A friend called to ask me about this issue recently. Her dog had completely refused to eat commercial dog food, and my friend was worried her dog would starve to death. That is, until she spotted the dog eating from the cat’s bowl, which now had her not worrying about starvation but food poisoning. Many pet owners who have both dogs and cats in their household have experienced either the dog eating cat food or the cat eating dog food. Is it dangerous?
Dogs can eat cat food but there are a few risks.
First cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores by nature. This means cats must eat food that has meat in it so as to get all the nutrients they require to live a healthy life. Cats can’t synthesize some amino acids on their own, such as taurine and some fatty acids such as arachidonic acid. Dogs on the other hand can synthesize these amino acids and fatty acids, so they don’t require it from their food as a necessity.
These nutritional needs make cat food high in protein levels and fat levels, levels that a cat can handle but a dog will have problems with.
A diet high in protein will leave dogs, especially those with sensitive stomachs, with diarrhea and vomiting. Even if they don’t develop upset stomach, the high protein levels could in time lead to pancreatitis, a disease that can be life threatening.
The high fat levels in cat food are ideal for the felines, but dogs have trouble handling it. Dogs that feed on cat food without moderation tend to be overweight and even obese, because they consume more fat than their body needs.
To keep your dog from gulping down cat food you can feed the two pets at different times or in different rooms. You can also serve the cat’s food at a high level that the cat can reach but is out of reach for the dog.
In conclusion, a dog can eat cat food but in moderation, maybe as a treat for a job well done during training.