Can you feed a dog cat food in an emergency?

Dogs can certainly survive on cat food in a tough spot, but the nutrient imbalance can lead to gastrointestinal upset, obesity, and pancreatitis. Pancreatitis requires immediate veterinary care.

Many dog owners frequently inquire, “Can dogs eat cat food?” Particularly when their dog inadvertently eats the cat food, worried pet parents frequently wonder whether cat food is bad for dogs.

The dog stealing the cat’s food is an age-old problem. It’s common for dogs to occasionally eat another pet’s food in households with multiple pets. Even the healthiest cat food is not toxic to dogs, but there are some health issues linked to long-term consumption of cat food as opposed to dog food. Cat food is typically quite tasty to dogs, but is it safe for them to eat? Although cat food is not recommended for dogs, we will address some frequently asked questions about what to do if your dog accidentally eats some and how it differs from dog food.

Dog food vs cat food – how are they different?

As previously mentioned, dog and cat foods look very similar. However, below the surface, they differ enormously. Looking at the various dietary needs that dogs and cats have will help us understand this better.

Even though both dogs and cats are members of the same order of species (the Carnivora), only cats are strictly carnivorous.

In essence, this means that cats, who are true carnivores and not like our slobbery companions, need a diet high in meat and protein to avoid a number of serious health issues.

This dietary need is why cat food always has a very high protein content. It’s interesting to note that many dogs have a strange obsession with cat food for this very reason, frequently stealing cat food whenever they get the chance.

Cat food is very alluring to dogs, sharing similarities with meaty treats and other foods that owners don’t frequently give them.

Another way that cats are different from dogs is that they need a lot of vitamin A in their diets. In contrast to cats, dogs produce this vitamin in their bodies by converting beta carotene, an antioxidant present in a variety of vegetables and fruits

Cats lacking vitamin A will rapidly experience issues with their eyes, skin, and other tissues. Fortunately, dogs rarely experience this issue, and the majority of dog foods already contain this vitamin A.

Dogs are more similar to omnivores than cats are, so they can eat a wider variety of foods like meats, fruits, and vegetables in addition to other edibles.

Many dog lovers who have grown up thinking that dogs are only carnivorous by nature may find this shocking. However, if you pay close attention whenever a dog is outside or out for a walk, you can easily spot their omnivorous nature.

As an illustration, our dogs frequently eat grass or leaves after a quick roll around, whereas a cat is not likely to do so.

You will discover that many of the ingredients in dog food are also present in cat food. However, a significant distinction is the amounts used in the earlier

Cats need a diet high in proteins, as well as fats, minerals, and vitamins, as was already mentioned.

Dogs, on the other hand, can get by with much smaller volumes, making excessive amounts of these substances unnecessary or downright harmful for them.

Dog foods frequently include ingredients that are unsafe or unsuitable for cats, like vegetables and other leafy greens.

Cats Need Vitamin A in Their Food

The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes and squash works great for the digestive systems of dogs. They have the enzymes necessary to turn that beta-carotene into vitamin A, which can then be put to use in the body. Your feline, however, doesn’t have a digestive tract that’s quite so industrious.

Whereas dogs are scavengers, cats are pure hunters. They didn’t evolve eating as many vegetables, so they aren’t as equipped to process them. Your cat won’t perish if she goes without vitamin A for a few days, but she won’t get any better either. The majority of dog foods don’t contain enough vitamin A for cats.

credit: Christina

Cats can only obtain the amino acid taurine through food. Cat food has plenty of it. On the other hand, dog food typically contains very little.

Similar to vitamin A, your furry friend won’t die if they don’t get enough for a short while, but a chronic taurine deficiency can be fatal to their health. Taurine deficiency can cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a serious heart condition, if it is not treated. Get that kitty back on the taurine train ASAP!.

Will Dog Food Harm My Cat?

Dog food won’t harm cats if they consume it in short amounts. Despite the dangers of nutrient deficiencies, a cat’s system won’t fall apart immediately or even within a few days.

Starvation is much riskier and could cause your cat to deteriorate much faster. You can be sure that providing food is preferable to providing none at all for cats and dogs.

Just be aware that there may be side effects. If one of the ingredients in dog food triggers an allergy in your cat, it could get sick. Similarly, dog food contains significantly more fiber than cat food. This may cause bloating and constipation.

A consoling thought is that any abrupt diet change can have the same effect. If you’ve ever changed the brand of cat food for your cat, you are already familiar with the symptoms. The cat will recover in the same way, too.

Diarrhea in your cat could be messy and uncomfortable. Your pet will be fine as long as it has access to a serene environment and plenty of water. Only very young or old cats are at risk from diarrhea.


What can dogs eat in an emergency?

  • Plain, low-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Mild cheeses, such as American.
  • Cooked white or sweet potatoes.
  • Cooked eggs, such as scrambled eggs.
  • Rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed.
  • Cooked lean meat, such as chicken, beef, or turkey.
  • fresh vegetables that are either cooked or raw, like carrots, corn, and broccoli

What happens when a dog eats cat food?

There is no immediate cause for concern if your dog eats cat food by accident. The GI upset (diarrhea or vomiting) that cat food may cause in dogs is not toxic and should quickly go away on its own. However, you should contact your veterinarian if diarrhea or vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours.