dog. It can result in several problems. If your dog has this habit, you need to train him patiently not to do that.

Can dogs eat cat food
can dogs eat cat food

Sometimes, and only in emergencies, it may be alright to give your dog cat food. However, it is up to you to see that this does not grow into a regular thing. If it becomes a regular practice, you may see some signs of allergies in your dog.As a Pet Lover, it is better to know what dog food ingredients to avoid to keep the dog healthy.

If your Dog continuously eats Cat Food, then there can be 4 harmful side effects in Dog’s health

  1. Vomiting
  2. Obesity
  3. Pancreatitis
  4. Diarrhea

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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, food recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for pet food related questions.

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