Wet dog food isn’t simply “dry food with water.” The nutritional makeup of wet food can be significantly different than dry – which affects how and when you should feed your dog.
Before embarking (get it?) on a wet food diet for your dog, make sure you understand both the benefits and potential drawbacks. Our complete guide to wet dog food covers everything you need to know, plus we’ve rounded up our five favorite wet food brands:
Frequently Asked Questions about Wet Dog Food
Is Wet Food Healthy?
Yes, but you have to choose the right brand. Wet food contains up to 80% water. It’s not nearly as nutrient dense as dry food.
It’s actually possible to buy wet food which has no nutritional value for your dog. You’ll want to check the ingredients list carefully.
Make sure the first ingredient in the food is lean animal protein. The most common proteins found in wet dog food include:
You can also find food with more exotic meat such as venison, bison, kangaroo and more.
Ingredients in wet dog food are listed in order of size, with the first ingredient the most abundant and so on. The first ingredient should be an animal, not an animal by-product.
For example, you want “poultry” instead of “poultry by-product.” By-products are ground up bones, organs and other animal parts with limited nutritional value.
Dogs are what’s called Scavenging Carnivores. They can survive on a plant-based diet but not thrive on one. Dogs need a primarily meat-based diet for optimum health. Proteins provide necessary amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
What Type of Protein is Best?
Any type of lean animal protein is fine… until it isn’t. Many dogs can eat the same food for years, decades or even a lifetime without a problem. But about 10% of dogs will develop a food allergy.
Most dogs develop food allergies after long-term exposure to a protein in their food. Chicken, beef, and pork are common allergens simply because they’re found in most types of dog food.
Dogs with a food allergy typically develop skin and/or gastrointestinal issues.
Diagnosing an allergy requires placing your dog on a fairly restricted diet to identify the allergen. You’ll want to contact your vet at the first sign of an allergy. He or she will help you develop a treatment plan.
Treatment usually involves switching to a new food. You’ll need to find a food with a protein your dog hasn’t eaten before. Foods with bison, venison, and other less common proteins are extremely useful when diagnosing and treating food allergies.
What are the Benefits of Wet Dog Food?
Most veterinary experts recommend dry dog food over wet. Dry food is an easier source of necessary nutrients. However, a wet food diet isn’t necessarily unhealthy. It’s just a bit more work at times.
Wet food also has benefits dry food doesn’t. Here are the most common reasons your vet might recommend a wet food diet:
Easy on Teeth
Dry kibble can be tough on teeth. Wet food is much easier to chew and digest. It’s recommended for dogs who are missing teeth or have other dental issues. Wet food is the easiest type to tear, chew and swallow.
Dogs Love It
Dogs react to the sight, smell, texture, and taste of food. Unfortunately, dry food can be rather bland and boring. Almost all dogs love wet dog food with real meat chunks and gravy. Pop the meal in the microwave for 10 seconds to enhance the delicious aromas.
If your dog will eat dry food without an issue but still loves the taste of wet food, give wet food as a treat instead of a meal.
If your dog is occasionally picky about eating dry food, trying mixing in some wet food to fire up his appetite.
All-wet-food diets are often ideal for dogs who suffer from any type of medical ailment which affects their appetite, sense of taste or sense of smell. Senior dogs are commonly given wet food diets to combat appetite loss.
Symptoms of dehydration include frequent panting, infrequent urination, constipation, and lethargy. If your dog displays any of those symptoms, check with your vet. Dehydration has a variety of potential causes.
However, dehydration might also have a relatively simple cause. Certain dogs just don’t drink enough water each day.
Experts don’t exactly know why some dogs don’t like to drink much water, but it’s a fairly common occurrence. Fortunately, adding wet food to your dog’s diet is often an easy way to help keep him hydrated.
Does a Wet Food Diet Have Disadvantages?
As mentioned above, some wet food doesn’t have enough nutrients to keep your dog healthy. But you can still feed your dog an all-wet-food diet as long as you choose a brand with plenty of protein.
Aside from possible nutritional deficiency, wet food does pose a few other issues. These aren’t necessarily major problems, but they’re worth considering before switching to an all-wet-food diet:
Wet dog food is more than half liquid. All that delicious gravy and tender bits of meat tend to get everywhere: your dog’s face, bowl, the floor and more.
You’ll want to buy some plastic mats or trays to hold the food bowl. Plus, you might need to wipe your dog’s face after an, especially enthusiastic eating session.
Wet food can’t sit out all day. You’ll need to feed your dog on a schedule. Most owners feed their dogs in the morning and at night (although puppies are typically fed three to four times a day).
Generally, once you open a can of food, you can store it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Just make sure to cover the can or container with aluminum foil.
Feed according to the can directions. Most serving sizes are based on weight. Be careful when mixing dry and wet food together. Use half the recommended serving size of each to help prevent overeating.
Scheduled feeding isn’t harmful to dogs. Most animal care experts recommend scheduled feedings over free feedings, which is when dry food is made available for the dog to eat at will. Free feeding often leads to obesity.
Dogs crave consistency. Feed them at the same times every day. In that respect, scheduled feedings can be a hassle for owners, but pose no problems for the dogs.
The Potential Dental Problems
Dry dog food helps combat dental problems. The hard texture scrapes away plaque and another build-up. Kibble plays an important role in preventing cavities, tooth loss and more.
Unfortunately, wet food doesn’t share these dental benefits. The soft, chewy material easily sticks to gums and in-between teeth. If you feed your dog wet food, you’ll need to take extra steps to keep his teeth clean. Give him tooth-cleaning dental treats and brush his teeth regularly.
The Extra Cost
Wet food is usually more expensive than dry. The costs of an all-wet-food diet can be high, especially when compared to a similar amount of dry food.
However, sometimes wet food is the only thing your dog will eat. You can often save a bit by buying larger packs of food instead of individual cans or trays. Never attempt to cut costs by purchasing food with substandard ingredients.
Our top five wet dog food recommendations:
|1. I and Love and You” Canned Stew Dog Food
|2. Nutro Adult Cuts in Gravy
|3. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Wet Dog Food
|4. Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy
|5. Cesar Gourmet Variety Pack
The “I and Love and You” brand is proud to never compromise on quality. The real meat is always the number one ingredient, followed by sweet potatoes (a better alternative to grains).
Each can is packed with nutrients like Omega 3 and 6, flaxseed, fish oil and more. It’s easy on stomachs while also improving coat health.
What’s not here is also notable. The food contains no by-products, wheat, corn or rice. Another “non-ingredient” we like is the lack of carrageenan. That’s a seaweed-derived thickener which simply takes up space without adding nutrition.
Pros & Cons
- Real, wholesome ingredients
- Turkey, lamb, chicken and beef flavors
- The first ingredient is always real meat
- Contains no grains, rice or by-products
- The smell can be earthy and somewhat odd
Is your dog finicky about what he’ll eat? Nutro is a popular choice for picky pups. They love the real meat taste. As the packaging says, a happy dance is guaranteed.
The variety pack includes 36 3.5-ounce trays divided equally into four flavors:
- Chef-Inspired Chicken
- Roasted Turkey and Vegetable
- Signature Beef and Potato
- Savory Lamb and Garden Variety
All meals contain a real protein as the main ingredient. No by-products, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives allowed.
Pros & Cons
- The main ingredient is real protein.
- 36 dinners with four flavors.
- Real meat taste appeals to finicky eaters.
- Contains no by-products or artificial flavors.
- Packaging similar to food with grains.
- Might give your dog gas.
- Rotating flavors can upset your dog’s stomach.
Treat your dog like a superstar with this wet food from celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Each variety pack contains three delicious flavors: Hearty Beef Stew, Chicken Paw Pie, and Savory Lamb Stew.
All meals are made from Ray’s own recipes using tender meat and fresh vegetables.
Only high-quality proteins are used. The variety pack includes chicken, salmon and whitefish options. They have no corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or animal by-products.
Plus, each purchase helps animals in need. A portion of the proceeds goes towards The Rachael Ray Foundation, which supplies food, medicals supplies and other treatments for dogs and cats.
Pros & Cons
- Recipe custom created by Rachael Ray.
- The main ingredient is a high-quality protein.
- Contains no corn, wheat or soy.
- A portion of the proceeds helps Ray’s animal charity.
- Some ingredients sourced in Thailand.
- Meal portions are small for large dogs.
Dogs love the taste, and you’ll love how easy and mess-free it is to serve. Each 3.5-ounce pouch contains a complete, nutritious meal for an adult dog.
The variety pack contains four flavors: filet mignon, grilled chicken, chicken casserole, and beef noodle and vegetable. It can be given as a standalone meal, mixed with dry kibble or given as a treat.
Each meal has delicious morsels of real meat covered with hearty gravy. It also contains a precise blend of oils and minerals to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny.
Pros & Cons
- Easy-tear pouch prevents a mess.
- Pack includes four variety of meat-based meals.
- The first ingredient is meat.
- Helps improve skin and coat.
- Dogs might not like each flavor equally.
- Pouch size is small for large dogs
Simple to serve with a taste dogs love, Cesar wet food variety packs are a win for both you and your dog. Each tray is packed with real meat soaking in delicious juices. The 24-variety pack contains six 3.5-ounce trays of the following flavors:
- Grilled Chicken
- Oven Roasted Chicken
The trays have peel-away freshness seals. Each tray is an individual meal. You don’t have to worry about storing food. Simply toss the tray away when mealtime is over.
All ingredients are formulated to meet the nutritional standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which regulates a variety of animal food.
Pros & Cons
- Real meat is the number one ingredient.
- Variety pack includes six different flavors.
- Individual meals in tidy trays.
- Delicious gravy dogs will love.
- Meat by-products are sometimes visible.
- Pat texture can look unappealing.
Our Favorite Product
The best-wet dog food is “I and Love and You” Canned Stew Dog Food. It’s not just what this food has but also what it doesn’t. There are no by-products, wheat, corn or artificial ingredients.
Instead, it contains wholesome goodness like real meat (the number one ingredient) and sweet potatoes. It provides the nutrition dogs need while keeping their coats shiny and full.
For a variety of reasons, some dogs can’t eat dry food. You might not always have a choice about whether or not to feed your dog wet food. But now you can find wet food which meets your dog’s nutritional needs.
With the right wet dog food, your furry friend can live a long, healthy and happy life.