Wet vs. Dry Dog Food: Understanding the difference

Wet vs dry dog food
Learn about dogs

Picking the right pet food for your furry friend can be a challenging task, especially when there are dozens of different diets and hundreds of brands of food on the market. And that’s before you even start to explore all of the flavours and ingredients they contain!

Even the seemingly simple decision of wet vs dry dog food isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Today we’ll dig into the differences between wet dog food and dry dog food, what the benefits and drawbacks of these diets are, and which is better for your furry friend.

Wet dog food vs dry dog food

What are the benefits of wet dog food?

Wet dog food

It’s more appetising

Many owners think wet food is more appetising for dogs because it looks like chunks of meat, and it smells more interesting than kibble. (But it’s important to remember that it isn’t always chunks of real meat!)

The smell, softer texture, and taste of wet food can sometimes encourage picky dogs to eat their dinner.

It’s easy to eat

Being moist and soft also means wet dog food is easier to chew compared to kibble. This can make it a better choice for dogs with dental problems or missing teeth.

It helps hydrate your dog

Wet dog food also contains a lot of moisture because it’s around 80% water. That means wet food can help boost your pooch’s hydration levels, especially if they don’t drink enough.

There are fewer carbohydrates

Unlike dry dog food, wet food doesn’t need a high starch content to make the biscuit dough. This in addition to the high moisture content means wet food usually has fewer carbohydrates than dry dog food.

However, the quality of these carbohydrates, and any ingredients, can vary dramatically so you should check what’s in the can rather than purchasing for percentages.

Why can wet dog food be bad for dogs?

It’s highly processed

It’s not often you find real meat in wet dog food, it’s often a mix of proteins ground up with cereals and other ingredients to make the chunks, which get cooked in gravy. Although it doesn’t go through extrusion like kibble, it’s still a highly-processed food.

It spoils

The high moisture content in wet dog food means it spoils sooner than kibble. That means it has a shorter shelf life and any open cans need to be kept in the fridge and used within a few days of opening.

You need to use more

The high moisture content means dogs need to eat more wet food to meet their nutritional needs, which means more frequent meals and a larger volume of food eaten. That means owners have to buy way more to ensure their dog is fed enough.

It’s high in fat

Wet food also has a higher fat content than dry food, which means it isn’t suitable for dogs with pancreatitis or other health conditions that must be managed with a low-fat diet.

What are the benefits of dry dog food?

Dry dog food

It’s cheap

The benefits of dry dog food are mostly for owners. Dry dog food or kibble is often inexpensive and comes in huge sacks that can be stored for months without going off.

It’s easy to store and use

With kibble you don’t have to worry about finding fridge or freezer space to store it in. It’s also easy to use and doesn’t require preparation or clean-up like wet foods, raw diets, or homemade diets. You just scoop some biscuits out and feed them to your pooch. Again, this is a benefit for us humans, not our hounds.

Dogs don’t need to eat as much

Kibble contains a high-calorie content and low moisture levels, which means dogs don’t need to eat a lot of it to survive. This helps keep feeding your canine even more cost-effective since they need to eat less.

Does it really clean teeth?

One supposed benefit of feeding kibble is that it allegedly helps to clean dogs’ teeth because it encourages them to chew.

The problem is that chewing crunchy biscuits doesn’t get rid of plaque or tartar. Only professional teeth cleaning from a vet can remove tartar, and daily brushing at home removes plaque.

After all, if feeding dogs kibble kept dog’s teeth clean, and most dogs eat kibble, so why do 87% of dogs have gum disease?

Dry dog food is good for puzzle feeders

Finally one of the few benefits of dry dog food is that you can easily put it in a pouch to use when you’re training, or use it inside puzzle toys.

However, wet food or food like Pure Pet Food would be better than biscuits if you’re using a Kong, which is a more long-lasting source of enrichment.

Why is dry dog food bad for dogs?

It’s highly processed

Kibble is considered an ultra-processed food. We humans know that eating processed food regularly isn’t good for us, and yet kibble is ultra-processed and we expect dogs to eat it day in, day out, and somehow stay healthy.

The extrusion process used to make kibble has been proven to destroy nutrients, and the chemical reactions it causes can create carcinogens in the food. (Although wet dog foods are highly processed too.)

It’s hard to know what ingredients are used

Kibble uses tons of different ingredients that are often mixed together and unable to be separated.

If your dog has a dietary allergy or intolerance, this means they could unknowingly be eating something that causes digestive troubles, discomfort, and diarrhoea, as well as itchy skin.

Then add on the additives, flavourings, and preservatives that are often included in kibble which could also irritate your dog’s gut.

Is dry food better than wet for dogs?

Both wet dog food and dry dog food can be good or bad for your dog. What matters more than the type of food is the quality of the ingredients.

The other problem is that both wet dog food and dry dog food are highly processed, using high temperatures and pressures to bake and form the food. These processes can destroy the nutrients in the food.

Kibble and wet dog food are also made for human convenience, so they’re often full of additives and preservatives, so you can keep them on the shelf for longer.

Many owners choose to mix wet and dry dog food to keep the cost down, reduce the amount of food their dog needs, and make their dog’s dinner a bit more appetising than boring brown biscuits. But t’s still a highly-processed meal that could contain all kinds of fillers, additives, and low-quality ingredients.

The long ingredient list and mass-market manufacture also mean that while cans and kibble can suit most dogs, they fall short of adequate nutrition for dogs with individual dietary needs like allergies, intolerances, or medical conditions they need to manage with diet.

The benefits of wet dog food and the benefits of dry dog food such as their shelf-life and ease of use all seem good for owners, but not our dogs and their health. So what food focuses on the benefits for humans AND their dogs?

What’s the best food for dogs?

The quality of the ingredients in your dog’s food is more important than the type of food it is.

The kind of food still matters though because ultra-processed foods like kibble and cans destroy the nutritional value of food, which means even the best ingredients can be spoiled.

The best dog food should be nutritionally complete and made with natural ingredients without any harsh processing.

When you think of diets like that we often think of raw diets or homemade meals, which can be costly to make and require a lot of fridge space, prep work, and clean up. However, a food like Pure offers an ideal middle ground between all of these different dog foods.

Why Pure Pet Food makes a great alternative to mixing dry and wet dog food

Pure is a healthy and natural food, focused on benefitting the health of your dog through the power of real wholesome food that contains no nasty fillers or additives.

What is the best dog food?

Our food is never subjected to harsh processing like kibble or wet dog food is, so it’s naturally tasty and all the nutrients stay intact and easy to digest. We carefully prepare Pure by finely chopping up a load of natural ingredients and then slowly removing their moisture under a heat much gentler than cooking. This naturally preserves the food so all the goodness is kept in.

Your dog’s food will be tailored to their needs too, which means it’s made to be perfect for your individual dog, not the mass market.

The water you use to rehydrate the food also means you can help to keep your pup hydrated and make their food more appetising by changing the temperature and consistency, so there’s no need to grab a can of wet dog food just to get a fussy pup to eat. But since you add the water at home, you won’t be paying to ship massive moisture content. You’re just paying purely for food!

But it isn’t just good for dogs, it’s easy for owners too. Pure is delivered to your door for free and doesn’t require fridge or freezer space, and there’s no lengthy prep or cleanup. Simply stick it in the cupboard and when it’s time to feed Fido, scoop some food, stir in a little water, and serve a delicious, healthy dinner in seconds.

What is the best food for dogs

We’re dedicated to making honest food that benefits dogs and helps them to live happier, healthier, and longer lives. Tell us about your dog and we’ll fetch the perfect tailored recipe so you can see how our food could benefit your furry friend.

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.

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