Does your cat enjoy eating the food you give your dog? Dogs and cats are not only very different species, but they also have different medical, emotional and nutritional needs. Will dog food hurt cats? Continue reading to find out more.
Can dog food hurt your cat?
Dog food is mainly composed of beta-carotene. It is a compound that they can transform into vitamin A. Since cats aren’t able to do so, their food already contains vitamin A. Similarly, cat food is rich in taurine, an amino acid that dogs can create.
Dog food is low in fat and protein, and high in vitamins because dogs can gain weight quickly, whereas cats still need a high content of protein and fat. Animal nutrition specialists recommend at least 5% fat for dog food and 9% fat for cats (almost double) which is a significant difference. A dog eating cat food can suffer from obesity and improper ingestion of fatty foods in the long term.
By nature, cats are carnivorous animals, and their diet must be very high in protein to meet their dietary needs. However, dogs are omnivorous animals with much lower protein requirements. Besides, this source of protein does not have to be constant and not necessarily of animal origin. Unlike dog food which contains 18% protein, cat food contains at least 26% protein.
What can happen if your cat eats dog food
Cats continuously eating dog food can lead to a loss in muscles mass and they can become lethargic. Other problems that can also arise are stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. A cat feeding on dog food can cause imbalances in the macro and micronutrients which can lead to nutritional toxicities. Besides, she will not be able to get the taurine requirements. Similarly, a dog eating cat food will also have nutrients imbalances such as lack of zinc and vitamin E (necessary for dogs); these nutritional differences can affect your pet’s overall health forever.
If your cat really enjoys dog food, then it can be possible that she suffers from an imbalance of nutrients in her diet. You should then consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent malnutrition.
Tips for getting your cat to eat its food
- Change the bowl. Do not give your cat and dog two identical bowls, as this will confuse them. So choose different shapes and colours and show them which one belongs to which.
- Place the bowls in different places. Have everyone eat in a different place in the house. If necessary, store the bowls in an inaccessible place and do not take them out until they ask for them.
- Impose schedules. They will soon eat the food that is not theirs if you leave it available.
- Orders. While this generally works best in dogs, cats can also learn commands such as “Leave” or “No”. It will help you whenever you see your cat getting close to another’s food.
Tips for homemade dishes for cats
- Meatballs. They are full of protein, which is an excellent food for your cat. Make sure it isn’t too fatty to prevent obesity. Consider adding vegetables to it as your cat also needs vitamins, especially vitamin A.
- Tuna with vegetables. A can of tuna, preferably in water, drain it well and mix it with small pieces of carrots or other veggies. However, do not add salt or other condiments.
- Salmon. A piece of grilled salmon will drive your cat crazy. She indeed adores fish.