What happens if my cat and dog eat each other’s food?
Neither one will be hurt if it is occasional and not more than a few bites. Keep in mind that dog and cat commercial foods have been specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of each species. These foods are manufactured to meet the different vitamin and mineral requirements for each species.
First, let’s address the cat eating the dog food. The ingredients, for the most part, may seem similar, but cats need more calories and animal protein than dogs, so dog food is significantly lacking. Dog food also lacks two essential amino acids for cats: taurine and arachidonic acid. Dogs are able to manufacture both in the bodies; cats cannot.
A deficiency in taurine can result in heart, eye, brain and immune problems, as well as fatal illnesses, for the cat.
Similarly, it is okay if a dog eats cat food once in a while, but they should never have it on a steady basis. Cat food is quite a bit higher in protein than dog food so, short term, the worst that will probably happen is that your dog will get a stomach ache.
It is important to not feed a dog cat food over a long period of time. Scientists have spent a lot of time studying what each animal needs in their diets and the foods are formulated to meet these requirements. The high levels of protein can worsen kidney problems in dogs with such problems if they are fed the cat food for a long period of time.
So how do you keep them apart? Cats are curious and sometimes can be a little sneaky. Dogs, on the other hand, will eat anything—and they often love cat food–and that can be pretty annoying to the cat who would like her own meal.
The solution is simple: Feed them separately or, at the very least, put the cat’s bowl up on the counter where the dog can’t reach it Also, train your dog by saying a firm “no” every time she goes near the cat’s bowl.