There may be a misconception among many people, who tend to classify food into two sub-categories, labelled ‘for us’ and ‘for animals’. They would probably not hesitate to feed dog food to cats and vice versa. However, as vets around the world have often pointed out feeding dog food to cats might actually be harmful due to their distinct nutrition needs.
Here are a few reasons why cat food and dog food should never be used interchangeably.
1. Cats require a healthy dosage of Vitamin A. On the other hand, dogs have the ability to convert beta carotene into Vitamin A. Thus, commercial dog food never carries the amount of Vitamin A that would be needed for nourishing a cat optimally. Hence, feeding your cat commercial dog food on a regular basis might give rise to vitamin deficiency.
2. Cat food usually contains high levels of vitamins and proteins that dogs are capable of producing themselves. Thus, if a dog feasts on cat food more than necessary, it is more than likely to develop severe obesity and other gastrointestinal ailments. The problems become even more pronounced if the dog in question is fed kitten food that carries even higher levels if protein and vitamin.
3. Dogs are capable of producing arachidonic acid and amino acid which is essential for the sustenance of both cats and dogs. However, cats need to be fed supplements since their bodies are not capable of producing these acids. Eating dog food over a regular period of time might lead to the deficiency of these nutrients in your cat which is detrimental to its overall health. In fact, amino acid deficiency in cats might lead to a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
In light of the above discussion, it is easy to understand why vets don’t recommend feeding dog food to cats and vice versa. Having said that, we know that cases where dogs turn up their noses at dog food and gobble down cat food with gusto (as well as the converse) are not unheard of. So how much harm does the occasional swapping of dog and cat food cause? Perhaps, not astronomical. We may compare this phenomenon to humans splurging on fast food. While an occasional bite of fries and burger might not hurt you terribly, having the same for dinner every day will.
The case is just the same when it comes to cats and dogs. Occasionally treating your dog to a feline snack might not be that big a deal, but in the long run, it will prove detrimental to the pet’s health.