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Can a Dog Eat Cat Food? What You Need To Know!

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Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

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There is a large variety of commercial dog food available, so there doesn’t seem to be a need to give a pooch anything but food meant for them. However, sometimes we run out of dog food before we have an opportunity to get to the store, or the dog might get into the cat’s food without permission. But should dogs be eating cat food It’s a good question that all dog owners should ask and find the answer to!

We put together this guide about feeding cat food to dogs, which should help clear up the topic. For the most part, dogs should not be eating cat food. However, doing so may not be harmful and could even be beneficial for older dogs. Here is everything that you need to know.

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The Difference Between Dog and Cat Food

The biggest difference between cat and dog food is protein content. Cats are carnivores, so they require nothing more than animal protein to thrive. But dogs are omnivores, so their natural diet is much more varied and includes things like grains, fruits, and vegetables. Therefore, commercial cat and dog food is formulated differently.

According to PetMD, cats require a total of 11 amino acids in their diet, while dogs require only 10. So, commercial cat food contains more amino acids than are needed by a dog. Also, most cat foods contain more protein, fat, and taurine than dog foods. Due to the extra protein and fat in cat food, dogs tend to love it. The problem is that cat food can exceed a dog’s nutritional needs, which can be dangerous.

pouring dog food in food bowl
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The Risks of Feeding Cat Food to Dogs

There are a few reasons that feeding cat food to a dog could be problematic. First, dogs with sensitive gastrointestinal tracts may find cat food to be too rich, which can cause problems like vomiting. Also, dogs with liver and kidney disease are sensitive to protein. Too much could make their disease worse as time goes on. Finally, obese dogs will only get more obese while eating cat food, even if just as a treat.

It’s best to keep cat food away from dogs if they have any of these situations. Cat food is more palatable to dogs due to its high protein content. Therefore, dogs could be prone to overeating it and becoming overweight or obese. With weight gain comes the risk of developing problems like diabetes and cancer.

french bulldog eating
Image Credit: Tienuskin, Shutterstock

When It Might Be a Good Idea to Feed Cat Food to Your Dog

There are a few instances when cat food is safe and even beneficial for dogs. For example, dogs that have cancer or experience weight loss for some reason may benefit from eating cat food because of its high protein and fat content. Dogs with poor appetites due to colds or other illnesses can get more nutrition from a small amount of cat food than they could from a serving of dog food. Kitty kibble is also a great option as occasional treats and/or snacks for healthy dogs. It can even be better than most human foods.

Hunting dog eating
Image Credit: Nadezhda Zaitceva, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Feeding your cat food to your dog is not typically recommended, but it may be beneficial for dogs with certain health conditions. It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian and figure out what diet your pooch should be on. There are many diet options, but the best one will suit your dog’s unique situation.


Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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