Will Cat Food Hurt a Puppy?


Not really. If your puppy steals some cat food occasionally, the cat food will not cause substantial harm to the puppy. However, you cannot feed a puppy cat food all the time because a puppy is not a cat but a dog.

Cats and dogs may always be grouped when we talk or think of pets. However, the two are in different classes of feeding. While a cat is purely a carnivore, a dog is an omnivore. This means that a dog can eat human food comfortably, whereas a cat is selective.

Will Cat Food Hurt a Puppy?

Cat food is different from dog food, so continuous feeding of cat food to puppies will definitely hurt a puppy. Let’s venture into some of the reasons why you should not feed your puppy cat food;

  • Cat Food Differs from Puppy Food

Quality commercial cat food contains more than 80% meat products. It is full of protein and fats, which a cat’s body requires for growth.

On the other hand, commercial dog food comprises meat, vegetables, carbohydrate products such as corn and rice, and even fruits.

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Cat Learns to Dance

While a puppy’s food has higher proteins and fats levels than adult dog food, it is still not similar to cat food. In addition to the proteins and fats, other essential carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are necessary to a growing dog.

Therefore, feeding the puppy cat food robs it of the essential nutrients for its growth and development.

Cat food, as we have read, contains proteins and fats majorly. This is an important combination for puppies, but there is a problem with pure cat food;

Puppies require fiber and carbohydrates in their diet to aid in smooth digestion. This lacks cat food, paving the way for gastrointestinal sensitivities in puppies.

The almost pure meat products in cat food are too hard for the puppy’s digestion. To worsen matters, the food does not have sufficient carbs and fibers for digestion.

Then there is the vomiting and diarrhea that comes with gastrointestinal sensitivities. While it may not be significant, it will end up causing your growing puppy dehydration and lethargy.

  • Cat Food Causes Liver and Kidney Strain in Dogs

Remember that dogs are not pure carnivores, and you decide to feed them excessive protein from cat food. The result will be liver and kidney exhaustion, as they try to filter the excess proteins.

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If you feed the puppy the cat food for long, your puppy ends up developing liver and kidney issues. In the worst-case scenario, one of or both the two organs could fail.

  • Cat Food Leads to Obesity in Puppies

Sometimes you will have a perfectly strong puppy, which evades all the above challenges despite eating cat food. But then there are the excess fats and proteins that come with cat food consumption.

Just as in humans, too many fats and proteins lead to obesity in dogs. Hence, your puppy will develop obesity, which could lead to heart and organ failure.

An obese puppy will also not be as active as a typical puppy, hence even more health and psychological complications.

  • Cat Food Causes Diarrhea in Dogs

Due to the high-fat concentration in cat food, your puppy may have diarrhea after eating it. Since your puppy is still young and sensitive, preventing any cause of sensitivity is necessary. Its immunity is low at this age; hence you need to protect it when you can.

  • Some Dogs are Allergic to Cat Food Nutrients

There are nutrients that cats require in large amounts, while dogs need them in limited quantities. Cat food is rich in these nutrients, and some dogs are allergic to an excess amount of the same.

Thus, when you feed your puppy cat food, and it is in this class, you expose it to the allergy. And like humans, exposing a young puppy to an allergy could be risky or even fatal.

  • Cat Food is Risky for Puppies with a Condition

If your puppy is already struggling with gastrointestinal sensitivities, constant vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, or obesity, avoid cat food. Even a single serving of high protein and cat food will elevate the condition.

Should I Be Concerned If My Puppy Steals Cat Food?

Not really. Though cat food can have adverse effects on puppies, a single serving would not hurt a healthy puppy. Therefore, if your puppy steals cat food occasionally, which will always happen if you have both pets, you don’t have to worry about it.

After all, cat food has fats and proteins, which puppy food also has in high concentration. When your puppy eats cat food, you may offer it vegetables and some carbs to make up for the missing nutrition in cat food.

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However, try to keep cat food away from the puppy to avoid frequent feeding. The puppy will suffer the above challenges if it is constantly eating the cat food.

Interestingly, there are situations when you may actually consider cat food for the puppy. Let’s have a look at a few of these;

If the puppy is sick and has lost appetite, cat food, which smells and tastes delicious to dogs, comes in handy. You can also mix the cat food with some cooked vegetables and rice for improved dog nutrition. It will help keep the puppy strong, at least until it gets treatment.

When the puppy is underweight and needs to take on weight fast, you can consider wet cat food. It is suitable for the digestive system while offering sufficient calories for weight gain.

If you just ran out of puppy food, cat food is the best option that you have. Though it doesn’t have all the nutrition a puppy requires, it is better than most human food offered to puppies.

Why Does My Puppy Eat Cat Food?

Your puppy eats cat food because it is delicious. Dogs may be omnivores, but they tend to favor meat delicacies more. This always happens with everyone; even humans tend to love some treats more than others, even knowing that a blend is necessary.

Besides, dogs are omnivores, which means that they can eat either meat or plant food. Therefore, they may eat cat food simply because it is in their line of feeding products.

Moreover, cat food has a strong aroma, especially when it has fish or chicken. Hence, the puppy will be attracted to taste the delicacy if an opportunity presents.

Your puppy may also eat cat food because it is hungry. Surprisingly, a puppy may have a higher feeding necessity compared to an adult cat. Therefore, when you serve them the same amount, the cat may leave its food in its bowl, while the puppy feels that it did not have enough.

Cats also leave food in bowls for long periods, and a hungry puppy will first spot the irresistible food.

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Last but not least, puppies are dogs, and if you have noted, dogs can eat anything in their way. It doesn’t have to be hungry, but every object just seems edible to dogs. Hence, it may be eating cat food simply because it is edible.

How Can I Prevent My Puppy From Eating Cat Food?

Since puppies tend to love cat food more than puppy food, you may have to stop your dog from eating cat food. So, how do you stop your puppy from eating cat food?

It is good to have your dog when it is still a puppy when you can instill behavior, and it sticks. In this case, train your puppy to only eat from its bowl. Distinguish the cat bowl and discipline the puppy when it targets the cat food.

Serve the cat with only enough food. If it leaves some food, though, remove the bowl from the puppy’s sight to prevent temptation.

Put the cat food bowl away from the puppy food bowl to prevent the comparison. You can also consider placing the bowl in a high place, such as a kitchen counter. The cat will definitely jump up for its food, which a puppy may find challenging.

You also have the option of a barrier, which could be small cardboard, between cat food and puppy food. The cat will easily jump over the barrier to get to its food, while the puppy will just have to stick to its bowl.

Will Cat Food Hurt a Puppy?

Yes and no. If the cat food is in small amounts and the puppy is healthy, the cat food should not cause you an alarm.

However, if the puppy has a sensitive stomach or has a condition, even a bite of cat food is risky to its health. Also, if the puppy eats cat food continuously, it will develop nutritional deficiencies and health conditions.

Final Thoughts

Generally, cat food will only hurt (what about birds?) a healthy puppy if the puppy takes it often. However, occasional bites will not affect the puppy at all.

If you can, keep your puppy away from the cat food because cats and puppies have different nutritional needs.

Dinu Sri Madusanka

Dinu Sri Madusanka is a science graduate (B.Sc.) who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is a well-experienced writer with more than 7 years of experience. He interests in writing mostly animal welfare and advance technologies. Even though he is busy with research works, in his free time, he gives his contribution to several blogs by writing, reviewing, and analyzing information to provide more accurate and useful information for the reader. WalkwithCat is one of his major contributing places which is dedicated to improving the knowledge of cat parents.

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