Is Wet Dog Food Better Than Dry Dog Food?

With so many dog food options on the market, it can be challenging to choose the right one. Also, you have the added stress of choosing between wet and dry dog food.

As a pet parent, we know that you want to feed your dog the best grub possible while supporting your pup’s overall health and well-being.

Different wet and dry dog foods
A portion of wet and dry dog food with raw ingredients

There’s no simple answer to the wet vs. dry dog food debate.

What Is the Best Dog Food Type: Canned Dog Food or Dry Dog Food?

Many dog owners believe that canned or wet dog food is superior to kibble because it contains more meat protein and fewer carbs.

Canned dog food also has more moisture and can help make your dog feel fuller faster and longer.

However, dry kibble also has its advantages. From the ease of convenience and affordability to assisting with your dog’s dental health.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each type of dog food.

Convenience and Affordability

a yellow and red dog bowl filled
Dog food bowls filled to the brim

Dry kibble is, without doubt, the most convenient option when it comes to buying food for your dog.

A wide variety of options can be found online, at your local pet store, or even at the supermarket. Kibble is also easier to measure and portion out to keep your pup’s diet consistent. 

There are also plenty of dry dog foods that will suit any budget, and they’re less expensive than canned dog food.

And the high water content of wet food makes it more expensive per calorie than dry dog food.

Palatability and Digestibility

Wet dog food can be more flavorful as the ingredients are closer to their natural form than dry kibble.

This can make canned food more palatable and appetizing for your pup and a good choice for picky eaters.

a yellow bowl with wet dog food
A dog bowl with a portion of chunky dog food

Due to the high moisture content of wet dog food, this type of diet is often recommended for dogs who don’t drink enough water and suffer from hydration problems or urinary tract infections.

That said, the higher protein and fat content in wet dog food can sometimes lead to diarrhea and vomiting in dogs with sensitive stomachs.

The high protein content can be taxing on the kidneys and liver. If your dog is prone to an upset stomach, dry dog food will help to keep your dog’s stool consistent and digestion steady.

If you prefer feeding your dog kibble and you want to take it to the next level for her, watch this video:

Dental health benefits

Kibble is said to be better for your dog’s dental health. The crunchy texture helps remove tartar and prevent bacteria’s build-up on the teeth.

So dog breeds that are prone to developing tooth and gum problems will benefit from a dry dog food diet. 

On the other hand, dogs that are already experiencing tooth decay may experience pain when chewing dry dog food, and a wet food diet may be a better option.

Owners who do opt for a canned food diet for their dog need to be more vigilant when it comes to regularly brush their dog’s teeth.

Grain: the great debate

a Rhodesian Ridgeback looking directly at the rice on a chopstick
Meet Gus, a hungry Rhodesian Ridgeback looking at the rice – Image source

Many modern dog foods avoid grains in favor of a diet that’s more akin to what your pet would eat in the wild.

Grain-free diets can be an excellent choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs and those who have allergies to grains like wheat and corn.

That said, grain-free diets have been linked to canine heart disease and are currently being investigated by the FDA.

Shelf-life after being opened

Canned dog food doesn’t last long. Once opened, it should be stored properly in the fridge and used within two to three days of opening.

Uneaten wet dog food should not be left in your dog’s bowl for longer than around an hour as the moisture can quickly grow bacteria and lead to contamination.

That said, wet dog food doesn’t contain the synthetic preservatives found in dry dog food due to the air-tight packaging.

Dry dog food, on the other hand, rarely goes bad if used before the expiration date. It is also relatively easy to store for long periods and can be bought in bulk, adding to its affordability.

It’s also a good option for owners who regularly travel as it can be easily stored in any container and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Deciphering the Dog Food Label: Additional tips to help you choose

a Basset Hound patiently waiting in a dog food shop
Meet Calvin, a Basset Hound selecting his dog food – Image source

First, read the label of the packaging or can. Ingredients are listed in weighted order, so the first 5 ingredients are the most important. A quality diet will always list a real protein source within the top 5.

If grains are included on the ingredient list, look for high-quality whole grains that actually provide your pet with nutritional value and don’t just act as fillers.

Newer ultra-premium diets tend to avoid grains altogether in favor of carbohydrate sources like sweet potato.

The best diets include these quality ingredients in the name, such as “chicken and rice” or “salmon and potato.” They’re made up of 95% of these ingredients.

If the word dinner is included in the labeling, then these ingredients only account for 25% of the food’s makeup.

Avoid artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, meat by-products, and sweeteners. Also, be sure to look at the fat and carbohydrate content.

Many dry kibbles have an increased carbohydrate content which may not provide sufficient energy for very active pets and could lead to weight gain.

Before buying any food, you also want to look for an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement.

It should say the food is complete and balanced, which means it meets the minimum levels of nutrients as determined by the Nutritional Research Council (NRC).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

a dog bowl one with dog food and one with a question mark
A white dog bowl with question mark pebble

Should you consider giving your dog both dry and wet dog food?

Combining both dry and wet dog food means you can benefit from the budgetary and logistical benefits of kibble while providing your pup with the added flavor canned dog food brings.

Whether you opt for dry kibble only, a wet food diet, or a mixture of both, consistency is essential.

It’s best to stick with a regular diet for your pet as any sudden change to your dog’s diet can cause an upset stomach and result in your pup not eating their meals.

Should you mix dry and wet dog food?

You can combine the different types of dog food in the same bowl or opt to give your pooch one type of food in the morning and the other in the evening.

Some use wet food as toppers, while others give kibbles as treats.

Whatever you decide, watch out for your dog’s daily caloric intake to ensure you aren’t overfeeding or underfeeding her.

And don’t mix dog food brands, especially if your pet is on a prescribed diet. Doing so could dilute the balance of the nutrition you give. 

Which is better for puppies, wet or dry dog food?

Cockapoo puppies eating dog food on bowls
Cockapoo puppies devouring their wet food – Image source

Puppies need a diet that has double the amount of protein and fat that adult dog food. Their developing muscles and bodies have higher energy requirements.

Due to the higher protein content of wet food, young, energetic puppies can benefit from this diet type.

That said, dry dog foods also have a place where puppies are concerned, and kibble can be a great way to entertain young dogs when alone through food puzzles.

If you feed your puppy dry dog food, always opt for one with a smaller kibble size that your puppy can chew properly.

Is dry or wet food better for older dogs?

Senior dogs often have difficulty chewing hard kibble. It can be due to chronic dental problems, loss of teeth, or misaligned jaws. If so, canned dog food may be easier for your older dog to manage.

a red dog bowl with wet and dry dog food
A dog bowl with wet and dry dog food

Dogs also tend to lose their sense of smell as they age, and so the richer scent of wet dog food can be more appetizing for older pets.

What about semi-moist dog food?

Semi-moist pet foods may seem convenient as all you need to do is open the pouch and feed your dog. However, they’re best reserved for the occasional treat rather than regular meals.

They contain more sugar and salt than other types of food and are generally full of flavor enhancers, artificial colors, and chemical preservatives.

Pros and Cons: A comparison table of the Wet Dog Food vs. Dry Dog Food

Still unsure which type of dog food to give your pet? Here’s a simple comparison to make your life easier:

Features Wet/Canned Dog Food Dry Dog Food
Overall Convenience  
Lower Cost  
Higher in meat protein content  
Packed with healthy natural fats  
Lower in carbohydrates  
Fewer preservatives and additives  
More filling  
Easy to store  

The Final Verdict on Wet Dog Food vs. Dry Dog Food

When choosing the perfect food for your pet, it’s okay when your dog lets you know which type of food she prefers.

There are benefits and cons to both wet and dry dog food, and who knows, you may find that using both is the best option for you, with wet food acting as a tasty topping to your dog’s daily kibble.

a Goldendoodle wearing a bandana sitting
Meet Kingsley, a behave Goldendoodle waiting for his food – Image source

Ultimately, it all depends on your particular dog’s health and nutritional needs. That’s why it’s essential to talk to your veterinarian before introducing new food to your pet.

Your vet will be best placed to determine what combination of food will work best for your pet and his or her specific dietary requirements.

Do you feed your dog wet dog food or dry dog food? Let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading: The best dog foods for your pup

  • Best Dry Dog Food
  • Best Wet Dog Food
  • Best High Fiber Dog Food
  • Best High Protein Dog Food
  • Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food

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