Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

The short answer is no. Just as how bears are different from tigers and lions, dogs are different from cats and require a diet that is suitable for their needs. Complications may arise if you decide to feed your dog with cat food as it will not have the correct balance of protein, fibre, and other nutrients that your dog needs to thrive.

Of course, just like how humans could technically survive eating cat food ourselves, it would be detrimental to our overall health in the long run. Dogs are no exception because the nutrient imbalance can lead to various health issues such as gastrointestinal upset, obesity, and pancreatitis (which requires immediate veterinary care). You may not see any obvious ill-like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea, but if you feed your dog with cat food, their protein levels may skyrocket and put unnecessary strain on their livers and kidneys.

This may be a challenge for pet owners that own both dogs and cats especially when your dog is a cheeky one and likes to steal some food out of your cat’s bowl. Therefore it is very important to keep your cat food away from your dog even if it means putting their bowls on different sides of the kitchen if your dog cannot stop eating your cat’s food. Eating cat food on occasion can also lead to vomiting and diarrhoea for your dog.

You might wonder: what is the big deal? Aren’t they both pet food? Well yes, but they are tailored to a pet’s specific needs, otherwise companies will just be dishing out general pet food. It is important to know that dogs are omnivores and can eat a diet that is both plant-based and animal-based. 

However, cats are obligate carnivores which mean they only consume animal protein, and cat food will have a higher protein content level and fat as compared to dog food. This means that your dog would not get all the necessary nutrients it should get from plant-based ingredients. 

For example, cats require 11 essential amino acids to be provided by their diet whereas dogs only require 10. To meet the higher nutrient requirements for cat food, most cat food manufacturers would increase concentrations of protein fat and include that one additional amino acid cats require called Taurine.

With a higher amount of fat and protein it is no surprise that it may come across as tasty, fragrant, and enticing for your dog. However, this also means that this will tend to exceed your dog’s nutrient requirements in those specific areas. 

Furthermore, feeding your dog any form of cat food might increase their appetite for it in the future and this may cause them to stay away from the usual dog food that you feed them. This is simply because cat food tend to have a stronger smell and flavour. Dogs have a very powerful sense of smell which is why they displayed interest in your cat's meaty dinner in the first place. 

However, once they take a bite, that is probably the point in time which it will be difficult to forbid your dog from eating cat food. It is also no surprise that dogs tend to be more mischievous which is why they might experiment or try out your cat's food as it is seen as a forbidden treat.

While it is not necessarily "bad" for your dog to accidentally eat cat food in place of its own, it may prove to be detrimental for dogs that have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract or has kidney or liver disease, or those who are already obese. 

In some special cases, for dogs battling cancer or experiencing weight loss, poor appetite or even muscle wasting, cat food may be an alternative to main dog food because this will help them get more calories per serving to increase their weight. However, it is always important to consult your vet with regards to your dog's nutritional needs before making a decision to change its diet.

What about cat’s treats? You might think it would not hurt to feed your dog some cat biscuits or cat treats however similarly, it is not recommended to feed your dog with cat-intended food on a regular basis.

So, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you get lazy to move cat food away from your dog, you might want to reconsider.

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