dog stares at cats during feeding time

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Many dog owners also own cats, pet parents tend to have both species of animal in their homes.

Having both dogs and cats can be quite the adventure, but feeding time shouldn’t be as adventurous.

We all know that dogs should eat food made for dogs and cats should consume cat food. But what if you want to buy just one bag of food and split it between both animals? Can dogs consume food made for cats?

While the answer to this question varies depending on multiple reasons, most of which we will cover below in this article, the ultimate answer is no.

Feeding cat food to your dog can cause your furry friend to become malnourished.

Healthy adult dogs need food that is balanced with the right vitamins, minerals, and protein.

What Happens if My Dog Eats Cat Food?

Dog Lick Cat's Ear
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If your dog steals a few bites of cat food out of your cat’s bowl they will likely be fine. Cat kibble in small quantities won’t hurt or kill your dog, but if you introduce cat food to your dog as a primary source of food, this could become a problem.

Dry cat food is balanced with an additional amino acid called taurine that dogs don’t need. The cat-based diet is heavily focused on meat-based proteins which makes this food bad for dogs.

Dogs need plant-based and meat-based protein to avoid health issues and gastrointestinal upset.

Cats primarily eat meat, they are true carnivores. Canines however are omnivores which means they eat plants and meat.

Only overweight dogs and dogs battling cancer can be given a diet consisting of mostly meat.

Can I Feed My Dog Cat Food in a Pinch?

Dog and Cat Together
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Allowing your dog to have food bad for dogs is not a good idea. When there are changes in their diet it can cause issues, especially if they have a sensitive stomach. Cat food can also damage your dog’s liver, similar to how some human foods can.

Dogs are not obligate carnivores and should consume a more varied diet, which is why dry dog food is always best.

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Can Small Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Can Small Dogs Eat Cat Food
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Small dogs eating cat food is not advised. Small dogs can have sensitive stomachs which can make cat food bad for their digestive tract.

If you are looking for a way to promote weight loss in your small breed, home-prepared diets that limit the number of carbohydrates can help.

Why Do Dogs Love Cat Food?

Dog Stares at Cat's Food
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Dogs love cat food because they love to consume meat, and cat food, especially wet cat food smells and tastes like meat. Dog and cat food may look similar but cat food is made based on the biological necessity of your cat’s needs.

Canines are natural hunters, most of what they hunt for in the wild are other animals. Since your cat’s dinner smells like meat, your dog will see it as their win for the day.

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How to Prevent Dogs From Eating Cat Food

How to Prevent Dogs From Eating Cat Food
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If your dog ate cat food or won’t stop eating the cat’s food, you may need to keep the cat food out of your dog’s reach. Only your cat should have access to their food, and your dog eating cat food means that both are able to access it.

Here are a few tricks that will help your canine companion successfully ignore the cat’s food!

  1. First, you want to buy a tall baby gate that will block where your cat’s food is located. You want a sturdy baby gate, you don’t want your dog to be able to knock it down.
  2. Always keep cat and dog food bowls in separate rooms, many dogs will eat other pets’ food out of habit or availability.
  3. If you have a large breed of dog, you can also install a small cat flap into one of your doors that your dog can’t fit through.
  4. Large dogs may knock down a tall baby gate, so having a way for your cat to eat without being spooked may be best.
  5. You can also buy a cat tree for your feline friend. The cat tree will allow them to climb to their food without being disturbed by their canine housemates.

Nutritional Differences Between Dog and Cat Food

The food that your feline friend consumes is primarily meat and essential nutrients based on the needs of your cat. Cat food is high in animal-based protein, essential amino and fatty acids, as well as vitamins such as A, D, E, and K.

Dog food doesn’t have as much protein as cat food, but still has about 18 to 25 perfect protein sourced from plants and animals. Dog food also has a high percentage of carbohydrates, fats, and essential vitamins such as A, B, D, E, and K.


Remember, dogs eat dog food and you don’t want to give your dog foods that can hurt them.

Always provide your pet with food that is right for their breed and seek immediate medical attention if your pet consumes anything that causes them to be lethargic or if vomiting persists for more than 24 hours.

Proper pet care is important if you want to be a pet parent to any animal.

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