Difference between Cat Food and Dog Food

By: | Updated: Dec-14, 2017

Pets are like members of the family. Part of nurturing our pets is making sure that they get proper nutrition. Cats and dogs both need our special attention and we have to make sure that they eat the right kinds of food. But there are also certain distinctions in the dietary needs of cats and dogs. This article will discuss specific information about cat food and dog food and also help you understand their differences.

Summary Table

Cat Food Dog Food
Carnivores – needs meat as main food sourceOmnivores – varied diet, need fiber apart from protein
Has a high protein contentContains protein but usually not as much as cat food
Must contain, vitamin A, taurine, arginine, and arachidonic acid (fatty acid) since cats’ bodies cannot synthesize these nutrients on their ownDogs can make do with just beta carotene (their bodies can convert this to vitamin A) in their food


eating cat
Cat food

Cat food is the type of food or sustenance cats need in order to survive and remain healthy. Cats are carnivores and meat or animal flesh is typically a part of their high protein diet. A cat’s natural diet does not normally include plants and vegetables, although some cats eat these occasionally. They enjoy hunting and eating freshly caught rodents, rabbits, and birds for high energy meats. But cats also readily eat anything that is presented to them such as cooked food or dry and wet prepared cat food.

Cats need food with the specific dietary nutrients such as vitamin A, the amino acid taurine, arginine, and arachidonic acid (fatty acid). These are needed by cats to survive; however, their bodies cannot manufacture these nutrients. They need to eat prey that naturally has these and they can thus “borrow” the nutrients. Some commercially produced cat food is formulated with the nutritional needs of cats in mind. Cats need vitamin A since they have a limited ability to convert plant pigment or beta carotene to vitamin A. This vitamin is essential to maintain the cats’ healthy skin as well as their night vision. Cats also need the right dose of taurine and arginine (present in animal meat) to prevent retinal degeneration. Lack of these amino acids can lead to vision loss and cardiac arrest. Arachidonic acid is one of the fatty acids that contribute to reproductive health, a strong immune system, and a healthy liver.

There are certain types of food that may be harmful to cats such as onions and chives, uncooked eggs, and bones. Onions and chives can damage their red blood cells and cause anemia. Though cats need protein, it is not wise to give them uncooked eggs. Cats might get salmonella and other parasites that are harmful to their system. And finally, bones are hard on the cats’ teeth and may give them splinters or even cause choking.

eating puppy
Dog food

Dog food refers to the type of food that dogs need to fulfill their daily dietary requirements. Dogs are primarily carnivores. Over the years, however, their species have learned to adapt to the intake of varied types of food. They then evolved to become omnivores. Dog food now includes prepared food, human leftovers, and certain types of vegetation. Dog owners usually provide their pets with a variety of meals which include raw food, store-bought dog food, or their own dog food concoctions.

Dogs have the ability to convert the food they eat into the vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids that they need to survive. Although, apart from their regular diet, dogs can also be given vitamin supplements to help keep them healthy.

There are certain types of food that are toxic to dogs. These are chocolate, garlic, onion, and milk. Certain types of spices like nutmeg, nuts like macadamias, grapes, and raisins should also be avoided. These kinds of food can cause poisoning or diarrhea among dogs.

Cat Food vs Dog Food

What is the difference between cat food and dog food? Cats are carnivores and require a high protein content in their food. They need meat as their main food source. Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores. Dog food must also be higher in fiber than just pure meat. Cat food must contain vitamin A, taurine, arginine, and arachidonic acid since their bodies cannot synthesize these. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to vision loss, cardiac arrest, poor skin health, and liver disease among cats. Conversely, dogs can make do with beta carotene which is naturally found in plants since their bodies can convert this to vitamin A. They can also make their own amino acids and fatty acids from the food that they consume.

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