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Dog food for cats

If you own both dogs & cats, you might catch one dipping into the other’s bowls and wonder, is that ok? We are going to talk a bit about giving your cat dog food and vice versa, and whether or not it is ok to switch between a cat and dog’s food.

Although dogs are descended from wolves and have the dentition of carnivores, they are predominantly scavengers, rather than predators. Therefore, dogs are able to eat a wide range of foods and for the most part, still, maintain a complete and balanced diet.

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores, meaning they must by necessity, eat a diet that is high in meat protein. They only require a very small amount of fat & carbohydrate. They have a very delicate balance of flora in their gut and rely on a precise level of particular vitamins & minerals to remain healthy. They also require specific Amino Acids, in particular Taurine, which they have to obtain from their diet.

Dogs naturally synthesize taurine but cats are unable to do so and must obtain the correct amount from their diet. If this is lacking in taurine, it can cause them to have serious health issues. Taurine is required for the correct functioning of their hearts and their eyes.

Cats can be given vegetable matter and carbohydrates in their food but as they do not possess the enzymes in their gut to digest matter of this type, it will pass through them and be expelled in the faeces, having had no nutritional benefit. Also, the lack of protein may cause health problems. Dogs on the other hand, can generally tolerate a certain amount of vegetable matter & carbohydrate in their food but one that contains too much protein or fat, may lead to problems in a dog.

Cats and dogs both have very different nutritional requirements. If you feed a dog nothing but cat food, which normally contains an incredibly high amount of protein (assuming it’s a good one!), the dog can suffer health issues as a result of it. Dogs generally do not require such a high amount of protein in their diet. When the other way around, if a cat is fed nothing but dog food, they could suffer deficiencies from lack of protein, taurine, and other species-appropriate nutrients that they need. A nutrient imbalance in both cats & dogs can lead to health issues, such as digestive issues, gastrointestinal upset, obesity, pancreatitis, organ dysfunction or skin issues.

If a cat or dog happens to eat a small amount of the other’s food very occasionally, it will not be harmful. It might result in a bit of discomfort in its stomach and its faeces may appear a bit different shortly after ingesting it, but it should not be detrimental to their overall health. However, the lack, or excess of ingredients on a consistent basis, can lead to health issues in the long run.

Therefore, small amounts of food switching for a cat or dog may not cause a major issue but it is certainly not advisable to do so over a longer period of time.

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