Can dogs eat cat food? Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering this if your dog tried to sneak a bite of your kitty’s dinner. If cats can obviously eat cat food, can dogs also safely eat it?
The short answer is no, dogs can’t safely eat cat food. While technically cat food is very unlikely to be toxic or immediately harmful to your dog, there are significant differences between the nutritional requirements of dogs and cats that mean you really don’t want to make a habit out of letting your dog eat cat food.
Can Dogs Eat Cat Food in an Emergency?
An ASPCA study found that 40 percent of pet owners who evacuated during natural disasters didn’t return home for at least four days (and some were displaced for up to two weeks). Moreover, most weren’t prepared to leave, so there was likely no dog food packed in their go-bag.
Suppose a natural disaster or other emergency forces you to flee with no dog food and no easy access to stores to stock up. In that case, cat food is an acceptable temporary substitution. It’s also okay to dish out a bowl of cat food if supper rolls around and you realize you forgot to stop at the store, but your goal should always be to get your dog back on his regular diet as soon as possible.
While feeding your dog small amounts of cat food short term is unlikely to cause any significant issues, McCarthy says that any food change can cause some gastrointestinal upset. Diarrhea is a common effect of a sudden food change in dogs.
Is It Safe for a Dog to Eat Cat Food?
A dog eating their feline friend’s food—either as an occasional treat or even in place of their own food—is not necessarily “bad” for the average adult dog.
Why Is Cat Food Bad For Dogs?
If you check out the ingredients in both cat and dog foods, you might not notice a huge amount of difference between them on a first glance. But there’s a fundamental distinction between the eating habits and nutritional needs of dogs and cats.
While cats are obligate carnivores who require almost all of their nutrition to come from meat protein, dogs are actually omnivores, which means they require a more balanced mix of meat and vegetables.
Over a period of time, if a dog switches to a cat-based diet, there are a number of medical and health issues that might arise. Some of the most common problems that can come with a dog eating cat food include:
In the specific case of pancreatitis, this is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
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Is it safe for a dog to eat cat food?