Dogs and cats are popular furry companions in many homes. Some pet owners prefer canine loyalty while others opt for the independence of felines. But, some fur parents wanted twice the fun and got both. One of their greatest struggles is feeding both because each species requires a specific food. If this is your challenge too, you’ve surely asked “can I mix cat food with dog food” many times. So, let’s check out if cats and dogs can eat the same food.
Can I Combine Dog Food and Cat Food?
Mixing dog food and cat food can be detrimental to your pets. It’s best not to combine your dog’s kibbles and your cat’s meal to avoid its possible damage to their health. But why is it not advisable to feed your dog with cat food or your cat with dog food? The answer lies in the optimal nutritional requirements of each species.
Although cats and dogs are under the order Carnivora in taxonomy, their ideal dietary needs differ significantly. Cats can only survive on a diet mostly composed of meat. They are called obligate carnivores or hypercarnivores. The digestive enzymes in their stomachs lack the capabilities of breaking down plants to extract nutrients such as beta-carotene. Because of cats’ need for meat, cat food contains a high percentage of protein.
On the other hand, dogs can flourish with an omnivorous diet. This is why they can eat raw meat as well as enjoy fruits and vegetables like watermelons or carrots. They are also known as mesocarnivores, which means they only need about 50% meat to thrive. Their bodies can process the plants they eat and get nutrition out of them. So, dog food is formulated to have a mix of proteins, grains, and other plant matter to meet the dietary needs of dogs.
In simple terms, cat food is concentrated with meat or proteins because that is what cats need. While dog food is a blend of meat and plants since dogs can digest them. So what happens if you mix both to create food for cats and dogs? Cats will get fewer proteins than what is necessary, and dogs get more than what is ideal for them.
Why Do Dogs Like to Eat Cat Food and Vice Versa?
Dogs could not resist cat food not only because of its high protein content but also for its intense flavor and scent. Especially if the cat food is freely available anytime, your dog will most likely pick the more appealing cat food over his kibbles. A small amount of cat food wouldn’t hurt your dog.
However, feeding your dog cat food every meal will result in serious health issues caused by increased protein intake. Think of it as their version of junk food, you know it’s yummy but it’s not good for your health. And eating junk food every meal is a sure way to get sick. To make your dog’s meal more appetizing, you may ask, what can I mix with dry dog food? Well, you can choose among the different flavors of wet dog food instead.
Although dogs can somehow survive on a cat food diet, cats, on the other hand, can’t live on dog food. Cats, too, may also get curious about dog food flavors and get tempted to indulge. But if they eat dog food every meal, they will not get the nutrition they need for their muscles to work. As hypercarnivores, cats need at least 70% of meat in their diet to get enough protein and amino acids such as taurine.
Protein helps maintain muscle mass while taurine promotes healthy heart function, immune system, vision, and fetal development in cats. According to a study, an adult cat needs at least 35 to 56 mg of taurine every day. Most commercial dog food contains only half of this amount. So, offering dog food to your cats will eventually result in taurine deficiency causing serious health issues in the heart, eyes, and blood.
Some vitamins present in plants, like Vitamin A, are fortified in cat food so they get enough. So, cats eating only dog food will miss out on a lot of their nutritional needs. Cats may try the taste of dog food but it should never be their main source of nutrition.
Is Too Much Cat Food Bad For Dogs?
We’ve established that dogs eating cat food are comparable to humans eating junk food. So, yes, too much cat food is bad for dogs. If your dog ate too much cat food in one instance, he’ll likely experience gastrointestinal issues, such as gas. But if your dog regularly eats your cat’s meal, he may be at risk of developing critical health issues such as pancreatitis and obesity.
Additionally, the high protein content in cat food will eventually take a toll on your dog’s kidneys and liver. You may ask, is cat food bad for dogs’ kidneys? One study observed that there is an increase in kidney water filtration rate in dogs after they eat meat. The protein in meat increases the load on which kidneys work. So, if your dog regularly eats high-protein cat food, his kidneys will work double than usual causing damage in the long run.
Aside from protein, cat food also contains a high amount of fat. So, overconsumption of cat food also means getting more fat than your dog needs. Excess intake of fats in dogs and even other animals can lead to obesity. Obesity can pave the way to major health problems for your dog. This includes heart disease, diabetes, damage to joints and bones, and so much more.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Cat Food?
Now that we know the serious consequences of cat food to your dog, let’s tackle the ways how to steer your dog away from cat food. Here are our tips to prevent your dog from eating cat food and vice versa:
- Establish separate feeding areas for both species. It’s best to feed them in different rooms so you can close the doors and they’ll have zero access to each other’s food.
- Feed them at the same time. This will keep both of them busy so they won’t think of checking each other’s bowl of food.
- If you are free feeding your cat, keep the cat food in elevated areas. This would limit your dog’s access but still allow your cats to indulge in their food.
- If your cat has mobility issues, you can check out products online that offer dog-proof cat food bowls. These food bowls have a sturdy cover to prevent dogs from eating cat food.
It would have been convenient for fur parents to feed pets with universal cat and dog food. However, because of their varying nutritional needs, feeding them the same food is not a good idea. So, don’t mix cat food with dog food. After all, we all want our fur babies to be in their best health at all times.