The difference between cat food and dog food

The difference between cat and dog food

The difference between cat food and dog food

The difference between cat and dog food

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Is there really a difference between cat food and dog food? The simple answer is yes. Dogs are omnivores whereas cats are carnivores. These four-legged friends therefore have different nutritional needs. Additionally, cats and dogs are structurally built differently and their bodies do not metabolize food in the same way. 

The difference in food formulation for cats and dogs

Did you know that a cat has a shorter digestive tract, which entails that nutrients have a smaller area over which to absorb? Moreover, cats require an amino acid called Taurine as well as large amounts of Vitamin A in their diet. With dogs, however, their bodies naturally produce Taurine, and beta-carotene found in dog food is converted into Vitamin A. Of noticeable difference between cat and dog food is the protein content. As carnivores, cats have a higher protein need than dogs. Specially formulated food for cats would therefore contain the added vitamins and minerals to accommodate their nutritional needs. 

What will happen if my dog eats cat food, and the other way around?

Considering veterinary emergencies, if your dog devours your cat’s supper on a single occasion, then this is not considered an emergency and your pooch should be just fine. Long term however, it is not advisable for dogs to be fed a cat-based diet. The main reason for this is that cat food has a higher fat content due to the difference in caloric needs. Dogs that eat a fatty diet are at risk for obesity and gastrointestinal upsets. Additionally, a fatty diet may cause pancreatitis which is a serious condition that may be fatal. In essence, pet owners should keep cat food away from dogs, no matter how much exercise they get!

On the other hand, cats eating dog food are at high risk for nutritional deficiencies. This is especially true when fed as a staple diet. 


Reputable food brands such a Royal Canin have a range of veterinary diets to account for the difference in nutritional needs for cats and dogs, breeds and ages. Feeding your furkid the correct diet means providing them with the right amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals their bodies need.

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