For the longest time in human history, dogs are known to eat leftovers, scraps or remains of animal carcasses. In short, dogs are considered to eat what is unfit for human consumption but is this has recently changed. Today, you walk in pet stores and find an array of dog food, both wet and dry. Cat nutrition and dog nutrition has come a long way, since the time humans realized the importance of formulating a meal that met the specific animal’s needs.
Even when you feed your dog the best food, there is, you may find it working through garbage. So, you may wonder why dogs like eating wacky things such as dirt and their poop! Also, how come dogs like eating cat food so much? How safe it this? Should you allow your dog to eat cat food? Find out this and much more below.
Why Do Dogs Love Cat Food?
This query can be approached in two ways; one of which is more practical than the other. During evolution, both wild and domestic animals have proven to be skillful hunters. They are an opportunistic omnivore, which implies that they can consume an array of foodstuffs. Dogs may eat this food either for nutritional value or just for digestive purposes. So, one reason that dogs eat cat food is that it is there, it tastes better than what they are used to eating, and it is different from what their taste buds are accustomed to.
The other reason is that dogs are indiscriminate eaters. Seeing a dog eat rocks or grass might leave you scratching your head, but there is little cause for alarm. A dog’s sense of taste and smell combine to give them an in-depth understanding of the world. It also increases their curiosity, meaning that they are likely to go after a foreign object rather than high-quality food. For instance, a dog that eats socks does so without considering the merits or demerits of what it’s about to do. At that moment, satisfying its curiosity is far beyond the potential health risks, such as chocking and blockages in the digestive tracts.
Cats vs. Dogs: Nutritional Requirements
Cats and dogs have different dietary needs, a consideration that is prioritized when making commercial pet food. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, dogs are omnivores, meaning that they need an array of nutritional components to be healthy. Dogs require food that has proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The meal amount depends on factors such as size, breed, and age of the pet. While a dog’s food should contain all the nutrients, the proteins should not be more than 20 percent of their daily intake. Fats should also be in small portions, ranging between 10 to 15 percent of a dog’s meal. Your canine pet will require a lot of the fiber that is found in carbohydrates than a cat would. Therefore, quality dog food should take all these factors into account.
On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores, implying that the primary ingredient in their diet is meat. Their food contains more fat and protein than dog food. Dry cat food may have some vegetable matter in it. On the other hand, wet canned food has a high moisture content, and it contains a high concentration of meat nutrients.
Cat food has a much higher percentage of protein as compared to dog food because of its high portion of meat. This is one reason why cat food appeals so much to dogs, due to its aroma (Cat food has a strong flavor and smell). It’s more like cake to humans; the taste on its own is enough to make you eat up the entire cake! Unfortunately, overeating cake would make one sick, so you must exercise self-control. Unfortunately, not all dogs can resist the nice aroma from cat food. With such diverse needs, it’s clear that dogs should not eat cat food and neither should a cat eat dog food.
Wet vs. Dry Food – Which Is Worse For Dogs?
Although dogs eat everything they come across, their digestive system does not get accustomed to new food like in the case of humans. If a dog eats wet or dry cat food for the first time, there is a possibility of them contracting digestive upset, whether in the form of diarrhea or vomit. Whether it is cat feed or dog food, dry meals are usually rich in carbohydrates. That is why you should avoid feeding your canine pet on dry or wet food only. When you do so, the animal will add weight exponentially. If it is habitual, dry cat food is worse for dogs than wet cat food.
Q: Are there any benefits of cat food to dogs?
A: Yes. Cat food is an excellent form of a treat to feed dogs during training. Since most dogs have shown significant tolerance for cat food, your canine friend will do anything to enjoy the yummy treat. However, you should use it as a high-value training motivator only. So, you shouldn’t use it for minor training tasks or as moderate motivators. Apart from training, you should refrain from giving cat food to your dog unless the veterinarian recommends otherwise.
Q: What happens when dogs eat cat food?
- Gastrointestinal upset
Remember that a dog’s digestive tract is not designed to handle high volumes of fat and proteins. Therefore, its consumption might attract immediate stomach issues such as bloating and upset, which is shown by instances of vomiting and diarrhea. A lot of fat might affect a dog’s pancreas, resulting in pancreatitis, which might affect the efficacy of the dog’s digestion or lead to severe health consequences.
The high-fat content in cat food could lead to obesity in dogs. Your canine pet does not require as much fat as your feline pet. If you allow your pet dog to eat cat food for prolonged periods, the dog might become obese over time.
- Improper nutrient balance
With regards to nutrition, cat food might have an improper balance of nutrients according to what dogs require. This might result in either excess of the ingredients or deficiency of the vital nutrients. For instance, cat feed contains low amounts of vitamin E and zinc than dog feed. Also, cat food has an added nutrient known as taurine, which is not required by dogs. Such nutritional differences might impact your dog’s overall health when consumed for a prolonged period.
- Insufficient energy supply
Dogs require more carbohydrates than cats, which means that taking cat food would deprive them of sufficient energy. While a dog’s meal contains 50 percent of carbohydrate content, cat food contains less than that because cats can get energy from the fats they consume. The amount of energy that dogs need cannot be found in any other place besides their diet.
- Kidney complications
The high protein content of cat food poses a metabolic threat to dogs, especially older ones. Old dogs that are diabetic or those with liver disease are likely to experience an increase in their symptoms when they take cat food. Proper dog food for senior pets should be fed to the older pooches to avoid worsening of their medical conditions.
Tips For Keeping Your Dog From Eating Cat’s Food
Regardless of how well trained your dog is, sometimes the temptation of eating the cat’s food might be too difficult for your pet to resist. Luckily, you can take some steps to reduce the possibility of the temptation.
- Feed your canine and feline in separate rooms. Make sure that the cat’s feeding room is secured in a way that the dog cannot access it. For instance, you can feed your canine pet in the kitchen and your pet cat in the laundry room.
- Separate the cat’s feeding area from the rest of the building, preferably using a gate that the dog cannot crawl under or jump over.
- Put your cat’s meals on a high counter or shelf.
If these techniques are ineffective at keeping the pooch away from the cat’s food, consider getting a cat-sized box or crate into which the dog is unable to fit, and then feed the cat from there. You can also install a pet door to separate the cat’s feeding space from the rest of the house. Keep the dog closed to deny the dog access to the cat’s meals. Also, consider monitoring the pets during meal time to ensure that none of them is pocking its nose into the other’s food.
The dangers of dogs eating cat food can never be overemphasized. The risk of obesity, overweight, gastrointestinal illness among other conditions is high. Worse still, some of these effects can be life-threatening and might leave the dog with lasting medical conditions. Separate the dog and cat eating areas and monitor then during feeding time. If you have to give some cat food to your dog, ensure that you do so only when it is necessary.