Wet or Dry Dog Food: Which is better for your dog?

One of the biggest dilemmas for dog owners is to decide to feed their dog wet or dry dog food. They want to provide the most nutritious food to their dogs, but they do not know which is better.

Both wet and dry dog food have both pros and cons. Therefore, it is hard to say that a particular type is way better than the other. It depends on multiple factors such as the owners’ economic circumstances and the dogs’ preference.

Based on my past experiences with feeding my dogs both wet and dry food, I compiled a list of differences and benefits that I have noticed regarding each type of food. Also, I did some additional research and found some scientific articles regarding the nutritional content of dog food, which I will share below.

In this article, I will discuss the following aspects:

  • Main differences between wet and dry dog food
  • The benefits of wet dog food
  • The benefits of dry dog food
  • How to make the right choice on what to feed your dog

Content Differences Between Wet and Dry Dog Food

To make an informed decision, I will share the two main content differences between wet and dry dog food – water and nutrient content.

Difference #1: Water Content

You can estimate that wet dog food has much more moist than dry dog food from the name. Wet dog food has 60% or more moisture content, while dry dog food has 14% or less moisture content.

This difference in water content means that owners had to note a crucial thing: shelf life.

Unopened wet dog food has a longer shelf life than unopened dry dog food (approximately 1.5 to 2 times the duration). They will go bad much more quickly when opened, which means that you would have to refrigerate opened cans properly (best to keep in air-tight containers) and ensure that you clean out your dog’s food bowl approximately one to two hours after the feeding session. Also, if, for some reason, you do not finish the can within 2 to 3 days, it is best to discard the food and open a fresh can.

Wet food exposed to room temperature or not appropriately kept (despite being refrigerated) for prolonged periods can easily lead to contamination and bacteria growth. When your dog consumes such food, it can easily lead to illnesses and health problems.

Difference #2: Nutrient Content

Wet dog food usually has higher vitamins, proteins, and other nutrient contents than dry dog food. This difference exists because of the different processes used to make the food [1].

However, higher nutrients do not necessarily mean better for your dog. Excessive levels of certain nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorous, can negatively affect bones (especially during the growth phase).

While most commercial pet foods complied with most of the guidelines, they provided less than the nutritional minimum or more than the nutrition maximum [2]. In terms of nutritional content, only a minority of the pet foods tested were fully compliant. In a similar study, selected brands of commercial dry dog foods were found to have a different nutritional value (in laboratory settings) compared to their declared nutritional value [3].

These research articles warn all dog owners out there to be wary of the nutritional labels on the food packages as they might not reflect the actual nutritional content absorbed by their dogs.

Benefits of Wet Dog Food

The 3 main benefits to feeding your dog wet food are moisture, ease to chew, and tastiness.

Benefit #1: Moisture

Feeding your dog wet food means that your dog is kept hydrated (to an extent) when he/she consumes the meals. This method is beneficial for owners with dogs that do not like to drink water.

Also, the moisture content in wet food helps to make dogs feel full. They may consume lesser amounts than a diet on dry dog food, which allows owners to manage weight loss in their dogs.

Benefit #2: Easy to Chew

Some dogs may have trouble chewing dry food, such as those who experienced a loss of teeth or have misaligned jaws. It will be hard for these dogs to crunch the dry dog food properly, so wet dog food is a more viable option.

Benefit #3: Tastiness

Most wet food tastes and smells better than dry dog food, making it more appealing and appetizing to dogs. Dogs who are picky eaters are more likely to eat wet food than dry food.

Benefits of Dry Dog Food

The 3 main benefits to feeding your dog dry food are convenience, economical, and dental health.

Benefit #1: Convenience

You can leave the food out all day long without needing to worry that it will go bad. It is also easy to bring out and feed your dog during travel trips.

You do not have to spend time cleaning tools (such as can openers) or cleaning your dog’s mouth after eating as dry dog food will not stick to them.

Additionally, if you have any food puzzle toys for your dog to play with, using dry dog food will be much more hygienic and easier to clean afterward.

Benefit #2: Economical

Dry dog food is usually much less expensive than wet dog food. An additional dollar a day may not seem much, but it can quickly add up to a large amount.

Benefit #3: Dental Health

Kibbles help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy as most are designed to scrape away plaque and tartar buildups away from dogs. However, this does not mean that you will not have to brush your dog’s teeth!

Making the Right Choice

While there is no absolute and best way of feeding your dog, it is still possible to make the right choice by evaluating your dog’s needs and your feeding philosophy carefully. Also, be careful about overfeeding your dog, which may lead to other health concerns!

If you feed your dog only wet food, you might want to consider giving him/her crunchy treats or a dental chew stick regularly. Take note of proper food keeping and always clean the food bowl after your dog has finished eating.

If you prefer feeding your dog dry food, split the meals into two or more portions as dry food may expand in the stomach, causing bloat, which can potentially turn into a life-threatening condition. Also, do remember to put a water bowl out for your dog to hydrate himself/herself.

You can also choose to mix by feeding both wet and dry food to your dog. However, avoid serving both types together, and if possible, select both foods from the same brand/manufacturer. It is also advisable for dogs with digestive problems to stick to only one type of food due to their sensitive stomachs.

Now, time to head off and find yummy and nutritious food for your dog!