When dogs and cats live under one roof, eating from each other’s food bowls is not unusual. Tasting a little bit of each other’s food once in a while is quite acceptable, but when it becomes a regular occurrence, it could upset their nutrition. Feeding them the wrong kind of food can lead to health complications down the line. These five compelling reasons will convince you not to allow your dogs to eat cat food and vice versa.
1. Different nutritional requirement
Being obligate carnivores, cats must eat meat. In contrast, dogs are omnivores, which means they must eat a mix of meats and vegetables. They require certain nutrients in different quantities. Cats require more protein, taurine, and vitamin A whilst dogs must have protein and fibre to stay healthy. Various health issues may arise as a result of nutritional imbalance.
2. Different calorie requirement
The caloric needs of a dog depend largely on the size and activity level. On average, a medium-sized dog weighing 30 lbs require about 800 calories per day. In comparison, an average cat requires about 300 calories per day. So if a cat eats dog food meant for a large dog, she can be more susceptible to abnormal weight gain. If left unchecked, it can lead to obesity and diabetes.
3. Cat food has a higher fat content
Cat foods are formulated to be high in protein and fat, which is not suitable for dogs because they cannot digest fat properly. Dogs that are fed with cat food on a regular basis run the risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases, including life-threatening pancreatitis.
4. Cat food has higher levels of protein
Dogs being fed regularly on cat food are at risk of liver and kidney damage. The high level of protein (30% more) in cat food can be fatal for dogs because the excessive protein intake triggers the release of urea, which forces the kidney to work doubly hard. Other health issues resulting from excessive protein are hypokalaemia (excess potassium), acidosis, and blood toxicity.
How to keep dogs and cats away from each other’s food
The dangers and complications of feeding cat food to your dog (and vice versa) should compel you to take action to ensure that they will not share their food bowls.
- Feed them in separate rooms to avoid food sharing. Alternatively, separate them with a baby gate. Make sure that the gate is high enough so your dog cannot jump over it. You can also feed felines on a cat tree or a high place that dogs cannot reach. A sturdy and stable bookshelf or a high-level cat feeding station are good alternatives.
- Provide a creep feeder for your cat. A creep feeder for cats has a small hole that allows felines to gain access to their food. The hole is too small for dogs so they will not be able to eat from it.
- Use a crate for your cat. Its opening should be small enough so that your dog will not be able to squeeze himself inside
A few parting words
Avoid free-feeding your cat. The exposed cat food makes it harder for dogs to resist the temptation of nibbling at it. Instead, provide food to your cat at the same hours every day. Once done, put away the food dish immediately.
If your dog has already developed a habit of eating your cat’s meal, correct his behaviour. You can, for example, spray water on him and utter a command as soon as you see him nibbling at the feline’s bowl. Do not discipline him if you have not caught him in the act so that he makes the proper association.