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How to Keep Your Dog Out of Your Cat’s Food

A dog thinking about eating his cat sibling’s food

Have you noticed your dog snacking on your cat’s food whenever they have a chance? A bit here and there won’t harm your dog, but you want to keep them from regularly eating your cat’s food. Not sure if can you train a dog not to eat cat food? Don’t worry! We’re here to help!

Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Food?

Because cats are finicky eaters, their food is made to smell better and taste better. You can’t blame your dog for going after a tasty meal, can you? Make sure that you are feeding your dog the correct amount. An underfed dog is going to eat everything that they can find. 

If your dog is being fed the correct amount, you will have to do something about this situation. But what?

Is Cat Food Bad for Dogs?

Not really, not if they eat it in small amounts. “Dogs are omnivores and therefore can consume a more varied diet that includes both plant-based and animal-based ingredients. On the other hand, cats are true carnivores, meaning they eat solely animal protein and have greater protein and fat requirements than dogs” [1].

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?

Since their dietary requirements are different, dogs should only eat food that was developed for them. If they don’t, they could be missing some of the nutrients that their body needs or they could be getting too many calories and too much protein.

Cat Food is usually higher in protein and tastes better than dog food, which is why dogs often raid the cat’s food dish. But cat food isn’t formulated for dogs. So if a dog only eats cat food, they might have issues caused by a lack of proper nutrients and a poor balance of protein, fats, and carbs.

A little kitty kibble here and there or a small amount added to your dogs bowl to entice finicky eaters will do no harm, just make sure that your doggo isn’t raiding your cats food bowl regularly.

Eating cat food can damage your dog’s liver and kidneys if they eat cat food continually

Cats' dietary needs are not the same as dogs, so cat food is not good for maintaining your dog’s health. The higher protein content in cat food can cause problems with liver and kidney function. “Dogs can certainly survive on cat food in a tough spot, but the nutrient imbalance can lead to gastrointestinal upset, obesity, and pancreatitis” [2]. None of these will be good for your dog's quality of life. So if you have both canines and felines in your home, you will need to find a way to keep your doggo from eating the kitty’s food.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Cat Food

A small white dog eating a larger black and white cat’s food

Have you caught your dog sneaking a snack out of your cat’s food dish a few too many times? Some dogs can be very sneaky when you aren’t watching them. It is important to know how much your furry family members are eating, so you will need to do something about it. Here are 6 possible ways to solve this problem.

1. Keep an eye on things

    The best way is just to watch your dog when you feed your cat. Cat food smells good and usually tastes better than your dog’s food, so they will try to get at it if they have a chance. So you will have to keep an eye on your doggo until your cat finishes, then pick up the dish so your dog doesn’t lick the bowl clean.

    2. Train your dog not to eat the cat’s food

      Can you train your dog not to eat the cat’s food? It’s easy to say, but it’s harder than it sounds. And some dogs may never willingly give up eating cat food. But you can work with your dog by teaching them to wait for a command to eat their food. If your dog can master that, you can try teaching them to leave the cat food alone. With frequent reinforcement, your dog can lose interest in trying to sneak a bite or two of cat food.

      3. Feed your cat where your dog can’t go

        This tends to be a little easier. If your dog can’t get to the cat’s food, they certainly won’t be eating it. Some suggestions are:

            • Put the cat’s food dish in a box or a storage container with a hole in one side that your cat can get through, but your dog can't.
            • Feed your cat in a small pet crate or pet carrier. Close the door behind your cat when they go in, and let them out when finished.
            • Put the bowl on a counter or table where your cat has access but your dog doesn’t.
            • Feed your cat in a separate room so they can eat in peace, then open the door when they are done with their meal.
            • Build a shelf that your cat can jump onto, but your dog can’t reach. Fill your cat’s food bowl, and they can hop up and enjoy a meal whenever they want.

        4. A smart feeder is a smart choice

          A cat smart feeder might be exactly what you are looking for. Some models work by attaching a chip to your cat’s collar. When the feeder senses that your cat is near, it opens up. When your cat finishes their meal and walks away, it closes to keep your dog out. This is an easy way to allow your cat access to their food but effectively keeps your dog out. Some are set up for multiple cats, others you can adjust the amount of food that is dispensed.

          5. Get a feeder box that is designed to keep dogs out

            These feeders are designed so that your cat can get to the food but your dog can’t. These are specially designed bowls that have a protective cover with holes large enough for your cat’s head to reach through comfortably, but not your dog’s. They are simpler and cheaper than products with sensors, and there is less to go wrong. However, this may not solve the problem if your dog has a small head or long tongue. 

            6. Install a kitty door

              If you have a room or a storage area where you can feed your cat, you can install a kitty door that your cat can get through but your dog can’t. It will take a little work to teach the cat that they can just push the door open, but they usually learn quickly, especially when they are rewarded with a meal without your dog looking over their shoulder.

              Cats and dogs Can Live in Peace

              a Golden retriever dog and a gray cat snuggling on the kitchen floor

              If your dog and cat can live in the same house without fighting, you can certainly figure out how to keep them at peace during meal time. How you solve this problem depends a lot on your cat, your dog and your home. 

              Whether you decide to work with your doggo and train them not to eat your cat’s food or simply feed your cat where your dog can’t reach, we hope these strategies help stop your dog from eating cat food. Some methods are simple and inexpensive, while others can get a little complicated and pricey. But your dog’s health and cat’s peace of mind are worth the investment and experimenting. 


              [1] Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Cat Food?

              [2] Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? Is Cat Food Bad For Dogs? Dog Eating Cat Food