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Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

4 min read

Cats and dogs might venture into each other’s food bowls from time to time. If you’re wondering if cat food is bad for dogs, read our article to find out why and how to keep dogs out of your cat’s dinner.

Have you noticed your dog making a beeline straight for your cat’s food? In this article we’re looking at why dogs love cat food so much, we’ll be answering the question is cat food bad for dogs and discussing what to do if you discover your dog has raided the cat’s dinner.

 

Can dogs eat cat food?

The occasional stolen bite of cat food is unlikely to cause harm to your dog. However, it is not recommended to feed dogs cat food, especially not long-term as part of a regular meal.

Feeding cat food to your dog is likely to have unintended consequences for their health and wellbeing. Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores which means their meals consists of higher levels of meat, while dogs are omnivores, meaning that they need different balance of nutrients to remain healthy.

The same is true when it comes to treat time. If you’re wondering whether dogs can eat those delicious cat biscuits, it’s not recommended to use them as dog treats on a regular basis. Also, be mindful that offering even the smallest morsel of cat treat to your dog can stimulate their future appetite for it. As cat food can often have a stronger smell and flavour, it can be difficult to break the habit once it’s formed.

Brown cat is looking at white fluffy dog.

Is cat food bad for dogs?

Cat food is bad for dogs in the long term because it lacks the right balance of nutrients that a dog needs. The content of cat food is higher in protein as this is a key nutritional need of felines. Dogs need protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in different proportions to cats. This is why feeding your dog cat food on a recurrent basis is detrimental to their health, as it can lead to common dog digestive problems and various health issues including:

 

Why do dogs love cat food?

Cat and dog food look similar and come from similar packaging, so you might be wondering whether it’s confusion on the part of your dog that makes them nose dive straight into the cat’s meal. Chances are they know exactly what they’re doing. A dog’s powerful sense of smell might have triggered the initial interest in your feline’s meaty dinner, but that first taste has probably sealed the deal. This is because cat food may seem more flavourful due to all the meaty ingredients. Another possible reason why your dog shows so much interest for cat food is their love for mischief. If you’ve got a ‘rebel’ canine on your hands, they might have a go at another pet’s dinner just because it is a forbidden treat.

White cat and fluffy dog are looking at their owner.

How to prevent dogs from eating cat food

If your dog has made a habit out of stealing a few bites from your cat’s food bowl, there are a few tricks you can try to discourage this behaviour.

Feeding your cat and your dog in separate rooms will help put some distance between the dog and their newfound love for cat food. Consider placing your cat’s food bowl higher up and out of your dog’s reach. Adult cats can usually reach higher surfaces with ease, so the difference in placement won’t be a problem for your feline, but it will help keep their food out of the dog’s sight. However, this is not appropriate for older cats, or those with arthritis. Installing a crate for your cat can also help them have some peace and quiet during their meal while keeping canine house mates at distance.

 

What to do if your dog has eaten cat food

While the answer to the question ‘is cat food bad for dogs?’ is yes in the long term, you’re probably wondering if there are any immediate side effects to be aware of. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any unusual reactions. Although cat food is not on the list of harmful foods for dogs, your dog may experience a digestive upset. Dog vomiting and diarrhoea are possible side effects, but should be short-lived. However, speak to your vet if these symptoms persist.

If you’re wondering if your cat has taking an interest in the dog’s food bowl instead, our article Can cats eat dog food will help shed some light.