Cat food and dog food seem quite alike and you might have wondered if you could just switch them or use the same food for both pets. Especially, because many dogs devour their cat siblings food with great passion while turning up their nose at commercial dog food. To answer this question, we should look how dogs and cats nutritional needs differ from each other.
Dogs are omnivores and can obtain the nutrients they need from both plant- and animal-based sources. Cats however are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must eat animal-based proteins to obtain the nutrients they need to survive and maintain their health. Because cats have higher protein requirements than dogs do, their food contains more than 30 percent protein, while dog food contains around 20 to 25 percent protein.” The difference might seem minimal, but your cat needs that extra protein to satisfy her energy requirements.
An essential amino acid, taurine is found only in animal tissues, such as fish, beef and poultry. Cats cannot synthesize this compound, so they must get it from a meat source. If they don’t consume enough taurine, a multitude of health problems can result, including hair loss, tooth decay, heart troubles and retina degeneration that may lead to blindness.
Vitamin A, B1 & B3
Vitamin A plays a very important role in maintaining the health of the eyes, skin and other tissues within the body. While dogs, like us, can eat for example carrots and convert beta carotene into vitamin A, cats must consume it from meat sources. It therefore has to be in their food. Cats as well require five times more thiamine (B1) in their diets than dogs. If cats suffer from a thiamine deficiency, they may develop a poor quality coat, lose their appetite, fall into a hunched posture, develop neurologic problems including seizures and can eventually die. Another essential part of feline health: Vitamin B3 (Niacin). Unfortunately cats can not manufacture it in sufficient quantities, thus require higher amounts in their diet. Niacin deficiencies can lead to loss of appetite and weight, inflamed gums, and hemorrhagic diarrhea.
Arachidonic acid is one of the essential fatty acids. Dogs have two choices in getting their needed amount of this: Either through meat or through synthesizing it using linoleic acid, which is found in many vegetable oils. Cats don’t have a choice, it has to come from their diet.
It is not recommended to feed cats dog food regularly because they will develop a number of deficiencies that can make them very ill and even lead to their death. If your cat nibbles a little on your dog’s food, no worries, just make sure it doesn’t happen frequently. A cat’s diet is not exactly harmful for dogs, but yet not recommended. Why? Because of the caloric density, high protein levels, and heavy doses of fat, cat food isn’t ideally suited to all canine gastrointestinal tracts and can cause stomach issues like diarrhea as well as obesity.
If your dog likes to devour your cats food, just make sure you place it on a high place that only your cat can reach. If your cat likes to snack on your dog’s food, it might be better if you feed your dog twice daily under supervision instead of leaving the food out all day. Eating too much of the dogs food might make your cat eat less of the food that is appropriate for her dietary needs.