Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Written March 23rd, 2013 by
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Recently I wrote an article explaining the dangers of feeding a dog food to a cat. Once or twice, in an emergency is okay, but over the long term, feeding dog food to a cat can cause serious health problems for the cat, but what about feeding cat food to a dog?

Dogs are immediately attracted to cat food and very few dogs would refuse to eat cat food if it was offered to them. That is because cat food contains more meat and as such it smells more appealing to a dog.

Cat food contains more protein, and more fat, than dog food and as such overtime it could contribute to weight and health concerns in the dog, including diabetes. Other potential problems include pancreatitis, liver or kidney problems, and bladder stones.

Of course one problem to the owner is that cat food is more expensive than dog food so if you feed cat food to your dog you are wasting money because your dog does not need such a rich food. Cat food is more expensive because it should contain more meat protein, while dogs can tolerate more vegetable matter and as such their food does not contain quite so much meat.

© by Author, Shih Tzu puppy

© by Author, Shih Tzu puppy

How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Cat Food

Dogs typically have their food restricted to two, or three, meals per day, but cats do better if they are allowed to browse, to nibble their food throughout the day. As such the cat food is always a temptation. The best way of preventing a dog from eating your cat’s food is to move your cat’s food somewhere your dog cannot get it.

You might find a place for your cat’s food where your cat is allowed to jump up, but your dog cannot access. Some people find keeping the cat’s food on top of their clothes drier works well. Put a towel on top of the drier and you may need a small stool to help the cat jump up, or have a cat tower next to the drier so your cat can climb up.

Other people restrict a dog’s access to the room where the cat food is by using a baby gate. These can be stepped over by people.

Other Dog Feeding Tips

If your dog does sneak a mouthful of cat food now or then it won’t really harm your dog.

Dogs should use stainless steel, or ceramic, bowls for food and water, not plastic; this also applies to cats. Plastic is actually porous and cannot be disinfected well. Bacteria can grow in plastic dishes, contributing to acne in pets, and even bladder problems.

You might also want to read “How Much Dog Food to Feed My Dog?

This article has been written based on the author’s experience in the pet food industry (owned a pet supply store and took courses on pet food and nutrition), you can also read this ASPCA article.


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I have worked with pets for many years, been to college to study horses, worked in an animal shelter, kept pets, owned my own pet supply store, and currently live on a hobby farm in Alberta. I have sheep, a donkey, llama, have kept chickens, pheasants, and pigeons, as well as lots of other critters. I am also interested in travel and science. I am not a veterinarian but have a lot of pet and animal knowledge.

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