When both cats and dogs form part of your household, you may ask yourself if it would be harmful for them to eat from the other animal's bowl. There is a clear answer to this: dogs and cats need their own specific food. However, it's no cause for great concern if your canine companion occasionally has a nibble at the contents of your cat's bowl or vice versa.
Be aware though that 90% of illnesses that cats and dogs suffer from can be traced back to inappropriate food.
Are dogs carnivores or omnivores?
There is often general uncertainty with dogs as to whether they are carnivores, herbivores or omnivores. This disagreement about dogs' natural nutritional habits comes to the fore even in dog forums.
In this context, a commonly quoted argument is that the the type of food range reveals what group the dog belongs to, but this is only correct to a limited extent. The pet food industry does offer vegan and vegetarian dog food, but this definitely doesn't imply that these feeding methods are species-appropriate and meet the actual nutritional requirements of our canine companions. It's a similar situation with dog food with a disproportionately high amount of grain. Here too, some dog owners draw false conclusions from the selection on the market. In fact, a far too high amount of grain in dog food can lead to serious health problems for dogs.Wheat is often used to artificially eke out lower-quality dog foods, but it can lead to strong fermentation processes in the dog's digestive tract, which puts its entire organism under strain.
Just like our feline companions, dogs don't necessarily just eat what's beneficial to their health. For example, some dogs eat chocolate when they get the opportunity, which can be fatal for them after a certain amount. After all, theobromine contained in the cocoa beans can severely damage the nervous system of our beloved canine friends.
It's a similar story with cats. The zoologist and behavior analyst Paul Leyhausen wrote the following in 2005: “Whoever believes that they can leave a cat's diet to its instinct will face nasty surprises in some circumstances. Unlike rats that eat everything and have to learn quickly what they can and cannot tolerate faced with a wide selection of edible options, cats are so-called food specialists and often don't know what they're getting.” This observation appears to apply to dogs too.
But back to the original question of whether our beloved canine companions are carnivores or omnivores. If we take a look at the genetic origin of dogs, they are classed zoologically as predators.
So are dogs carnivores then? The clear answer is no.
Why are dogs omnivores?
Dogs are omnivores, since what applied to wolves, their ancestors, is no longer the case for dogs in the present day. Dogs have accompanied humans for thousands of years. Hence, their eating habits have always been based on what humans left behind for them or handed over. Of course, regional factors played a role too. If we are aware that meat was a luxury item for people at many times, we can easily comprehend that dogs were not fed meat all the time.
Over the course of the generations, dogs have thus developed from former carnivores to functional omnivores. Their present-day diet has to reflect this.
In contrast, cats are still carnivores. They have high requirements for animal protein and fats, as well as the amino acid taurine. As a result, their dietary needs differ significantly from those of dogs.