Have you ever wondered what the difference is between dog and cat food? Why can’t I give my cat dog food and vice versa? Most dog and cat owners think that dog and cat foods are the same. They are not the same and for good reason.

Here are the main differences.

Omnivore or Carnivore?A dog is an omnivore which is an animal that eats food of both plant and animal origin. Dogs have sharp, pointy teeth, and have short gastrointestinal tracts better suited for the consumption of meat like all other carnivores. A raw food diet is acceptable for dogs or some dog owners prefer to prepare food for their pet dogs by buying the ingredients from the healthy food stores.A cat is a carnivore which is an animal that feeds on flesh. The cat cannot sustain its life unless it consumes meat in some form.Key DifferenceThe key difference between dog food and cat food is that dog food contains more Vitamin A as compared to cat food. Read more about Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene below.

Vitamin A / Beta-CaroteneThe essential component of cat food is vitamin A. Dogs can convert beta carotene into vitamin A. Beta-carotene, a precursor to the vitamin, is visible as the red-orange pigment abundant in certain plants and fruits. Canines and people can eat a carrot and receive a good daily dose of vitamin A. Cats must consume the vitamin from meat sources. This means they are “meat based” and also more nutritious and good balanced, with a higher quality of proteins than “meat meal” and including a package of “vitamins and minerals” that has been designed to be more thoroughly absorbed by your pet’s body.

Dog food contains more Vitamin A as compared to cat food. A dog’s body converts beta-carotene to Vitamin A.

Cat food contains less Vitamin A as compared to dog food. Cats do not have this ability, and so pre-formed Vitamin A should be included in the diet.

Amino Acids“Amino acids (AA) are building blocks for proteins and must be present in cells for synthesis of polypeptides. The carbon skeletons of eleven of these AA (namely cysteine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine) are not synthesized from non-AA molecules in cells of any animals. Therefore, they are classified as nutritionally essential AA (EAA) and must be included in diets to maintain physiological functions of cells, tissues, and the whole body”, reported by the National Institutes of Health.

Dogs have 11 essential amino acids.

Cats have 12 essential amino acids.

Arachidonic acidArachidonic acid (AA), a component of the membrane and reserve lipids, is an essential fatty acid for humans and animals. Since little or no arachidonic acid is found in common plants, such animals are obligate carnivores. The cat is a common example having the inability to desaturate essential fatty acids.

Dog food does not contain Arachidonic acid.

Cat food contains Arachidonic acid.

ProteinPet MD says that “protein has several roles in the body, such as building and repairing muscles and other body tissues. It is needed to form new skin cells, grow hair, build muscle tissue, and more. It also assists in creating body chemicals like hormones and enzymes that are needed for normal function”.

Dog foods are lower in proteins and fats as compared to cat food.Cat foods are higher in proteins and fats as compared to dog food.

Toxic FoodsA normal human food is toxic to dogs. They are very dangerous for dog’s health, which includes grapes, chocolates, onion, tomato, raisins, etc.Some human foods can be poisonous for your cat which include alcohol, caffeine, chives, chocolate, garlic, grapes, onions, raisins, xylitol and yeast dough.

If you are confused by the multitude of food choices on the market for your cat or dog, consult with your local Veterinarian and they will help you make the perfect selection for your loved pet.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.