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Why is Cat Food Bad for Dogs? 4 Side Effects Explained

Why is Cat Food Bad for Dogs? 4 Side Effects Explained

. 4 min read

While dogs and cats can coexist peacefully in your home, its fine for them to share the couch but there is some sharing that can be dangerous for your dog. Your cat’s toys and food should not be shared with your dog. You might be wondering why your dog should avoid cat food, here’s everything you need to know.

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Different nutritional profiles between cat and dog food

The main reason you need to keep your pup out of the cat food is that cat food is higher in fat and protein than dog food. This makes cat food super appealing to your pup. Most dogs love the smell of meat or fish in the cat’s food.

Dog food, on the other hand, has some more carbohydrate content then cat food. Dogs need less fat and protein than cats. Dog food usually has some kind of grain or another carbohydrate source including rice, corn, wheat or oats.

4 possible complications that can happen when dogs eat cat food:



  1. Obesity
  2. If your dog routinely eats cat food, it could become obese more quickly then if they ate an appropriate diet formulated for canine needs. Your dog does not need as much fat or protein as is found in food formulated for cats and the excess will make your pup gain weight quickly. As weight gain is not the only side effect of cat food for dogs, feeding them cat food to help them gain weight is still not recommended.

  3. Vomiting
  4. All of the extra fat can irritate your dog’s sensitive stomach. This could cause your dog to start vomiting. If your dog accidentally got into the cat food, don’t panic. While it may be disgusting and messy for a little while, it should resolve itself quickly. If it does not, seek medical attention as it could have triggered a more serious condition.

  5. Diarrhea
  6. Along with vomiting, if your dog eats too much cat food he may also have diarrhea. The oils and fats in the cat food can make stool very loose. This along with irritation of the stomach will give your dog some pretty serious runs.

  7. Pancreatitis
  8. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of your dog’s pancreas. The leading cause is a high-fat diet. When dogs eat large amounts of fat, like in cat food, they have a dramatically increased risk of this disease. Be cautioned, it can be very serious but the symptoms generally present as a less serious condition. If you see your pet vomiting, having diarrhea, hunching its back, or having pain/distension in the abdomen seek medical treatment as these are all symptoms. Better to be safe than sorry, especially if your pet has gotten into some fatty food.

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Tips to prevent a dog from eating cat food



  1. Feed the dog and cat separately
  2. If your dog doesn’t see the cat food, they won’t be tempted by it. As an added bonus, both animals can eat in peace. You can feed in separate rooms, or if that is not possible due to space constraints, like a smaller apartment, feed on opposite sides of the room.

  3. Do not ‘free-feed’ your pets
  4. Free feeding is when your pets have access to food all day long. Free fed pets do not eat at standard mealtimes, they’ll graze throughout the day when they get hungry. There is some debate over whether or not this is the healthiest way to feed. In a mixed-species household, it should be avoided as you don’t want to give the dog a chance to snack on some cat food or vice-versa.

  5. Clean food dishes when your pets are done eating
  6. This will prevent your dog from grabbing any crumbs out of the cat dish. It will also keep germs out of your pet’s dishes.

  7. Store pet food in a safe spot
  8. Keep all pet food out of your dog’s reach except their food at mealtimes. This will prevent your pup from helping himself to an additional meal or snack.

Can my cat eat the dog’s food?

It’s not a good idea. As cat food is too high in fat and protein for your dog, the opposite is also true. Dog food does not contain adequate fat or protein for your cat. Additionally, cats require more vitamin A and taurine then dogs so dog food will not provide the correct nutritional balance for your cat.

While a bite or two of cat food probably won’t do any long term damage, it is important to feed your dog food that was especially intended for them. Consider your dog’s age, breed, activity level, and any food allergies or sensitivities when selecting a food for them to enjoy. You might even consider a fresh pet food like Ollie. A healthy diet is a big part of your dog’s overall health. Do your research and choose a food that not only tastes great but will also keep your best friend happy and healthy for many years to come.

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.