Let’s start off by saying your dog is an omnivore and your cat is an obligate carnivore (true carnivore). What does this mean? An omnivore obtains nutrients from a combination of meats and plants. An obligate carnivore requires certain nutrients that are only found in animal tissue.
Regarding our omnivore friend, the dog: dogs’ tooth structure and intestinal structure have adapted to that of a diet able to meet nutritional needs by eating a combination of plants and animal foods. A dog’s diet would be unbalanced if it only ate meat. The six primary nutrients are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.
Dogs can get the required energy from carbohydrates as well as proteins and fat (these are their primary energy source). Complex carbohydrates are more digestible when they are cooked.
Our carnivore companions, the cat, must have animal tissue in their diet as they are unable to use certain nutrients that are found in plant tissue. Cats also require high levels of dietary protein, which is their primary source of daily calories.
Another important evolutionary factor is that cats are of desert origin meaning they can conserve water more efficiently than other mammals. Cats can be “finicky” eaters meaning texture, odour, temperature, and flavour is strong influences. They can develop a preference for specific texture.
Both adult dogs and cats should have their diet measured out to ensure a safe and healthy balance every day. Our pet’s food is measured in minimum and maximums which can become very confusing to understand the labels. For instance, with fresh meat, which contains a lot of water, most of this is lost in processing. If a food’s ingredients list mentions corn first this could mean that this dry diet is nutritionally superior to a dry diet that lists meat first.
If you have any questions regarding pet food, your best bet is to contact your local veterinary clinic. At North Town Veterinary Hospital we offer a complimentary Nutritional Consult with one of our knowledgeable team members. Please call NTVH at any time to schedule an appointment.
Written by Aimee Gillis, CSR