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Yes, cat food is not toxic for dogs to eat. However, it is not recommended for your dog’s actual daily meals.
Though cat and dog food may seem interchangeable, they’re actually formulated in different ways that satisfies each species’ dietary requirements. Cats are “obligate carnivores” — meaning that it’s a biological requirement for them to consume meat regularly (true friends of Ron Swanson). Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivorous, and require a mixture of plant-based foods and fibers in addition to meat to be healthy.
While your dog might be okay chowing down on cat kibble periodically — some even crave felines’ meaty meals — they wouldn’t get the adequate nutrients their body requires if they only eat cat food. This sort of diet leads to poor health and can affect their overall quality of life. Liken it to only eating cupcakes as a human. It tastes good and it may go down easily, but you can’t survive off chocolate cake and frosting.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Cat Food
As mentioned, if your dog inadvertently gets into the bag of cat food, they will be OK as it is not toxic. In some cases, dogs that consume large amounts of cat food will experience gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, fever, and a distended, sensitive stomach. If your dog experiences these symptoms for more than 24 hours, it’s important to visit the vet. They can help reduce pain and discomfort and make sure your pup is well hydrated.
Additionally, dogs who eat cat food – as well as those who have a high meat, low fiber diet — can become obese and even develop pancreatitis. What we’re saying is that your dogs should stick to dog food, which is formulated specifically with their omnivorous diets in mind.
Bottom Line: While it’s not toxic, it’s not the best food for your dog.
The takeaway here is that cats and dogs have different dietary needs and therefore should eat different foods. While an occasional meaty cat food snack is safe, large quantities — or only feeding your dog food made for cats — isn’t ideal.
Curious about what is okay (and not so okay) for your dog to munch on? Check out our other articles on what human foods are safe for dogs.