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Can Cats Eat Dog Food? What Happens If They Do?

Can Cats Eat Dog Food? What Happens If They Do?

You may have questioned whether dog food is bad for your cat or not. Your cat may have been unintentionally exposed to dog food by tasting it from the dog bowl or you may have given it to him some time. Although eating a bit of dog food every now and then is not going to affect your cat, there are differences in cat and dog food that are designed to nourish each pet specifically.

In short, cats should not eat dog food. A small quantity of dog food will not hurt your cat, but an extended feeding of dog food only may, in fact, cause negative or undesired consequences. If your cat consumes more than a small amount of dog food, serious health issues may arise.

There are a few similarities between canned pet formulas that are suitable for both cats and dogs to consume, however, the majority of foods have special nutrients for each of them to benefit from. Cats need to consume more protein and fat than most dogs, along with extra taurine. If your cat eats dog food regularly, he will be at risk of gaining weight if the food being consumed is high in carbohydrates. It is also more probable that he is not getting sufficient amino acids.

plate of dog treats

What Will Happen If Cats Eat Dog Food?

Cats and dogs are different species, therefore, they demand distinct micronutrients and macronutrients.

The dietary needs of cats and dogs hugely vary, mainly because cats are carnivores, while dogs are omnivores. This means that they each require different nourishment parameters in order to maintain a healthy and long life. If a cat eats a significant portion of dog food as part of their normal diet, it can result in mineral deficiencies, organ dysfunction, poor digestion and detrimental skin and coat health.

Cats need sufficient amounts of Vitamin B, A, C, taurine and healthy acids and fats, as well as a lot of protein to survive. These additional amounts are necessary even if their diet includes well-balanced meals. As reported by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), adult cat food usually contains a minimum protein percentage of 26%, whereas for dogs it is only 18%.

Dogs can produce these essential minerals, but cats’ small bodies are not able to produce these components on their own, which are vital to avoid serious health conditions, such as heart disease. Cat food is designed to fulfill those supplemental needs; without them in their diet, they can easily become undernourished and thus, not develop properly.

Feeding your cat dog food for an extended period of time and in considerable quantities, will very likely render your cat sick. It is even more risky if you have an indoor cat who is not getting the essential nutrients it needs from the prey it has killed. It is not certain how much dog food exactly can a cat eat for them to become sick and put their health in jeopardy, nevertheless, it is something you may want to avoid trying. An estimate is that if your cat’s diet is composed of at least 90% high-quality cat food, sneaking in less than 10% low-quality treats (dog food included), should not harm your cat’s health.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food For A Couple Of Days?

It is not recommended to feed your cat dog food because it does not provide him with proper nutrition. The ingredients found in dog food, e.g. more carbohydrates, if given in bigger amounts and for extended periods of time, can put your cat’s health at risk. Basically, it is okay for cats to eat dog food for a very brief period of time; it won’t kill your cat. You shouldn’t need to worry if there has been a small food exchange between your pets in a short term.

The differences in pet foods are indicated for a reason and the safest is to stick to specific cat food that you know will always keep your cat in most favorable health.

cat dg sharing treat

Can I Mix Cat Food With Dog Food?

If there isn’t any ingredient in the dog’s food which your cat is allergic to or reacts badly to, it won’t hurt him to eat a little bit of it. Essentially, though, it is not a good idea to mix both foods for your cat to eat. Your cat’s food is complete and balanced and made to cover it’s nutritional needs specifically. If you feed a mix of these foods to your cat regularly, you are encouraging an unbalanced nutrition that will eventually affect its health in a negative way.

Even though it is not dangerous if fed by accident or in a case of emergency, it is best to withhold from mixing cat food with dog food. Cats and dogs can be perfect companions, but their diets should be kept separate.

Why Does My Cat Keep Trying To Eat Dog Food?

It is not weird that your cat may actually like how your dog’s food tastes. Cats and humans are similar in the fact that we both like to eat foods that aren’t healthy for us on a regular basis just because they taste good. Cats are easily allured by new things and prefer to have options in their diet. If you find yourself giving your cat the same food every day, you can try to feed them a different cat food or snack to keep them interested and it might be a good strategy for them to stop nibbling at the dog food.

Can Cats Only Eat Food Labeled As “Complete And Balanced”?

It is of great interest for pet food companies to enforce this idea. Not every meal you eat is complete and balanced is it? Even the strictest nutritionist doesn’t get too burdened about accomplishing a balance of nutrients in every single meal.

Vitamins and supplements are always an option in order to meet any further nutritional needs. A vegetarian diet, for example, does not necessarily provide all vitamins and minerals our body requires to stay healthy.

Diversity is important in keeping a healthy diet for your cat. If you are feeding your cat with minimum 50-60 percent of commercial foods labeled as “complete”, then chances are you are well nurturing your cat by providing the balance of necessary nutrients. You may also add occasional treats like ‘human’ fruits and vegetables that will enhance their diet, assuming that it is always fed in moderate amounts.

different pet foods

Will Changing Cat Food Formulas Or Brands Cause Digestive Problems To My Cat?

Generally, a cat can eat different foods every day and in every meal without it causing any health issues as long as they are high quality foods. It has been proven that many continuous months and years of feeding a pet the same food, may result in the development of certain allergies or sensitivities to one or more ingredients in the food. It is also believed by veterinarians that feeding the same food for many years can cause inflammatory bowel disease. The same way us humans need a varied diet to maintain good health, so do our feline pals need a broader range of nutritional elements. Not every cat food elaborated to meet AAFCO protocols, can actually be tolerated by all pets since they use high amounts of grains and grain derived products.

A diverse diet will be your best bet to maintain your cat strong and healthy. Nobody, as well as cats, want to be eating the same thing day after day. Every meal doesn’t have to be absolutely balanced; a weekly balanced diet will be good enough.

Main Kinds Of Cat Foods

  • Dry: less expensive, easy to feed and store.
  • Canned: nutrient-rich, more appetizing, high in moisture, helps lose excess weight.
  • Frozen raw: most in sync with the original feline diet, most nutritional option, cleans teeth, provides natural enzymes.
  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated: lightweight and travel-friendly, can be used as treats, slighter mess than raw food.

How To Introduce Your Cat To Wet Food

In order to keep your cat interested in a well balanced and varied diet, it may be a good idea to try to transition your cat from regular dry food to wet food. You can follow the guide below:

  • Test a different range of flavors and textures of canned food.
  • Propose it two times a day and take away the dry food when the wet one is proposed.
  • Try to drop some kibbles into the canned food to get your cat used to the smell and taste of the canned meal.
  • Add an attractive topping on the canned food, such as salmon oil, freeze-dried chicken, meat or cricket bits.

Take your time and give your cat some time to get used to it!

Final Thoughts

Moral of the story? It is definitely not recommended to feed your cat dog food occasionally or as part of their daily diet. It can even result in a fatal outcome if overdone. If you suspect that your cat is only eating dog food because it is craving some variety in their diet, try to find different cat foods they may like to help them leave the dog food to its owner. By providing your cat with a variety of healthy foods designed for them, you are stimulating a longer and happier life.