Is it dangerous for my five-year-old poodle/Shih Tzu, Babou, to eat cat food? I am babysitting my daughter’s 16-year-old cat, Cinnamon, for the summer, and he is eating her food. I finally put the cat food high up where Babou can’t reach it, but wondered.
– Jeanine Szajna, Bayport, New York
Dog and cat food look similar, but the kibble itself has very different ingredients to accommodate the distinctive dietary needs of dogs and cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they are meat eaters out of necessity. Their food is super high in protein and fat, which is probably why dogs love it so much. It also contains taurine and arginine, two amino acids cats need and can only get from meat.
Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat meats, grains and plant-based foods, so eating a super high-protein, high-fat “cat food diet” is not only bad for their digestion, but eventually can lead to pancreatitis. Don’t let Babou eat Cinnamon’s food. I am glad you moved it out of his reach.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal