It’s actually quite common for pet owners to wonder if two different pet types can share food. After all, this could work out cheaper, more convenient and generally easier day to day. It is also worth knowing the answer to – ‘can cats eat dog food?’ if your cat or dog is partial to a little bit of theft from the others food bowl.
So, can cats eat dog food? If so, which kind can they eat and, can they eat it long term?
Let’s find out…
Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
The short and simple answer is, yes they can. If a cat eats some food (a small amount) from your pooches bowl, or steals a treat, they are unlikely to suffer any adverse reactions.
However, in any regular diet for your cat, dog food is definitely not something that should feature.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food Long-Term?
If you’re wondering; can cats eat wet dog food? Can cats eat dry dog food? Can cats eat canned dog food? The answer is the same as above, in that the odd stolen treat or chunk of dog food is unlikely to hurt them. However, long-term, cats should not eat dog food regularly. This will result in health issues for the cat that could eventually lead to their demise. This is because cats and dogs have very different needs when it comes to their nutrition.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that their diet has to be predominantly made up of protein from real meat and animal fats. It is essential for their health that their diet is mainly meat.
Dogs, however, are omnivores. This means that their diet can be much more flexible. They can eat meat and vegetables easily without any digestive issues. There are of course ingredients that are important for a dogs health, but they are not the same as those for a cat, which is why high quality dog food will not suit a cat.
Cat Food & Dog Food – Key Differences
There are some key differences between dog food and cat food including:
Cats aren’t really able to taste sweetness very well at all, unlike dogs, who can identify sweeter flavours in food. Cats also have under 500 tastebuds compared to dogs, who have over 1500 and humans, who have over 9000. So cat food is specifically made to taste delicious to cats and their low amount of taste buds.
As cats are obligate carnivores, high quality cat food is packed full of protein. Dog food does have animal protein in it, sometimes in high contents. However, that usually still wouldn’t be enough to keep a cat thriving long-term, which is around two grams of animal protein per pound of the cat’s body weight per day.
Cats are unable to make taurine themselves, which is why they have to eat it. If they don’t get enough of it they can suffer from issues with their tummy, eyes and hearts. This ingredient is usually not seen in dog food.
Arachidonic acid is a type of acid that cannot be made by a cat’s body, so it has to be eaten. A lack of this fatty acid can cause issues with a cats; liver, kidney and skin. As dogs can make this fatty acid themselves, their food is unlikely to contain it.
Cats cannot make vitamin A themselves and so they have to eat it. If they don’t get enough vitamin A they may struggle with; muscle wastage and weakness, nighttime vision issues and a low-quality coat.
You may see that your dog food does contain vitamin A, but the chances are it is not in the correct dosage for a cat’s nutritional needs.
Cats cannot make niacin themselves and so they have to eat it. It tends to come from the connective animal tissues in cat food. It can be present in dog food in plant matter, but is unlikely to be enough for a cat’s nutritional needs.
Always Focus On Your Individual Cats Needs
Every cat has specific needs that relate to its age and health. A kitten requires very different nutrition to an older cat, and to a dog. That is why specific cat foods are designed for the cat at its very specific life stage. In addition, cats with medical conditions or other needs may require specific types of cat foods to suit them.
In all instances, a high-quality cat food is needed and dog food is not a suitable long-term diet option for a cat.