Most people who own cats and dogs will know that some dogs find cat food irresistible. Dogs will often try to get their share out of the cat’s bowl if you’re not paying attention.
Are dog and cat food the same? What makes these two things different and is it safe for a dog to eat cat food? Today we take a closer look at what makes these foods different.
Are Dog and Cat Food the Same?
You’d be right to question if dog food and cat food are the same. They really are different, but it’s because dogs and cats have different dietary needs.
Cats are hunting animals. Naturally, they are used to hunting for their food. Because cats are carnivores, they need a much larger percentage of meat-based protein in their diets.
Dogs are omnivores. This means that they are used to eating both meat-based protein and plants for survival. Because of this, the high protein found in cat food would not be ideal for dogs. Dogs also have higher fiber requirements that will not be fulfilled with cat food.
So, as much as your dog might like filching some of your feline’s food, it’s not a great idea to let them do it.
What Happens If A Dog Eats Cat Food?
Many owners have seen their dog refuse to eat their own food, but instead, try to gobble down everything in sight. It might be tempting to let your dog try out some cat food, but do not let them continue eating it. A little bit is ok. Actually, a dog can survive on a cat’s diet, but it’s not appropriate.
Cat food has a much higher protein and fat content. While a dog can get all their needed vitamins and minerals from cat food, the higher fat can lead to obesity. Eating cat food can even lead to gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis. For these reasons, it’s best to leave cat food to cats and dog food to dogs.
What Happens If A Cat Eats Dog Food?
For the most part, cats know that they do not like dog food. This is a good thing because dog food would not fulfill their caloric or mineral needs. Here are a few things dog food would be lacking:
- Vitamin A – While some dog food will have vitamin A added, many contain beta carotene instead. Dog food suppliers do this because dogs can actually create their own vitamin A from beta carotene. Cats are not able to create their own vitamin A in the same way. Because of this, your cat would be lacking important vitamins.
- Taurine – Again, cats cannot make taurine, but dogs can produce it by themselves. A cat that lacks enough taurine can have rather severe consequences. A cat deficient in taurine develops heart disease.
- Arachidonic Acid – Again, this is added to cat foods, but dogs can produce it themselves.
- Protein – While many dog foods do have protein added, it’s usually not enough for a cat. A cat can live on lower protein, but it likely will not be the healthiest existence.
A cat that lives on dog food will likely not get the proper nutrition that it needs, so best to make sure you’re feeding your cat high-quality cat food.
Is It OK to Feed Cat Food to Dogs?
If your dog steals a bit of cat food occasionally, you probably don’t have to worry. For healthy dogs, the worst side effects may be vomiting and diarrhea. However, other dogs may have intestinal discomfort due to more severe or complex issues.
To be safe, we suggest never feeding your cat food to dogs. Instead, keep their feeding areas separate and even have different feeding times to avoid a possible mix-up. It’s good to supervise your pets when they eat whenever possible. That will ensure your dog doesn’t swipe kitty’s food.