Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Cats can be fussy when it comes to the food they consume, but dogs eat almost anything. Feeding your feline food that is meant for the dog might work for a day. However, the long-term effects are devastating. Similarly, feeding your dog food that is intended for a cat has adverse effects on the former in the end.   Here’s a more in-depth look at dog food and its effect, if ingested, on your feline.

Is dog food unsafe for cats? Can you feed a cat dog food?

Feeding a cat dog food is not recommended. While an occasional small amount may not harm them, cats have specific dietary needs that differ from dogs. Cats require certain nutrients like taurine, which are not present in sufficient amounts in dog food. Prolonged consumption of dog food can lead to nutritional deficiencies in cats, affecting their overall health. It’s best to provide your cat with a balanced and complete cat food to ensure they get the specific nutrients they need for their well-being. If you have concerns about your cat’s diet, consulting with a veterinarian is always a good idea.

Can cats eat dog food?

Yes. However, you should not give your cats food that has been particularly made for dogs and vice versa. Cats require nutrients such as Vitamin A, which has a high concentration in their diet but can only be found in low quantities in dog food. Apart from Vitamin A, cats also require an amino acid called Taurine. Dog food has little to no quantities of Taurine considering dogs can make their own. This amino acid is so essential to your feline’s health that lack of it over a long period can cause heart disease (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). This amino acid is also deficient in fish, and that’s why you are advised against putting your cat on a fish-only diet.

Cats also need Arachidonic acid while dogs can make their own. As such, fatty acid is hardly found in dog food. As aforementioned, cats are obligate carnivores and require a lot of protein in their diet on a daily basis. Dog food does not have enough amounts of protein to sustain the necessary daily intake needed by a feline. Some brands might claim to have high levels of protein, but the other ingredients used in making dog food will without a doubt harm your cat. If not immediately, over time.

Differences between cat food and dog food?

The main difference between cat food and dog food is the ingredients used in making either of the two. The components used are based on the dietary needs of each of the two animals, which are distinct. Dogs need linoleic acid, which can be found in almost every dog food bag irrespective of the manufacturer. While cats require the same amino acid in their diet, they also need Arachidonic acid which can only be found in cat food. Arachidonic is responsible for maintaining your cat’s kidneys and coat. Dogs also need small amounts of Vitamin B in their diet. Other nutrients dogs require in low quantities include thiamin, niacin, and folic acid. These amino acids can be found in abundance in cat food considering cats need them for proper nutrition.

However, they are used in moderate amounts when making dog food. Feeding cat food to your dog means exposing it to higher concentrations of substances required in low qualities, which is harmful to the dog’s health in the long run. Cats require 11 amino acids for survival. Meat contains 23 amino acids making it the ideal diet for cats who cannot synthesize their own acids, unlike dogs. For this reason, dogs might love a fresh steak every once in a while, but they do not need it as much as your feline. Even without meat as the main diet, amino acids such as Taurine are not allowed in dog food under strict regulations from AAFCO.

Is cat food bad for dogs?

So, can dogs eat cat food? Yes, they can. If anything, your dog will eat cat food with more gusto than when eating its own food. However, feeding cat food to your dog is dangerous to the latter’s health. Dogs love cat food because it has a higher protein concentration and it’s stinky, a feature that appetizes both the cat and the dog. However, after having its fill, your dog will often vomit or diarrhea which should be considered as warning signs to change the diet. Dogs such as Cavaliers are known to gain weight easily. Feeding them cat food can significantly increase their chances of obesity despite regular exercise. It’s not just obesity that you should be worried about but conditions such as pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset, which are caused by nutrient imbalance. Feeding cat food to your dog can also cause abdominal pain and appetite loss as well as fever and weakness. Your dog might look happy when chowing down some cat food day after day. However, the high levels of protein can damage its liver and kidneys over time. Cats also have a high tolerance for nutrients such as Vitamin D, while the same is known to cause death in dogs. Vitamin D can be found in high quantities in cat food making it dangerous for your dog.

How to keep cats out of dog food and dogs out of cat food

One of the biggest challenges for people with multiple pet species is keeping one away from the other’s food. Dogs are especially uncanny when it comes to food. Home training might come in handy when teaching your dog how and when to eat, but showing it what to eat might be more problematic. Nonetheless, you can prevent your dog from eating cat food and the vice versa by feeding the pets at different times. Most people are used to the idea of free feeding, but it is the number one cause of obesity in pets. Cats can eat up to 12 times a day. For proper advice on how to feed your pets, consult your veterinary. However, feeding your pets in intervals is an effective way of ensuring no one eats the other’s food. You can feed your dog twice a day but keep your eyes on it to ensure the cat does not interfere. Also, if you free-feed your cat, use measures such as a creep feeder to ensure only a feline can access the food. If both pets have the same feeding time, make sure the locations are different. If the bowls or feeders are located in different places, the pets are less likely to eat each other’s food.


Emergencies can force you to feed cat food to your dog or the vice versa, but longterm feeding is not advisable. It might be an emergency, but options such as homemade foods for cats or dogs are a better alternative. The nutrients and ingredients used in making either cat or dog food are meant to improve the health of the specific pet in mind. As such, ensure your dog gets the right food as well as your cat to prevent future health complications.

Richard Hayes

Hey there! Meet Richard Hayes, the big boss and marketing guru behind Pet Dog Planet. He's been a total doggo fanatic since forever and loves all kinds of pups, from tiny teacup Chihuahuas to big, burly Bulldogs. His absolute favorite pastime? Snuggling with adorable puppies—he can't get enough of those cute little faces! Plus, he's totally into iced coffee, chilling in hammocks, and, of course, more puppy cuddling!

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