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3 February 2023
If you have both dogs and cats in your household, you may have caught your dog eating your cat’s food. Fear not, this is a common occurrence in households shared by cats and dogs.
There is a reason why cats eat cat food and dogs eat dog food. Their dietary requirements are different. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to eat meat. While dogs are omnivores, which means that they eat meat and vegetables.
Therefore, cat food is higher in meat-based protein. For this reason, it might be more tempting for dogs to eat cat food because the meat smell and flavour are a lot stronger than their own food.
If your dog ate the cat food once or twice, depending on the dog and how much they ate, their symptoms should be mild such as diarrhea and vomiting. If you, however, notice your dog showing signs of intestinal discomfort for more than 24 hours, then call your veterinarian.
If your dog is consistently eating cat food, then this could lead to many health complications since they aren’t being fed the right amount of nutrients. These nutrient imbalances greatly affect growing animals since they are building their bodies rather than just maintaining them. Therefore, it is particularly important to keep puppies away from non-puppy food.
Cat foods contain higher calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D levels than dog and puppy foods, and thus could cause improper skeletal development and toxicity related to vitamin D in dogs and puppies. It is however very unlikely for any dog eating cat food occasionally to develop this since it’s hard to estimate an accurate risk level.
Your dog could suffer from complications such as gastrointestinal upset, obesity, dental problems, and pancreatitis. There are a few nutrients that could theoretically be deficient for dogs and puppies eating exclusively cat food but in practice are probably adequately supplied. Deficiencies also take a long time to develop and would be more of a concern for growing puppies than adult dogs.
The best way to stop your dog from eating cat food is by preventing the dog from getting to the cat food. Since cats can jump higher than dogs, you can try placing the bowl of cat food somewhere where your dog won’t be able to reach, this could be a shelf, cat tree, or counter. Or by outright blocking off access to the cat food for the dog, with a dog or baby gate at the doorway of the room, or a cat flap in the door.
Make sure to always put your cat and dog food in a place where they can’t access it, such as in a closet, pantry, or enclosed container. You wouldn’t want your dog to find the cat bag and devour the whole bag!