Those who have both cats and dogs should expect that their pets will eventually try eating each other’s food at some point.

Dogs will try eating just about anything, and cat food is certainly a possibility. You will, however, need to know what to do if this ever happens.

Is Cat Food Dangerous to Dogs?

Most cat food is not inherently toxic or harmful to dogs, but it can cause a wide range of minor issues. The fact is that not all dogs react the same way to cat food. This means that you won’t necessarily have to rush your dog to the vet if you noticed it eating some of your cat’s food.

Cat Food vs. Dog Food

There are a number of key differences between cat and dog food. These animals do not have the same nutritional requirements, so it only makes sense that the ingredients in their food would not be the same.

Fat and Protein Content

A lot of cat food use formulas that are made up largely of fats and proteins. It also doesn’t tend to have the same wide variety of fruits and vegetables that is found in most dog food.

Pretty much any halfway decent dog food will have close to twenty percent protein, if it is an adult formula. Cats on the other hand require closer to thirty percent protein, though some veterinarians will say that it is closer to forty percent.

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Cat food usually has about nine percent fat, whereas dog food has just a tiny bit less. There are plenty of dog and cat foods that have more protein or fat in them—it just depends on the brand and the specific formula.

dog and cat eat

Other Nutrients

Dog food usually has a lot more fruits and vegetables in it than cat food. This is simply because dogs have different nutritional requirements than their feline counterparts.

It is fairly common to find carrots in dog food, as it contains beta-carotene, which is good for these animals. This ingredient ultimately helps dogs produce vitamin A. Cats on the other hand are incapable of converting beta-carotene to vitamin A.

Cat food also tends to have a significant amount of taurine, which is an amino acid that dogs make naturally. Arachidonic acid is something else that dogs produce naturally, whereas cats need to get it from the food they eat.

Negative Effects of a Dog Eating Cat Food

There are numerous negative consequences associated with dogs eating cat food that you should know about.


One of the main concerns with dogs eating cat food is weight gain. If you allow your dog to eat this food on a daily basis, there is a good chance they will become overweight. There are all sorts of negative health effects of this, including diabetes. If you want to keep your dog happy and healthy, you don’t want to give them this food.


It is also possible that your dog could develop pancreatitis from eating enough cat food. Ingesting even a moderate amount of this food can have a very negative impact on their pancreas. This condition can be fatal if it is allowed to advance far enough. This is another good reason why you shouldn’t give your dog cat food, especially not regularly.

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cat dog share food

Nutritional Deficiencies

Dogs that eat cat food on a regular or even semi-regular basis can develop a severe nutritional deficiency. This could have a very negative impact on their overall health and well-being. The fact is that cat food will not provide your dog with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy over the years.

How to Keep Your Dog from Eating the Cat’s Food

If you have both a dog and a cat, it is important that you take certain steps to ensure that your dog doesn’t get into the cat’s food.

  • Put the cat food up high: One of the simplest ways to keep your dog from eating the cat’s food is to put it up somewhere it can’t get to. Cats are skilled jumpers, so it shouldn’t have a problem with this.
  • Automatic feeder: You should also consider investing in an automatic feeder. This will dispense the cat’s food at certain times.
  • Have individual feeding areas: You can try putting the cat’s food in one area of the house and the dog’s food in another. There is a good chance that this will work out quite well.

What to do if your Dog Eats Cat Food

  • When you notice your dog eat some of your cat’s food, you shouldn’t instantly go into panic mode. In fact, there is a good chance that nothing at all will happen.
  • It is a good idea to keep an eye on your dog for the next day or so just in case. If you notice any repeated vomiting or other serious signs of distress, take your dog to the vet right away.
  • It’s possible that your dog will experience a bit of nausea or diarrhea from the cat food, but that isn’t a reason to seek out medical attention for them.
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  • Most cat food is not inherently dangerous for dogs to eat, but it can cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Giving your dog cat food on a regular or semi-regular basis can result in obesity, pancreatitis, and other serious health issues.
  • Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements, so their food is naturally different in terms of the ingredients.
  • Dog food tends to feature more fruits and vegetables than most cat food.
  • Your dog will not be able to get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy when eating cat food each day.
  • If you notice your dog eat some of your cat’s food, keep a close eye on them and monitor their condition for the next 24 hours.
  • Ensure that your dog cannot get to the cat’s food by keeping it somewhere high up or in a different area of the house.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".