Canned dog food has a reputation it doesn’t deserve. Many people picture a spherical mass of dog food devoid of texture or taste. But canned dog food can have chunks of real meat, nutrient-rich vegetables, delicious gravy and more.
Let’s open the lid on all the canned food info you need to know. Our complete guide covers ingredients, benefits, feeding schedules and much more. We’ll also show you the five best-canned foods for 2019:
Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Frequently Asked Questions about Canned Dog Food
What is Canned Dog Food?
Canned dog food is wet dog food. It’s usually served in a can although wet food in plastic trays and other ready-to-serve pouches are often referred to as canned dog food, too.
Wet dog food is different than dry food in several important ways. First, wet food is less nutrient dense. It consists of up to 70% of water. All that water takes up a lot of space but doesn’t provide any nutrition.
Additionally, wet food is messier than dry food. Food will likely wind up on the floor and the dog. Be prepared to do light clean-up after pretty much every meal.
What are the Benefits of Canned Food?
Canned food has benefits which dry doesn’t.
First, even though the high water content hinders nutrient density, it’s also great for keeping your dog hydrated. Some dogs can become dehydrated due to medical issues while others simply don’t like drinking water. Dogs who struggle to stay sufficiently hydrated often benefit from a wet food diet.
Also, canned food is easy to eat. Dogs with missing teeth or dental damage often have a hard time eating dry kibble. Canned food is soft and chewable. It’s highly digestible, too.
Canned food has fewer preservatives than dry. The canning process itself preserves the food. Canned food lets your dog enjoy fresh veggies and cuts of meat.
And enjoy they will. Dogs love wet dog food. The delicious aromas, savory gravy, and tender meat will delight your dog’s senses. Dogs with a loss of appetite due to age, medical issues or any other reason often thrive on wet food.
What Ingredients are Important in Wet Dog Food?
Make sure meat is the most plentiful ingredient. Be careful, as looks can be deceiving. Just because the can seems packed with chunks of meat doesn’t mean it’s the main ingredient.
Check the nutrition label. A lean protein should be listed first. Common proteins found in canned dog food include:
Dog food should have one protein per meal. Avoid food containing multiple types of animal meats added together. It’s usually a sign of poor quality. Plus, it can complicate food allergies.
Also, watch out for animal by-products. They’re bones, tissues and other parts of the animal with no nutritional value.
Finally, choose foods with vegetables instead of grains. Avoid corn, soy, and any artificial preservatives. Brown rice, barley, oats, and veggies are better alternatives. They’re easier on your dog’s digestive system.
Pay special attention to wheat. You don’t want any. Wheat is a common filler found in wet dog food. It adds volume to the food but basically nothing else.
What’s the Best Feeding Schedule for Wet Dog Food?
Feed your dog at the same times every day. Most people feed their dogs in the morning and evening. Dogs are creatures of habit. Their bodies will quickly adjust to regular mealtimes.
Wet food can’t be left sitting out for long periods. It becomes inedible if allowed to dry. For that reason, you need schedule feedings instead of a free-range diet.
Free-range feeding is when dry food is left in the bowl at all times. The dog is allowed to eat as he pleases. Free feeding usually works best for small dogs who need a high daily caloric intake. Consult your vet before implementing free feeding.
Always follow the feeding instructions on the can. Each food will have different guidelines based on the exact ingredients. Instructions account for the type of protein, amount of water and other brand-specific factors.
Generally, you’ll feed one-third of a can per every 10 pounds of dog. Feeding a larger dog could require several cans a day. Unfortunately, wet dog food isn’t always the most economical option.
After feeding, rinse your dog’s bowl thoroughly. Bits of food left unattended will attract bugs. Plus, wet food can make dogs sick if eaten hours after serving.
Cover and refrigerate any unused portions of wet food. Wet food can last up to three days when properly refrigerated. However, the cold temps can dull the taste and smell of the food. Don’t be surprised if your dog turns up his nose at wet food which has been refrigerated for more than 24 hours.
Is Wet Food Dangerous?
Rarely. The most common potential problem related to wet food is a food allergy. Roughly 10% of dogs will develop an allergy to some type of food, usually a protein.
Dogs frequently become allergic to food they’ve eaten for years. Symptoms can appear seemingly out of the blue. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation and hair loss. Symptoms will be pronounced after eating.
Food plays an important role in treatment. You’ll switch your dog’s current food to a new one with a protein he’s never eaten before. For example, if your dog normally eats chicken, you’ll switch to a venison-based meal.
If the symptoms go away after a few days on the new food, you’re probably dealing with a food allergy. You’ll then switch back to the old food to see if symptoms return. It’s important to take this additional step so you can confirm the allergen.
Should I Buy Organic Wet Food?
The Department of Agriculture certifies meats and plant products as organic. Organic foods are grown or raised without pesticides, hormones and other potentially harmful additives.
Organic food is usually the healthiest option. It’s also the most expensive. As long as the food lists protein as the number one ingredient, and contains no artificial ingredients, it’s usually healthy, even if it’s not certified organic. However, if you want the purest ingredients, choose organic food.
Blue Buffalo is named after Blue, an Airedale who developed health problems. Not satisfied with the food they found on store shelves, his owners made their own. Today, their original recipe is recognized as one of the healthiest, most nutritious options for wet dog food.
The number one ingredient in every meal is all-natural chicken, which provides amino acids and other essential ingredients. Brown rice and barley give dogs the complex carbs they need to stay active. Finally, a medley of fruits and veggies including carrots, blueberries, and cranberries supplies vital nutrients. Gravy or savory sauce covers each meal.
The meals have no by-products, corn or artificial ingredients. They also don’t use wheat as a thickening agent. Wheat adds weight to food without enhancing nutrition.
Pros & Cons
- The first ingredient is all-natural chicken.
- Uses no wheat thickening agent.
- Contains no by-products or preservatives.
- Provides amino acids, complex carbs and more.
- Candent easily.
- Mainly chicken flavors.
Purina ONE SmartBlend is packed with nutrition while remaining free from artificial preservatives and flavors. Each can have real venison as the number one ingredient. Plus, the food is nutrient-dense with natural sources of glucosamine to support joint health.
It also includes four antioxidant sources which help boost immune system functions. Because it’s both easy to chew and supports the immune system, this food is often recommended for dogs in poor health or who are recovering from surgery.
With no by-products or preservatives, you can rest easy knowing your dog’s dinner is natural and nutritious. Plus, dogs love the tender, meaty texture. All food is grain-free and highly digestible. It’s specially formulated for dogs ages one through six.
Pros & Cons
- Nutrient dense food with glucosamine and antioxidants.
- Venison is the number one ingredient.
- The food contains no grains, by-products or artificial flavors.
- Formulated for adult dogs up to six years old.
- Candent easily.
Hill’s Science has been making nutritious dog food since 1939. Their wet dog food is packed with lean proteins such as chicken and beef plus brown rice, vegetables and a tasty sauce. It has no artificial flavors or preservatives.
The savory stew is easy for dogs to digest. It provides nutrients for adult dogs up to the age of six (older dogs should eat food formulated for seniors). Dogs love the real meat taste, and a regular diet of lean proteins helps keep your dog healthy and active.
It’s available in both Entre and Stew varieties. Entre is easier to eat while the Stew features large, savory chunks of meat and veggies.
Pros & Cons
- All-natural protein is the main ingredient.
- Easy to chew and digest.
- Real meat tastes with gravy which dogs love.
- Winner of Veterinarian Endorsement Survey 2017.
- Batch recalled by FDA in 2018 (issue fixed now)
Dogs love bacon! Pedigree’s Chopped Ground dinner meals feature chopped ground beef with cheese and bacon flavors. Real chicken is the number one ingredient. It’s balanced with oils and minerals to keep your dog’s coat shiny and his skin healthy.
The pack contains 24 22-ounce cans. It can be fed as a meal or mixed with kibble. All food is made in the USA under the supervision of veterinary specialists. The recipe is 100% nutritionally balanced.
The chopped-up texture might not look very appealing to a person, but it’s soft and chewable. This food is an excellent choice for dogs with tooth loss or chewing issues.
Pros & Cons
- Dogs love the tasty bacon and cheese flavor.
- Real chicken is the main ingredient.
- Easily mixes with Pedigree dry food.
- All ingredients sourced in the U.S.
- The flavor can be inconsistent from batch to batch.
Alpo has been feeding dogs nutritious meals since 1936. Their Prime Cuts wet food is packed with high-quality protein along with 23 vitamins and minerals. It provides balanced nutrition for adult dogs.
Dogs love the taste, too. The tender chunks of meat are coated with savory gravy for an enticing flavor and smell. Regular feeding helps your dog maintain healthy muscle function. Each can contains a minimum of 10% crude protein.
ALPO Prime Cuts has 80% moisture content. It’s an excellent choice for dogs who are frequently dehydrated. However, with so much water, you’ll want to make sure your dog is also getting enough nutrients. Consult with your vet for specific dietary instructions.
Pros & Cons
- Packed with 23 vitamins and minerals.
- Helps dogs stay hydrated.
- Contains a minimum of 10% crude protein.
- Tasty texture with a meaty smell.
- High water content limits nutrient density
The Best Canned Dog Food
Figuring out the best dog food isn’t always easy. Some canned food contains practically no nutritional value. The type and amount of ingredients make a huge difference in the quality of the food.
Taste is important, too. Wet food is often specifically chosen for dogs with appetite issues. The smell, texture, and look of the food should entice even the pickiest pups.
After careful consideration, we recommend Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe. It offers a great combination of high-quality nutrition and delicious taste. Plus, it offers the unique benefits found in wet dog food.
With all-natural chicken, your dog gets the lean protein he needs to stay strong. The vegetable medley adds additional nutrients to keep his coat healthy.
Dogs can’t wait to sink their teeth into the large meat chunks. They’ll lick up every drop of the gravy, too. Easy on teeth, Blue Buffalo is an excellent choice for senior dogs and other reluctant eaters.
Dogs love canned food with real meat chunks and savory gravy. Fortunately, canned food can be nutritious, too. The best-canned food not only gets your dog’s mouth watering but also helps keep him healthy and happy!