Can I Give My Dog Cat Food?

Can I Give My Dog Cat Food?If you have both a cat and a dog then you may wonder if, sometimes, your canine can consume cat food. Maybe they’ve already helped themselves to some, either confusing it for their own, or simply out of greed.

Manufactured cat food and dog food are usually never made in the same factory and the ingredients are different. Rest assured, it’s a myth that the labels on the packaging are the only thing that’s different. Not true!

Store-bought chow is specifically formulated for the two types of pets, respectively. They are designed to meet the needs according to each animal. Your dog should be eating food made for their species, but eating a bit of your cat’s meals isn’t a disaster.

Can I Give My Dog Cat Food? Answer: Not Recommended

Try to strictly enforce no sharing because each animal won’t nutritionally benefit as much.

Cat food isn’t a good source of balanced nutrition or a substitute for formulated dog food. These two types of pets may seem similar, seeing how they’re both four legged and furry, but the two species don’t share much in common as far as digestion goes.

Cats & Dogs Differences

Since they’ve both evolved in different ways, cats and dogs require certain levels of vitamins and minerals. Dogs need a balance of proteins and carbohydrates. It’s in their DNA!

House cats are meat eaters, just like their big cat counterparts out on the African wilderness. Since they can’t necessarily run around chasing down mini Antelope, today’s cat foods contain a sufficient amount of protein they need. This is typically too much protein for what dogs require. Most cat food also contains too much fat.

Dogs aren’t omnivores but they also aren’t as carnivorous as cats. While they usually eat anything and everything that’s presented to them, their natural calling is primarily meat. As such, they do require lots of protein but likely not as much as what’s contained in cat food.

So dogs seek to consume meat just like cats. However, owners may wish to supplement that protein by providing a more balanced food. While it may seem like cat food can work for them, dogs need a smartly formulated food regiment tailored to their evolutionary makeup. Simply put, cat food is for a cat.

If you compare the body structure of a dog to that of a cat, it’s clear that cats are more predatory. Canine paws are nothing to fear and while their teeth are sharp, they’re rarely in attack mode the way cats can be.

Appreciating the difference between cats and dogs, and realizing that there’s millions of years of evolutionary variation going on, provides for greater knowledge about your dog and their needs.

No Cat Food & Less Filler

Dogs need a good amount of protein, just not at the levels that cats do. Still, the dog food you select should list a meat source as the most plentiful ingredient. It should be first on the list. What some companies do, and what you’ll notice with cheaper varieties, is put lots of fillers and other questionable ingredients in the product.

Skip brands that list things like corn and other grains as major dog food ingredients. While these aren’t necessarily detrimental to your dog, in fact should be in there, they shouldn’t be the mainstay of your dog’s diet. Such contents should just compliment their meals, not dominate them.Try to avoid dog foods containing too much filler, while also avoiding all cat foods.

Conclusion on Cat Food

If you’ve run out of dog food, and they’re looking at you with their hungry puppy dog eyes, you can give them some cat food to hold them over. Just don’t make it a habit. Even if you find a great deal at the store on cat food and are thinking about providing it for economic reasons, please don’t. Cat food served once or accidentally consumed by your dog will not kill them. It is, however, important not to make that a regular occurrence or believe that it’s a legit food source.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelley March, 2016

My 9 year old Maltipoo loves little Friskies cat food. That is what her diet is, mostly the fish kind. I worry but if that is what she wants at this age then so be it!


Heidi July, 2015

Cat kibble is higher in protein than most dog kibble, but usually not by that much. If you compare the ingredients, you wouldn’t be able to tell one from the other. Taurine is essential to cats, it’s naturally occurring and won’t hurt dogs. If I see a bag of good quality cat/kitten food on sale, I’ll buy it for my Lab. It’s a protein boost. I use it as a snack or mixed in with her regular kibble.


Kris April, 2015

My Chihuahua has been eating Dad’s original cat food for 11 years now and has never been sick to my knowledge. He refused to eat dog food since he was a pup! The vet told me it was okay for him to eat the cat food, even though many disagree.


Tory March, 2016

My dog is kind of similar. He’s a Border Collie and when potty training him, he never took to dog treats. But one day he broke into the pantry when I wasn’t home and he ate all of his sister’s treats (Biscuit the cat). Ever since, he’s been so hooked on them. We give him one a day by chopping them up to tiny little pieces. He’s doing okay for a dog who eats cat food!


Shorty September, 2014

My dad feeds his dog anything but dog food (pizza, cake, noodles, hotdogs, eggs, really anything). The dog is very old. He is the 3rd owner so I would put her at over 100 in dog years. She is a little black Poodle. She won’t eat dog food. I just tried to give her dry cat food. Should I keep feeding her this or let my dad give her everything under the sun? Honestly I’m just waiting for her to go to dog heaven. I see she is in bad shape, but my dad won’t put her down.


Connie January, 2015

I had a 14 year old Cockapoo that I gave Walmart cat food to for 6 months until she died. I couldn’t keep her out of it and had no place to separate their food bowls. They ate together, loved each other and played together all those years. She out-survived over 5 cats in those 14 years and ended up with cataracts and had a seizure from a brain tumor (both of which had nothing to do with the cat food, my vet told me). At age 14, the vet said her teeth were the best she had ever seen in a dog that age, so I’m not so sure that cat food isn’t good for dogs. It’s just my experience.


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