If you have both a cat and a dog you might wonder if it is OK to give your dog cat food sometimes. It could also be the case that they’ve helped themselves to some, either confusing it for their own, or they’re just greedy.
You may think that there’s not much difference between manufactured cat food and dog food, that they’re probably made in the same factory, and of the same ingredients. Perhaps they even simply change the labels on the bags and the shape of the bits, but essentially it’s the same thing.
This isn’t true, and companies have actually formulated the two different types of pet food according to each animal. Your dog should not only always eat dog food, but it should also eat the same type and brand every day, and at every meal.
Can I Give My Dog Cat Food? Answer: Not Recommended
As a common rule it’s not a good idea to give your dog cat food, at least not as an ongoing source of nutrition, or a substitute for properly formulated dog food.
Dogs and cats may seem similar, seeing how they’re both four legged and furry, but the two species don’t share much in common as far as digestion goes.
Differences Between Dogs and Cats
Since they’ve both evolved in different directions, they have come to expect and now require certain vitamins and minerals, as well as a specific mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables. It is in their DNA!
House cats are meat eaters, just like their big cat counterparts out on the African wilderness. Since they can’t necessarily run around chasing down mini Antelope, today’s cat food companies load them up with a sufficient amount of protein they need. This is often far too much protein than what is required by a dog, and it also contains too much fat.
Dogs are not omnivores but they also aren’t as carnivorous as cats. It is true that while they usually eat anything and everything that’s presented to them, their natural calling is primarily meat. They do require protein, but probably not as much as what is contained in cat food.
If a dog were left alone in the wild, they would seek to consume some meat just like a cat. They may, however, supplement that protein by eating whatever else they could find in the wild as well. While it may seem like cat food can work for them, dogs need a smartly formulated food regiment tailored to their evolutionary makeup. To put it simply, cat food is for a cat.
If you compare a dog’s body structure to a cat’s it’s easy to see that a cat is more of a predator, with it’s very sharp claws and pointy teeth. A dog’s paws are nothing to fear, and while their teeth are sharp they’re not always on attack mode the way a cat seems always ready to pounce if they need to.
Appreciating the difference between cats and dogs, and realizing that there’s millions of years of evolutionary variation going on, provides for greater knowledge about your pet and their specific needs.
What Dogs Need, Not Cat Food!
We’ve established that dogs do need a good amount of protein, just not at the levels that cats do. Still, the dog food you select should list a meat source as the most plentiful ingredient, therefore first on the list. What some companies will do, and what you’ll probably notice on the cheaper varieties, is put lots of fillers and other ingredients in the product.
So skip any brand that lists things like corn and other grains as what’s mostly in their dog food. While these are not detrimental to your dog, and in fact should be in there, they should not be the mainstay to your dog’s diet, but a compliment, a side dish if you will. Try to avoid dog foods, or cat foods for that matter, which contain too much filler.
Cat Food when you’re in a Pinch
If you’ve run out of dog food and they’re looking at you with their hungry puppy dog eyes you can give them some cat food to hold them over while you run to the store. But don’t make it a habit, and definitely don’t rely on cat food as a regular diet for your dog. Even if you find a deal at the store on cat food and think about doing it for economic reasons, please don’t.
Cat food served once or accidentally consumed by your dog won’t kill them, but should not be seen as a preferred food source, or become a regular occurrence.