10 Effective Ways To Stop A Dog From Eating Cat Food

  • Time to read: 14 min.

As a pet owner, few things are as frustrating as having a dog who won’t stop eating your cats’ food. Cat food is designed specifically to meet the dietary needs of cats. Having your dog eat your cats’ food can be a nuisance for your cat, who relies on their cat food for nutrition and enjoyment.

Effective ways to stop a dog from eating cat food include separating the area’s where your cat and dog eat, feeding them at different times, using a creep feeder, putting uneaten cat food away when your cat is finished eating, and teaching your dog the “leave it” command, so they do not eat your cats’ food.

While no one seems to love cat food more than dogs, there are quite a few effective ways you can stop your dog from eating your cats’ food. Exploring the various effective ways to stop your dog from eating your cats’ food will help ensure you have a happy, healthy, well-fed cat.

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Reasons why dogs eat cat food

Here are a few potential reasons why your dog may be eating your cat’s food.

Appealing smell of cat food

While the smell of cat food may repulse humans, the scent is designed to smell particularly savory for cats. Unfortunately, the delicious smell tantalizes both cats and dogs, which is why your dog may be drawn in by the smell of your cats’ food.

More appetizing ingredients

When you look at the ingredients in cat food, it’s easy to understand why your dog is tempted to eat your cats’ food.

In comparison to dog food, cat food contains higher levels of protein and fat which may be appealing to your dog. Your dog may also find that cat food is more filling due to its high-calorie content. 

Easy availability

As humans, we see something delicious, and our mouths water from desire. Dogs are no different. The easy availability of cat food may simply be calling their name. 

It is possible that your dog sees cat food as a treat or is under the impression that the cat food is there for them to enjoy too. If your dog and cat get along well, it is likely that they share things. Your dog probably thinks that your cats’ food is another thing that they share. 

To stop your dog from eating your cats’ food, you need to make it clear to your dog that food is not one of the things they share. This may take some training or require you to change your feeding methods.

Your dog is not satisfied by the dog food they receive 

It is possible that your dog may still be hungry after receiving the dog food you have provided for them. Your dog’s hunger pangs may be the reason your dog turns to your cat’s food as a source of nourishment.

Your dog enjoys the taste of cat food more than the dog food they receive

While cats are generally fussier than dogs when it comes to the taste of their food, it is possible that your dog finds your cat’s food more appetizing than their dog food.

Your dog thinks the cat food is a treat

The savory smell of cat food may mislead your dog into thinking that it exists as a treat for them.

10 Effective ways to stop a dog from eating cat food

Here are 10 effective ways to stop your dog from eating cat food.

Here are 10 effective ways to stop your dog from eating cat food.

1) Clearly distinguish between the cat food bowl and the dog food bowl

Ensuring that your dog is able to distinguish which bowl belongs to them and which bowl belongs to your cat can go a long way in getting your dog to stop eating your cats’ food.

Dry cat food can look very similar to cat food, making it hard for your dog to understand that cat food is solely for your cat. While your dog may struggle to conceptualize that cat food is only for your cat, your dog might find it easy to differentiate between bowls that are different.

Try to purchase a separate bowl for your cat and your dog. Ensure that their bowls are different shapes, sizes, and colors. If the bowls have placemats under them, try to ensure that the placemats are also different colors.

While it is likely that your pets don’t understand the distinction between their foods, they will understand the distinction in their bowl colors which causes them to understand what will belong to them. 

Providing this clear differentiation between the cats’ bowl and the dogs’ bowl is likely to trigger a sense of territoriality in both pets, which will cause them to understand which bowl they should eat from. 

This understanding will lead to your cat being more protective over the bowl containing their food, and your dog understanding that the food in your cat’s bowl is for your cat because they have their own dog bowl with their own food in it.

To maximize this approach, place their bowls a safe distance apart from one another. Placing the bowls away from one another helps prevent your dog from smelling that your cats’ food and realizing your cats’ food smells different from the dog food. 

If your dog realizes that your cats’ food smells different from theirs, they may become curious and wander over to your cats’ bowl and have a nibble. For this reason, it is best to place the bowls as far apart from one another as possible.

2) Place the cat food and dog food bowl in separate areas of your home

If your cat’s food is in the same vicinity as your dog’s food, it is advisable that you place their food bowls in different areas within your home.

Separating their food areas can lead to them establishing that one area is set aside for dog food and one area is set aside for cat food. Once they both understand these boundaries, they are less likely to enter each other’s territory as both cats and dogs can be quite territorial over their meals.

To clearly establish these boundaries, have someone help you feed them at the same time. One of you leading the dog to the dog bowl in a certain area of the house, while the other simultaneously leads the cat to their cat bowl in another area of the house.

Soon, both animals should understand that they are fed separately in different places in the house. This understanding will hopefully create a boundary that causes your dog not to go to the place where your cat eats because they know that it’s the cats’ place, and that they have a place to go to for their own food.

3) Place the cat food in a place only the cat can reach it

Cats are quite agile and generally smaller than dogs, enabling them to get to places that dogs cannot.

In this regard, you can place your cat’s food in a place only your cat can get to as a way to prevent your dog from eating your cat’s food.

If you have a large dog, consider putting your cat’s food in a small area that is too tight for your dog to squeeze through but easy enough for your cat to access. 

Alternatively, you can set up a tall baby gate with a cat-flap or small doorway for your cat to enter to access their food.

4) Feed your cat and dog at different times

Separating meal times can help ensure that your dog and cat are both adequately fed without any interference from one another.

You can practically prevent your dog from eating your cat’s food by only bringing your cats’ food out after your dog has eaten their meal, and perhaps putting your dog in a different area of the house while your cat eats their meal.

Your cat is likely to enjoy the privacy of enjoying their meal without their four-legged friend eating their food, and will have the opportunity to eat as much of their food as they need without any disturbance.

By employing this method, you ensure your cat gets to eat in peace and gets a sufficient amount of their cat food. 

Once your cat has finished eating, you can let your dog come out to play again. From this point on, you can decide either to leave your cats’ food out for them to nibble on with the risk of your dog eating from it, or simply put away any uneaten cat food and offer it to your cat at a later stage.

5) Put away any uneaten cat food once your cat is finished eating

If you establish a meal time with your cat, consider putting away any uneaten cat food once your cat has finished eating.

This option, unfortunately, operates at a disadvantage to your cat, who may enjoy nibbling on their food throughout the day. If you do decide to employ this option, be sure to give your cat a treat in-between meal times to keep them happy and ensure they aren’t too hungry.

6) Allocate your dog some cat food, so they don’t feel left out

Your dog may be attracted to your cat’s food because they feel they’re missing out when your cat gets fed a different meal to them.

You can help your dog feel included by giving them a little bit of cat food too. When adopting this approach, be sure to apply it with caution as your dog may become greedy and think they are entitled to cat food and end up eating even more of your cat’s food

7) Train your dog to understand the “leave it” command

Teaching your dog the “leave it” command is a fairly simple way to ensure they stop eating your cat’s food. 

It is important that you distinguish “leave it” from “no.” When disciplining your dog in relation to your cat’s food, try to make use of “leave it” rather than “no,” so that your dog comes to understand this to be a different warning in comparison to “no,” which may be a command your dog has learned to ignore.

In-depth guidelines regarding training your dog the “leave it” command can be acquired with a quick search on the internet. However, the basics of the “leave it” command require you to simply say “leave it” when your dog is near your cat’s food, and then reward your dog with a treat, click, or cuddle once they leave the cat’s food alone.

8) Purchase or make a “creep feeder”

A “creep feeder” is a feeding tool that is large enough for your cat to get into but too small for your dog to get into. Making use of a creep feeder is a low effort way to ensure your cat is able to eat in peace.

9) Try to find a cat food brand that your cat enjoys, and your dog doesn’t

Finding a cat food brand that suits your cat can be a tricky endeavor. However, if your cat is not too fussy, consider trying to find a cat food brand that suits your cat’s taste buds but does not find favor with your dog.

If your dog does not enjoy your cats’ new food, you may have found the solution to your problem as you may find that your dog is no longer interested in eating your cat’s food. 

However, you may also notice that your dog is drawn to your cat’s food because they do not enjoy their own food. A clear sign of this will be if they approach the cat’s food before their own food. 

Consider changing your dog’s food and see if that appeals more to them. Alternatively, consider adding meaty chunks or dog bones to your dogs’ food to make it more appealing for them.

10) Be consistent in disciplining your dog each time they eat from your cats’ food

It is important that you firmly relay to your dog that they should not be eating your cats’ food.

Be firm in saying “leave it” every time you find them eating your cats’ food, and take the food away from them. Consistency is key in applying these disciplinary principles to ensure your dog understands that your cat’s food is out of bounds for them.

You can maximize this approach by leading your dog to their bowl after you have said “leave it” to them for eating your cat’s food. Once your dog reaches their dog bowl, give them a little reward with some praise for eating their dog food. 

This positive reinforcement will lead them to have positive associations with their own bowl and negative associations with your cats’ bowl. These associations will cause your dog to avoid the cats’ bowl of food and be more enthusiastic about their own bowl of food. The positive reinforcement is also likely to speed up your dog’s learning process.

After weeks of consistently following these steps, your dog’s temptation to wander towards your cat’s food should desist. 

Reasons why cat food is not suitable for dogs

While cat food and dog food may have many similar ingredients, the amounts of the ingredients often vary in order to meet their needs. Here are a few differences between cat food and dog food. These differences indicate the reason why dog food is not suitable for cats and cat food is not suitable for dogs.

Cats are carnivores

Store-bought cat food is designed to specifically address the dietary needs of cats as carnivores. While many believe dogs are carnivores, they are actually omnivores

While cat food prioritizes the needs of cats as carnivores, dogs require food that meets their needs as omnivores. In this regard, dog food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of omnivores to ensure that their energy levels are maintained, and their digestive system is functioning adequately. 

Cat food designed to ensure cats are happy and healthy will not have the same effect on dogs. In fact, the food designed to ensure cats receive nutritious, digestible meals could cause damage to dog’s digestive systems and negatively impact their nutrition absorption capabilities.

Cats require more protein, vitamins, essential amino acids, and fatty acids

Cat’s bodies do not manufacture the nutrients they require in a manner that meets their metabolic needs. For this reason, cat food is designed to meet their metabolic needs, consequently being higher in fat, minerals, protein, and vitamins.

Cat food is designed for cats small mouths

Cat food is generally smaller than dog food as it is specifically designed to fit inside cats’ small mouths. Conversely, dog pellets are larger as dogs generally have larger mouths than cats.

Cat food is higher in calories

Cat food contains more calories than dog food. Cat food contains higher calories to provide cats with the nourishment they need while accommodating cats’ small stomachs. 

Dogs eating cat food in conjunction with their own dog food can cause weight gain if consumed in excessive amounts.

The dangers of dogs consuming cat food

Cat food is not designed with dogs in mind. Due to the fact that cat food is designed specifically for cats, it may pose certain risks for dogs. Here are 3 potential dangers of cat food consumption in dogs.

Cat’s tolerance to nutrients differs in comparison to dog’s tolerance to nutrients

Dogs have a lower safety tolerance than cats in relation to some nutrients. Cats are generally able to tolerate levels of Vitamin-D that could cause dogs to get very sick and even die. For this reason, marine-based cat foods should not be consumed by dogs.

Higher protein content in cat food

Canned cat food often contains higher animal protein sources. While dogs require protein in their diet, an excess of protein can be tough on a dog’s system.

Higher fat content in cat food

Cat foods have a higher fat content than dog food. Due to the fact that dogs are prone to fat intolerance, it is advisable that dog’s fat consumption should be monitored

For this reason, cat food should not be consumed by dogs because its higher fat content could cause pancreatitis and is likely to upset dog’s digestive systems.

Reasons why you should ensure your dog does not eat cat food

It may be frustrating and timeous to put measures in place to ensure your dog does not eat your cat’s food. However, ensuring your dog does not eat your cats’ food can have various benefits.

Provides safety and security to your cat

Cats can be quite territorial. As a cat owner, you want your cat to feel safe in your home, confident that their food supply is not endangered in any way.

If your dog ends up “stepping on their toes,” it might lead to a nasty incident occurring between your pets if your cat decides to attack your dog because it feels its food supply is being threatened. For this reason, it is in everyone’s best interest that your cat’s food supply is protected.

Trains your dog to respect your cat and their boundaries

Cats are rather private creatures who enjoy their space and tend to have excellent boundaries. If your dog is eating from your cats’ food, it is likely that your cat does not feel entirely comfortable with this situation.

Ensuring that your cat is able to eat its food in peace will teach your dog to respect your cat’s boundaries, which can go a long way in preventing any conflict between your pets in the future.

Saves you money

Cat food is often more expensive than dog food. Having your dog eat your cats’ food is not only frustrating for your cat but also for your budget, especially since you’re already paying for dog food.

Cat food can lead to weight gain in dogs

Due to the high protein and fat content in cat food, cat food in combination with dog food can cause your dog to gain weight. 

Excess weight in dogs can be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Therefore, it is advisable that you avoid allowing your dog to make a habit of eating cat food.

Human foods that dogs and cats can eat

If you find that your dog is determined to eat the food your cat is eating, it may be worthwhile to explore human foods that both dogs and cats can eat to serve as a treat for them to eat together. Here are a few human foods that both dogs and cats can consume.

  • Cooked salmon
  • Cooked eggs
  • Spinach
  • Cooked chicken
  • Cooked turkey
  • Cooked fish
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin

Bear in mind that none of these foods should be fed to your pets as main meals, and should only be given as occasional treats. These foods are not suitable as main meals as they do not provide the nutrients cats and dogs need to survive. Store-bought pet food is specifically designed to address your pet’s dietary needs.

Human foods never to feed dogs or cats

If you would like to occasionally treat your cat and dog to human foods, it is crucial that you are aware of the foods that you should never feed your pet.

  • Bread and yeast dough
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Soft drinks
  • Foods containing xylitol
  • Nuts 
  • Garlic 
  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Avocados 
  • Chewing gum
  • High sodium foods and processed foods (including meats like bacon)

These foods can upset your pet’s stomach, and can potentially result in an increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and could even be fatal

Conclusion

Dogs often enjoy having a good munch on cat food. As a cat owner, this can naturally be very frustrating because you want your cat to have a secure supply of cat food. You can effectively stop your dog from eating your cats’ food by distinguishing between cat and dog bowls, feeding them separately, or placing your cats’ food in a place only your cat can reach.

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