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Dietary - Eating Habits of Cats and Dogs


                                                   Pets and Eating Non-Pet Foods

Every pet owner knows that pets have a tendency to eat many things that are not placed in their food bowl but not every pet owner understands why pets eat these alternative meals.

  • Grass

Cats and dogs can both be seen eating grass.  The main reason they do this is because they want to gain nutrients from the plants or because their stomachs are upset.  The indigestible grass fiber can actually help stimulate vomiting helping the pet get rid of whatever substance is making it sick.  Some pets also eat grass simply out of boredom. 

Eating grass for nutritional purposes is actually a good thing for pets.  In fact, before becoming domesticated, cats and dogs ate prey in the wild.  The prey was often a plant-eating animal  therefore, the dogs and cats received nutrients from the partially digested plants inside the stomachs of their prey.  Of course, domesticated cats and dogs rarely, if ever, eat other animals.  Therefore, eating grass helps your pet get the nutrients it no longer receives.

  • Dogs that Eat Cat Food

Every pet owner that owns both a dog and a cat has experienced the frustration of keeping the dog away from the cat’s food.  While cat food isn’t necessarily bad for your dog, it isn’t good for your dog either.  As a general rule, cat food has more protein and fat than a dog requires.  Dogs that have too many calories in their meals can develop pancreatitis.  Therefore, it is never a good idea to let your dog eat the cat’s food rather than its own food.

  • Table Scraps

Pets love table scraps and many pet owners enjoy feeding them to their pets. If the scrap is truly a scrap, meaning it is something you wouldn’t want to eat, you should not give it to your pet  however, if the food is table food, it can be just as nourishing to your pet as it is to you.  Do not give your pet any foods containing sauces, seasonings and butter.  A sudden change in fat or calorie intake can actually kill your pet.  If you want to feed your pet table food, you should start off small and gradually increase the amount your pet eats. 

Pets can also eat vegetables but the amount of vegetables they eat at a time should be limited.  Pets are not able to quickly digest fibrous plants.  Therefore, it is best to puree vegetables before feeding them to a pet.  Small amounts of garlic, for example, a couple of slices off a clove for a 50 pound dog two or three times per week or a thin slice for a cat once or twice a week can actually help stimulate your pet’s immune system and help repel fleas but large amounts can be harmful.