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If you have a cat and a dog indoors, then you have probably caught them stealing each other’s food once in a while. For both animals, a little snack from the other’s food bowl is not a big deal. However, a cat that only eats dog food or a dog that really enjoys cat food can lead to health and feeding problems. So, before you overlook your pooch eating from the cat’s bowl, there are a few things to consider. If the habit has already started, then you need to work on ways to stop it.
It is important that you realize that cats and dogs have certain (i.e. different) nutritional requirements. If that was not the case, then you could probably find general “pet” food at grocery stores and pet stores. Cats require taurine in their diet, but they cannot produce taurine on their own. A lack of taurine can cause severe eye problems for cats, eventually leading to blindness. Tooth decay and hair loss are also side effects of insufficient taurine. In the wild, a cat will acquire taurine by eating another animal. Cat food (dry and wet) approved by the Association of American Feed Control must contain taurine. Dogs, on the other hand, can make taurine on their own; they do not need additional taurine in their diets. So, most dog food does not contain taurine. If you feed a cat strictly dog food, then irreversible health problems can and will arise.
Cats also require more protein in their diets than dogs require, and their food often has higher caloric and fat content. For a dog that eats cat food, he is consuming more calories than he should. Yes, the food may be tasty, but it can cause weight issues. Many dogs also experience digestive problems from eating cat food; although, they are usually not serious problems.
Aside from the nutritional differences between the two, you need to watch out for your pet to become a picky eater. If the dog gets to eat tasty cat food, then he may refuse to eat his own food. It is okay to let a dog or cat steal a snack from the other on occasion, but a dog should not be fed a cat diet and vice versa.
If your pets have already developed a food sharing habit, then you need to stop the habit as soon as possible. Perhaps your cat likes the dog food, because you feed him wet food. Try to give your kitty wet food every once in awhile, and see if she likes it. If you feed your dog dry food, then find a bag of food that contains larger chunks. It will be easy for your dog to break up the chunks, but a cat will have a hard time doing so. Now, if your pooch is stealing cat food, you’ll need to place the food out of the reach of the dog. It’s easy for your cat to reach food that is out of the dog’s grasp. If your dog only likes the wet cat food, then try giving him wet dog food. You can even buy packs of gravy (for cats and dogs) that can be poured over their normal dry food.
If you can’t keep the two away from each other’s food, then you are going to have to restructure your feeding schedule. The easiest thing to do is to feed both animals at the same time. You may even want to feed them in different areas of your home, keeping them away from each other while they eat. Once the pets have had their fill of food, then remove the food until the next meal. If you leave your pets’ food out all day, then you will have to come up with a way to keep the food out of the other’s reach. To keep the dog away, you can use a pet gate or set the food up high. To keep a cat away, you may have to find a deterrent to place around the food. Remember, there are many materials that cats can’t stand to walk across!
Interchanging your pets’ food as a snack is okay here and there. However, nutritional requirements of cats and dogs are different. Cats should never be on a dog food diet, and dogs should not eat loads of cat food. If the habit has already started, then you need to work on ways to stop it.