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Why Do Dogs Love Cat Food?

Learn about why dogs seem to love cat food.

Some dogs tend to eat things besides their own food. That can mean that you're always finding torn-up pillows or toys around the house. Or it could mean you have to lock up your garbage can and keep the counter cleared off.

For some dogs, the problem is they're always getting into their feline housemate's food bowl and devouring every crumb. Why do dogs seem to love cat food so much?

Cat Food Is Different Than Dog Food

Even though cat and dog kibble look quite similar, they have very different compositions. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they must have meat to stay alive. Dogs are omnivores, and they need carbs to stay healthy.

While we don't know for sure why dogs seem to love cat food, it's probably the increased protein content in cat food compared to dog food and how that protein makes the food taste.

Should You Worry If Your Dog Eats Cat Food?

Just because your dog loves cat food doesn't mean he should be allowed to eat much of it. For the most part, dogs' systems can handle a small amount of cat food, but too much can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

But, more concerningly, if a dog is only eating cat food, he will not be getting a balanced diet for dogs. That means he could develop health problems related both to not getting enough fiber and to ingesting too much protein (which can cause kidney and liver dysfunction in dogs).

So, a bit of cat food probably isn't going to be a problem for your dog, and some trainers even use cat treats as rewards because dogs love them so much. But if a dog is eating cat food enough that he isn't taking in a reasonable amount of dog food, he can get very sick.

How to Keep Your Dog from Eating Cat Food

If your dog is prone to diarrhea and vomiting when he steals some of the cat food, or if he eats so much that he doesn't get enough dog food to stay healthy, you'll need to do something to keep him from eating his housemate's food.

Generally, it works well to put the food up where the cat can jump to get it, but the dog can't. However, if your cat is not a good jumper or your dog can jump up on things, you'll need to create a space for the food where your cat can easily get to it, but your dog can't. Baby gates can work well for this.

And, since it's healthier for a cat to eat meals rather than be free fed, you could put your kitty behind a closed door with her food at mealtimes and then pick it up when she's done.

Remember also to keep the bag of food locked up so your dog can't get to it.

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