Can Dogs Eat Canned Cat Food?

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As a pet lover with more than one animal in your home, you probably know how difficult it is to keep them from eating one another’s food.

If you have both a dog and a cat, your pup might be in the habit of getting into your cat’s wet food.

But, is it safe for dogs to eat canned cat food? Should you allow your dog to eat your cat’s wet food, or even purchase him his very own cans?

The short answer is no, it’s not good for your dog to eat canned cat food, and you certainly shouldn’t feed him only cat food.

There are many reasons why this is unhealthy for your dog and plenty of ways to keep him out of your kitty’s bowl.

By learning more about the dissimilarities between dog and cat food and your pets’ different dietary needs, you can take the best possible care of man’s best friend and avoid painful and expensive visits to the vet.

Will Canned Cat Food Hurt My Dog?

A little cat food now and then isn’t great for your dog, but depending on the type of cat food, it shouldn’t cause too much of a problem, either.

If your cat is on any sort of prescription canned food, such as brands that treat kidney disease or other health problems, take extra care not to let your dog have any of it.

This would be similar to letting one of your children take the prescription medicine of the other – it’s not only unhealthy but dangerous.

In most cases, dogs who eat a little bit of canned cat food can experience no symptoms at all or may display symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, and vomiting.

Unless there are other health issues at play, it’s highly unlikely that a few bites of cat food will kill a dog.

If dogs are fed cat food consistently over time, even just a little bit every day, they are at risk of becoming obese or developing pancreatitis, which is potentially life-threatening.

One of the reasons why cat food isn’t good for dogs is because canine and feline digestive systems are so different.

Cats are carnivores, and wet cat food is almost exclusively meat. Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores and need more than just meat to have a balanced and healthy diet.

In fact, even if you have two of the same type of pet, such as two dogs, they may have different nutritional needs.

If dogs eat cat food regularly, their bodies can’t process the overload of protein. Besides obesity, this can lead to serious liver and kidney problems.

Can Dogs Eat Canned Cat Food in a Pinch?

In general, it’s best not to feed your dog cat food. But what if you’re stuck in an emergency situation and have nothing else to feed your pet?

Feeding your dog a little canned cat food in a pinch is relatively safe, but it’s still not recommended. For one thing, switching your dog’s food abruptly, even to cat food, can be hard on his stomach.

In an emergency, it’s best if you can feed your dog something that is as similar as possible to his regular dog food. If that’s not an option, then the same bland, human foods you might feed him when he’s sick are your best bet.

Boiled ground chicken and plain white rice make a great substitute for your dog’s regular food when necessary. It’s also a good dish to make him if he’s having an upset stomach or other gastrointestinal issues.

Can I Mix Canned Cat Food With Dog Food?

While mixing a little canned cat food in with your dog’s food might seem like a good compromise, it’s still not a good idea.

When you mix cat food and dog food, it throws off the nutritional balance. The cat food adds a disproportionate amount of protein to your dog’s meal, and doing this on a regular basis, even if it’s not every day, can cause health issues.

The only case where you would want to mix cat food into your dog’s food is if you are weaning him off of cat food.

If your pup has exclusively been dining on cat kibble or wet cat food, you need to switch him to dog food gradually, just as you would switch him between two different kinds of dog food.

What to Do if My Dog Will Only Eat Canned Cat Food?


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If your dog is already only eating canned cat food, then, again, you’ll need to switch him over to dog food gradually to avoid hurting his stomach.

Start by mixing a small amount of dog food in with the cat food and gradually increase the amount of dog food each day while decreasing the cat food.

Choose a brand of dog food that is as similar in flavor and texture to the cat food as possible. For example, if your dog eats tuna-flavored wet cat food, then you can purchase a tuna or another fish-flavored wet dog food.

However, always check with your vet first when switching your dog’s food.

You can probably do this over the phone without having to make an appointment or have your dog examined, unless he’s suffering from health issues due to eating cat food.

Your vet can make recommendations for the healthiest type of food for your dog to make sure that all of his nutritional needs are met.

How to Keep Dogs From Eating Canned Cat Food?

There are many ways to keep your dog from eating cat food, but the important thing to remember is that you don’t want him to get confused and think you’re punishing him for eating.

It’s best if you keep your cat’s food out of your dog’s reach. Usually, cats can jump higher and reach more places than dogs can, so feeding your cat on an elevated surface might do the trick.

If you have an older cat or a cat with limited mobility, you could try feeding your cat at designated times while keeping your dog in a crate or in another room with the door closed.

Bottom Line

You should never feed dogs canned cat food, but if they manage to sneak a little once in a while, it probably won’t hurt them.

Cat food shouldn’t replace dog food or even be mixed in with dog food, unless you’re switching over completely from cat food to dog food, which needs to be done gradually.

Just be sure to consult your vet about any feeding or dietary concerns you may have about your pets.

About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.