How To Keep Dogs From Eating Cat Food

Last Updated on March 10, 2022 by Griselda M.

Many of us have both canine and feline members in our household. Whilst seeing your big and little fur kids bonding and spending time together is very rewarding, having both cats and dogs in the same home can come with certain challenges too. One such challenge revolves around food. Find out how to keep dogs from eating cat food.

Dogs are scavengers and they may consider your cat’s dinner to be fair game.

Whilst a small amount of occasional cat food is unlikely to cause your dog major health problems, it is a bad idea to let them eat it regularly.

So why do dogs eat cat food, what happens if they do eat cat food, and how do we stop this?

In the case of trying to get your dog to stop sneaking cat food, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, as the old saying goes!

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

If you own both cats and dogs, then you know that dogs love to eat cat food! Dry food, wet food, they love it all.

Both of my dogs love to eat cat food. We have two cats, and they both have their dinner bowls in the kitchen and laundry respectively. 

Now, my dogs are not stupid. They wait until I have gone to bed before they creep down to the cat bowls, and sneak any leftovers they find. Luckily, my cats are good eaters and they tend to finish most of their meals.

Dogs certainly can and do eat cat food. But should they eat it?

If your dog sneaks some cat food occasionally, this is unlikely to harm them. 

However, cat food is not suitable for dogs as a regular meal because it has a higher fat content than dog food. This can lead to tummy aches, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis

Cat food also contains a high amount of protein. This is because cats are carnivores, meaning that they eat meat and only meat. Dogs are different. They are omnivores. This means that they must have some vegetables and grains in their diet for optimal health, and dog food has been developed to accommodate this need. Allowing a dog to eat protein-heavy cat food regularly will put stress on their kidneys and liver.

Cat food, as well as being nutritionally inadequate for dogs, can also make your dog obese. Therefore, another major issue here is that your dog might be eating more calories than they are meant to on any given day.

My Dog Keeps Eating Cat Food!

Dogs eat cat food for the simple fact that it tastes good. However, your dog does not know the differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food. We as their caregivers need to take responsibility for this. 

Another reason why your dog may be compelled to eat cat food is that it offers variety, i.e. it comes in flavors and textures that are different from that of dog food.

Dogs are opportunistic scavengers, which means that if there is cat food left lying around and they can get to it, they will most likely eat it.

So how do we stop dogs from eating cat food?

First of all, ensure that you are feeding your dog the correct amount of food for its size. Could your dog be sneaking cat food because they are hungry? You can refer to a chart explaining the ideal weight for dogs based on their size here if you are unsure of how much food you should be feeding your dog.

If your dog has developed the sneaky habit of stealing food from your cat, after their own meal, then there are some simple measures that you can put in place to prevent this.

Stop Your Dog From Eating Cat Food

The obvious solution to this situation is to prevent your dog from being able to access areas where you feed your cats. So this may mean closing the door to your laundry, or whichever room you feed your cat in. 

Another solution is once your cat has eaten their fill at mealtimes, then remove their food bowls to a high-up place where your dog cannot reach them, such as a shelf in your laundry. This might be a little bit inconvenient to you as the pet owner, especially if you have a very busy household and you are a little bit time-poor, but the effort is worth it. 

Keep a close eye on your dog when they come inside, and if you see or hear them heading for the cat feeding area of your home, give them a firm verbal ‘no’ command. This will tell them that their behavior is not acceptable. Be firm but kind, and be consistent – you need to reprimand them each and every time if you want their behavior to change.

Stop Dogs From Eating Cat Food

Read more about: What Is A Good Dog Food For Huskies?

Avoid leaving bags of dry cat food lying around your house. Again, it is tempting to leave food bags on benches, etc. if you are frantically rushing in the mornings to get out the door. But remember that dogs are motivated when it comes to food, and they may very well tear the bag open to get at the contents if left indoors unsupervised. So remove temptations by storing bags of dry cat food in your pantry with the door firmly shut. 

Some dogs are regular Houdinis when it comes to opening things, so it may be a good idea to store dry cat food in a plastic container once the bag has been opened, with a lid that screws shut. That way, if your clever pooch can open your pantry door at least this way they look but cannot touch (read: eat!)

To Summarize:

  • If your dog sneaks the occasional meal of cat food, this is unlikely to cause them any harm;
  • However, cat food is NOT suitable as regular food for dogs because it has too much fat and protein for your dog’s digestive system. Your dog needs vegetables and grains in their diet too;
  • Avoid temptation for your dog  by shutting off rooms in your house where you feed your cats;
  • Be mindful of carefully storing and putting away cat food so that your dog cannot access it;
  • Follow up practical measures with good training around food and meal times;
  • Make sure your dog is getting all of the calories and nutrients they need from their own meals.

Learn more about: Why Do Dogs Try To Bury Their Food?

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