This is one of the most frequent asked questions by dog owners: ‘can dogs eat cat food?’ or ‘is cat food OK for dogs?’
Commercial foods for dogs and cats seem similar on the exterior, but there are some significant nutritional content differences.
They use similar meat ingredients, but there are some basic differences between dog and cat foods that you may not see from just reading the package.
Felines and canines are different and they need different nutrients.
Felines are obligate carnivores, meaning they need to eat meat as their main protein source while canines are omnivores and need a diet with a large amount of fiber than strictly carnivorous.
However, most dogs love cat food because it’s the higher protein and fat contents and the influence it has on the taste.
A sporadic gulp or two of cat food won’t injury your dog’s health.
Though, dogs that overeat cat food are expected to suffer digestive upsets (diarrhea and vomit) from the higher fat levels contained in cat food.
In addition, they can also develop kidney problems due to the extra protein provided by the cat food.
Dog’s Nutritional Needs versus Cat’s Nutritional Needs
- Beta-carotene: dogs use it as a source of vitamin A, cats don’t.
- Arachidonic acid: cats cannot produce this element and need a supplement on their diet.
- Protein and Fat: dogs require lower levels of protein and fat in their diet than cats.
- Taurine: cats require this amino acid in their diet, dogs can produce this amino acid by their own.
- Calories: cat food is higher in calories.
- Vegetables: dog foods should contain vegetables and a higher content of fiber, cat food doesn’t contain vegetables.
- Zinc & Vitamin E: cat food contains less zinc and vitamin E than dog foods.
What can happen if my dog eats cat food?
Will cat food hurt my dog?
Diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis are potential results for feeding cat food to dogs.
The caloric density, high protein content, and substantial doses of fat aren’t appropriate to canine gastrointestinal tracts or to their waistlines.
How to Keep Your Dog Away From Cat Food
Keeping your dog out of your cat’s food requires some planning.
Here are some tips:
- Put the dog and cat food bowls in different parts of your home
- Set an obstacle such as a gate for dog
- Place the cat dish higher that your dog can reach
- Add a cat door to laundry room door that only cat can access
- Feed you cat when you dog goes for a walk
In conclusion, cat food is formulated for a cat’s metabolism and dog food is made for dogs.
A dog that eats cat food will surely gain too much weight and will miss out on some essential nutrients.
So the answer to ‘can dogs eat cat food?’ is simple: they should not.