Can Cats Eat
Dog Treats?

dog treats for cat

March 22, 2022

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If you’re the lucky owner of both a cat and a dog, you may have come across a situation where your cat has gotten its paws on some dog treats, and you’re wondering if they are safe for your kitty to eat.

After all, cats and dogs are very different regarding their nutritional requirements, and you should not feed cats with dog food. Also, pet foods and treats are specifically formulated for different species and are usually not interchangeable.

But can cats eat dog treats, or should they be avoided to prevent health problems?

Let’s find out if dog treats are safe for cats.

Can Cats Have Dog Treats?

Yes, cats can have dog treats if they are meat-based and not offered as a daily treat. However, not all dog treats are safe for cats, so you should always make an informed decision before giving a dog treat to your kitty.

Cats don’t really need treats as dogs do, but occasional treats are great for training, enforcing good behavior, supporting dental health, and supplementing the diet.

But what kind of dog treats can cats eat, and which ingredients should be avoided?

We’ll tell you everything you need to know in just a second. But first, here are some cat-friendly dog treats your kitty can enjoy safely:

Pedigree DENTASTIX for small dogs
Greenies Original Teenie Natural Dental Dog Treats
Milk-Bone Flavor Snacks Dog Treats 
Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Dog Treats
Blue Buffalo Bits Natural Dog Treats

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Differences Between Cat And Dog Treats

First of all, let’s discuss the differences between cat and dog treats to understand better why dog treats are not necessarily suitable for cats.

See, while cats are carnivores and need a meat-based diet, dogs are omnivores and able to use grains, vegetables, and fruits for energy to some extent. This means that while dogs should also mainly eat meat, their diet may include other ingredients as well. Cats, on the other hand, should only eat meat.

Although these are widely accepted facts about cat and dog nutrition, in reality, dog food and cat food can be very similar when it comes to their content. Although cats are obligate carnivores, the pet food industry produces cat foods that contain grains, soy, and vegetables to make the food more affordable. The same goes with cat treats.

can cats eat dog treats

Most cat owners know that they shouldn’t feed dog food to cats because it usually contains more grains and soy and less meat. Therefore, dog food lacks many of the essential nutrients cats need and can only derive from meat.

These include

  • Taurine
  • Arginine
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)

Without these vitamins and amino acids, your cat will become very ill, so it needs to eat enough meat every day.

This means that, ideally, cat treats are made from meat. However, dog treats often contain many other ingredients, and sometimes their main ingredient may even be wheat.

This is not to say that cat treats are any better. Unfortunately, many cat treats are not made of meat or contain very little of it. This is completely ok as long as the treats only make up about 10% of your cat’s daily food intake. To ensure a balanced diet and keep your kitty healthy, treats should never replace high-quality cat food.

Also, this does not mean that all of those non-meat ingredients in dog treats are bad for your cat. Although they may not be a part of a cat’s everyday diet, your cat may even benefit from highly nutritious ingredients like fruits.

In the end, many cat and dog treats are very similar in their nutritional content. The important thing is that they are only fed in small quantities along with a balanced diet and that you always check their safety first.

So how do you know a dog treat is safe for cats? Let’s find out.

Read Next: Best Foods For Cats in 2022

Are Dog Treats Bad For Cats?
4 Ingredients To Avoid

Dog treats are not ideal for cats because they usually contain other ingredients than meat. However, most cat treats are not 100% meat either, so the difference is quite small in practice.

It is ok to give your cat dog treats if you do it occasionally and keep the quantities small.

Cats can enjoy some dog treats, while others are a no-no. It all comes down to what the treats contain.

A dog treat here and there will probably not harm your cat, but if you offer dog treats daily, they will fill up your cat’s stomach and make them lose interest in their food.

Treats should always make up for no more than 10% of your cat’s daily food intake, be it cat treats or dog treats. If you’re giving your cat dog treats occasionally, and your kitty is eating a balanced diet otherwise, you don’t need to worry about the nutritional aspect.

Four ingredients to avoid

However, four ingredients are not safe for your kitty, and you should always check to make sure they are not listed on the dog treats you plan on treating your feline with:

  • Garlic or garlic powder (flavoring)
  • Onion or onion extract (flavoring)
  • Propylene glycol (moisture retaining agent)
  • Ethylene glycol (moisture retaining agent)

Cats are very sensitive to garlic, onion, leeks, and chives, which belong to the allium family. These foods contain n-propyl disulfide, which causes oxidative damage in red blood cells.

A bit of garlic powder or onion extract in a single dog treat may not cause any problems for your kitty, but in the long run, having them daily could lead to anemia.

Propylene glycol and ethylene glycol, on the other hand, are preservatives used in dog treats and can also be harmful to cats.

All these four ingredients cause oxidative changes in the hemoglobin, which carries oxygen inside the red blood cells. Therefore, consuming them may lead to your cat experiencing symptoms of anemia, including:

  • Pale gums
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Weakness
  • Decreased appetite

If your cat eats a dog treat with some of these ingredients, they should be fine. Even a weekly treat may not cause any harm. Still, it’s better to avoid them if you can as there is no safe limit.

Other ingredients that are often discussed

In addition to the components of dog treats that could really harm your cat, there are a few others that are often talked about but do not pose any danger to felines.

Glycerin/Glycerol – Only toxic to cats when consumed in huge quantities

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – preservatives that studies have shown to be safe when added to foods in small quantities. It may be a good idea to try and avoid these substances, but in small amounts, they are not harmful to cats.

Rosemary extract – a natural preservative that was long thought to cause seizures and neurological problems in cats. However, it is actually rosemary essential oil that cats are sensitive to, not rosemary extract.

Usually, if there is no warning label on the package, it is safe to give your cat a dog treat. However, if you feel unsure, it’s recommended to give your vet a call to be on the safe side.

Why Should I Prefer Cat Treats For My Cat?

Cat treats are specifically designed with your cat’s needs in mind. This means that

  • The nutritional composition of cat treats is suitable for cats and takes into account their dietary requirements
  • Many cat treats are designed to support your cat’s health and promote dental health.
  • Cat treats are the right size for your cat to minimize the risk of choking or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Cat treats are made with ingredients that cats find appealing.
cat eats dog treat

Safe Dog Treats For Cats

Again, here are a few safe choices if you want to treat your feline friend with some dog treats:

Pedigree DENTASTIX for small dogs
Greenies Original Teenie Natural Dental Dog Treats
Milk-Bone Flavor Snacks Dog Treats 
Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Dog Treats
Blue Buffalo Bits Natural Dog Treats

FAQ – Can I Give My Cat Dog Treats?

Here are some of the questions we get asked about cats and dog treats:

Can cats eat dog chews?

Yes, cats can eat some dog chews like Dentastix and Greenies. They may also enjoy rawhides and bully sticks that are completely natural and based on animal protein. Still, you should always ensure all dog treats you give to your kitty do not contain onion, garlic, ethylene glycol, or propylene glycol.

Keep in mind that many cats have a sensitive stomach, and rawhides and bully sticks are known to cause tummy upsets and diarrhea in cats. They may also pose a choking hazard if your cat is able to bite off a chunk that gets stuck in their throat, so monitor your cat while they are enjoying these treats.

Also, note that some dog chews like bones and Nylabones have are too hard for cats and could break their teeth.

Can cats eat dog biscuits?

Yes, cats can eat dog biscuits as long as they don’t contain onion, garlic, ethylene glycol, or propylene glycol. Dog biscuits are good for keeping your cat’s teeth in check and offering them a tasty treat while training.

However, many dog biscuits are high in calories, and cats are small creatures, so opt for small biscuits to ensure they don’t fill up your cat’s tummy, causing them to go off their food.

Can cats eat dog bones?

Yes, cats can eat dog bones. Bones are rich in calcium, and chewing on them will help your cat’s teeth stay clean and in good shape. Also, the bone marrow on bones contains a lot of iron and many other minerals that are beneficial for cats.

Just keep in mind that cooked bones are dangerous as they may splinter. Raw bones are safer, but they should always be fresh to prevent gastrointestinal issues related to bacteria buildup.

Can cats eat dog jerky?

Yes and no. Some commercial, store-bought dog jerky brands are ok for cats while others are not. Check the label, and do not feed the jerky to your cat if it contains onion, garlic, ethylene glycol, or propylene glycol.

Home-made dog jerky that contains only dehydrated meat is completely fine for cats.

Can cats eat Milk-Bone dog treats?

Yes, cats can eat some Milk-Bone dog treats, but not all of them. While other Milk-Bone dog treats are completely safe for cats, others contain harmful ingredients like propylene glycol. Therefore, it is always important to check the packaging to make sure the product doesn’t contain substances that could harm your pet.

A couple of cat-friendly Milk-Bone dog treats we can recommend are:Milk-Bone Flavor Snacks Dog Treats 
Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Dog Treats

Can cats eat greenies for dogs?

Yes, cats can eat Greenies Dog Treats. They do not contain any ingredients that would harm your cat, so you can give your cat Greenies as an occasional chew treat. However, we do not recommend them as a daily treat because they contain mostly wheat and no meat at all, so they do not have any nutritional value for your cat. However, on the upside, Greenies support dental health and help you keep your kitty’s teeth clean.

Greenies Original Teenie Natural Dental Dog Treats

Can cats eat dog dental sticks?

Yes, cats can eat dog dental sticks as long as they do not contain any harmful ingredients and are kept as an occasional treat.

Dentastix is probably one of the most popular dental sticks for dogs. Although their main ingredients are rice flour and wheat starch, they also contain some chicken, which is good considering your cat’s dietary needs.

Also, Dentastix dog chews do not contain any harmful components and keep your cat’s teeth clean, so they are a safe treat to give your cat in moderation.

Pedigree DENTASTIX for small dogs

Summing Up – Can You Give Cats Dog Treats?

Cats can enjoy some dog treats, while others are a no-no. It all comes down to what the treats contain.

Some ingredients you find in dog biscuits may cause health issues for cats. These include onion, garlic, ethylene glycol, and propylene glycol.

However, it is unlikely for a single treat to cause harm. Even one treat a week may be ok, but it is always best to be on the safe side and avoid these possibly risky substances altogether.

Although some dog treats may be ok for your cat, we recommend sticking with cat treats because you can rest assured they are safe for your feline and formulated with their needs in mind.

Here are a few popular choices that cats around the world love:

TEMPTATIONS Classic Crunchy and Soft Cat Treats 

FELINE GREENIES Natural Dental Care Cat Treats 

Hartz Delectables Squeeze Up Interactive Lickable Wet Cat Treats 

Purina Friskies Party Mix Adult Cat Treats 

Vet’s Comment

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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