Are you guilty of feeding your cat dog food and vice versa? Then hear this out: please stop. Sometimes, it is tough to keep them away from each other’s food bowl, but you have to stand your ground or you might regret it.
Although dogs and cats snacking on each other’s food once in a while may seem harmless, continually eating inappropriate diet can mean be trouble. Here’s why.
- Different nutritional requirement
Cats require a strict diet of meat, whilst dogs can eat raw diet or a mix of raw and plant-based diet. Although dogs being an omnivore is still debatable, it is evident that dogs can tolerate veggies compared to their feline counterpart.
- Different calorie requirement
Other than the primary source of nutrients, cats and dogs differ when it comes to the number of calories. The caloric needs of a dog depend largely on its size and activity level. So if a cat eats dog food meant for a large dog, eventually you’ll find yourself with an obese cat with diabetes and other diseases linked to abnormal weight gain.
- Cat food has higher level of fat
Since dogs can’t digest fat properly, eating cat food will increase the likelihood of developing pancreatitis. How come? The job of the pancreas is to help the body digest food, especially fat. If the dog keeps eating food that the pancreas is unable to digest, the organ will go into overload since it cannot do its job well.
- Nutrient production in dogs
Confused? Well, it is simple, really. Dogs have the inherent ability to produce specific nutrients (taurine and arachidonic acid) that cats require in their food. Simply put, dog food lacks the nutrients a cat needs, which can lead to certain diseases such as heart diseases (due to taurine deficiency).
- Cat food has higher levels of protein
One inevitable outcome if dogs are fed a steady diet of cat food is liver and kidney damage. The high levels of protein content (30% more) in cat food is tough on the dog’s system and can even become deadly. Why? Excessive protein intake triggers the release of urea, which forces the kidney to work doubly hard to eliminate. Other health issues of excessive protein are hyperkalemia (excess potassium), acidosis, and blood toxicity.
How to keep them away from each other’s food
- Feed them in a separate room. It’s quite easy, but if you don’t have any spare room and you don’t want your dog or cat making a mess in one of your rooms, the alternative is to separate them with a gate. It’s obvious which food is tastier, so make sure the dog can’t jump over the fence.
- Buy a creep feeder for cats. A creep feeder for cats has a small hole where they can gain access to their food. Due to the small hole, dogs won’t be able to eat it, unless the dog topples the whole thing, which is why your presence is required during meals.
- If you think a creep feeder won’t do, then you can buy your cat a crate, which is small enough that your dog will not be able to fit itself inside.
So again, it is not advisable to let your cat and dog eat each other’s food, no matter how economical it may be for you. There are a lot of risks involved, which you may not be able to cope with when the time comes that they both get sick (hello, vet bills). Anyway, it is better to be safe than sorry. Also, there is a reason why dog food and cat food are sold separately so let us keep it that way.