It is no news that dogs will eat just about anything they can lay their mouths on – from your smelly sock to the remnants of your dinner. And if you own a cat, then you must have occasionally witnessed your canine buddy making attempts to eat the kitty’s food.
But, can dogs eat dry or wet cat food? No, dogs aren’t recommended to be fed with cat food, and vice versa. Both cat and dog foods are formulated to cater to different nutritional needs, and feeding a pooch with cat kibble usually results in nutrient overload. Additionally, the high protein and fat content synonymous with dry cat food can cause harm to a pooch’s internal organs.
As seen in the answering paragraph, cat food is not the best choice for pooches, and continuous consumption of a feline diet will invariably cause more harm than good for dogs. Fortunately, there are some tested and tried methods for keeping your canine buddy away from the cat’s food, and we’ve outlined a few of them in this article.
However, before we go into all this, let’s see what distinguishes cat food from dog kibble and why it isn’t safe to continuously feed a pooch with kitty food.
Can Dogs Eat Dry Or Wet Cat Food?
Both cat and dog food are formulated to cater to different needs; Hence, ideally, a dog shouldn’t be fed with either dry or wet cat food.
Is Cat Food Different From Dog Food?
Dogs are omnivores by nature, and their diets, which typically comprise a rich assortment of proteins (both meat and plant-based), carbs, fruits, and veggies, are highly representative of this fact.
On the other hand, cats are primarily carnivores, and their nutritional requirements are met by dry or wet diets containing a significant amount of proteins and fats.
Also, the absence of fruits and vegetables in a cat’s diet, coupled with a kitty’s inability to convert nutrients in fruits to essential vitamins, usually means that the feline diet typically contains a significant amount of vitamin supplements.
Additionally, feline diets typically contain several supplements, which are usually not needed by dogs.
Essential fatty and amino acids such as taurine and arachidonic acid are synthesized naturally within a pooch’s body, but a cat’s inability to produce these nutrients naturally means they must be present in the kitty’s food as supplements.
Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?
Generally, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines state that adult cat foods should contain a minimum of 26% protein content, while for adult dogs, the recommended minimum of 18% protein is significantly lower.
Of course, these figures are just guidelines, and most dog foods contain between 25 to 30% protein, while feline kibble typically contains between 30 to 45% protein.
As inferred from the figures stated above, continuously feeding a pooch with feline food will mean that you’re exposing the Fido to more protein and fat than needed, and this can develop into problems for the pooch.
Consequently, it is recommended that you avoid feeding a dog with either dry or wet cat food. And if you have a Fido that is fond of taking bites from the kitty’s plates, you should put measures in place to discourage this habit.
However, this isn’t to say that cat food is completely bad for dogs, and for pooches battling with weight loss or a lack of appetite, the calorie-rich, better-tasting wet cat food can be a great alternative to canine diets.
In the same vein, cat kibble and biscuits also make great choices as occasional treats for your canine buddy, compared to substances such as peanut butter and cheese.
That said, if at all you’re to feed your canine buddy with either wet or dry cat food, it is vital that you do so only in moderation, as continuous feeding of a pooch with feline kibble can be injurious to the dog’s health.
What Are The Dangers Of Feeding Dogs With Cat Food?
Side effects of feeding a dog with cat food range from a severe nutritional imbalance to the development of health conditions such as obesity, bloat, and pancreatitis, just to mention a few.
The first and foremost reason dogs shouldn’t eat cat food, either dry or wet, is that feline kibble doesn’t contain the right amount of fiber, proteins, and minerals to cater to a pooch’s nutritional needs.
Develops Into Health Conditions
Feeding a pooch with cat food on one or two different occasions may not necessarily cause problems. But continuous feeding of a pooch with cat kibble will result in such a Fido suffering from severe malnutrition, which can develop into several health complications such as obesity.
Regular consumption of the high protein content in cat food by a dog puts great stress on the pooch’s kidney and liver.
And the frequent consumption of the excessive fat contained in the feline diet can lead to a pooch developing pancreatitis.
If a dog eats little amounts of cat food, then there is usually no cause for concern. The problem, however, is when pooches consume significant amounts of feline kibble.
Consumption of large amounts of cat food can result in a pooch developing bloat, which is a health condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach rapidly fills up with gas and food. That said, canine bloat can be fatal to pooches if it isn’t promptly attended to.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Eating Cat Food?
You can prevent your dog from eating cat food by training the pooch to leave the kitty’s food on command, feeding both pets in easily distinguishable bowls, or by making use of barriers or elevated surfaces to separate the Fido from the cat’s food.
Make Food Bowls Distinguishable
To be fair, it can be difficult to distinguish between cat kibble and dog kibble, especially when they are both placed in similar bowls. And this is why, if you own both pets, it is important to feed them both with different bowls.
Consequently, to help prevent your Fido from eating cat food, place each pet’s food in bowls of different sizes and colors. Additionally, if you tend to keep placements under your pets’ food bowls, ensure they’re different as well.
Train Your Dog To Leave Cat Food On Command
One of the most effective ways of getting your dog to stop eating cat food is by teaching the pooch the ‘Leave It’ command.
Before you can get your canine buddy to stop eating cat food on command, you have to get the pooch to understand what the ‘Leave It’ command entails. That said, below are the steps to take to teach your pooch the ‘Leave It’ command.
- Show your pooch a treat that you’re holding in your hand.
- As soon as Fido makes a move to eat the treat, command the pooch to ‘Leave It’ in a firm voice while taking care not to yell at the pooch.
- Immediately you command your Fido to leave the treat, close your fist around the treat and hold it out.
- Your pooch will naturally sniff and paw at the closed fist in an attempt to get the treat out – it is important that you ignore these attempts and say nothing.
- Immediately your pooch stops making attempts to retrieve the treat from the closed fist, praise the Fido excessively and reward it with another treat, different from the one held in the closed fist.
- Repeat the above exercise for as long as it is necessary or till your pooch learns to immediately back away from your fist once you say ‘Leave It.’
For your ‘Leave It’ command to effectively get your Fido to stop eating cat food, you have to catch the pooch in the act of eating feline food before deploying the command.
- Place cat food down and wait until your pooch makes a move for the food.
- In a firm, but non-yelling voice, command your pooch to leave the cat food.
- If the pooch persists with eating cat food, you can startle the pooch with water from a spray bottle or whistle despite you deploying the’ Leave It’ command.
- Continue this until it becomes clear to the pooch that the cat’s food is off-limits.
- Praise the pooch every time it eats from its own food bowl.
For a more comprehensive guide on how to get your canine buddy to drop cat food on command, you can refer to this AKC article on training your dog to ignore food on command.
Feed Your Cat On Elevated Surfaces
Cats are naturally great climbers, but their canine counterparts are considerably lacking in the climbing department.
Consequently, another means by which you can stop your canine buddy from repeatedly eating the kitty’s food is by placing the cat’s food on considerably high surfaces, far out of the pooch’s reach.
Your cat certainly won’t mind having to climb to get to its food, and your pooch, being limited in its climb, simply won’t be able to reach the kitty’s food.
Make Use Of Guard Fences
In addition to placing your kitty’s food on elevated surfaces, you can try barricading your feline’s meals with special guard fences.
Cats can easily scale over these fences to get to their meals, while your Fido will have to be content with watching and salivating over its feline counterpart’s meal from outside the barricade due to its inability to climb the fence.