Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

If your dog tends to move on to your cat's food bowl after he finishes his dinner, you're going to want to read this.

Dogs will eat any food they can find. Whether it’s dog food, cat food, something you dropped on the ground while eating dinner, or garbage they find on their walk, they don’t discriminate. We can assume that the garbage your dog finds on the road isn’t healthy for him, but is it bad if your dog occasionally eats the leftovers your cat left in her bowl? Can dogs eat cat food? If your cat is the pet in your house that loves to eat, learn if cats can eat dog food.

Can dogs eat cat food?

The simple answer to “can dogs eat cat food” is no, dogs should not eat cat food. “The nutritional profile for cat food is different than dog food, so it’s not something they should be eating instead of dog food,” says Dr. Gary Richter, Veterinary Health Expert with Rover. But he says if they sneak a bit every now and then, it’s not going to hurt them.

“Cat food tends to be higher in protein and fat,” says Richter. “[If a dog eats cat food it could] potentially cause GI upset, but that would depend on the dog.” Cat food isn’t harmful to dogs, but it’s not going to provide them with the proper nutrients and optimal nutrition. If your dog seems to like your cat’s food better than his own, try switching to one of the best dog foods brands that vets feed to their dogs.

Some symptoms to watch out for if you suspect your dog might be eating cat food are vomiting and diarrhea. An upset stomach is possible due to the higher fat content in cat food.

How can you get your dog to stop eating cat food?

If you own a cat and a dog, feeding time can be a challenge. First, try feeding them in different rooms or at different times of the day. Lock your cat (or dog) in their own room until they finish their meal. If your cat slowly picks at her food throughout the day, you can try putting the bowl up on a window ledge or the counter—a place where the dog can’t get to it. Now that you know not to feed your dog cat food, make sure you avoid these other mistakes that every dog owner makes.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.