Can dogs eat cat food? Yes, it’s safe for healthy dogs to eat cat food once in a while. However, it’s not something they should do regularly as the added fat and protein in cat food can result in some extra weight gain.

Although the majority of dogs enjoy eating their cat friends’ food (and vice versa), there is a reason dogs should eat dog food and cats should eat cat food. While a dog eating cat food once may not experience adverse health effects, it’s something you shouldn’t encourage.

Dog versus Cat Nutrition

Dogs and cats have very different nutritional needs. A cat is a carnivore, meaning it needs to eat meat to survive. It’s a biological necessity. Contrary to some beliefs, dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat meat and vegetables. As a result, they require a more diverse diet than only meat to meet their nutritional needs.

Cat food contains much higher meat-based protein than dog food, along with 11 essential amino acids, whereas dogs only need 10. Given how strongly the smell and flavor of meat are present in cat food, this may explain why dogs find cat food so alluring. Unless your vet says otherwise, eating cat food is a no. The best food for your dog is its own pet food. 

Complications from Eating Dog Food

When a dog eats cat food regularly, it can lead to adverse health effects. Complications can arise as your dog is not getting the correct balance of protein, fiber, and nutrients required for its body.

Dogs can survive on cat food when times are down, but the nutrient imbalance can lead to gastrointestinal upset, obesity, and pancreatitis over a long period. This is especially so for dogs prone to gastrointestinal problems and kidney or liver disease. 

Even if your dog eats a little cat food occasionally and you see no harm, it can still take a toll on your pup’s insides as the high-protein levels can be hard to process, affecting his liver and kidneys.

When Cat Food Can Be Okay For Dogs

There are times when cat food can be acceptable for dogs. Some dogs, such as those battling cancer, may benefit from cat food because of their extreme weight loss, muscle wasting, and poor appetite. Cat food may stimulate their appetites better and provide them with more calories per serving as opposed to home-prepare diets. 

The same is true for cat kibble, which can be a healthier, more nutritious substitute for human foods, such as cheese, chicken, or peanut butter, which contain high concentrations of a single nutrient. This can make cat kibble better treats or rewards for training than human food.

For owners who rather not feed their pups cat food, fresh dog food made with human-grade ingredients is an excellent alternative with its high-protein content and meaty taste that dogs love. A Pup Above uses a single-source protein, like beef, turkey, chicken, or pork, and non-GMO vegetables and superfoods in its fresh dog food recipes, cooking the ingredients in a sous-vide method to retain all their wholesome goodness. 

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating The Cat’s Food

Have all your attempts at keeping your pet at bay from his feline friend’s food been thwarted? The following tips may be helpful.

  • Make Their Food Bowls Distinguishable

    To be fair to your dog, it might be challenging to distinguish between the bowl  that he’s allowed to eat and those of the cats that he should not touch. Make your dog’s bowl look significantly different from one another to aid your dog. Change the color of the bowl or size. If you have a placemat under your pet’s bowl, change that too.
  • Teach the “Leave It” Command

    The AKC has a tutorial on this, which teaches your dog to, you guessed it, “leave it.” After your dog understands the Leave It command, the next time he tries to edge some cat food , say, “leave it.” With daily practice, this method can work.
  • Feed One at a Time

    One of the best ways is to feed one at a time. Feed the dog first as he is less likely to go after the cat’s dinner if he has his belly full. If your dog lives to eat, this might not work so well. The next tip would be more helpful.
    • Feed in Separate Areas

      Place your cat’s bowl in a different room than your dog’s eating area to help prevent your dog from eating the cat’s food. Better yet, place it in an area they can’t access. On top of the refrigerator if you need to. A cat can reach it, but a dog, not so quickly.
      • Pick Up Uneaten Cat Food

        If you’re used to leaving food out for your cat and dog throughout the day, removing it once you know your pet is done can lessen your dog’s chance of sneaking some kitty food bites. It may take some time for your pets to learn when to eat. However, the benefits of a feeding schedule can be beneficial to your dogs’ health.

        Bottom Line

        Can dogs eat cat food? While cat food is not deadly, it’s not something they should eat regularly, and even a little bit of dogs eating cat food can lead to future problems. The easiest way to keep your dog off his feline friend’s bowl is to feed them in different rooms. 

        If that is impossible, use a baby gate to separate them. This can work best if you have a small dog that can’t jump over it. Alternatively, you can feed them in their crates or one inside and the other outside.

        One of the most crucial aspects of maintaining your pet’s health is feeding them a suitable, comprehensive, balanced diet that is best for them.