We have noticed a recent trend where pet parents interchangeably give their dog’s cat food or cats dog food and so on. But can dogs eat cat food? Let’s find out.
Dogs & Cats – Anatomy
There’s a reason for making different formulas for our canines and felines. Cats are categorised as carnivores and though dogs belong to the Carnivora group, their bodies work typically like an omnivore.
This means that dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements. Typically a dogs diet is very similar to our diet. They can have meat, fruits, vegetables, carbs and fibres. Cats, on the other hand, have similar requirements as the Atkins diet.
Cats need a lot more proteins and fats than dogs. Their food is also rich in vitamins that dogs don’t need. Dogs can extract many vitamins on their own while cats need a little extra help. For instance, while dogs can break down beta-carotene to vitamin A, cats cannot. So while cat food will contain higher amounts of vitamin A, dog food will simply contain carrots.
Other elements include Taurine (a kind of amino acid) and Arachidonic acid (fatty acid). Dogs can make their own Taurine and Arachidonic acid while cats cannot. Hence cat food contains both these elements.
Naturally too much protein, vitamin A, taurine and arachidonic acid is not good for your dogs. Eating more than what is required can lead to major health problems.
Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?
Well, cat food has a higher amount of protein and sometimes a richer aroma, Hence many dogs prefer cat food over their own food. Sometimes, if they raid the kitty food bowl, nothing serious will happen. At most, they will get an upset tummy but prolonged consumption of cat food can be a problem.
Some picky canines have decided to pull their nose up at their own food and only accept feline edibles. As busy pet parents, we crumble under pressure and start giving our dogs cat food every day. That’s when all the problems begin.
Here are some things that may happen if you frequently give your dog cat food.
Cat food has too much protein and fats and that is why, your dog is going to put on weight. Though it may not seem as serious, obesity does compromise on their ability to move and be comfortable. It also shortens their lifespan.
There’s a reason why cat food is made for cats. It is just not nutritionally balanced for our canine friends. Cat food has too much protein, fats, certain vitamins, nutrients etc. An overdose of these ingredients can lead to a lot of long term health problems.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach they may get pancreatitis in the long run or an inflamed pancreas. Pancreatitis is fatal if not treated on time. It is characterised by a distended stomach, abdominal pain, hunched back. Lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite etc.
If you doubt that your dog has pancreatitis, rush them to the hospital immediately.
My Dog Ate Cat Food. Help!
If you have a dog and a cat, chances are your dog will try to steal your cat’s food. If they get a mouthful of cat food once, you shouldn’t worry. The best thing you can do is hydrate them. This will expel the toxins naturally.
They may vomit or have loose motions as the body’s natural way to get rid of the excess proteins and fats. Wait a day for it to pass but if the vomiting and loose-motions continue for longer than a day, it’s best to show the doctor.
How To Keep Cat Food Away From Dogs?
Prevention is better than cure. Hence you need to find ways to keep the cat food away from your dogs. Here are some techniques that might help:
1. Top Shelf For Cat Food
Dogs cannot climb and that’s a good thing. The taller your dog, the higher you need to keep the cat food. We need to train them to not eat cat food and we aren’t around all the time. So, the best thing we can do is keeping the food far out of their reach.
You should also consider feeding your cat on a perch too. Cats can climb with ease, so your cat will feel safer having their own eating perch.
Yeah, separation during meal times is perhaps the best way to keep your cat and cat food safe. It depends on how reactive your dog is. Some cats eat just fine behind a closed door while in other cases you may have to tie your dog or put them in a kennel while your cat eats.
3. Automated Feeder
This may be a costlier solution but it may be ideal for you if you want to feed your cat hands-free and without any trouble from their canine buddy.
There are automated feeders that only open to one pet. They are triggered by a special tag – something that you can easily hang on your cat’s collar.
Of course, if you enjoy making things at home, you can consider making your own automated feeder and you can it to feed your cat when you are out with your dog.
4. Change Cat Food
Though this may not work all the time, sometimes dogs are attracted to certain ingredients in cat food. So, by changing their meal you may save yourself a lot of trouble.
Though this method may not work all the time, if you find a formula that is good for your cat and your dog won’t touch it, it’s a win-win situation for all.
Can Cats Have Dog Food?
Now that we started the topic, it is best we cover it from all angles. As a pet parent with both cats and dogs, you would want to know if your cat can have dog food.
The answer is – no. Dog food is just not nutritionally adequate for cats. It has fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates that your cat cannot digest. The amount of protein and fat is a lot lesser than their requirement.
In the long run, when cats continue to have dog food, they can get weak bones, sickness, poor immunity and even premature death. So dog food is a no go for cats.
The good news is cats aren’t as enticed with dog food as dogs are with cat food. So, they should be safe however there are exceptions, in which case you would have to take special precautions to keep dog food away from your cats.
So, can dogs eat cat food? We’d say they are better off without it. The same goes for cats with dog food. It’s best if they stick to their own formulas.
We hope this article was helpful. We understand it’s hard caring for a picky canine but please don’t succumb to their demands. Don’t give them cat food as treats or snacks. Don’t give them cat food at all. You will do them a lot more harm then good if you let them nibble the kitty food bowl.