Why Dogs and Cats Shouldn’t Eat Each Other’s Food

January 8, 2014

unused by bambe1964 okBy Linda Cole

It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to steal each other’s food whenever they see an opening. My dogs can clean out the cats’ dry food bowl in two seconds if given the opportunity. Snacking on each other’s food once in awhile isn’t likely to cause problems, but eating a steady diet of pet food that’s not made specifically for a dog or cat can be trouble. There are good reasons why dogs and cats shouldn’t eat each other’s food.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they have to eat meat regularly to get the proper nutrients needed to maintain good health. Felines are equipped with sharp teeth that aid them in grasping prey, killing it, and then tearing off and eating bite size pieces. Because they don’t have molars that have a grinding surface, like humans and dogs, cats tend to swallow their food whole. The jaw can only move up and down, and isn’t equipped to move side to side in a chewing motion. Without a way to properly crunch up a piece of dog food, which is usually larger than kitty kibble, felines are at risk of choking on a piece of dry dog food.

Dogs are omnivores, and have a digestive system that can handle grains and vegetables as well as meat, but they don’t require as much protein as cats. Proteins are the building blocks for cells, tissues, organs, antibodies, enzymes and hormones, and needed for body growth, reproduction and maintaining body functions. The feline body will break down protein in their muscles if they don’t get enough of it in their diet.

Dogs who have a steady diet of cat food are more apt to put on weight, and can have bouts of diarrhea and vomiting because of higher protein and fat levels in cat food. They are at risk of developing pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas that can be life threatening.

The building blocks of protein are essential amino acids, which are divided into two groups: non-essential and essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be produced by dogs and cats on their own, but they can only get essential amino acids in their food. One critically essential amino acid cats need is taurine, which is added to their food. Dogs produce it on their own, so it’s not included in dog food. Cats need to eat taurine on a daily basis to maintain good health. Taurine is critical for healthy eyes, heart, fetal growth and development. A deficiency can cause blindness and heart problems. Both dogs and cats require 22 amino acids to maintain good health. Dogs can make 12 on their own and cats can make 11. The rest must be consumed.

Linoleic and arachidonic acids are two essential fatty acids cats need for kidney health, healthy skin and coat, and reproduction health. Arachidonic is an omega-6 fatty acid. Dog food only contains one, linoleic acid. There’s also a difference in dog food and cat food when it comes to vitamins and minerals. Canines require smaller amounts of folic acid, thiamin, niacin, vitamin A and B vitamins. A deficiency in vitamins can affect a cat’s coat, posture and energy level, and they are at risk of developing gastrointestinal issues, reproduction problems and seizures.

A steady diet of food that doesn’t provide a dog or cat with the right kind of nutrients will put their health at risk. Dogs and cats shouldn’t eat each other’s food. A premium quality pet food, like CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Elements for cats, and CANIDAE All Life Stages for dogs, provides our pets with the specific diet formulated just for them that meets their nutritional needs for optimum health.

Top photo by bambe1964
Bottom photo by snuzzy

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  1. I enjoyed reading this article. I accidentally ordered four pounds of Canidae for dogs instead of cats. So, I will probably mix it with their current food and use it up. My cats love Canidae, so I won’t make that mistake again.