Watching your dog eat away happily at a healthy meal is certainly one of the most satisfying things. But turn your back for a second and then suddenly, you see Fluffy has taken an interest in your cat’s food. Now you’re asking, my dog ate cat food. Will he be okay? A lot of dogs would munch on anything they could get their adorable paws on, and snacks you prepared for your feline is often not an exception. If your dog constantly tries to eat cat food, should this be a cause for worry? First of all, you can relax and be assured that that eating cat food isn’t toxic or harmful to dogs.
What Happens If Your Dog Eats Cat Food?
If your dog is in perfect health and he tries eating cat food a few times, there’s not likely to be any major health problems. But some dogs with sensitive tummies may experience some mild intestinal issues. It’s also possible that your dog can have an allergic reaction to certain ingredients present in cat food. Such cases are pretty rare, so if your canine friend shows serious symptoms after a taste of cat kibble or wet cat food, you should definitely take him to the vet immediately.
Dog Food vs. Cat Food: What’s the Difference?
Cats and dogs are given different types of food for a reason—canines and felines have different dietary needs. Cats are carnivores while dogs are essentially omnivores. This means cats require a diet comprised primarily of meat while dog food can include a wide variety of food types including vegetables, fruit, and even grain. Cat food and dog food differ in terms of what’s in them.
· Protein and fat content
The nutritional content of dog food is similar to what we humans eat, us being omnivores ourselves. Dog food contains proteins and fats found in many of our favorite dishes at home. Cat food typically has higher concentrations of proteins and fats and don’t normally include fruit and vegetable ingredients. Protein content in cat food range anywhere from 26% - 45% compared to dog food, which only contains 18% protein, as called for by AAFCO guidelines.
· Vitamins, minerals, and leafy greens
Cat food doesn’t usually include fruit and vegetable ingredients, but is fortified with several nutritional supplements to ensure that all your cat’s nutritional requirements are met. Several supplements found in cat food are there because cats’ bodies don’t process food the same way dogs do. For instance, dogs can make specific amino acids and fatty acids internally from the food they eat but cats cannot.
Dog Food vs. Cat Food Comparison Chart
Is Cat Food Bad for Dogs?
Now that you understand the essential differences of dog food and cat food, it’s clear that there’s no acute danger when dogs ingest cat food. However, it’s still a habit that you’d want to nip in the bud. Aside from allergies and an upset stomach, inappropriate feeding can cause some health issues like:
· Weight gain or obesity
Cat food has a much higher fat and protein content, which can cause obesity in dogs that eat cat food on a regular basis. A few mouthfuls of cat food shouldn’t be enough to make your dog overweight, but if it becomes a habit that’s unsupervised, obesity is something that could cause further complications.
High levels of fat in cat food can lead to pancreatitis in dogs, which can happen over a long term period. Inflammation of the pancreas can sometimes be fatal, so this is something that you’d want to avoid.
· Nutritional deficiencies
Cat food lacks nutritional supplements that dogs require. It’s better that you make sure your dog sticks to his nutritious and well-balanced dog food.
How to Keep Your Dog from Eating Cat Food?
Can dogs eat cat food once? A taste of cat food here and there won’t be enough to make your dog feel ill. But you still don’t want to encourage the habit because of long-term health effects and of course, you don’t want your cat to be underfed, too! So, what are the things you can do?
· Feed your pets separately
It would of course make sense to keep cat food out of sight. You can feed your cat in an elevated counter or perch, or in a separate room away from the dog. You can try installing household dog gates or use a “creep feeder” during feeding times. These allow for a big enough opening for a cat, but not enough for a dog to fit through.
· Try others cat food flavors
Maybe your dog just can’t get enough of the taste of your cat food flavor or brand, which is why he can’t stop! A little experimentation might deter him for good. Next time you go shopping at the pet store, try another cat food flavor and see if your pet dog would still be interested.
· Use automated feeders
Automated feeders can help you not only with portion control, but also to keep cat food away from your dog’s reach. Some programmable feeders can make dog food available at the times you specify, so you know when to take your dog out for a walk. There are also automated feeders that can only be activated by a special tag attached to your cat’s collar.
Can dogs eat wet cat food? A lot of dogs won’t be able to resist cat food if it’s right in front of them. The good news is there’s no imminent danger if Fluffy takes a little bite from the cat’s bowl every now and then. But you have to make sure to prevent your dog from consuming cat food regularly as the nutritional content in cat food can cause some health complications such as pancreatitis, obesity, and gastrointestinal problems in the long term.
Always supervise your pets during feeding time. It might be necessary to feed your cat in a separate room or restructure your dog’s feeding schedule so he is fed at a different time as your cat. If your dog is showing some worrisome symptoms and you suspect it’s because he’s been regularly sneaking up to the cat’s food bowl, consult your vet immediately.