Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Food

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It's a Monday morning and you are just finishing getting ready for the day, feeding your pets. You give your dog her food and you give your cat her food for the day. Your dog, although hungry to eat his own food, abandons his bowl and goes after the cat food. In a moment’s time, your dog has devoured your cat’s food and returned to his own bowl to finish up his meal. To you, this is a bit frustrating and quite peculiar. Yet, understanding your dog’s desires for food other than her own can help you understand how to better care for your dog’s health. 

The Root of the Behavior

Although cat food and dog food look similar, they are quite different and made for two different types of animals. Yet, most dogs have an odd desire to devour cat food over the dog food that helps them receive proper nutrition. Cat food is mainly made up of meat because cats need the nutrients it provides for their body, whereas dog food does not need to be majority meat. Dog food needs to contain more fiber than meat can provide by itself. Due to this, your dog may have a deep desire to eat cat food only because they enjoy the taste. Once in a while, it obviously is not a bad thing to let your dog indulge in cat food, but it certainly is not a nutritious supplement for their health. There are also two main ingredients in cat food that is not in dog food. The first is called taurine, which is an amino acid that dogs make in their bodies and arachidonic acid, which cats need for their bodies. If your dog is after cat food often, it is best to limit how much they eat of it. If you have a dog that has a sensitive stomach, the cat food may be too strong for your dog and they could get sick from it. It is also not best to let your dog indulge in cat food too often because it can be hard on their livers and kidneys. Dogs are adjusted to have plants in their diet and meat is not a necessity like it is for cats. There is also a large amount of fat in cat food, as well. It is important to know that cat food is just a temptation and delicious treat for your dog, but it is not necessarily better for them.

Encouraging the Behavior

If you catch your dog going after your cat’s food, it is best not to encourage it. Cat food is not extremely harmful for your dog, unless they have a sensitive stomach. Yet, in the long run, cat food is not going to benefit your dog. In fact, it may harm their body in some ways. Dogs cannot handle large amounts of cat food on their liver and kidneys, as stated previously. If you do want to give your dog cat food as an award for good behavior, your dog may appreciate that. Yet, it is best to not give them total access to cat food on a daily basis. They will most likely go after it when they see it and ignore the food that provides them with the proper nutrients. Your dog needs nutrients that provide protein and fiber and your dog is most likely more adjusted to the human lifestyle than your cat is. If you feel like your dog has an over obsessive habit of stealing cat food, you may want to check with your veterinarian for health concerns. It is one thing for your dog to enjoy cat food, but you want to make sure that they are not missing something of nutritional value in their own meal. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you have a cat and a dog, it is best to feed them in different areas. Preferably, you should feed your cat up high. Your dog will not be able to get near the cat food and it will not be a temptation for your dog. If your dog has previously gotten into cat food, you want to make sure they do not react badly to it and you want to make sure that they are not boycotting their nutritional food. If you feel like you want to give your dog cat food once in a while as a reward, that is recommended as safe. Make sure your dog is receiving the nutrients they need, though. 


Even as humans, we like to sometimes indulge in a treat. Sometimes, we can get carried away with the amount of treats we give ourselves. Dogs are no different. Whether it is cake or cat food, a treat is a treat. We just need to make sure our health and wellbeing comes first, at all costs.