Help! My Dog Won’t Stop Eating the Cat’s Food

Understand Why Your Dog Eats Cat Food

There are several possible reasons your dog may be eating your cat’s food:

Hunger – If your dog is not being fed enough or often enough, they may resort to stealing the cat’s food to satisfy their hunger. Make sure you are feeding an appropriate amount for your dog’s size and activity level (cite:

Preference for taste – Some dogs find cat food more palatable than dog food. They may prefer the stronger flavors and aromas of cat food (cite:

Nutritional deficiency – Your dog may have a deficiency of certain nutrients like protein or fat that they are trying to fulfill by eating the cat’s food. Evaluate if your dog’s diet is balanced and complete.

Boredom – Dogs may eat cat food simply out of boredom or for mental stimulation. Make sure your dog is getting enough physical and mental exercise daily.

Stress – Anxiety, stress, or fear can cause dogs to exhibit unusual behaviors like stealing cat food. Try to minimize stressors and make sure your dog feels safe and secure.

Medical issue – In rare cases, conditions like diabetes, Cushing’s disease or thyroid problems may cause excessive hunger. Consult your vet if your dog seems excessively hungry despite proper diet and exercise.

Evaluate Your Dog’s Diet

The first step is to carefully evaluate your dog’s current diet to see if there are any nutritional deficiencies or gaps that may be driving it to eat cat food. Compare the nutrients and ingredients in your dog’s food to general nutritional guidelines for dogs.

A quality dog food designed for your dog’s specific breed, size, age, and activity level should contain: Protein (18% minimum for adult dogs, up to 26% for puppies), Fat (5-15%), Fiber (3-5%), Vitamins & minerals. Meat or meat meal should be the first ingredient, with wholesome carbohydrates like rice, barley, or sweet potatoes further down the list. Avoid fillers like corn, wheat, or soy.

Check that your dog is getting the right number of calories per day based on their unique energy needs. Over or underfeeding can lead to nutritional imbalances. You may need to adjust meal portions or switch to a dog food designed for higher energy breeds if yours is always scavenging for extra calories.

Inspect the ingredients and nutrition facts on your dog’s current food. If it seems lacking in quality proteins, fats, vitamins or overall calories, consider upgrading to a premium dog food formulated to meet all of your dog’s dietary needs.

Feed Your Dog More Frequently

One way to curb your dog’s cat food cravings is to feed them smaller meals more often throughout the day. While many dogs do well on one or two meals per day, some may benefit from three or even four smaller meals spaced out over the course of the day. According to the Veterinary Centers of America, dogs should eat at least two meals each day, about 12 hours apart[1]. However, every dog is different when it comes to their ideal feeding frequency.

By feeding your dog smaller portions but more frequently, you can help keep their appetite satiated so they are less likely to scout around for food in between meals. This prevents them from seeking out the cat’s food as a snack. The American Kennel Club recommends three or four meals spaced out evenly for puppies under six months and smaller breed adult dogs[2]. Larger dogs may only need two meals a day. Work with your veterinarian to determine the optimal feeding schedule for your dog based on their age, breed, size, and activity level.

If your current feeding schedule does not seem to be curbing your dog’s cat food cravings, try spacing their meals closer together or adding an additional small meal. Just monitor their weight and adjust portion sizes accordingly. Feeding your dog more frequently can divert their attention away from tempting cat food in between larger meals.


Make Dog Food More Appealing

Dogs can get bored with their regular dog food, leading them to try and eat the more enticing smelling cat food instead. There are several tricks to make your dog’s normal kibble more appealing so they are less tempted by the cat’s food.

One easy method is to add some wet food, broth, or warm water to the dry kibble to release more smell and flavor. According to [How to make dog food more tasty](, adding warm water can moisten up the food and make it more aromatic. You can also mix in a spoonful of canned dog food, bone broth, or plain yogurt to add more moisture and taste.

Additionally, serving the food in a puzzle feeder or interactive bowl can make eating more rewarding and fun for your dog. These special bowls regulate how fast your dog can eat, requiring them to slow down and work for their food. This can make the kibble more mentally stimulating.

Finally, adding tasty mix-ins like shredded chicken, cheese, carrots, green beans, or eggs can make the regular dog food more appetizing. Just be sure to introduce new foods slowly and avoid ingredients that may be unhealthy for your dog.

Separate the Pets at Mealtimes

One effective way to stop your dog from eating the cat’s food is to separate the pets at mealtimes. Feed the cat in a different room than the dog, and close the door to prevent access. You can also use baby gates or other barriers to block the dog’s entry to the room while the cat is eating.

Feeding in separate rooms allows the cat to eat in peace without the dog hovering nearby. Closing the door creates a physical barrier so the dog cannot get to the cat’s food. Baby gates work the same way, keeping the dog out of off-limit areas.

Make sure the room you feed the cat in is “dog-proofed” by removing any other food or garbage that may draw the dog’s attention. This method trains the dog that the cat’s food is not available for eating. Over time, the dog will learn that the cat’s meals are off-limits.

For example, always feed the cat up on a table or counter in a bathroom with the door closed. Alternatively, install a baby gate across the kitchen doorway when feeding time comes. Be sure to pick up the cat food promptly when your cat is finished eating.

Separating your pets at chow time can help immediately curb food stealing behaviors. Along with the other training methods, feeding in different rooms can teach your dog to ignore the cat’s food entirely.

Use Deterrents Around Cat Food

There are a variety of deterrents you can use to prevent your dog from getting into the cat’s food. Many pet stores sell bitter apple sprays that have an unpleasant taste for dogs. Spray the cat food area with the bitter spray to dissuade your dog from approaching [1]. You can also place plastic carpet runner spikes, also known as scat mats, around the cat food area. The mats give a static shock when stepped on that will startle your dog and keep him away [2]. There are even automated pet proof feeders available that open only for the designated pet wearing the right microchip or RFID collar tag [3].

Restrict Access to Cat Food

One of the most effective ways to stop your dog from eating your cat’s food is to restrict their access to it. Here are some tips for keeping your dog out of the cat’s food bowls:

Move the cat food location – Place your cat’s food bowls in an area that is completely inaccessible to your dog, like a closet or spare room. You can install a cat door so your cat can still access their food. Just be sure your dog can’t fit through the door![1]

Use baby gates – Baby gates are a simple way to block off an area from your dog. Install one around the cat feeding area so your dog can’t get to the food bowls. Be sure to get a tall, sturdy gate that your dog can’t jump over.[1]

By physically preventing your dog from accessing the cat food, you remove the temptation entirely. Just be sure your cat can still easily get to their food bowls in the restricted area.

Train Your Dog

One of the most effective ways to get your dog to stop eating the cat’s food is to train them using the “leave it” command. This trains your dog to avoid the cat food when you tell them to leave it. Start training by placing a small piece of cat food on the floor and when your dog goes for it, firmly say “leave it.” Praise and reward with a treat when they listen.

Keep practicing this daily, gradually working up to practicing with a full bowl of cat food on the floor. Reward your dog for leaving the food alone. Be sure to continue reinforcing the “leave it” command whenever you catch your dog eyeing the cat’s food. With consistency, your dog will learn to resist the temptation.

You can also try redirecting your dog’s attention whenever they head for the cat food. Call them away from it and direct them to a toy or another area of the home. Offer praise and pets when they respond to the redirection. This trains them to focus on an alternative instead of going after the cat food. Just be patient, as it may take time and diligence before your dog fully curbs the habit.

Consider Prescription Dog Food

If your dog’s normal food lacks certain nutrients that are present in cat food, you may want to switch to a prescription dog food. Prescription diets are formulated to address specific health conditions and nutritional deficiencies. For example, some prescription dog foods are higher in protein, lower in fat, easily digestible, or designed for skin sensitivities. Talk to your veterinarian about whether a prescription food could help provide balanced nutrition tailored to your dog’s needs.

Prescription dog foods are only available with approval from a vet. Once you have a prescription, you can purchase prescription dog food from your vet’s office, pet stores like Petco, or online retailers. Some popular prescription dog food brands include Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, and Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. A prescription food may help limit your dog’s desire to eat the cat’s food while providing complete and balanced nutrition.

Consult Your Vet If Needed

If your dog continues to eat cat food despite your best efforts, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian. They can help determine if there is an underlying medical condition causing this behavior.

For example, conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or kidney disease could lead to increased appetite or food-driven behavior in dogs. These conditions cause metabolic changes that make dogs feel hungrier. Consulting a vet allows proper diagnosis and treatment to manage these conditions.

Veterinarians may recommend prescription dog food formulated for dogs with specific health issues. These prescription diets provide optimal nutrition tailored to your dog’s needs. This eliminates the temptation to eat cat food. Discuss your dog’s medical history with your vet to determine if a prescription diet could help curb cat food cravings.

According to the AKC, some dogs eat cat food because it’s higher in fat and protein [1]. Vets can make diet recommendations to meet your dog’s nutritional needs in a healthy way if that’s the issue.

Routine vet exams allow early detection of conditions causing increased hunger. Addressing them quickly can prevent unwanted cat food eating. Don’t hesitate to consult your vet if your dog shows interest in cat food despite your best training efforts.

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