Dogs and cats, snacking together...mass hysteria!
January 18, 2008 1:38 PM   Subscribe

My dogs seem to like cat treats. Any harm in it?

We've only had a cat for a couple of months, but we've had two rather cat-like dogs (Rat Terriers) for several years. So, we got the cat some treats to encourage her to do certain things (and a water gun to discourage others!). The only thing is, whenever the cat earns a treat, the dogs come running as well and do all of their tricks to try and earn one as well. I've been giving them the cat treats under the assumption that one or two a day isn't going to do them any harm, but I'm not sure. Anyone had any negative reactions with dogs eating cat treats I should know about?
posted by foxydot to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
No, we've had no negative reactions. Our dogs eat cat treats and cat food all the time (because the cats are slow and tend to dump their food on the floor), to no ill effect. Of course, you can't feed them exclusively cat food/treats; dogs don't get everything they need from it.
posted by desjardins at 1:40 PM on January 18, 2008

More than likely they don't have the same nutritional value a dog treat would have (why not get some of those when your puppies come a running?). So long term I wouldn't keep doing it. And I definitely wouldn't go the other way (dog treats for cats). IANAV but cats don't need the carbs that dogs do.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 1:45 PM on January 18, 2008

I believe cat food is higher in protein (and maybe fat) than dog food; the same is probably true of the treats. I've heard that regularly feeding a dog a diet of cat food can lead to kidney problems, but I doubt the occasional cat treat will harm your pups. We use pieces of cat food as training treats because they're so little and nummy.
posted by ferociouskitty at 1:50 PM on January 18, 2008

Best answer: IANAVet, but seeing as a dog can lick its own anus, drink puddle water and raid a cat's litter box for "treats" without much change in demeanor I don't see how eating a few kitty snacks is going to kill the little bugger.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:15 PM on January 18, 2008 [6 favorites]

my mother's 5 lb yorkshire terrier had the problem described by ferociouskitty due to her constantly eating left out cat food.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 2:17 PM on January 18, 2008

Our vet said that here and there it's ok, just not regularly. Cat food is far too high in protein, and lacks too much nutritionally, for a dog to process as an overall food source.

Our dog, who may or may not be allergic to wheat, corn or beef, still does a drive-by grab of cat kibble occasionally even though he knows not to and gets yelled at about it... which may or may not, make him a wonderfully adorable dumbass. Sometimes he brings it to us like he made an amazing discovery. "Look Mom, Meow Mix!!"

If you're going to play with the cat, dolling out treats as rewards, maybe give the dogs a chew toy or chewbone or whatever beforehand to keep them occupied.
posted by jerseygirl at 3:11 PM on January 18, 2008

Pollomacho -- funny!

Our dogs love cat food. Cat treats & cat food are higher in protein and fat than the typical dog equivalents. Cat foodstuffs and dog foodstuffs are generally made from the same things (meat + grain fillers) but in different proportions. Cat foodstuffs generally also have more smell to them, in my opinion, and I think dogs dig the smelly stuff.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 3:20 PM on January 18, 2008

I'd just like to ring the protein bell again - too much protein will make your pup's kidney's work too hard and can lead to failure. Not great for your dog's health in the long run, but don't be overly concerned about a few cat treats here and there.
posted by valentinepig at 3:21 PM on January 18, 2008

Best answer: IANAV but cats don't need the carbs that dogs do.

Dogs don't need those carbs either. The fact that manufacturers add them doesn't mean dogs need them.

That said, a couple of treats a day likely won't hurt (I use dry cat kibble as a portable training treat sometimes), but too many may cause diarrhea.

And protein does NOT cause kidney problems, this is a very old idea which is now known to be untrue. Existing kidney problems can be exacerbated by high protein diets, but protein does not cause kidney problems.
posted by biscotti at 4:15 PM on January 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

When we first got our dog, our trainer recommended using cat treats for training purposes because they were smaller. We could give our puppy one or two without disrupting his lesson, a dog biscuit took too long to chew. So he was eating a handful or two a day with no ill effects for a few months until he got enough teeth for the bigger treats.

He never liked the chicken treats though. Maybe if you switch the flavor you're giving your cat, the dogs will lose interest.
posted by saffry at 4:43 PM on January 18, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, they aren't eating the cat's FOOD, that's up off the ground where the lil' nippers can't get to it. (They would if they could, but they can't, so they don't.) Like I said, the cat is new, so we have stashes of cat treats around anywhere where she might need a little trainin' up. (I know she's not a dog, but it's worth a try to encourage SOME positive things, right?) The dogs get carrots or green beans for treats when they are being trained to something. We have weird dogs; they'll eat anything but really really love vegetables.

Like I said, it's occasional...never more than one or two little kitteh treats a day. If the cat grooved on carrots, we'd really be in business.
posted by foxydot at 7:34 PM on January 18, 2008

I've been sharing the cat's treats with my little dog all her life (she's 8) and no problems have ever come up.
posted by MayNicholas at 8:26 PM on January 18, 2008

Considering that a dog sees a cat's litter box as one big box of Godiva, a few kitty treats aren't going to do any harm.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 PM on January 18, 2008

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