Home / Nutrition Helps / Can Dog Food Make Cats Sick? What Every Cat Owner Should Know

Can Dog Food Make Cats Sick? What Every Cat Owner Should Know

Can Dog Food Make Cats Sick
<em>Can Dog Food Make Cats Sick<em>

Can Dog Food Make Cats Sick? We analyze the dangers of cats eating dog food. It's important to provide tailored nutrition for our beloved pets.

Eating food formulated for a different species can have negative health effects. This article explores whether dogs eating cat food or cats eating dog food can make pets sick. Let's compare the nutrients in cat and dog food and explain why they shouldn't eat each other's food often.

Dog and Cat Nutritional Needs

Dogs and cats need different foods because their bodies work in different ways. Cat food is made to provide cats with more protein, B vitamins, niacin, vitamin A, and fatty acids.

Cats need more amino acids, like taurine, for their eyes, heart, and reproduction. Unlike dogs, cats cannot produce enough taurine on their own so it must be obtained from food. Cats can develop heart disease and blindness if they lack taurine.

Dog food does not always contain enough taurine or meet a cat's increased protein needs. If you feed a cat dog food for a long time, it can cause malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and other issues.

Key Differences Between Cat and Dog Food

Cat vs Dog Food Whats the Difference
<em>Cat vs Dog Food Whats the Difference<em>
Cat FoodDog Food
Protein ContentHigher protein content – at least 26% dry food, 10% canned foodModerate protein around 18-25%
Amino AcidsIncreased amino acids like taurineNo added taurine
VitaminsMore B vitamins, niacin and vitamin A
Fat ContentHigher fat and fatty acid contentLower fat content
CarbohydratesLower carbohydratesContains grains and carbs dogs can digest

Health Risks of Feeding Cat Food to Dogs

The higher protein and fat content of cat food can cause health issues when fed long-term to dogs.

Potential risks include:

Health IssueDescription
ObesityThe increased fat and calories can lead to rapid weight gain.
PancreatitisHigh fat diets increase inflammation in the pancreas.
DiarrheaToo much protein and fat can irritate the digestive tract.
Nutrient ImbalanceDog food contains a balance of nutrients dogs need.

For healthy dogs, eating the occasional cat food treat or meal isn't harmful. But regular feeding of cat food instead of dog food risks obesity and other issues.

Health Risks of Feeding Dog Food to Cats

Feeding cats dog food is riskier because it lacks the nutrients cats require.

Potential risks include:

Taurine DeficiencyDog food contains little to no taurine, leading to heart and eye problems.
MalnutritionDog food doesn't have enough protein, vitamins, and minerals for cats.
Heart DiseaseTaurine deficiency causes dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure.
Vision LossLack of taurine damages the retina and causes blindness.
Reproductive IssuesTaurine supports healthy fetal development.
Digestive UpsetDog food is harder for cats to digest and causes diarrhea.

Even a short-term switch to dog food can be harmful for cats. Within just a few weeks, taurine levels drop low enough to damage heart and eye health.

Preventing Pets From Eating Each Other's Food

To prevent inappropriate feeding, keep cat and dog food separate and monitor mealtimes. Here are some tips:

  • Feed pets in separate rooms with closed doors.
  • Pick up food bowls after mealtimes.
  • Store cat and dog food bags in different places.
  • If free-feeding dry food, use microchip feeders that only open for the right pet.
  • Pay attention to make sure the right pet is eating from their bowl.
  • Keep cats away from dog bowls and vice versa.

Cats tend to be more likely to eat dog food. Use a cat-proof dog bowl or feed dogs on an elevated surface cats can't access.

What to Do if a Cat Eats Dog Food

If an otherwise healthy cat snacks on some dog food once in awhile, there's minimal cause for concern. The risks come from prolonged dog food feeding.

Signs your cat may have eaten too much dog food include:

  • Digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Increased water consumption
  • Dilated pupils or vision issues
  • Lethargy or trouble breathing

Contact your vet if your cat shows any of these symptoms after eating dog food. Bring a sample of the food they ate to help identify any ingredients that could have caused a reaction.

To avoid malnutrition, transition back to cat food right away. Temporarily supplement with taurine pills or cat foods high in taurine to replenish levels.

Ask Your Vet About Proper Pet Nutrition

Check with your veterinarian before making any major diet changes for your dog or cat. They can advise you on your pet's unique nutritional needs based on age, breed, and health status.

For optimal health, each pet should eat a balanced diet formulated for their species. It's okay to sometimes eat a bit of another pet's food, but eating the wrong food all the time can make you sick. 

How to stop cats eating dog food?

If you have a cat that keeps eating dog food, there are several steps you can take to discourage this behavior. First, make sure you are feeding your cat a nutritious and balanced diet. Cats need different food than dogs to be healthy, so they should eat cat-specific food. Secondly, feed your cat and dog in separate areas of your home.

To keep the cat away from the dog's food, give them separate eating areas. If your cat keeps trying to steal the dog's food, you can use a baby gate. Another option is to install a door with a small opening that only the dog can go through. This will allow the dog to access its food while keeping the cat out.

Feeding your pets on a schedule can stop the cat from always looking for leftovers. Finally, give your cat lots of toys and activities to keep them busy and away from the dog's food. If you consistently follow these steps, your cat will stop eating dog food and start eating its own food. 

My cat ate dog food and now has diarrhea

My cat accidentally ate dog food and now she is experiencing diarrhea. It all started when I mistakenly left the dog food bowl out on the kitchen counter. My cat is usually very disciplined and only eats her own food, so I didn't think much of it.

However, when I returned home, I noticed that the cat food was untouched and the dog food bowl was empty. I realized that my cat must have eaten the dog food instead. Later that day, she began to have loose stools and frequent trips to the litter box.

I called the vet right away. The vet said that changing a cat's diet suddenly can upset their stomach and cause diarrhea. They advised me to closely monitor her and make sure she stays hydrated. They also recommended giving her a plain diet of boiled chicken and rice to soothe her stomach. Hopefully, my cat will recover quickly from this minor mishap and learn to stay away from dog food. 

Can kittens eat dog food?

Kittens should not eat dog food as their primary source of nutrition. While both cats and dogs are carnivores, they have different dietary requirements.

To grow and develop well, kittens need lots of protein and certain nutrients like taurine.

Kittens may not get enough nutrients from dog food because of the wrong proportions. Dog food can have harmful ingredients for cats, like onions or garlic.

Regularly feeding kittens dog food can cause nutritional deficiencies and health problems.

Choosing the right kitten food is important. It should meet their specific nutritional needs. If necessary, consult with a veterinarian who can recommend the best diet for your kitten. 

Can cats eat wet dog food in an emergency?

Kittens should not eat dog food as their primary source of nutrition. Kittens and dogs need similar nutrients but in different amounts and ratios. Kitten food needs less protein and fat than dog food to have a balanced diet.

Also, kitten growth may be hindered if they eat dog food, as it lacks essential nutrients. Kittens need extra protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals for their health.

Feeding kittens dog food can cause malnutrition, stunted growth, and other health issues. To keep kittens healthy, feed them special food made for kittens or a diet recommended by a vet. 

Can cats eat dog biscuits?

Cats can eat dog biscuits, but they shouldn't be their regular diet. Dog biscuits are made for dogs' needs, which are different from cats' needs.

Cats need certain nutrients like taurine. Dog biscuits don't have enough of these nutrients. Feeding cat food to dogs is considered safe, but the same cannot be said for cat food for cats.

Cat food has nutrients that cats need, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Feeding cats dog biscuits regularly can lead to nutrient deficiencies and health problems. However, giving them a small amount as an occasional treat should not cause any harm. Before giving your cat new food, it's best to talk to a vet. This way, you can make sure the food meets their nutritional needs. 


Feeding cats dog food sometimes is okay, but if you give it to them often, they might get sick. The nutritional needs of cats are vastly different from dogs.

Cats need extra protein and specific nutrients that aren't in dog food. Cats require taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D. Without enough, they may get heart disease, skin issues, vision loss, or die.

The fiber in dog food can bother a cat's digestion. This can cause constipation or diarrhea. Feeding cats dog food for a long time can cause nutrient deficiencies and make them unhealthy.

Cats should always eat cat food made for their needs. Dog food can be used rarely in emergencies. 

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