tIf you have both a cat and a dog as pets, you may have experienced your dog munching on cat food. Perhaps he did it because he was hungry, or maybe he mistook it for his own food. This incident probably prompted you to ask the question: can dogs eat cat food?
The answer to that is yes, but it is definitely not recommended. This is mainly because a dog’s nutritional requirements cannot be fulfilled by eating cat food as it is designed for a feline body and not a canine’s.
What You Need to Know About Dogs and Cat Food
Some pet owners are under the impression that dog and cat food is almost the same product, except for the labeling on the package. This, however, is not true. Dogs are more or less omnivores and cats are obligate carnivores and as such their nutritional requirements will vary significantly.
Dogs need a good balance of protein and carbohydrates, whereas cats need more protein. Cat food contains a large amount of protein, which is way more than what dogs need. It also contains a significant amount of fat, that is not good or dogs.
Dogs are not exactly omnivores. However, their primary source of food should be meat. Cats, on the other hand, are extremely carnivorous, just like the bigger counterparts in the wild and need much more meat to get their daily nutritional requirements.
You will also notice various differences in the body structure of a dog and a cat. Dogs may have sharp teeth, however, when you look at cats, you can tell that their primary instinct is to attack.
There are actually millions of years of evolution between cats and dogs, so they are very different in physical features and attributes as well as tendencies. Each animal’s nutritional requirements are just as unique.
Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?
Yes, however, it should only be given as a treat sparingly and occasionally. Feeding your dog cat food on a regular basis may lead to complications. Cat food is designed for cats and will not give your dog the nutrition he needs, and as a result, he may end up with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Dogs can eat cat food on occasion, and they will be fine. However, there is always that possibility that cat food will cause gastrointestinal discomfort and problems for your dog. Obesity and pancreatitis are another two issues that could arise from your dog eating cat food too often.
The high protein content in cat food is usually hard on your dog’s liver and kidneys, which is why it is suggested that you refrain from feeding your dog cat food regularly. Try not to feed your dog cat food, as it may become a habit.
Your dog may also develop an acquired taste for cat food if he eats it all the time and may end up refusing to eat his own dog food. So this is a possibility that you must be open to when feeding your dog cat food.
If you absolutely must feed it to him, make sure it is done in moderation. Give it to him as a treat only and not as a complete meal.
Health Benefits of Cat Food For Dogs
As far as research goes, the health benefits of cat food for dogs are unknown. There seem to be lots of information about the side effects and complications that cat food has on dogs, however, most experts say that cat food can be given to dogs in moderation.
The risk of feeding cat food to your dog regularly is that they will experience discomfort from an upset stomach. Cat food is too protein dense and your dog’s system is not designed to digest or break down this much protein.
When is Cat Food Bad For Dogs?
The high protein content of cat food places increased pressure on dogs’ liver and kidneys. Cat food is not designed to be ingested or broken down by your dog’s body.
This is why in many cases, dogs that eat too much cat food suffer from an upset stomach. Dogs need a balanced diet including fiber and protein, while cat food is high in protein and fat, which is designed to be nutritionally beneficial to your cat.
The high-fat content in cat food is definitely not good for your dog. In fact, dogs that regularly consume cat food could end up obese. Furthermore, they stand the risk of developing pancreatitis.
Kitten food has been known to be even more harmful to your dog because of its even higher content of protein and fat. Other ailments that regularly eating cat food can lead to are vomiting, diarrhea and gastrointestinal complications and discomfort.
While your dog may not die from eating cat food or even eating it regularly, it does not have good side effects on your dog. In most cases, a dog will eat whatever you feed him and in other cases, he develops an acquired taste for certain foods.
Your dog does not know any better and you as the owner should be doing what is best for him. Do what is best for your canine friend and only feed him dog food designed especially for his breed and size.
What to Do If My Dog Gets Sick From Eating Cat Food?
If your dog has gone on a cat food binge, you will notice a few signs and symptoms of this. Your dog will most likely suffer from an upset stomach due to the high levels of protein in cat food. Dogs with more sensitive stomachs will suffer more severe symptoms than those with a stronger tummy.
If your dog has eaten too much cat food then he will most likely be vomiting or have diarrhea. This is simply the body’s way of getting rid of the excess protein, fat and whatever else is causing your dog discomfort. So if you see him doing this, do not be alarmed. However, if it goes for a prolonged period of time, then you will definitely need to contact your vet.
Your vet will advise you to bring him in for an examination to determine the extent of the damage to your dog food. If he feels that some medication, hydration, and rest will get your dog up and running in no time, then he will most likely send your dog home.
However, if he feels that there is more permanent damage to your dog, for example, if he picks up pancreatitis then he will have to keep him in. Pancreatitis is caused by eating cat food for a long time. It will not arise after one or even two cat food binges from your dog. In order for a dog to suffer from this condition, he has to be eating cat food for quite some time. This type of damage is caused by prolonged exposure to cat food.
In this case, other medication will need to be administered and you will most likely need to leave him at the vet for a longer period of time.
It is a good idea to also take along a sample of the vomit so that your vet can take it for further testing. This is just to make sure that it was only cat food that was eaten and nothing else that could possibly be fatal. The sample will also give your vet a better understanding and idea of what it happening to your dog.
Your dog should recover from the symptoms of cat food binging after a few days, so there is no cause for concern unless your vet says so.The best advice is to keep your dog as far away from cat food as you can and if he manages to somehow get his hands on it and binges, your vet is the first point of contact.
The Final Verdict – Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?
To sum things up, cat food is not recommended for dogs. It has way too much protein and fat for your dog and could end up causing unpleasant symptoms, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach.
The vitamins and minerals in cat food are specially provided for cats and will not give your dog a balanced diet. In fact, it will cause him to be malnourished. It is better to feed your dog treats that you make for him at home or store bought treats specifically made for dogs.
As pet owners, it is our responsibility to feed our dog’s food that is nutritious and beneficial to them.
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