Different Species Have Different Needs

Question:

I read in your column, three weeks ago, about the reverse opinion about feeding cats dry food. Would this advice, also, apply to dogs? Do pet owners just feed canned food? Would a really lean piece of meat without the spices and gravy suffice for a healthy diet?

Dr. Nichol:

If we treat our dogs like big cats with long ears we’ll get into a lot of trouble. Both species are fuzzy and walk on four legs but that’s where the similarities end. They function in different and mysterious ways.

 

Cats are obligate carnivores. They are supposed to eat prey only (all parts). They are not built to digest sugars, starches, and other forms of carbohydrates. Dogs, on the other hand, enjoy a filet as much as anyone but they’ll dig into the salad bar and have a baked potato too. Dogs are a lot like us. We can manage carbohydrates because our livers have the ability to break them down and store them. Cats, on the other hand, end up converting carbs to fat.

 

So why not feed your dog a diet of lean meat only? Meat provides only some of the necessary nutrients. Wild predators eat every bit of the prey they catch-it’s the only way for them to have a complete diet. But dogs and cats have different needs. A dog who eats the high protein in cat food is at risk of kidney failure and calcium deficiency. It would be unhealthy. Cats and dogs have no business even reading the same menu.

 

Here’s your bottom line: To prevent obesity as well as to lower the risk of feline diabetes, feed your cat a diet high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates. Canned kitten food is best for most cats of any age. Dogs do best on high quality hard dry dog food. They will live long and prosper on something excellent like Science Diet. Now go back to your pork chop and, please, keep it on your own plate.