Updated: August 10, 2022 by Kristen Chapple
Cats and dogs are the most popular pets we humans choose to keep and even if some divide people into cat persons and dog persons, many have both in their homes. If this is the case you might have had the problem that you ran out of cat food but still had plenty of dog food around so the question comes to mind: can cats eat dog food? Let us find out all about this complex problem.
What Dog Food Contains
Dogs can get their nutrients from plants and animal-based sources but cats cannot do this. Dog food contains around 8% less proteins than the cat products and since some of this can be in the form of vegetables it won’t help sustain your cat. The occasional dog food won’t do them too much harm but it should in no case become their main dish.
Essential Amino Acids Needed By Cats
There are around 23 types of amino acids in meat products and eleven of them are really crucial to the cat’s survival since they cannot be synthesized by their organism. An important one is taurine which dogs can create themselves but a cat needs to take from meat. Many of the vital organs require this amino acid and without it your cat will get sick (hair loss, blindness, heart problems, and tooth decay are common symptoms).
Dogs don’t require arachidonic fatty acid in their food but it is one of the things that keeps a cat’s kidneys and coat in good health so it is quite important for them. Other elements lacking in dog food are the vitamins that dogs require in less quantity such as vitamin B, niacin, thiamin, and folic acid.
The balance of nutritional elements in dog food is designed specifically with one animal in mind and giving it to a cat can lead to very serious problems if you continue this diet for a longer period. Aside from the already mentioned taurine deficiency, there may be gastrointestinal upset and an overall feeling of weakness. If you notice any of these symptoms you should revert back to normal food and see a veterinarian to administer your pet the needed treatment to recover.
One thing that you might ask yourself now is the opposite question: Is cat food good for dogs or does it have the same problems that we just discussed? The caloric density and high amount of proteins in cat food will probably make your dog obese if they continue to eat it for a long time and since they aren’t used to eat so much meat some digestive issues might also occur such as diarrhea, vomiting or even pancreatitis.
It won’t hurt them if it is just an occasional meal but the dog food lacks many elements that are essential to cats.