Should you ever doubt your pup’s love of cat food, just watch what they do around the litter box. Give them an inch and we’ll bet they go a mile searching for ‘treats’ your kitty has deposited in the sand. Even in its digested form, cat food is a delicacy that’s just too tempting to ignore.
In its original version, dog kibble and kitty kibble appear remarkably similar. Though you’d never know it by look or smell alone, the two are actually as different as the species themselves. But where your cat is very likely to pass up the dog food bowl entirely, the inverse is rarely true.
Since you know that at some point your pooch is practically guaranteed to make a beeline for fluffy’s food, a quick review is in order. This refresher course will help you understands the limits and the risks associated with dogs eating cat food.
What’s the difference between cat food and dog food?
Let’s start with a basic understanding of how the digestive systems differ between cats and dogs.
As an obligate carnivore, cats are required to consume high volumes of protein as the primary source of their diets. It’s this high protein content that likely makes cat food so tempting to dogs. Their food is also enriched with amino acids like taurine, vitamin A and arachidonic, an essential fatty acid.
By contrast, your pooch has the system of an omnivore. This means they need different nutrients and loads more fiber to function well. They also need the aforementioned ingredients, but their systems are able to manufacture them from vegetable oil.
How much cat food is too much for a dog?
For dogs, cat food is the ultimate treat. By definition a treat is something that we have in moderation and only on special occasions. Just like humans can’t live on sweets and snacks alone, dogs can’t thrive solely on cat food either. Still, different animals will have different tolerance levels for protein-rich cat food.
A bit here and there is unlikely to hurt, unless your dog has an ultra sensitive system. In fact, some vets use the occasional piece of kitty kibble to bribe dogs during a visit to the clinic. The point at which your dog breaks in to the bag or gorges themself straight from the bowl, keep an eye out for problems.
What happens when a dog eats too much cat food?
If a dog eats too much cat food, they may initially present with digestive upset. Vomiting and diarrhea are common, especially if it’s their first run in with kitty kibble.
With continued access, overtime he or she may also begin to show signs of a significant nutrient imbalance. Unchecked these can lead to serious illness such as obesity and pancreatitis.
Because cat food’s low fiber, high protein content is improperly balanced for a dog’s digestive tract, they may also suffer from liver and their kidney strain.
To keep your pup safe, eliminate or limit foods that aren’t specifically created for the canine species. Even high quality all natural cat foods aren’t enough to keep them safe from systemic damage over time.