Can Cats Eat Dog Food? Is It OK or Bad?

When it comes to deciding which pets can share food, you need to understand their individual nutritional requirement. It is not all about them being safe, i.e., not being toxic, harmful, or poisonous, it has everything to do with it being nutritionally balanced.

Additionally, they should be easy to digest as well as utilize the various nutrients they may be having.

For instance, does dog food have all the nutrients that kitties need and in their correct ratios and utilizable? If yes, then it would be ok. If no, it will not be good for your feline pal.

We will have a separate discussion to look into whether dogs can eat cat food. Therefore, this discussion will be about your feline eating canine foods and not vice versa.

Can cats eat dog food
Can cats eat dog food?

Is cat food bad for dogs?

Yes. It is bad for cats to eat dog food. This is irrespective of whether you are giving them dry, wet, grain-free, soft, canned dog food or brands such as Purina, Freshpet, Pedigree, Cesar, and so on.

What if your feline-only eats dog food? You might also want to know what will happen feline if she eats canine foods. Will they kill, make her sick, or hurt her? What if you feed them once, for a day or one time?

We understand you want to know if canine chow is dangerous or harmful to felines and what may happen such as will they die?

A small amount of dog food given to your feline friend occasionally may not cause any harm to your kitties but never given them exclusively. Most cats will love them especially those based on animal proteins. Depending on the type kitties can eat them without any digestive upsets or diarrhea.

While a small amount or eating dog food once may not be very harmful, here is why cats should not eat them besides the varying kibble size.

1. Cats are strict carnivore while dogs are omnivores

Cats are obligate, true or stick carnivores while dogs are not carnivores as many people assume. They are omnivores. This is the first indicator that their nutritional requirements are very different.

As   emphasizes, “dogs are omnivores, and even wolves in the wild derive nutrition from both plant and animal sources.” Therefore, canines can eat meat, vegetable, carbohydrates, and so on.

On the other hand, feline’s bulk source of nutrients should be from meat. While int the wild, these pets are meat-eaters who feed on rodents, small mammals, birds, lizards, and a few bugs.

Finally, their shorter digestive system may not be able to handle plant food sources effectively. Therefore, dietary plant sources should account for a small percentage of their diet.

2. They have different amino acid requirements

Firstly, kitty’s amino acid or protein requirement is higher than canines. Therefore, most canine diets will not provide the required amino acid levels.

Secondly, canines can make some amino acids which kitties are not able to make. For instance, while dogs can make taurine, an amino sulfonic acid, if you must add to kitties diets or give them food that has it.

This means that you either go for taurine supplements for felines or their diets must have taurine.

Taurine deficiency in kitties can lead to various detrimental symptoms including failures in reproduction, dilated cardiomyopathy, feline central retinal degeneration, lethargy, deafness, tooth decay and so on.

Furthermore, dogs are able to make their own ornithine while kitties cannot. This again emphasis on the fact that their dietary needs are different.

3. Varying fatty acid needs

Canines and felines require essential fatty acids since their bodies cannot make them. However, unlike kitties, dogs can make arachidonic essential fatty acid. Therefore, it not required in their diets.

Since felines need arachidonic acid as it has several roles including “produce an inflammatory response that signals the body to send healing agents to a damaged location for the clotting of blood, and it supports the proper function of the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems as well as the maintenance of proper skin growth,” as Pet Food Institute notes, it must be added in their diets.

4. Cats cannot make some vitamins

Another reason why cat eating dog food is not recommended is that feline diets must have enough niacin as well as an active form of vitamin A since they cannot make it on their own. However, dogs can.

5. Nutritional imbalances

If you look at the AAFCO recommendation on various nutrients levels in dog and cat food, you will notice they are different. This will include all amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.


While felines may survive on canine foods for some time, they cannot survive on it alone. Expect nutritional deficiencies, digestive upsets, and obesity (in case of foods high in carbs). Some may also vomit and diarrhea.


Is it ok for cats to eat dog food? No. It is not ok. You already have the reasons why your kitten or cat should not depend on them. Stick to diets designed for kittens and cats to ensure they get all the nutrients they require.

If your cat ate dog food once, you need not worry. However, you should stop this from happening since these diets are not nutritionally complete.

Use different bowls, have feeding schedules, serve them in different places and train these pets if you have both of them.

In case of an emergency where you do not have something to give your feline pal and you don’t have recipes for feline raw diets, giving them canine food is ok, but your kitty will definitely miss on some nutrients.

Watch for any allergy symptoms, diarrhea, stomach upsets or vomiting in some occasions.

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We are passionate pet and animal enthusiasts bringing insightful information to ensure your furry, flying or finned friends are happy and in good health. Feed them well and love them always.

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