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Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? (Health Info, FAQ, & Safety Tips)

Written by: Victoria Arnold

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cat with food bowl on white background

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? (Health Info, FAQ, & Safety Tips)

That cat food smell might be enticing to your pup, but just because your dog wants to eat the cat’s food doesn’t mean he should eat it. Dogs and cats have different nutritional needs, which is why their food is created and balanced differently.

Dog food vs. cat food

Cats are carnivores and need a high meat content in their diet. Their food is meat-based and has much more protein and fat than dog food. Dogs, however, are omnivores, which means they eat meat, vegetables, and fruits. Dogs require more of a balanced diet of these ingredients.

Dog food is nutritionally deficient for cats. And cat food is typically much too high in protein and fats for dogs — which makes it smell great, but unhealthy for dogs to eat cat food over time.

Can dogs eat dry cat food?

Unless directed by your veterinarian to do so, you should not feed dry cat food or wet cat food to your dog. Although eating it on occasion wouldn’t be toxic for your dog (like if your dog gets into the cat’s food), eating cat food in place of his balanced dog food diet or as a treat would be bad for your dog’s health.

However, there are certain situations where a veterinarian may recommend cat food to a dog who has cancer and has lost too much weight or muscle mass and isn’t eating well. Always check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Is cat food dangerous for my dog?

Cat food is too high in protein and fat for dogs to eat — even as an occasional treat. When dogs eat cat food, it can lead to the following health problems:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Obesity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
cute sick dog waiting for the vet
Image Credit: Utku Demirsoy, Shutterstock

How to stop your dog from eating cat food

  1. Keep your cat’s food in a separate room from where your dog eats, with the door closed.
  2. Feed your cat at regular two to three meal intervals — just like your dog — rather than leaving their food to sit out all day.
  3. Place your cat’s food up on a high perch or countertop where your cat can eat it out of reach from your dog.
  4. Keep your cat’s food in a sealed container, like the Yamazaki Home Airtight Pet Food Storage containers,  throughout the day, so that your dog isn’t smelling it and tempted to eat it.

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