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Raising two pets of different species is a tall order. From buying different feeding bowls and beds to splitting your time between the pets, it can be a lot to handle. But since you get a double dose of love and affection, taking care of your pets is really just an honor. If you own a cat and a dog (or a number of them), you know the hassle of having everyone eat their meals without stealing from each other.
The minute your dog sniffs a cat’s food, he will be all over looking for a taste. On the other hand, your cat doesn’t mind scraping whatever is left on the dog’s bowl. While that may be a fascinating sight for you, is it really safe for your pets? Can you actually mix cat food and dog food?
Differences between Cat and Dog Nutrition
To better answer the questions, we have to get the basics of both cat food and dog food. Although your pets are both carnivores, they have different nutritional needs. Characteristically, a cat is an obligate carnivore. What this means is that he depends on meat for all his nutritional requirements. The feline system is designed to survive solely on animal protein. This is why commercial cat food is filled with nothing but protein.
Granted, a cat can eat plant matter here and there but meat is his main food source. Cat food primarily features protein, taurine, and fats. Taurine is a special amino acid responsible for normal heart function, reproduction, and vision. It is naturally occurring in animal-based protein which is why cat food is mostly derived from animal protein.
Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores. They need a good balance of meat, grains, and plants for optimal health. So, their food will consist of all three food groups.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food and Vice Versa?
Dogs go crazy for cat food because it is delicious. How can they say no to a fresh piece of chicken thigh sitting right there in front of them? The strong aroma of canned cat food gets them salivating. It doesn’t help that the cat bowl always has some contents in it all day long when the dog bowl is empty most of the time.
Since cat food has protein, your dog can have a taste of it. After all, canines also need protein to be in top shape. Unfortunately, the dog should not depend on cat food wholly. The diet doesn’t cater to all his nutritional needs. He still needs carbohydrates and vegetables for an all-around diet.
Cat food is to a dog as Mcdonald’s is to you. Despite knowing it is junk, you sometimes indulge because the burger, fries, and a glass of soda are tasty. However, if you were to eat that every day, your body will suffer greatly. Overconsumption of feline food can lead to several medical complications in dogs such as obesity (cat food is high in calories), gastric problems, and worse – kidney issues. Therefore, yes, your dog can have some cat food every once in a while. Just don’t make it a daily thing. Let her lick off the cat’s bowl.
While your doggies can somehow survive on cat food, the reverse is not ideal. Dog food doesn’t have the sky-high protein requirements your cat needs. It lacks taurine, amino acids, and the kind of vitamins your cat requires. Without enough proteins, your kitty will lose muscle mass. Taurine is also just as important for fetal development, heart function, vision, and boosting the immune system. This amino acid is so important to cats that commercial cat food manufacturers add it to their products to increase the amount.
That’s not all; cat food also has the right amount of vitamin A because our feline friends need a lot of it. Dogs get this from beta-carotene so dog food doesn’t have enough of it. If your cat were to depend on your doggie’s food for survival, she would greatly miss out on this important amino acid. The bottom line is, your cat can taste dog food from time to time but that’s it.
Can You Mix Cat Food and Dog Food?
From the information above, it is clear that mixing cat food and dog food is a terrible idea. Both pets have different needs as far as nutrition is concerned. By mixing their food, you are creating a perfect environment for nutritional imbalances. The cat will not have all the protein she needs while the dog will have less of all his essential nutrients. Since cat food is high in calories, you may be putting your dog at risk for obesity by adding cat food in his bowl day in day out.
Additional Dangers of Mixing Pet Food
Besides compromising the nutrition of your pet, mixing their food can directly pose a danger to them as well. While not all cat food is dangerous to your dog, some varieties can harm him terribly. See, over time cats have become resistant to high Vitamin D levels in food. They can process things like marine-based foods without any problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, your doggie can get very ill if they feed on a diet with high levels of vitamin D. Some can die.
Additionally, cat food has more fat content than dog food. Most canines just cannot handle a lot of fat in their gut. Some should not eat fatty foods at all because they have fat intolerance. Lastly, the high protein in cat food can be too much for the canine system. While most dog foods are harmless to cats, there are cases where the food has certain ingredients that can pose a danger to the cat’s system. These include things like propylene glycol which is common in moist dog foods.
It is clear that mixing cat food and dog food is not the best move as a pet parent. Not only does it make it hard for the dog and cat to get sufficient nutrition but it can put the pets in danger. Sure, you can let the cat and dog taste each other’s food but keep the foods separate for their safety.