What Are the Differences Between Dog and Cat Food?

While the media has painted these two animals as foes since the dawn of time, cats and dogs can easily get along. In fact, there are many households worldwide that have both dogs and cats living together in harmony.

However, things can get complicated. If you have both a cat and dog at home, there’s a high chance that you feed them at the same time. After all, this makes things more convenient for you as a pet owner with two different animals in one home.

Alternatively, you could have a free feeding schedule for the cat and a scheduled feeding time for the dogs.

Either way, there’s a high chance you might have seen your dog try and eat cat food or vice versa. And you may also be wondering if this is a cause of concern.

To help you out, we’ve created this definitive guide to the differences between dog and cat food. That way, you can learn about the potential dangers of switching food and how to keep your dog out of the cat’s bowl.

Dog Food for Dogs, Cat Food for Cats

Generally, you want your dogs to eat dog food and your cats to eat cat food. The main reason for this is that these products were specifically designed for these types of pets. So, dog food should contain all the nutrients your dog needs, and cat food should contain all the nutrients your cat needs.

While this is great, it becomes complicated when you have both a cat and a dog at home. Since these are different animals, their bodies act in unique ways. So, when a dog eats cat food and vice versa, it won’t be getting the right food for its body.

With that in mind, it’s best to feed your cat and dog separately. That way, you can ensure that they are eating the right food for their bodies.

And to help you wrap your head around why you should feed your pets the appropriate foods here’s a quick rundown of their differences.


To start, dogs and cats have different bodies. So, that means they will need specific nutrients to sustain their needs. For example, cats require a higher protein content in their food. A cat’s body simply needs more protein than dogs, so you will find that cat food has more fat and protein than dog food.

Again, this is fine for cats as these foods are made for them. However, dogs shouldn’t have too much fat and protein. While they need these things to function too, having too much can lead to a range of problems like gastrointestinal upset or diabetes.

Since dogs are larger animals, they need a more varied diet. So, aside from protein, their food also contains wheat, grains, and vegetables to give them all the things they need to survive.

Cat food is much simpler than dog food and doesn’t contain all these extra ingredients. This means your dog won’t be getting enough nutrients with cat food while getting too much protein in their system.


When it comes to taste, many pet owners say that cat food smells more interesting than dog food. And if dogs could talk, they would probably say the same thing. One of the reasons your dog is constantly jumping to your cat’s bowl is that it smells different and provides a richer taste.

Cats have fewer tastebuds than dogs. So, it will take stronger flavors to satisfy their palette. This is why cat food is inherently more flavorful and tasty than dog food.

And while cat food might interest your dog, you may have noticed that dog food doesn’t have the same effect on your cat. This is because cats will find dog food bland and tasteless.

So, if you’re running low on cat food, there’s a high chance your feline will not be interested in having a bit of your dog’s food instead.

How Dangerous Is Cat Food for Dogs?

We’ve already mentioned that cat food has too much protein and not enough nutrients for dogs. While we know this is a bad thing, you may be wondering how bad it actually is.

Will your dog get sick from eating cat food? Should you bring your dog to the vet if you catch them eating cat food?

Well, not necessarily. If it happens once or twice, your dog should be fine. However, you have to make sure they don’t make a habit of eating cat food. This is because if they eat too much of it, it can lead to problems with their health.

In the short term, too much cat food can upset your dog’s stomach. So, they may start vomiting and experiencing diarrhea.

In worse cases, your dog can develop obesity, liver and kidney problems, and even bloating. If you catch your dog eating cat food, don’t panic, but make sure that they don’t do it too often.

If you want to learn more about the dangers of cat food for dogs, check out this article: whatthepup.spotandtango.com/can-dogs-eat-cat-food/.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Cat Food

The main reason your dog keeps eating the cat’s food is that it smells or tastes more interesting to them. So, the best way to stop them from eating cat food is to find a dog food that your pet enjoys.

This can simply mean switching brands or flavors. But if your dog is a picky eater with a particular palette, then we recommend tailoring the dog food to their needs. While this may take more effort, it’s a sure-fire way of making sure they stick to their bowl and stay away from the cat’s food.


While TV shows have shown us otherwise, dogs and cats can be a great pairing. However, one major thing to consider is how to go about feeding time. Since dog and cat food are designed for different animals, it’s important to make sure your pet only eats the right food.

There are many differences between dog and cat food. And while switching bowls every now and then shouldn’t be a problem, your pets won’t be getting the nutrients they need if they eat the wrong type of food.

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