Can Dogs & Cats Eat One Another’s Food?
If you’ve ever had a cat and a dog at the same time, you’ll know the difficulties in ensuring they eat their own food. You typically find that the dog refuses his food and the cat refuses hers, but they’re more than happy to gobble each other’s dinner up, but is it actually okay for a dog to eat the food intended for his feline friend and vice versa?
Well, it’s probably best not to get in the habit on allowing your pets to eat one another’s food. Cats and dogs have very different dietary requirements and continuous consumption of the wrong pet food can lead to long term health problems and lack of nutritional requirements for your pets.
Dogs are omnivores and require a varied diet of more than just meat to satisfy their nutritional requirements. Whereas, cats are carnivores which means their food has a high meat content. By allowing your pooch to regularly consume cat food, he would be missing out on vital vitamins and minerals from his own plant based food and consuming more protein than his body requires.
Why do dogs eat cat food?
Part of the appeal of cat food to dogs is that they’re stealing their feline counterpart’s food. Dogs like to be cheeky and forbidden food is always way more appealing than their own bowl of food.
Aside from this, many dogs are scavengers and will eat anything and anything; socks, the rubbish from the bin, toilet paper – you name it, your pooch will probably be more than happy to eat it. Therefore, a plate of delicious cat food is nothing to a dog – in fact it’s easy pickings!
Dogs may also find cat food to more enticing than their own food as it tends to be stronger in smell and flavour than their own plant-based food.
It is possible for a dog to get ill as a result of eating cat food. On a one off basis, your dog should be fine with no obvious side effects, however your dog will likely silently suffer as the protein content of cat food is hard on the liver and kidneys. Long-term effects of dogs eating cat food on a regular basis include obesity, gastroenteritis and its relating stomach issues and pancreatitis, which is a life threatening illness for dogs. Therefore, to avoid a quick dash to the vets and a hefty vet bill, the advice is to only feed your dog food intended for them.
Preventing your dog from getting to your cat’s food is preferable to ensure no accidental helpings are eaten by your dog. If your cat and dog have the same meal times, try to feed them in separate rooms so they can’t access each other’s food, or you can keep meal times separate and only allow one of them in the room you feed them in at one time.
As dogs are likely to go hunting for food, ensure cat food and cat treats are kept locked away and out of reach in a cupboard or similar that your dog can’t prise open.
Cat food has a high protein content due to it being rich in meat content. The smell and flavour is therefore stronger and this appeals to dogs as they have a highly sensitive sense of smell. To stay healthy, a cat requires a high volume of protein in their diet. These proteins are made up of amino acids which play a pivotal role in keeping a cat alive. One of the most vital amino acids in cat food is taurine, something which a dog’s body can produce themselves, however a cat’s body isn’t capable of producing this amino acid and so it is added during the manufacturing process of cat food. As taurine is absent from dog food, a cat shouldn’t regularly consume it as it would soon become ill from lack of essential nutrients.
Why do cats eat dog food?
We may never know the answer to this one. Some cats will eat and eat – if it’s there, they’ll eat it. It could be that your cat enjoys the taste of dog food and so if it’s available, they’ll happily help themselves to it. Once your cat has done this once, you can be sure she’ll return again and again for it.
A lot of cats have attitude, especially around dogs. By eating the dog’s food, they’re showing the dog who’s boss and that she won’t be messed with, especially when it comes to dinner time!
A lack of the vital amino acid taurine in a cat’s diet can cause a range of serious illnesses and medical conditions for a cat. Blindness, deafness and heart problems are just a few of the more serious conditions a cat could contract, while other conditions related to an imbalance of vitamins include lethargy, seizures, poor posture and coat, impaired reproduction and death. The least serious is gastrointestinal upset such as sickness and diarrhoea.
Prevention is similar to that for your dog. Where possible feed your cat and dog in separate rooms and always ensure that your cat can’t access any dog food that may be left out and uneaten. It’s best to supervise eating times, so you can be 100% sure that your cat hasn’t eaten your pooch’s dinner.