Ask the Vet: Cats and Dogs, Eating Together

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Q:I have a cat and I have a dog. Each samples the other’s food, even when I try to discourage it. Can this be harmful to them? I buy quality dog and cat food.
——Olga Peters

P.S. My dog is 16 years old and my cat is 7 years old and always hungry. My dog eats a little here and a little there. Neither is overweight.

A: Occasional snacking is typically not harmful to your pet. I am sure both of these kids have sampled from your dinner plate as well! Dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores and they therefore have distinct dietary needs that are unique to each species. It is not appropriate to feed dog food to cats or cat food to dogs as their primary source of food. A nibble here or there doesn’t count. Dogs generally find cat food more palatable as it often has a higher content of protein and fat, especially the canned variety. Cats are probably just curious and will eat out of the dog bowl to just show everyone that they make all the rules and can do what they please.

Now having said that, there are some pets that get super upset stomachs and diarrhea if they eat anything that varies from their normal diet. Doesn’t sound like your kids fall into this category, however.

One last comment: I am concerned about your kitty seeming extra hungry. It is possible that she is not consuming enough calories, but certain diseases like diabetes can cause a ravenous appetite. I think a vet visit may be prudent and strongly advised if she is drinking more water and appears to be losing weight.

Robin Brennen, DVM
Chief of Veterinary Services and Vice President of Program Operations, Bideawee

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Email it to pets@manhattanmedia.com.

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