How to Stop a Dog From Eating Cat Food: 5 Tactics

Dogs, you got to love them. As much joy as they bring to our lives they are not without their little annoyances from time to time.

Sometimes these minor issues are compounded when there are additional animals in the home. If your dog is like mine, they will pretty much eat anything you put in front of them as well as some things you do not.

My dog and cat share many things including living space, toys, and our affection. Food on the other hand is a completely different issue.

Cat food can be quite different than dog food because it has more fat and meat in it. This is because the dietary needs of a cat are different than a dog. A meal that has more fat and meat is certainly going to be more appetizing than one that does not.

When someone is not looking my dog has no qualms about woofing down the cat’s dinner. Other than the dog eating something that is not theirs, this can upset a dog’s diet as well as cause temperamental issues to develop between the pets.

To keep the peace and uphold the rules of the home, a dog needs to learn to only eat their food while leaving other sources of food alone. If you are having difficulties with your dog eating cat food, here are a few tactics that you can try to help curb the issue.


Stop A Dog From Eating Cat Food: 5 Tactics

1. Same Time, Different Spots

If the dog and cat eat in the same area it does not seem to help to feed them at different times.

When my dog hears the can opener or a scoop of dry food being dished out, she comes running, even if it is not for her. Food is food and she wants it!

If the animals are eating at the same time it can help to keep the food dishes at a distance from one another. My dog tends to eat rather quickly while the cat takes his time.

If the food dishes are right next to each other the dog may be more tempted to continue eating the cat food after the dog food is gone.  Allow the dog to eat at one end of the room while the cat eats at another. 

2. Positive Reinforcement

In my experience, dog obedience works best when a correction is immediately followed up with a positive reaction from the owner. Dogs love treats and affection (just like people!)

When you see your dog trying to eat cat food, firmly tell them “no.” After they obey immediately follow up with physical and verbal praise and a tasty treat. This will inform them of what not to do while being rewarded for good behavior. Distracting them with one of their favorite toys can also help to pull their attention away from the food.

3. Elevate the Food

It is generally more acceptable for cats to go wherever they want in a home in terms of walking on furniture, tables, shelves, and counters. If you have a cat, then you know they have a mind of their own.

Since cats go places that dogs cannot or are not allowed to, try elevating the food source by placing the cat dish on a countertop, table, shelf, or workbench. This way the dog cannot reach it and the cat can enjoy their meal.

4. Do Not Leave Food Out

Some animals have more self-control than others and will not overeat when food is left out, however that Is not the case with my dog.

I like to keep my pets on an eating schedule so that I can better regulate this issue. That means I do not leave food out all day and any leftovers get put away and saved for their next meal. If there is not any cat food left out, then the dog cannot eat it.

5. When All Else Fails

The above methods have worked for my dog but only for short periods. Eventually, my dog would revert to eating the cat’s food if there was not a watchful eye present.

The ultimate solution in my case was to completely separate the food dishes by placing them in different rooms with a closed-door in between them.

This allowed both the cat and the dog to eat their meal in peace without me having to constantly stand watch.

At The End of The Day

We really cannot blame our pooches for wanting to eat cat food because it typically has a higher content of fat and meat in it. Who would not want to eat something else that smells and tastes much better than what they were given?

But just like parents must do what is right for their kids, pet owners must do what is right for their dogs and cats. This means we must help them to understand what is acceptable and what is not by being consistent, loving, and firm in our training and interactions.

A healthy and controlled diet is important to a dog living a long and fruitful life. Plus, nobody likes seeing a food fight between their furry kids.

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors with his dog. His goal is to share his findings about dog care through articles he writes. Read more of Bryan's articles.