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My Dog Ate Cat Food – Will He Be Okay?

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Tim Rhodes

What if my dog ate cat food, what will happen? 

It’s every pet owner’s nightmare to see their furry babies sick to the point of needing a veterinarian’s help. 

As a parent to a furry canine or feline, we feel responsible for anything that happens to our pets, and we always want the best for them, right? 

This article is for cat and dog lovers. 

Owning both kinds of animals, you’ve probably experienced the stress of feeding your furry animals.

Apart from the expensive pet food expenses, there’s also the trouble of making your cats and dogs eat out of their respective bowls. 

Well, in most cases, this problem is mostly for dogs. 

Table of Contents

What happens when a dog eats cat food? 

Should you be worried? Should you call the vet? Let’s take a look and see. 

Why Do Dogs Like Cat Food?  

All dog owners are aware that dogs will eat almost anything- living and not living. 

The range of things dog put in their mouth are endless, and, sometimes, cases can even turn worrisome. 

It can be anything from your shoelaces to tissue, or even two-day-old steak they got their paws on. 

Certainly, veterinarians are quite used to treating the most bizarre food mishaps we can never dream of. 

If dogs are attracted to almost anything, they will surely love cat food because it’s high in protein and fat and smells oh-so-good to their doggy nostrils. 

At first glance, cat food and dog food look alike. 

They’re both sold as either dry or wet, texture and size are the same, and even the smell (to us humans) are the same. 

But, in reality, they’re quite different. 

Here’s why. 

Diet Differences 

Dogs and cats are just like human beings; not every person needs the same diet to function correctly. 

Before canines and felines were domesticated, finding a source of food was all up to them. 

Hunting their prey was like breathing to them, and they knew what kind of diet they needed to survive in the wild. 

After becoming domesticated, this stopped, and now they rely on humans to hand them their daily meals. 

Cats are born carnivores, which means that they need a lot of meat in their diets, think of tigers and lions out in the wild hunting for deer. 

On the other hand, dogs are omnivores, which means that they need meat and vegetables in their diet to survive. 

It is these diet differences that make eating each other’s food unhealthy for the animal. 

Have you ever heard of myths on what dogs can and cannot eat? 

Many myths surround what dogs can and cannot eat. 

Some of the popular ones like no chocolate, corn on the cob, and macadamia nuts have been around for decades, while others like cat food we’re not sure of. 

You’re probably reading this article as a cat and dog owner wondering if you should be alarmed by your dog’s habit or the one-time accident of eating your cat’s meal. 

To better understand why dogs love cat food, let’s take a look and see what each pet food is made of. 

Maybe by the end of this article, you’ll even be tempted to taste them (or you’ve already had). 

What is in Cat Food? 

High in protein and fat are the two main food components in any cat food sold. 

As mentioned above, cats are carnivores, and they need a significant amount of protein in their diets to survive. 

The amino acids in protein do different things in your pet. It aids in building their muscle, bones, and immune system. 

Your cat’s food entices dogs because it tastes and smells better than their food. 

The majority of cat food sold in the market, wet and dry, is infused with a fresh aroma to coax a cat to eat the product. 

This extra push is necessary because the cats won’t want to eat the food without it. 

Dogs, who have a better smell than cats, can’t help but want to bite the savory cat food when their nostrils get a whiff. 

You’ve probably seen it happen already. 

Leave a day’s old cat food out, just enough for the aroma to leave, and neither of your pets will want to eat it. 

What is in Dog Food?

While cat food is high in protein and fat, dog food is high in fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. 

Think of that chicken meal with veggies you just had for dinner. That’s something a dog would have on their plates if they were humans. 

It’s not surprising that your dog’s diet is somewhat similar to a human’s diet because of its fiber and protein. 

For a dog to have a balanced diet, they require an intake of 37 essential nutrients

All commercial dog food do their best to ensure that their products address all of the nutrients your dogs need to be healthy and fit. 

Pet food manufacturers mix in meat, fish, vegetables, minerals, and vitamins in your dog’s meal to achieve the perfect balance. 

On the other hand, cat food does not have as many ingredients and components as dog food. 

It’s mostly protein and fat. 

No wonder your dog wants to get a bite out of it. 

Some dog owners even go the extra mile and make their dog food. 

Heads up, it’s nowhere easy and requires a lot of research and preparation. 

Immediate Effects of Eating Cat Food

To answer the title of this article, yes, your dog will be okay even if he ate your cat’s food. 

Though it’s unhealthy for your dog to consume your cat’s kibble, it isn’t useful if it’s a regular practice. 

We will explain more about that later. 

Some pet owners even use cat food to treat their dogs after they’ve done something praiseworthy. 

Since cat food tastes better to your dog, they indeed will find it a treat if you give them some from time to time. 

Think of all of this as you would an allergy. 

Though human beings react differently to consuming certain products, the majority show general symptoms and signs. 

Dogs are the same. 

Here are some of the immediate effects your dog might show after devouring your kitty’s food bowl. 

Mild to Moderate Diarrhea 

Like humans who make a beeline for the toilet after eating something upsetting, dogs do the same. 

If potty trained, they make a beeline to their designated spot and, if not potty trained, good luck with cleaning gooey poop all over your house and furniture. 

Again, this does not mean that every dog will have diarrhea after eating cat food. 

It depends on your dog’s stomach. 

There will be cases of dogs showing no immediate reactions to eating cat food. 

The ones with mild to moderate intestinal problems will be better after the cat food has left their bodies. 

Don’t be alarmed with the watery feces as this is just your dog’s allergic reaction to the cat food. 

Gastrointestinal Problems 

We’ve all heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

For dogs, eating cat food won’t kill them, but it will make them pass gas, not just a little gas, but a lot of gas. 

Apart from a lousy diarrhea case, your furry pet might have a gastrointestinal reaction to the cat food that leads to their passing more gas than usual. 

Be prepared for some sticky farts coming your way.  


Another reaction your dog might have to the cat food is vomiting. 

Like humans, a dog’s immune system alerts the body of the unknown presence (the cat food) and forces it out of the body through the mouth. 

To find out if your dog is allergic to cat food, watch out for this sign. 

Usually, dogs with a weaker stomach are more prone to vomiting and diarrhea than dogs used to eating different kinds of food. 

Itchy Skin 

Another allergic reaction some dogs might have to eat cat food is itchy skin. 

This is an immediate reaction to look out for that some dogs may get. 

If you notice your furry friend scratching away after eating a cat food bowl, you know why he’s itchy. 

Like humans, dogs become used to eating something they are allergic to if given regularly. 

If you’ve ever had a mild food allergy to let’s say eggs, but you keep eating it, your body starts to get used to it sooner or later. 

The same goes for when dogs continue to eat something they are allergic to. 

However, it is not advised to do this as it could lead to other health defects. 

If your dog only ate a little amount of cat food, the itch will disappear quite fast. 

Longterm Effects of Eating Cat Food 

Prolonged Sensitive Stomach 

If your dog continues to consume cat food regularly, there is a high chance of their stomach becoming highly sensitive. 

This leads to digestion problems, diarrhea, and vomiting. 

This only occurs if your dog continues to eat cat food regularly; none of this will occur if they only happened to take a bite or two from your cat’s bowl. 


If we only ate food that is high in fat and protein without proper exercise, we’re bound to gain an extra pound or two, and if we continued with this diet, we’d be obese. 

Dogs are the same. 

Because their diet shouldn’t be high in fat and protein, consuming a lot of cat food will lead to them being obese. 

No fur parent wants their pet to be obese. 

It’s unhealthy and leads to other illnesses. 

Lack of Minerals and Vitamins

Cats don’t need that many vitamins and minerals to have a healthy diet. 

This is why cat food doesn’t have as many minerals and vitamins compared to dog food. 

If a dog eats cat food regularly, there’s a high risk of a mineral and vitamin deficiency. 

Your dog’s immune system will weaken, and this leads to its being susceptible to more diseases. 

To avoid this, don’t feed your dog cat food regularly. 

It’s as easy as that. 


The worst-case scenario no pet owner wants is your dog developing pancreatitis from all the fat found in cat food. 

The pancreas, a V-shaped organ/gland near the small intestine, is responsible for many digestive functions.

Pancreatitis is the inflammation of this organ. 

This disease is very problematic for dogs, and it’s fatal if not treated properly. 

Any dog that ingests many fatty foods is prone to developing pancreatitis; it’s not only through eating cat food.  

Here are some symptoms of pancreatitis: 

  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration 
  • Hunched back 

If your dog begins to show one or all of the signs above, it’s best to seek medical help. 

The amount of fat in cat food your dog has been munching on has led to their developing pancreatitis. 

Rest assured that this is treatable and only fatal if left alone and not treated. 

Best to keep your dog away from those fatty cat food, especially kitten food, which contains higher portions of fat. 

When to Get Medical Help

A little vomit and diarrhea here and there is not problematic, but if these symptoms last longer than a day, it’s best to seek a vet’s help. 

Constant vomiting and diarrhea lead to dehydration and weakness; your dog won’t have an appetite to eat and replenish all the nutrients they lost. 

Don’t wait around and seek medical help right away. 

Tips on Keeping Your Cat’s Food Away From Your Dogs 

If your home, sometimes referred to by your neighbors as a zoo, is full of different animals, you know how difficult feeding time becomes each day. 

Are you that pet parent with nine cats, ten dogs, three birds, one lizard, and two snakes? 

Getting your pets to eat off their designated bowls must be a colossal chore every day. 

If your dogs aren’t trained and gorge their containers and their feline siblings’ bowls as well, you might want to consider these tips to keep your cat’s food away from your dog. 

Feed Your Pets in Separate Rooms 

The most practical method you can do to avoid your dog eating off your cat’s bowl is to have them eat their meals in separate rooms. 

It might be a drag to have to go through all the trouble of separating their feeding locations, plus there’s the mess to clean up after, but this is a quick solution to your problems. 

Have your dog eat in the kitchen and your cat in the bedroom or any other free room. 

Since cats make less of a mess than dogs do while eating, it’s best to let your cats eat in the places you don’t want to get dirt on. 

Feed Your Cat on a High Surface

Cats are more agile compared to dogs. 

Jumping up to the kitchen counter, table, bookshelf, etc. is a feat easy for a cat to accomplish. 

On the other hand, jumping too high places doesn’t come easy to dogs. 

If you don’t want to feed your pets in separate rooms, let your cat eat on an elevated surface your canine buddy can’t reach. 

An easy example is the kitchen counter. 

Place your feline’s food on the shelf and your canine’s food on the floor. 


Problem solved. 

If your cat owns a cat house, you can place their food in places your dog can’t reach. 

Some large dogs might be able to go on their hind legs to reach for the food, so be careful that the location is high enough for them not to reach it. 

Feed Your Dog or Cat in a Cage/Crate/Fence

If you have a fence, cage, or crate readily available in your pet room or feeding area, you can use this to feed your dog or cat. 

They’ll technically still be in the same room together eating, but one will be kept away from the other during meal times. 

It might be easier to let your dog eat in the secluded area as it’s hard to get a cat inside a cage or crate. 

Invest in an Automatic Cat Feeder

This solution might be a bit pricy for some, but it’s sure to work. 

An automatic cat feeder allows you to feed your cat a separate time from your dog without the fuss and stress of remembering who ate and didn’t. 

You can also set a program to make sure your cat eats during times you out with your dog for a walk. 

It’s easier to have cats use an automatic feeder because they are more independent and recluse animals. 

There are numerous brands and kinds of automatic food dispensers you can buy online. 

Not only will your cat be happy, so will you! 

Make Feeding Bowls Different 

Maybe the reason your dog eats off of your cat’s bowl is because of their bowl’s similarities. 

This solution is easy but doesn’t have a high success rate. 

Change the feeding bowls of your cat and dog. 

Make sure the colors and sizes are different from each other. 

This solution might work for some households. 

It’s worth a shot. 

Train Your Dog to Wait 

Another great solution is to train your dog to wait or not to eat the cat’s food. 

Some commands can be “Wait,” “Stay,” or even “Not yet.” 

As long as your pup understands the meaning behind these commands, you’re set to go. 

This method takes patience and diligence to achieve, but it reaps long-term results. 

Install Pet Doors 

If your home has a separate place for the pets to stay in, it might be good to consider making a pet door only big enough for a cat to get through

This way, when it’s time to feed your pets, the cat can easily walk out of the room through the pet door and into the feeding area. 

This solution is similar to feeding your pets in separate rooms, but it’s less of a hassle. 

Have Your Cat Try Other Food Flavors 

The last tip we have for you is to let your cat try out other cat food flavors that aren’t that appealing to your dog. 

This solution is a pain to do, especially if you have a fussy cat who only likes to eat one flavor of cat food. 

However, if you’re lucky, you might find a cat food flavor that your cat likes that your dog doesn’t. 

This is a quick yet challenging to achieve a solution. 

Can Dog Ate Cat Food? 

What if you’re faced with the opposite scenario? 

What if it’s your cat who eats some dog food? 

Will your feline be alright? 

Yes, they will. 

Like a dog that eats a little cat food is not at risk of death, the same goes for cats. 

Still, it’s best not to feed your cat dog food. 

Dog food doesn’t have the nutrients that cats need to survive, namely vitamin A and taurine. 

Without these nutrients, a cat won’t have a balanced diet. 

There is also too much fiber in dog food that will upset the stomach of your kitty. 

Dogs can survive on cat food alone, with health repercussions, but a cat won’t survive just on dog food. 

Luckily, cats aren’t attracted to dog food like dogs are to cat food. 

Fussy felines couldn’t care less on your pup’s food bowl. 

The only solution to all of this is to keep your pets away from each other’s food bowls. 

At the end of the day, your dog stealing a couple of bites of your cat’s food tray doesn’t seem that heinous of an act any longer. 

No need to worry your mind off; your furry buddy will be okay. 

Final Thoughts

A dog eating cat food once or twice will not die. 

Repeat this with us. 

“My dog is okay.” 

Remember that though your dog is okay with eating cat food a couple of times, regular consumption is not healthy nor advisable. 

It will lead to serious health problems, and you’re putting your furry friend’s life on the line. 

Maybe that’s a bit too dramatic. 

But, you get the idea. 

Try out the tips and solutions mentioned in this article to keep your cat’s food out of paws reach from your doggies. 

It might take some time for you to find the best method that works for your pets, but it will be worth it. 

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