The quick answer: Cat food is not toxic for dogs to eat. However, it is not recommended as a meal substitute for your dog’s daily meals. While an occasional meaty cat food snack is safe, large quantities — or only feeding your dog food made for cats — isn’t ideal.
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, however, are omnivores, and need to eat a mixture of plant-based foods in addition to meat to be healthy.
While your dog might be okay chowing down on cat kibble periodically — some dogs probably think of it as a delicacy — they wouldn’t get the adequate nutrients their body requires if they only eat cat food. Eating only cat food can lead to poor health which can affect your dog’s overall quality of life over time.
What to do if your dog eats cat food
If your dog inadvertently gets into a small amount of cat food, there’s no need to worry (unless they have allergies to ingredients in the cat food) because cat food is not toxic. Dogs who have consumed 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.
Additionally, dogs who eat cat food – as well as those who have a high meat, low fiber diet — can become obese and over time develop pancreatitis. So keep your dog on their own kibble, as it is formulated specifically with their omnivorous diets in mind.
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