Is It Dangerous for Cats to Eat Dog Food?

The needs of cats and dogs often overlap – they both need attention from their owners and plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy, for instance. But when it comes to their food, there’s no doubt they’re very different animals. A cat won’t be poisoned or suffer any serious health problems if it takes a little bite of dog food, but the regular consumption of dog food can lead to illness, vitamin deficiencies, stomach upset, and even death. It’s important to keep our furry friends’ food separate when it’s feeding time.

Some Differences Between Cats and Dogs

The dietary needs of cats and dogs differ in significant ways. Cats require vitamin A as a supplement in their food, whereas dogs are fine with just beta-carotene (they can turn the beta-carotene into the vitamin A they need). Cats also require a fatty acid called arachidonic acid and an amino acid called taurine, while dogs make both on their own. Arachidonic acid helps your cat’s kidneys stay healthy and their coat looking good. If your cat doesn’t get enough taurine it can cause blindness, deafness, and a fatal heart disease. Cats also need a much higher protein level than dogs – they are strict carnivores while dogs are omnivores.

Dogs That Eat Cat Food

Dogs should stick to their own food too. Dogs who eat cat food for a long period of time will most likely become obese due to the high calories and large amounts of fat and protein in cat food. This can cause health problems and stomach-related issues, like vomiting and diarrhea, as well as pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

Feeding Tips

If you have cats and dogs together in the same home, there are a few things you can do to ensure they eat the appropriate food. If your cat is curious about your dog’s food, you can just lock the cat out of the room while the dogs gobble down their food. You’ll have to do this just twice a day, since most agree that dogs really only need two meals per day. Cats, on the other hand, can munch throughout the day. To keep your dog from finishing the cat food too, place your cat’s food bowl on an elevated surface like a counter or a shelf. That way the agile cat can get to the food while the dog won’t be able to reach it.

By Jay Matthews

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References

Daily Vet: Why Dog Food is Not for Cats
The Nest: Is it Dangerous for Cats to Eat Dog Food?

About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.