One of the most frequently asked questions about domestic feeding of domestic animals, especially those who have both a dog and a cat, is asking themselves whether the feeding of the cat and the dog can be exchanged, so if a home food formulated for the needs of the cat is also valid for those of the dog.
The answer is no, the two powers can not be exchanged mainly for the fact that the dog and the cat are different animals. It is necessary a form of homemade feeding of the dog formulated specifically by a veterinarian who, like me, takes care of feeding pet animals, a specific diet for the dog and not for the cat, even if some ingredients (such as the meat) can be the same.
So let’s see what are the main differences between a dog and a cat from this point of view, and what are the most common mistakes of the owners in this sense.
The food differences between dog and cat
The differences between these two animal species are first of all from a nutritional point of view: the amount of protein that a cat needs is higher than what a dog needs, and this is a fundamental difference: the cat would have shortcomings eating a dog food, while a dog may have excesses (it is true that excess protein does not hurt the healthy dog, but if it is suffering from some diseases can become a problem).
Beyond proteins, in cats there are nutritional needs additional to dogs, and these needs for dogs could mean excesses, which in some cases are not harmful, in others instead (think of the excess of various mineral salts) .
Even the needs in terms of essential fatty acids are different from the dog to the cat, and specifically the minimum amount of fat needed for the cat is different from that for the dog.
And then there is the problem of doses: the energy needs of a dog and a cat are different, so for the same weight and activity (take as an example a very small dog, which weighs about as much as a cat) the dog needs more energy than the cat, so it could happen that a perfect diet for the cat does not cover the energy needs of a dog of the same weight, causing fattening. If a dog has a weight higher than that of the cat, then, it is not even enough to double the dose, because if the dose doubles the energy required for maintenance (MER, or Manteinance Energy Requirements) does not double, but has a different value.
If we add to this the fact that, for each of the two animals, the housewife formulation takes into account the sex, age, reproductive status (castration, sterilization, pregnancy, lactation) of the cat and any pathologies that it suffers appears Clearly, as a whole, the risk of making mistakes by providing the dog with a diet designed for the cat increases considerably.
In short, if it is already wrong to provide different diets to the same cat we can understand that providing the cat’s diet to the dog can lead to much more serious problems.
The most common mistakes of the owners regarding the feeding
Although today the food culture in dogs and cats is greatly improving, for a long time the owners (especially those of a certain age) have considered the cat a “little dog”, without taking into account the differences between the two animals.
This led to the emergence of a series of errors, which I am going to list (they are based mainly on my experience and on that reported by the various colleagues).
Feeding the animals with the leftovers of the table: yes, there is still someone who does it, who thinks that dogs and cats are trash bins and that they can eat anything. It is not true for pigs (who have a diet more similar to our dogs and cats …), let alone for our carnivorous animals. It ‘wrong to feed both animal species with the leftovers of the table, and unfortunately someone still does not understand …
Feeding stray dogs with the wrong food: stray dogs, but also cats, are sometimes fed with food for the other animal species. This is wrong considering that a stray is often not a healthy animal, and a wrong diet is likely to make the situation worse, to bring the animal to death due to external factors (such as cold, in winter). If you need to feed a stray, better buy a special food for the dog or for the cat: it is better a complete food of low quality than a home diet, but wrong.
Consider the cat a small dog: it happens to people who have always had the dog, and they find themselves living with a cat trying to treat it like a dog. The two animals are notably different from the alimentary point of view, and this is particularly true in the case of home-made food, which must be well formulated for the animal that one has.
Considering the dog a big cat: many think that, with the fact that the cat has higher protein requirements than the dog, then just give a little ‘less food for cats to the dog to meet his needs. The considerations are the same as in the previous paragraph.
Choose a random industrial food: the most common mistake, also thanks to some colleagues who say “switch to a renal, senior, hepatic, sensitive … food” without giving information on which food to choose. Even if you give the dog food to dogs and cat food to cats, not everyone is good for everyone, and you have to choose consciously. But the practice of showing the veterinarian the composition of the food that you choose to know if it is good for our dog or our cat is still widespread.