Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Your kitty probably loves a lot of the same foods you do and is happy to eat a small square of cheese when offered. Your dog may relish just about anything you’re willing to share. It's so easy to please our pets with food -- but is it good nutrition?

Pet nutrition needs are not the same as ours, but many of us are clueless about what exactly they are. This primer on dog and cat nutrition will fill you in on what your pet needs to stay healthy and fit.

Consider these facts:

  • Small, low-activity dogs need only about 185 to 370 calories daily, while a large pooch between 67 to 88 pounds may need between 1,000 to 2,000 calories, depending on activity level and gender. Yet many of our dogs get far more food than they need. More than one-third of U.S. dogs over 1 year old are overweight.
  • A healthy 10-pound kitty needs just 220 to 350 calories a day -- about the number in a few ounces of cheese. No wonder the weight stats are about as bad for cats as dogs. At least one-quarter of U.S. felines are considered overweight or obese.

Here’s how vet experts break down the nutrition needs for dogs and cats to stay lean and healthy.

Cat Nutrition: The Meat of the Matter

Next time you look at your cat snoozing in a sunbeam, think tiger. Pound for pound, cats need twice the protein humans and dogs do. And the building blocks of good cat nutrition can be summarized in one word: Meat.

About 17% to 21% of adult human calories should come from protein. We can get it from meat, but also through beans, legumes, and dairy sources. Cats need double that amount of protein for good nutrition and it must come from meat or fish.

Why? Cats are “obligate carnivores,” which means they need to eat animal protein to obtain all the amino acids they need in their diet, according to Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, a veterinarian with a special interest in felines. The vital amino acid cats can't get from any source other than animal protein is taurine.

Taurine is critical for a cat's normal heart, eye, and reproductive function, but cats can't make it from other amino acids, as most mammals can. A meat-rich diet not only provides cats the taurine they need. It also gives them vitamin A -- a nutrient they're unable to convert from beta-carotene, says Joe Bartges, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN, professor of medicine and nutrition in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
Watch Video Now