While most dogs love to eat cat food, there’s a reason why cats eat cat food and dogs eat dog food. Your dog probably won’t be harmed by sneaking some of the cat’s food now and then, but it isn’t something you should give him on a consistent basis.
Cats vs. Dogs: Nutrition
Cats and dogs have different dietary requirements. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that cats must eat meat. It’s a biological necessity. Dogs, contrary to some beliefs, are omnivores, which means they eat meat and vegetables, so they need a more varied diet than just meat alone to meet their nutritional requirements.
Cat food is much higher in meat-based protein than dog food. This might be why cat food is so appealing to dogs, since the meat smell and flavor are so strong. However, just because dogs crave it doesn’t mean they should eat it.
Unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise, the best food for your dog is dog food, not cat food.
Complications of Feeding Cat Food to Dogs
If your dog eats a lot of cat food on a regular basis, or if you are feeding your dog a diet of cat food instead of dog food, complications may arise, as it does not have the correct balance of protein, fiber, and all of the nutrients dogs need to stay healthy.
Dogs can certainly survive on cat food in a tough spot, but the nutrient imbalance can lead to gastrointestinal upset, obesity, and pancreatitis. Pancreatitis requires immediate veterinary care. Symptoms include abdominal pain and a hunched back, lethargy and weakness, appetite loss, vomiting and diarrhea, a distended abdomen, and fever. Even if your dog eats cat food and suffers no obvious ill effects, the high protein levels can be hard on his liver and kidney.
My Dog Ate Cat Food – What Do I Do?
Dogs get into cat food all of the time. Some steal from the cat’s bowl, others break into food bags and containers. Eating cat food on occasion may lead to nothing more than vomiting and diarrhea, but this can vary from dog to dog. If your dog exhibits signs of intestinal discomfort after eating cat food, call your veterinarian.
If your dog regularly gets into cat food, it is best change where you keep your cat’s food or where and how you feed your cat.
As a general rule, try to discourage your dog from eating cat food unsupervised by placing it out of his reach. As always, pay attention to your dog’s reaction when feeding him something new and talk to your veterinarian about any concerns you may have.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
If you are a dog lover who also shares your home with cats, there is one more thing you need to know. Just as it’s dangerous to feed only cat food to dogs, cats cannot survive on dog food alone. Dog food lacks sufficient vitamin A and taurine, two nutrients cats need to live healthy lives. Dog food is also deficient in arachidonic acid and lacks the adequate meat-protein levels that cats need.
Feeding an appropriate complete-and-balanced diet to your pet is one of the most important components of keeping him in good health. For more advice on feeding your dog, check out the video below.