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Sep 25 2017

Cats are not Small Dogs

Here is the weekly note written by D. Frantz…

Cats are not small dogs. Horses are not large goats. Dogs are not all created equally. I am not a monkey…well, I’m not monkeying around!
I have a pretty good grasp on my animal species, probably because of my Christian Worldview. I believe God is super-creative and I stand in awe of His creation. I think the giraffe is a hoot! And the platypus was created just to make me smile. And those stripes on the zebra are unbelievably awesome. Every unique aspect of God’s creatures just amaze me.

When you tell someone you’re studying to become a veterinarian you hear, “Oh my goodness…you have to learn all those different animals!”. To which I answer, “YES! Don’t you feel sorry for me???”.
But, then you graduate and enter your veterinary practice and “Mrs. Well-Meaning” tells you she gives her dog that scrumptious smelling cat food because he likes it better. And “Mr. That’ll-Fix-it” puts his dog’s flea & tick collar on his cat. Don’t even get me started on any more examples!

Cats are NOT small dogs and dogs are NOT big cats! Sure, they seem to have a lot in common: 4 legs, fur, eyes, ears, mouth, etc.. But, they are way different in many more ways. Let’s consider some of the obvious differences.
Would you rather be bitten by a cat or a dog? I pick the dog because a cat’s mouth is vicious! Every one of their 30 permanent teeth are meant to cut “meat”! Dogs have 42 permanent teeth and although primarily a carnivore, like a cat, some of their teeth have milder, flatter, grinding surfaces.
How about their nails: would you rather be scratched by a dog or a cat? Again, I pick the dog. Cats feet are AMAZING: they can retract that claw, keep it tucked away nice & sharp and then use it on short notice! The dog’s nails are exposed to be worn down with exercise. Cats tip-toe into the room unnoticed. Dogs tap-dance onto the wood floor fully announced.

But, let’s talk about the really important stuff. Cats and dogs differ biochemically and metabolically. Cats don’t rely on panting to cool themselves like dogs do. Cats require more protein than dogs do. Cats can’t handle medication that is prescribed for dogs. Cats can’t thrive on dog food alone.
When talking about medications, a dog is more tolerant of medicines, many of which we borrow from human medicine. But, cats only have a small amount of the liver enzyme Glucuronyl Transferase, which is required to break down medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen). Because they can’t break it down, it stays in their system far too long and becomes toxic. A dog can handle a low dose of acetaminophen, but even the tiniest amount can kill a cat.
One of the most common poisonings of cats is from accidental applications of dog flea & tick products. Most spot-on products and collars are labeled for “use in dogs only.” Many of these permethrin products are readily available in variety stores or grocery stores where the staff is not equipped to answer your questions or provide assistance when your cat becomes sick. Buyer beware.

And what about their food? Cats can’t tolerate “fasting” the way dogs do and also require almost twice the protein in their diet, specifically from meat. Have you noticed that cat food is much more expensive? That is because it has more meat and fat. Some dog foods offer high levels of protein, but most can’t reach the level that cats require. Your dog may “go off its food” for a day, and we don’t panic (unless it’s a teacup puppy). However, cats don’t have the ability to convert stores of fat into energy and require quick attention to prevent Hepatic Lipidosis.
Cat food contains taurine, an amino acid that is important in the functioning of the heart. Dog foods do not necessarily contain taurine because they can make their own.
Cats shouldn’t eat dog food.

Dogs can make Vitamin A from beta carotene using enzymes in their intestines. Cats can’t make Vitamin A. Dog foods may contain some amounts of Vitamin A but rarely the amounts that a cat requires. Cats shouldn’t eat dog food. A similar story exists for Arachidonic Acid, Thiamine, and Arginine, an important amino acid.
Dogs love cat food! It smells good, it tastes good, and it will often train your dog turn up it’s nose to boring dog food in hopes of a better deal. However, cat food is higher in protein and calories which sets your dog up for obesity and pancreatitis. Kitten food is even higher in protein and fat and can cause serious problems for dogs.
Dogs shouldn’t eat cat food.

Cat and dogs are amazing creatures with distinctive characteristics that should be celebrated. Help us keep your pets healthy by only using foods and medications that are labeled for your dog or cat. If you are unsure about a food or medication, please call us, and we’ll help decipher the label. When in doubt, just don’t do it.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if there is anything we can help you with.

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