Is it okay to feed a dog cat food and vice-versa?

Original Question: I apparently fed my dog cat food by accident and he was very ill. I brought him to the vet and $500.00 later they couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. I later realized the staff at the vet clinic got our food mixed up and I later realized that the food was a different shape and rectified the problem by throwing 20 lbs of cat food off the balcony. My question is how dangerous is it to feed cat food to a dog or vice versa? This was dry food if that makes a difference. - Jay

Is it okay to feed a dog cat food and vice-versa? Jul 27, 2017

Hi Jay,

I hope your dog is feeling better now! Generally, it is not a concern if a dog gets into cat food or vice-versa. However, there are several situations in which you might run into problems. First, if you feed the wrong diet for long periods of time (months to years), then your pet could theoretically become deficient in important species-specific nutrients. For example, cats need to have taurine in their diet for healthy heart function, and canine diets may not have sufficient quantities of this amino acid.

Second, if the pet has a medical condition or allergy, eating the wrong food could cause a serious problem. For example, if a dog was extremely allergic to beef and ate even a small amount of cat food containing beef, he might end up with an allergic flare-up. Finally, there are diets designed for specific medical problems that if fed to the wrong pet, could provide inadequate nutrition or illness.  When in doubt, always consult with your veterinarian about your pet’s individual nutritional needs.

I hope this helps!

Dr. Kim Hester

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