So far, there are still many families with cats and dogs who hold such views. I believe that for you, segregated feeding is not a simple matter. Just as cat food divides into kitten food, adult cat food, senior food, diet food, probiotic food, and so on, parents will choose according to their different ages, weights, and intestines. However, there are always situations when feeding, such as cats and dogs eating each other’s food, or when there is not enough food, parents provide them the same food. Is this important?
Distinction of Dietary Habits
Dogs used to be carnivores, obtaining food through collective hunting behavior. They live with people, have more and more access to other foods besides meat, and gradually become omnivores now.
Unlike dogs, cats are carnivores from the beginning to the end. And the composition of the food is formulated according to the nutrients they need. So relatively speaking, it is more harmful to give cats and kittens dog food.
Different Nutrient Needs
Cats rely on vitamins A, B, C, taurine, fat, and lots of protein to survive, plus additional vitamins and supplements because their bodies cannot produce these ingredients on their own, so the food needs to provide them to keep the cat in the nutrients it needs.
The essential vitamins and acids for cats and kittens are vitamin A, amino acids, and taurine. Dogs can produce them on their own, but cats need them for additional supplementation. So these ingredients are essential for cats and kittens, and if they are missing, they may suffer from various types of heart disease.
Next, let’s compare the nutrients they are essential for.
Developmental kittens need 1.5 times more protein than puppies, and adult cats twice as much as adult dogs, so dog food contains less protein than cat food, and protein may be insufficient when cats and kittens continue to eat dog food.
Cats have a lower ability to synthesize taurine from amino acids compared to dogs. Therefore, taurine needs to be taken directly from their food. Therefore, cat food will contain more taurine than dog food. Once in 1980, veterinarians discovered that the leading cause of dilated cardiomyopathy in cats was a taurine-deficient diet.
And it took taurine supplementation in all foods from then on to make dilated cardiomyopathy less likely to occur in cats. Other important roles are immunomodulation, retinal degeneration, heart, and nerves. A taurine deficiency can result if cats and kittens are fed dog food for long periods.
The minimum sodium level for dogs is about 4 mg/kg, and for cats is about 9.2 mg/kg. Therefore, the salt content in dog food may be lower than in cat food. Long-term dog food consumption can lead to irritability, increased heart rate, reduced water intake, and increased urination in cats and kittens.
Since cats cannot convert tryptophan into niacin, they need to consume more niacin than dogs, about four times the amount. If niacin is not sufficient, dermatitis may develop on the abdomen and hind legs. In addition, cats and kittens cannot speak about the conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A, so they need to consume it in the form of vitamin A.
Why Dogs Eat Cat Food?
Because the dog has a very high demand for food, even if you think you have fed him enough, he will always be hungry, and after eating all his food, he will continue to eat if he finds other food that can interest him.
In addition, because cat food’s protein and fat content are higher than dog food, the palatability is also better, and it is naturally lovely to dogs. However, this high-protein food can cause severe metabolic problems for aging dogs and those with kidney disease and diabetes.
Why Cats Eat Dog Food?
Cats eat dog food mostly because they have a habit of exploring food, and if there is not much difference between the two palatability, cats prefer to choose new food, so the phenomenon of cats eating dog food. However, this phenomenon is relatively rare compared to dogs eating cat food.
Note: A study has found that a few dogs and cats have a great interest in eating food placed in a specific location. Regardless of the area of any food, they can continue to eat without being affected.
Effects of Long Time
Cat food or dog food accidentally consumed may cause stomach pain but does not produce severe health effects. However, if consumed for a long time, it may cause the following risks.
Bias eating behavior
For dogs, the high protein and salt content of cat food over a long period can lead to favoritism in not consuming dog food. So don’t go trying cat food for your dog. In the case of having both a cat and a dog, if the dog eats the cat’s food, it will also prevent the cat from replenishing the required nutrients.
Burden on the kidneys
Long-term intake of high-protein, high-salt cat food may put a burden on the dog’s kidneys. It leads to kidney failure. Cats can also suffer from a lack of vitamins, protein, and taurine in dog food, leading to kidney disease.
The nutrients and calories required for a dog’s physique are different than for a cat’s. If cat food is consuming for a long time, the nutritional balance will disrupt.
Dogs that eat cat food tend to be more prone to gastrointestinal diseases than obese people. Long-term feeding may lead to life-threatening conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis.
Dog food lacks moisture, and a cat’s sense of dehydration is not as well as a dog’s, so there can be severe consequences when it does not realize that the food will dehydrate it.
In addition, for cats, the lack of taurine and arginine in dog food is more likely to impair their vision, reproduction, heart, and nerve function and cause hyperammonemia, convulsions, and even death. And for dogs, the over-abundance of nutrients in cat food can cause digestive disorders them.
So even though dogs and cats have very different taste systems and can accept each other’s food. But from a health perspective, we should stick to a diet that is appropriate for them, including foods that should be fed at all ages (e.g., puppies on puppy food, adults on adult food, sick dogs on prescription food, etc.), and prevent them from eating each other.
How to Prevent Dog from Eating Cats Food?
- Keeping cats and dogs separately, preferably in separate rooms that are inaccessible to dogs. For example, the dog on the balcony and the cat in the bedroom.
- Separating feeding by placing the cat in a high place where the dog cannot reach, such as over a refrigerator, cabinet, or bookcase.
- Setting up barriers so that the dog cannot reach the area where the cat is feeding.
- After feeding at a specific time, even if the remaining food is packed up, whether cat food or dog food, do not leave it out. Otherwise, they will have many opportunities to sneak in a bite and then a taste.
If none of the above methods work, make a small paper box with only a tiny hole and put it in during your cat’s feeding period. Of course, if your finances allow it, it is best if you can install a small camera to monitor their diet at all times.
If your dog has swallowed the cat food, do not punish it with blows. It is best to remember to clean up the remaining food immediately after eating! Maybe it will not dare to eat the cat food casually when you are present at the moment. But once you are not there, he will try to get the cat food, and it is easy to destroy the dog’s trust in you.