Can A Dog Eat Cat Food? Is Cat Food Good For Dogs?
Pet parents often wonder if they can use one type of food for both their cats and dogs, and whether a dog can eat cat food.
A typical average dog should not eat cat food because cats are true carnivores, which means they need only animal protein, so their food is high in protein, calories, and fat.
On the other hand, dogs are omnivores and need animal-based and plant-based ingredients in their diet.
Cat food is generally more nutritious than dog food, so after eating cat food, a dog with a sensitive stomach may develop gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Let's delve further into why your dog should not eat cat food and look at when it is ok for the dog to eat cat food.
But first, here is why dogs crave cat food.
Why Do Dogs Love Cat Food?
Cats require more nutrients in their diet compared to dogs. Cats require 11 essential amino acids, while dogs need 10. The extra amino acid that cats require is taurine.
Commercial cat foods contain higher fat, protein, and taurine concentrations than dog foods to satisfy the cat's nutritional requirements. This means that commercial dog food lacks all the nutrients to sustain a cat's health.
Meanwhile, dogs will find cat food more appealing because it has high fat and protein content making it tastier and sweet-smelling. Cats' food, therefore, provides more nutrients than the dog needs.
And if cat food will give dogs the essential nutrients, why would vets discourage using the feline's food for the dog?
Why Is Cat Food Bad For The Dog?
For the average canine, eating cat food occasionally or as a treat is ok. However, munching even small quantities of kitty's food is problematic if the dog has underlying health conditions that can worsen if the dog consumes protein and fat.
If your dog has a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, it may have diarrhea or vomit after chomping cat food because it is too nutritious.
If your dog suffers from kidney or liver disease, it needs to eat a moderate amount of protein to support the optimum functioning of those organs. Cat food has excess protein.
Suppose your dog is overweight or has a predisposition to developing an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), as happens with many Schnauzers. In that case, one must eat a low-fat diet to limit pancreatitis and also promote weight loss.
For these dogs, consuming any amount of commercial wet or dry cat food, whether occasionally or for long periods, could worsen their health issues.
When Is Cat Food Good For Your Dog?
Cat food may be more desirable than many dog meals for dogs battling health conditions like cancer, muscle wasting, a weak appetite, and weight loss.
In some circumstances, cat food is often more palatable, has a better nutrient balance, and provides more calories per serving, unlike many home-prepared diets.
Similarly, cat kibble makes healthier, well-balanced training rewards or treats than the human foods frequently used, such as peanut butter, chicken, or cheese, which provide an enormous amount of just one nutrient.
How To Keep Dogs Away From Your Cats' Food
Keeping your dog away from the cat's food can overwhelm but is necessary if you care for your pet's health.
Here are 7 tips to help stop the dog from eating your cat's food.
Tip # 1. Place your cat's food higher
Cats are expert climbers, but dogs are not. Placing the cat's food in a higher place will limit the puppy's reach. So, place the cat food on a cat tree or on top of a shelf from where the cat can feed. You can also feed the cat on top of a washing machine since it's beyond the dog's reach.
Tip # 2. Use a door that the dog can't pass through
Use a door that is wide enough to allow your feline friend's access while blocking the (oversized) dog from reaching the cat's food station.
If the dog is the same size as the cat, then make a gate that the cat will have to jump over to reach the food.
Tip # 3. Keep your dog distracted during the cat's mealtime
Distract your dog during the cat feeding session. For instance, you can take it for a walk to give the cat enough time to feed without interruption. Your kitty will feed in peace without the risk of the dog chasing her away and stealing the food.
Tip # 4. Create a feeding schedule for both pets
Set different times of the day to feed your pets. For instance, you can feed the dogs in the morning and cats in the evening. This will enable each pet to eat freely.
Tip # 5. Train your pets to distinguish their feeding bowls
Use different bowl sizes, colors, and shapes and train the pets to get used to their specific one.
Tip # 6. Train your dog to obey commands
You can train dogs to obey commands such as wait, stop, leave it, and others. You can introduce this type of command by giving the dog the cat food and command it to stop or leave it until they learn successfully. This can take days, weeks, or even months, depending on your communication skill and the dog's learning ability.
However, once the dog understands the command to leave his feline friend's food, the cat's food will be safe. The dog will not bother to eat it even at the risk of starving.
Also, you can reward or provide treats to your pets if they don't munch on each other's food. This will motivate them to stop feeding on each other's food.
Tip # 7. Hide your cat's food
If everything else fails, you need to hide your cat's food. Sometimes dogs can sneak into the cat's food bag or container, spill the food on the floor, and eat all of it. If your dog is among those with this clever skill, hide the cat food far away from where the dog can't trace or smell it.
What should you do if your dog eats cat food?
If your dog shows signs of digestive distress after munching on cat food, you need to call your veterinarian immediately for advice.
The TakeawayThe vital point is to keep the pet's food separate and feed each pet its food. Only allow your dog to feed on cat food if advised by your vet.
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