Juggling the diets of different pets can be challenging, especially if the pets live together in the same household. Occasionally, your dog might eat your cat’s food or the other way round. But is it safe for dogs to eat cat food?

Most dogs love cat food and they find the higher levels of protein and fat found in cat food to be irresistible. However, there is a reason why dog food is meant for dogs and cat food is meant for cats. While your dog may not be harmed by occasionally taking a bite of the cat’s food, you should not offer him cat food on a consistent basis.  

Why shouldn’t I feed my dog cat food?

Contrary to some beliefs, dogs and cats have different dietary and nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they can only obtain their nutrients from animal products. As such, they must eat meat. Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores, meaning their dietary requirements are obtained from both meat and vegetables. Therefore, dogs have a more varied diet that requires more than meat alone to meet their nutritional needs.  

Cat food is almost entirely composed of animal proteins. The amount of meat-based protein in cat food is much higher than in dog food. This makes cat food quite appealing to dogs since the meat flavor is strong. However, this does not mean that cat food is good for dogs. Feeding your dog too much cat food can lead to some complications.  

Can dogs eat cat food without getting sick?

Feeding your dog cat food on a regular basis may cause health complications to arise. This is because cat food does not meet all the nutritional requirements needed by your dog to stay healthy. 

Dogs can certainly survive on a diet meant for cats. However, nutrient imbalance and high protein levels can lead to health complications. Even though they may enjoy cat food, it is not particularly healthy for dogs in the long term.  

Cat food has a much higher fat content than dog food. Feeding your dog food with too much fat content such as cat food can contribute to the development of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis requires immediate veterinary care. Its symptoms include lethargy and weakness, loss of appetite, severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, a hunched back, fever, and a distended abdomen.

Continuously feeding your dog cat food also puts him at risk of developing dental problems. Cat biscuits are usually too small to be properly chewed by medium or large dog breeds. This tends to affect your dog’s oral health in the long term. 

Cat food can also lead to gastrointestinal upsets in dogs. Suddenly changing your dog’s diet can cause him to vomit or have a bout of diarrhea, especially if he has a sensitive stomach. 

Feeding your pup cat food can lead to the development of musculoskeletal problems. Puppies need a complete and nutritionally balanced diet for their growth and development. Cat food lacks the proper calcium to phosphorus ratios required by puppies for the development of strong bones and muscles. As such, you should avoid offering your puppy cat food. 

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How to keep your dog from eating cat food

If you have a dog and a cat in the same household, the best way of keeping your dog from eating cat food is to separate your pets when feeding them. By feeding your cat in another room, your dog won’t be able to access the cat food. 

Another alternative that works best with small dogs is to set a sturdy baby gate that only your cat can jump over. This will help keep them separate during feeding times. If you have a big dog, you installing a cat flap that only your cat can get through may be a great solution. 

Also, if your cat is done eating and some food is left behind, you should put it away to prevent your dog from sneaking in a bite. You could also serve your cat food on a high surface like a counter or even a refrigerator. Cats have no trouble getting to high places that dogs can’t reach. 

The bottom line is to always keep your cat’s food out of your dog’s reach. It may take a while but with consistent guidance, you’ll be able to help your dog stop eating cat food. 

Is it okay for my dog to eat cat food if I run out of dog food?

Dogs can eat cat food, but it should not be part of a long-term diet for dogs. Your dog sneaking in bites of cat food on rare occasions is unlikely to do any harm. For this reason, if on a rare occasion you are unable to access dog food but have cat food, feeding him cat food will rarely have any side effects. However, a sudden change in diet could result in gastrointestinal issues. 

Therefore, the best advice is to ensure that you have enough food for your dog and cat at all times. Maintaining your dog on a consistent diet of quality dog food minimizes the risk of future health problems. 

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