Should You Use Cat Treats for Dogs?

Cat treats aren't necessarily harmful for your dog, but they are designed to meet completely different needs. Though an occasional cat treat won't hurt your dog, you should not make a habit of using cat treats to reward your dog.

Differences in Food Types

Cats should be fed cat treats and dogs fed dog treats because the two different foods are designed to meet the needs of two different animals. Cat treats are much higher in protein, making them attractive to dogs, which can cause health problems for dogs, who are omnivores.

Dogs require fruits and vegetables to make their diets complete. Cats don't. Thus, high quality cat food is made up almost entirely of protein and vitamins that cats need for their predatory lifestyle. Since dog treats are formulated for dogs, they are simply healthier for dogs to consume.

Health Problems

A small amount of cat treats won't cause a big problem for your dog. It may cause flatulence or loose stool, which can be uncomfortable but not harmful. However, long or excessive use of these treats may cause more serious problems.

Long term, eating too many cat treats can lead to obesity, which can lead to more serious health problems, as well as poor coat and allergies, which can cause excessive itchiness and ear infections. Excessive amounts can also lead to organ damage since dogs won't have all the nutrients they need for their bodies to function properly.

Proper Use of Cat Treats

If your dog simply loves cat treats, consider giving one or two as a special reward for performing a very difficult training task. For example, if your dog did a recall instead of running into traffic to see another dog or if your fearful dog approached a stranger, this might be a cause for a special treat, such as cat or human food.

However, don't use cat treats for daily use. This should be for special occasion only. Don't feed on a regular basis or because your ran out of dog food. A balanced human meal would serve your dog better.

Preventing a Dog from Eating Cat Food

If you have both dogs and cats and you're concerned about your dog eating cat food, move the cat food to an area where your dog can't reach it. Cats are more agile and can typically access areas that are off limits to your dog. Place the food on a counter or on the other side of a baby gate that your cat can jump but your dog can't.

In addition, teach your dog a leave it command around cat food. First, teach leave it with items that are less desirable. Then, practice around cat food, only on leash. When your dog looks away from the cat food and back at you, reward with a special treat. Occasionally, you can even reward with cat food.

Improve Food

If you're feeding cat treats because your dog is a finicky eater, instead improve the quality of your dog's food. Your dog is probably attracted to the high protein levels, so purchase a high quality food with more than 22 percent protein. Consider adding a high-quality wet food as an enticement rather than cat food.