Some owners have both cats and dogs and they will sometimes make a mistake and feed the cat dog food and vice versa. The owner may immediately become upset as kitty is munching away on the doggy chow because he or she will wonder if it is dangerous for cats to eat dog food. The answer depends on how frequently this occurs and how much of the dog food the cat has ingested.
A cat has different nutritional requirements than a dog, including the need for more protein and an amino acid called taurine. Dogs manufacture taurine within their systems, so they do not need it in their food. If a cat consumes food that is taurine-deficient, it can develop serious health problems, such as heart disease.
While dogs get their vitamin A from beta-carotene, cats can not, so they need a source of vitamin A. A cat can not manufacture a necessary fatty acid called arachidonic acid, so it needs that for its diet. Dogs do not require this nutrient in order to survive, so dog food does not contain it. Felines who make a regular practice of eating this food will develop nutritional deficiencies because they are not getting the elements that they need.
If the cat accidently eats a small amount of dog food, there is no need to panic because the animal will not be in immediate harm. If the feline gets an upset stomach each time it munches on the dog food, the owner should take steps to keep the cat out of it. Cats have much more stringent dietary requirements than dogs, so they should never be deprived of enjoying their own food.
If the dog enjoys eating cat food and the cat likes eating dog food, try feeding the animals in separate rooms. This will prevent each from trying to get at the other's food and get them back to eating their intended morsels. It is also important to keep kitty away from the human food because some of it can be harmful to the animal. Chocolate, grapes, fat trimmings, mushrooms, and dairy products are just a few items that should never be fed to cats.
Whatever it is dangerous for cats to eat dog food depends on how much of the food is ingested. If it just happens a few times and in only small amounts, the cat should be fine. If it is an ongoing occurrence, it can deprive the feline of required nutrients and even cause it to develop serious health problems, including heart disease.