4 min read


Can Dogs Live on Cat Food?



4 min read


Can Dogs Live on Cat Food?


Listen, we get it. You care a ton about your four-legged friend and want to make sure he's healthy as possible, but that doesn't mean you haven't wondered about his diet and if it's possible to feed him things other than dog food. So, it begs the question, can you feed your dog cat food? 

What's cat food made of, anyway, and is it the same composition as doggo chow? We're sure you've heard of people feeding their dogs cat food, or vice versa, but that doesn't mean it's the wisest choice. 

In short, no, you shouldn't feed your pooch your kitten's food. In this article, we'll get pretty deep into what you should do if you think your pup's gotten into the cat food, how you should react if you realize he's been eating it for a while, and the signs you should look out for that point to your doggo eating cat food. 

Though dog and cat food may seem pretty similar on the surface, they're vastly different - as they should be, they're designed for two different types of animals! Your pooch may love the taste and want to chow down during kittie's dinner time, but it's important to maintain separate foods. 


SIgns Your Dog Has Been Consuming Too Much Cat Food

Obviously, dog food and cat food look pretty similar to each other, but when it comes down to it, they're pretty different. From specific proteins to the amount of carbohydrates and fats, dog and cat foods are pretty diverse. While your dog getting into just a touch of cat food isn't a big deal, your pup sneaking your cats food on a regular basis can mess up his healthy balance and lifestyle that you've spent time and effort to build! 

Dogs who are regularly being fed cat food will show certain symptoms and side effects that you can keep an eye on. For starters, your pup will certainly have an upset stomach most of the time, especially while he's digesting the kitten food. Because of the protein-dense diet of cats, it can upset pups with sensitive tummies. 

Even if your pup can eat like a goat, the makeup of the food isn't healthy. It can also be really hard on dog's livers because of the fat and protein. Next, you may notice your pup's waistline increasing. Cat food has more fat and protein and can contribute to obesity in dogs. 

Body Language

If you suspect your pup might be eating too much cat food, keep an eye out for signs like:

  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

If the behaviors above are coupled with signs like the ones below, it might be time to consult the vet:

  • Diarrhea Or Constipation
  • Liver Issues
  • Vomiting
  • Upset Stomach
  • Increase In Appetite
  • Weight Gain

The History of Dog's Chowin' Down


Dogs are known for being historically famous for eating everything in sight. New shoes? Chewed up and swallowed. That piece of ham on your plate at Thanksgiving? Consider it gone. But cat food? Yes, even cat food.

Dogs can be known to have iron stomachs and they go after anything that resembles food, cat food included. But cat food has been historically acknowledged by vets as a formula that doesn't bode well for dogs.  

In an article about how to handle your dog's taste for cat food, Dr Patty Khuly states that the formula that makes up most cat foods is wildly unhealthy for dogs because of the high tendency in which it causes them to be obese. In fact, according to case studies and experiments feeding cat food to dogs, many pups had an increased risk of developing a case of pancreatitis.

The Science Behind Cat Food


We've already made it pretty clear that it isn't a good idea to feed your dog cat food, we've even outlined some of the reasons why, and what to look for, but let's dive deeper in the science of it. 

What's in cat food that makes it so bad for your dogs? For starters, Cat food contains Vitamin A,  a must-have for cats, whereas pups can be fine with beta carotene alone. The amount in a cat's diet is not an optimum choice for dogs. 

Another reason is the high level of protein, as we've discussed before. While some pups need lots of protein, they don't need anywhere near the amount that carnivorous cats need, and eating that much protein at once can be harmful to your dog's digestion. 

Additionally, cat food contains Arachidonic, an acid that dogs can produce on their own, but cats cannot. Because of this, it's put into cat food and can be too much for pups to digest correctly. Taurine is also an ingredient found in cat food because cats need it, but can't produce it, unlike dogs. Dogs eating cat food with excess taurine can cause an imbalance in their systems. 

Training You to Train Your Dog to Leave Cat Food Alone


Just like other aspects of dog ownership, training your dog to accomplish a task or avoid doing something often has to do with training yourself to make changes, too. Train your dog to eat only from his bowl, at his designated times. Incorporate a reward system for his own food, so he can learn that he's only supposed to eat the food you lay down for him. 

Additionally, make sure you have an appropriate amount of food for your dog and that he's getting enough to eat so that later, he's not scavenging for your cat's food. Train your pup to use food puzzles to keep him occupied with his own bowl during mealtime. 

As for you, train yourself to feed your cat at a specific time instead of free feeding your kitten. An eager cat will finish all her food at once, rather than graze throughout the day, leaving bits and pieces for your dog to gobble up. Place your cat's food on a high countertop as well and consider investing in a gate that will separate the two's meal locations.

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By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus

Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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