It’s a common experience for pet owners that when two animals like cats and dogs share a shelter, they tend to eat each other’s food. This is a habit highly unappreciated as it may have side effects on both of their health. Hands down, it is a too hectic task to separate two animals in a multi-pet household, especially when your dog loves to steal your cat’s food week in and out!
Coming back to this generic question of whether eating cat food for dogs is okay or not? It’s acceptable for your dog to eat a cat’s food. However, to make it a habit is alarming. You being the parent, would have to take care of this personally. There may be a few questions arising in your mind. We’ll explain them as best as we can. It will make the reason evident behind why dogs like cat food and vice versa. We will also enlighten you with tips to follow to lessen this undesired behavior.
Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Food?
Several factors lure dogs towards cat food. Primarily it is because the cat food consists of higher protein and fat levels. Similarly, dogs conventionally happen to get free-feed while cats are mostly free-fed by their owners. Therefore, the availability of food to cats as compared to dogs is more. Additionally, dogs tend to think of cat food as a treat. In their perspective, a bowl of cat food is no less than any lavish dinner. No pet can resist the smell of a treat, now can they?
Is Cat Food Edible for Dogs?
Since cat food contains high protein and fat content, if your dog eats it once in a blue moon, it should be fine. Despite that, regularly or regularly, it may lead to weight gain. Eventually, your four-legged friend may be suffering from obesity. High-fat content in a cat’s food is specifically for felines as their nutrient needs are entirely different from dogs. In this way, dogs won’t be getting the right nutrients they require.
Another drawback is that it is eating your cat’s food leaving her hungry too. This is in no manner beneficial for either. Your pets might not get along with each other due to this.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Cat’s Food:
It is necessary to teach your dog that it must eat its food. But we all know it’s not as simple as that! Since the canine creature considers treats as the best thing to ever happen to dog kind, it can become stubborn or aggressive, especially if you free-feed your cat. This can make it even harder for you to control the dog from eating cat food. For this reason, you will have to follow the following training tips for your dog;
Hide Cat food bags from Dogs:
It would be best if you hid the cat food bags and put them away from the dog. This is to be done because they can learn the skill of opening or, more specifically, spilling the cat food. We know how irritating to have to clean an unnecessary mess being made by your pet.
Upraise the cat’s food:
There is no harm in putting the cat’s food on a plate for her on kitchen counters or any other heightened counter. Your dog hopefully won’t be able to reach that level. Cats can jump higher and can quickly get their meal. For them, it won’t be a matter of difficulty at all. You must’ve seen cats climbing onto furniture over YouTube. Following this, it would also be an excellent physical activity to do every day to get her food!
Setting up a pet gate for blocking food:
Another great way to stop your dog from eating cat food is to set up a pet gate for your cat. A room where you can feed your cat and have a small entrance where the dog can’t reach, and the cat can efficiently finish her food. However, the gate should preferably be wide enough for the dog not to fit in.
Scheduled Feeding instead of Free-Feed:
Free feed for cats can indeed be beneficial. Despite this, if you own a dog too, it’s advised to draw a balance. Opt for schedule feeding to your cat instead. No leftovers would be left waiting for your dog to take a sneak peek on in this manner. You also won’t have to keep an eye on whether your dog is anywhere near the cat’s bowl.
Feed Pets Together:
Another useful tip is to feed both your pets together under your supervision. Owing to this, your dog won’t go towards your cat food, knowing you are present. Being a parent does call for strict measures at times!
Moreover, it is an excellent distraction technique to try, as well. This will also help change the habits of the cat, which was free fed earlier.
A Walk for Distraction:
Another great idea to stop your dog from cat food is to take your dog for a walk. As soon as you intend to free-feed your cat, take your canine friend for a stroll. While you’re out enjoying the breeze with your dog, the cat can comfortably finish its food at home.
Use Protective Cat Food Bowl:
Most pet parents are not familiar with protective food bowls. They have an enclosure with an open space enough for your cat to fit in. It’s a cat feeder that lets you put the canned food inside the closure. Viola! Your cat’s food is safe from the dog.
Switching to Wet Food:
Another useful tip is to switch your cat food from dry food to wet food. Dry food takes longer to digest, which indirectly takes more time for your cat to eat all of it. To make sure your cat eats faster before the dog comes near her food, it switches to wet food. In this way, she’ll be able to eat and digest easily and rapidly.
Dedicate A Room to Your Cat:
If the problem persists even still, it’s better to give your cat a whole separate room. You can place her litter box, food bowl, water, and other stuff in the same room. Your precious feline fellow can now easily enjoy her food without any disturbance. Blocking the entrance off with a gate would work correctly!
Use of Spray Bottle on Dog:
To teach your dog not to touch cat food, try the technique of filling up a spray bottle with water. Put it near the cat’s food. As soon as the dog approaches the food, hastily pick up the bottle and spray it twice on its face. This practice will teach it that you will punish him whenever he tries to eat the cat food.
Treat Your Dog Every time He Leaves Cat Food:
After all the possible techniques you can follow to keep your dog away from cat food, carry out this same action. It is possibly the most trusted tip. However, this would also require patience and effort from your side.
If your dog is stubborn on its habit after all the struggle, try opting for a teaching method. Incorporate using command language in front of your dog, e.g., a straight “NO” in a harsh tone as a verbal gesture. Furthermore, use non-verbal gestures and point out your first finger every time the dog reaches out for cat food.
You might also need to enforce positive reinforcement. To illustrate this, whenever the dog follows your command, give him a treat as a reward. By following this operant conditioning technique, your dog will come to a point when it understands to stick to its own business.
These are all the tips which can be of more significant help. It’s essential to be concerned about your cat and dog’s health as the cat’s food contains higher protein intake and excessive fat content. It also doesn’t have enough nutrients for the dog. Once in a blue moon is okay, but you wouldn’t want your cat to miss meals because of your dog’s undisciplined behavior.
Both cats and dogs have contrasting nutritional needs. Cat food is a combination of additives like vitamin A, protein, and taurine present broadly. If your dog continues to eat cat food, your cat won’t eat anything and suffer from malnutrition. Your dog, because of all the fat and protein in cat’s food, might suffer from overweight and kidney issues.
Therefore understanding your adoration for your pets. We know you wouldn’t want any harm to come to either of them. For this compassionate purpose, you will have to follow the mentioned ways.
Lastly, don’t put yourself down for having to be strict with either of your pets. It is consequently only for their welfare, and they will love you for it!