If you’re lucky enough to own both a dog and a cat, then you may be all too familiar with your pup’s temptation to nibble on the cat’s food when they’re not watching. There’s no need to lose sleep over the very occasional snacking of each other’s food, however, if this behaviour is long term it may be a little more serious than you think. So, can dogs eat cat food and can cats eat dog food? We discuss…
So… Is cat food bad for dogs? And if so, why?
If your dog is eating cat food on a frequent basis then it’s time to stop. Cat food is actually very harmful to a dogs digestive system, and here’s why:
- Cat food is formulated for cat’s with very different dietary requirements. That’s why if a dog was to continuously eat cat food they would suffer from the imbalance in fibre, protein and nutrients.
- Whilst cats are much smaller than dogs (in general speaking), they actually require a lot more protein and fat. If a dog continuously intakes this amount of protein, you may find that they quickly gain excess weight and experience diarrhoea and vomiting. Long term this may lead to the development of pancreatitis.
Long story short… a dog eating cat food on a regular basis is not a good idea.
Help! I can’t stop my dog eating cat food
So far we’ve made it pretty black and white that dogs can’t eat cat food and that the solution is to stop this behaviour.
“Easier said than done!” I hear you cry.
Here’s some tips, tricks & tails you may want to consider…
- Introduce regulated meal times. We know a lot of cat owners allow free feeding (i.e. leaving their food out during the day and allowing the cat to feed when they choose), however, this is also providing your dog with opportunity to steal!
- Out of sight and out of reach. Due to cats’ nimble nature they can pretty much get about anywhere! Try elevating their food onto a surface that your dog can’t reach. If you prefer for your cats food to remain at floor level, then dedicate a room of the house as their feeding room. If your dog is trainable, then make it clear that the room is off limits. If your dog is as cheeky as mine, you may need to introduce a gate or cat flap to said room.
Ok, so dogs can’t eat cat food. But, can cats eat dog food?
You guessed it – dog food is equally dangerous for cats when eaten on a frequent basis. Here are the key reasons why feeding a cat dog food is a big no no:
- As mentioned above, cats more often than not tend to be much smaller than their canine counterparts, particularly within the jaw region. This means that larger kibble, like that found in dog food, is a very real choking hazard.
- We’ve already established that cats require more protein than dogs which is why their food is formulated with a higher protein content. Not only will dog food therefore result in a deficiency of protein, but this deficiency can lead to a cat’s body reacting by breaking down its muscle as a source for this deficiency.
- Another key difference between cats and dogs are their vitamin, mineral and amino acid requirements. A particularly notable amino acid called Taurine. Dogs are able to develop Taurine naturally, but cats do not and therefore need it in their food. A lack of Taurine will impact your cat’s eyes, heart and development. This may later result in cardiovascular (heart) problems and blindness!
Ok, so all of that may sound a little scary. But don’t worry… if your dog or cat hasn’t shown any of the symptoms listed above, then it isn’t likely that any serious damage has been caused. However, we do strongly advise that owners put the best practice of not feeding your dog cat food and vice versa!
To learn more about best practice when it comes to feeding your pet, dog or cat, then please feel free to read up on our pet advice page. Alternatively, you can try using our nifty cat and dog food calculator to see what Parcelpet recommends for you.