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randomquestionasker's avatar

Supposedly, cat food is bad for dogs. Is that really true, and if so, why?

Asked by randomquestionasker (115points) November 8th, 2011

This has been bugging me for a long time. Before you give me the common sense answer that dog food is for dogs and cat food is for cats, let me explain why I’m not satisfied with that answer.

Cats and dogs are both carnivores, though dogs are non-obligate and gain extra nutrients from non-meat sources. Right? Meat is the best main food source for both species. If cats are hard-core carnivores, then the nutritional value of cat food should resemble that of the meat, bones, etc. that they’d eat in the wild, right? A bird that a cat hunts wouldn’t be higher in fat or protein than a bird that a dog hunts. It makes sense to me that animals that dogs and cats both eat aren’t nutritionally better for dogs or cats. Chicken is chicken and rabbit is rabbit. So if cat food is made to nutritionally resemble prey animals (which I’m assuming), then why would cat food be bad for dogs? I could understand it being nutritionally incomplete (if dogs really need the non-meat “snacks” they eat) but actually bad for them?

The only answers I’m finding elsewhere are “because my vet said so” and “dogs and cats are different” sorts of answers that don’t really help me at all. And if you don’t have anything nice to say to me, please don’t say anything at all. I can’t believe how rude people were to me on a different site when I asked the same question.

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9 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Cats require more fat and protein than dogs. Dogs can manage on a partially vegetarian diet, partial, but cats are true carnivores.

It won’t kill a dog, but, is is too rich in fats and for many dogs would lead to obesity.

Buttonstc's avatar

As an occasional thing, it’s nothing to get all worked up about. But as an everyday steady diet it’s not a good idea.

It’s problematic enough as is for us to keep our dogs from becoming obese. Cat food has significantly higher amounts of protein and fat and dogs tend to love it.

If they were hunting their prey in the wild, as wolves do or getting enough exercise regularly the way Arctic sled dogs do, they would be naturally lean, fit and in good shape. But that’s just not the case for our mostly pampered pets. It makes little sense to add to the problem by feeding cat food regularly. Most dogs in America are fat enough.

Cat food also contains additional nutrients like Vit. A which could possibly develop to toxic levels in dogs eating a steady diet of cat food.

In the wild, cats get enough trace amounts of nutrients from the vegetation in the stomachs of their prey but it’s necessary to supplementally add these to commercial cat food.

If both canines and felines were getting all their nutrients from hunting, then obviously nature provides for their nutritional needs and everything balances out.

But since mankind has tinkered with their food to enable living in captivity there are built in imbalances in the foods provided for each to make up for what they would normally get in the wild.

Besides, pound for pound, dog food is usually less expensive than cat food so there’s really no reason for a pet owner to feed cat food to their dogs. It doesn’t do any good and has potential for harm, so it just makes sense.

But if your pooch sneaks an occasional nibble from the kitty bowl, that’s par for the course.

EDIT. Jinx. I see that Coloma got in an abbreviated version while I was typing. :)

syz's avatar

^ As mentioned above, it’s not likely to harm a dog, but it will usually result in an overweight canine.

Coloma's avatar

My old dog was a cat food was a full time job keeping him away from the cat food. :-/

marinelife's avatar

I would argue with you that meat is the “best main food source for dogs”. Dogs are omnivores. I feed my dogs the BARF (bones and raw food diet). The primary food ingredient for dogs in the wild is bone (70% bone).

Cat food has a much higher protein content than dog food, because cats have a much higher need for protein.

Here’s what the ASPCA says:

“Cat food is higher in protein and fat, which may make it very palatable to dogs, but if you continue to feed your dog only cat food, over time you’ll begin to see nutritional imbalances.

It’s also possible to see gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea, in dogs who continually eat cat food.”

dannyc's avatar

Dogs will survive with cat food. After all, some seniors do.

Coloma's avatar


That’s bad, baaaad I say! :-/

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