Are There Health Issues if Cats Eat Dog Food? – Fidobiotics

Are There Health Issues if Cats Eat Dog Food?

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Dog kibble is not an ideal substitute for cat food. Learn why meeting nutritional needs through proper dietary choice is important for your cat’s health.

Having both a pupper and a meowser in the household can make for some amewsing moments. Dogs and cats are arch-nemeses. They scrap for the title of most loved/most deserving to sit on the couch/most ferocious every single day.

Something they should never be competing for, however, is food.

Your two pets are different species and have completely different nutritional needs. So, can your cat eat dog food? Not really.

While an occasional nibble on some dog kibble typically won't hurt your feline friend, more frequent feedings can lead to severe health conditions like pancreatitis and obesity. Keep reading to learn more about your cat's unique nutritional needs and how to best meet those with high-quality food and supplements!

Nutritional Requirements for Cats

Dogs are omnivores, needing 1/4-1/3 of the diet to be vegetables. Cats, on the other hand, are not ones to eat their vegetables at mealtimes. Don't begrudge your kitty for their anti-asparagus antics. They simply have no business eating veggies, as they are obligate carnivores. There are many differences in nutritional requirements for dogs and cats. Some are lesser known, such as cats' need for fatty acids like arachidonic and linoleic acid - derived from animal-based fats. The average dog food only contains linoleic acid. Giving your cat a food source devoid of arachidonic acid can spell danger for your cat's coat and kidneys.

Cats also require a large amount of niacin, folate, and Vitamin A in their diet. While dog food does offer some level of these nutrients, it's less than kitty needs. If your cat is not getting the folate she needs, you may find her in the tall green grass, leaving you asking, "Why Do Cats Eat Grass?"


An obligate carnivore, like your cat, gets all necessary nutrition from ingested animal proteins. As such, a cat's diet consists of animal-based, high-protein pet food to survive. A dog's food should contain abundant animal-based protein, but it is not rare or improper for your dog's food to contain a significant amount of plant-based protein as well.

Most cat food companies employ cat nutrition experts who understand what their paw-dience needs, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be vigilant and check every ingredient in Mr. Bigglesworth's food.

Grains or vegetable product found within cat food is a big red flag, discontinue immediately and switch to a cat food specifically designed for kitty's health and longevity. A raw-food diet is the best option for a happy, healthy cat.
While many brands offer fantastic dry food options, wet cat food will keep your fur-pal hydrated - as cats don't have the same urge for thirst as humans or dogs do.

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Amino Acids

The meat-based proteins your cat needs consist of 23 essential nutrients called amino acids. Of those 23, your cat needs the following 11 to stay healthy and survive.

  • Arginine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • L-Tryptophan
  • Valine
  • Taurine

While some animals' bodies are able to synthesize these amino acids, cats need a constant source of animal tissue to get the job done.

One of the more important amino acids cats need is taurine. Canines are able to synthesize taurine so it is not found in most dog foods. If your cat develops a taurine deficiency, they may experience serious health issues like blindness, lethargy, and seizures.

If your cat gets her nose into the bag of dog food and has a few bites, do not be alarmed - she may get a stomach ache, but the damage done will be extremely minimal. However, long-term feeding of dog food to your cat will have dire consequences.

Common Cat Health Concerns

The Kidneys

One of the benefits of eating a carnivorous diet is that it forces the kidneys to produce highly acidic urine, creating an environment that is hostile to bacterial growth. This bacteria-resistant environment has levels of acidity within 5-7-6.3 pH. If this pH is not met, bacterial crystals can form in the urinary tract and urethra, as well as kidney stones, bladder infections, and even a urethral plug could form.

One of the main ways that cats are unable to meet this pH range is if they are eating food that is not designed for a cat's nutritional needs, leaving the urinary tract, kidneys, and urethra vulnerable to a number of health problems and bacterial infections.

Your cat's urinary tract should be monitored constantly, especially if you have a male kitty. There are a number of urinary tract-supporting probiotics out there to aid with his often annoying and sometimes fatal condition.

The Gut

The feline gastrointestinal tract is much different than that of a canine's. The average cat's small intestine measures 1.7 meters, whereas the average dog's measures over twice that - at 3.9 meters.

This difference in intestinal length is due to what your cat should be eating. The dog's GI length has a good deal to do with the fact that he is processing fibrous vegetables, meat, and carbohydrates. The feline's shorter intestines are perfect for her many high-protein-content meals throughout the day.

Suppose your kitty gets kibble and lives in the household. In that case, her gut is likely not as healthy as it would be in the wild eating raw meat - there is only so much you can do to replicate what nature has intended. Fortunately, there are supplements that help support your feline's gut - maintaining proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Probiotics for Cats

Probiotics are regarded as one of the best ways to maintain proper gut health, and that's not just for us humans. Whether your cat's poops aren't up to par, he has become the living personification of the song "Smelly Cat," or you find he frequently falls ill, probiotics may be exactly what you're looking for to support your pet's health.

Probiotics are good bacteria naturally found within the gut. This good bacteria has several functions, but it can only do its job when it is not outnumbered by other bad bacteria. Probiotic supplements work to reset that balance and, consequently, the gut.

Feeding your cat the best food out there is purr-amount, yes, but if your cat's gut is out of whack, she may have a hard time absorbing all of those lovely nutrients you're feeding her.

Probiotics assist with healthy nutrient absorption, promote healthy digestion, support immune health, and promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Not all probiotics are manufactured equally. Look for human-grade probiotic powder for cats, including digestive enzymes and prebiotics, with a high CFU count and an NASC quality seal.

How To Prevent Your Cat From Eating Dog Food

If you hold the title of both cat owner and dog owner, a great way to ensure your cat does not get her paws on Fido's food and vice-versa is putting your dog on a feeding schedule and placing the cat food where only the acrobat of the house can get to it. Leaving both food bowls on the ground during feeding times in a free-fur-all fashion can incite resource guarding and dietary crossovers, which can pose problems.

In an ideal world, a feral feline would eat many times throughout the day. As such, it is best to fulfill her genetic predisposition for constant feeding by leaving her bowl out or investing in a timed feeder that automatically despenses food at predetermined times. Regular, smaller feedings of nutritionally balanced food can also help an overweight kitty achive healthy weight loss.

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

We have answered, quite definitively, that cats should not be eating the food from your dog's bowl on a regular basis- but what about dogs eating cat food?

Find out the answer to "Can dogs eat cat food?" today!

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  • I read in a dog book when i got a puppy that they should eat three times a day until they are 6 months old. but if its one thing i have learned from having alot of dogs, its that dogs will eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are full. So what I normally do is just make sure that there is food in the bowl everyday, and when its empty just fill it up. so whatever you do is up to you. and good luck.

    Guard dogs and rare dogs at

    animalheeh on

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