Can dogs eat cat food? The first thing to consider is why would you want to do that? The short answer is, yes if you ran out of dog food one day and used some cat food to replace it as a one off, there would be no issues.
However cat food is made specifically for cats, they clearly have completely different nutritional requirements. A dog exposed to cat food over a long period of time would not be getting all the protein, vitamins and nutrients he needs as part of a healthy diet.
In fact the guys over at the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals state that a dog should not be fed cat food on a regular basis. Cats and dogs are two very different animals and need to be given two different kinds of food.
Just by reading the label and comparing cat food to dog food, you would actually be forgiven for assuming a dog would benefit from the odd plate of cat food.
The truth is, per portion size the average tin of cat food is higher in protein than that of dog food. (This does vary as you can get ultra high protein count dry dog food etc, but on average, cat food is higher).
The interesting reason behind this is due to the fact a cat is actually a carnivore. The high protein count is there because the species has evolved as a meat eater.
Dogs on the other hand are omnivores. They need vegetables and the various applicable nutrients contained within, in order to have a balanced diet. Cat food contains far less of these ingredients as they do not need them.
Furthermore, cat food also contains higher fat and calories.
Can Dogs Eat Cat Food – Precautions
Aside from the fact, cat food is not designed for dogs there are also some major nutritional issues you need to be aware of.
We have already mentioned the high calorie and fat count in cat food, (when compared to the average dogs dinner). According to the AAFCO a dog should only be exposed to 5% fat whereas a cat can consume up to 9% with its diet.
While this is only a marginal difference, over time this extra fat within cat food could have a real detrimental impact on your dog. In other words, he could become obese.
A dog’s digestion system is not properly equipped to break down such fatty foods. Before the weight gain, your dog could experience stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.
Can Dogs Eat Cat Food – Nutritional Imbalance
As we have mentioned, a dog is an omnivore and needs both vegetables and meat as part of a balanced healthy diet. For example, cat food contains less zinc and vitamin E than dog food. Vitamin A is also very important for dogs, with most dog food containing high amounts. Cat food on the other hand is limited in its vitamin A count.
Conversely, cat food is high in Taurine, an ingredient a dog does not require.
Also, a dog clearly expends more energy than the average cat. To combat this, dog food has higher carbohydrate levels, (giving your dog the bounce that he needs). Cat food is lower in this vital energy source, if your dog lives off cat food, he will be deficient in this and very likely lethargic as a result.
As you can see, over the long-term cat food is bad for dogs. Aside from health issues such as obesity and nutritional deficiencies, they may encounter gastrointestinal problems and in some cases pancreatitis.
In short, cat food is meant for cats, dog food for dogs. If you are caught out and have to feed your dog some cat food on a rare occasion, this will not be a problem. Anything more than that however, and you will not be looking after your dog the way he deserves.