Unlike regular dog kibble, which is ground-up ingredients formed into hard pellets, wet dog food is more like a pâté. The base protein is ground up, mixed with gravy, cooked, and sterilized into the final canned product. The two types of food have very similar base ingredients—mainly meat or fish or poultry scraps blended with vegetables, fruits, eggs, and grains, though the actual contents vary by brand. Wet dog food contains a lot more moisture and is sold in cans rather than large bags, usually in smaller quantities than kibble. Whether you want to add wet dog food into your pup’s regular meal rotation or simply keep it on hand as an occasional treat, there are several good reasons to invest in at least a few cans for your dog.
Why buy wet dog food?
Wet dog food tends to have fewer carbs and more protein than dry kibble, so in the proper portions, it can be a useful tool for managing your pet’s weight (with a vet’s guidance, of course). Since it contains more moisture due to the addition of gravy, wet dog food can be a handy way to sneak some extra hydration into your dog’s daily intake. It may be easier for some puppies or senior dogs to chew and swallow wet food as well. The smaller cans and packages take up less storage space than big bags of dry kibble. And since the higher fat and protein content often makes wet dog food more appetizing for your pet, some owners find that it an effective way to encourage picky eaters to finish their food or use it as a small snack in between meals to make sure their pup is getting enough to eat.
Wet food can be a standalone meal in place of dry food or be mixed in with kibble to supplement meals. Many dog owners choose to feed their dog a blend of wet and dry foods since kibble requires more chewing and helps to prevent tartar buildup and other minor dental issues. This way, their dog receives the benefit of both types of food in a single meal. And even if you don’t want to add wet dog food to your pet’s daily routine, it may still be worth your while to buy at least a few cans for special occasions or as an intermittent treat for your furry friend.
What should you look for in wet dog food?
- Quantity: Wet dog food is sold in cans or packages. The quantity you need will depend on how often you plan to serve your dog wet food and how many ounces a single can or package contains. If wet dog food is a daily part of your dog’s diet, whether once or twice a day, a larger quantity is going to be the better, more cost-efficient option, especially if the cans are big enough to hold several servings, so you get greater bang for your buck. If wet food is going to be an occasional treat, a lesser quantity may be enough. Sets of 12 or 24 cans are most common, though smaller and larger quantities are also available.
- Flavor: Though it doesn’t look appetizing to us, wet dog food doesn’t have to be bland by any stretch of the mind—quite the opposite, in fact. There are more flavors than ever available to tempt your pup’s palate. The main flavor of wet dog food will almost always be based on the main protein it’s made of; think bacon, beef, chicken, turkey, ham, salmon, lamb, and even steak. Some dogs may prefer one flavor over another. Blended flavors of two or more proteins or grains are also an option. If you aren’t sure what your dog likes best or want to mix things up, there are variety flavor packs available as well.
- Target Demographic: Be sure to check and see if a wet dog food is made for dogs of a certain age or size. Puppies have different nutritional and caloric needs than senior dogs; the same is true of smaller dog breeds like chihuahuas compared to bigger dogs like labs. And while fruits, vegetables, and grains are healthy for most dogs, since they’re omnivores, some dogs are allergic to certain grains or ingredients. There are also wet foods designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs and/or skin.
Are there any disadvantages to wet dog food?
Wet dog food is more expensive on average than kibble, and it’s sold in smaller quantities, so it’s a lot easier (and thus more cost-effective) to buy dry food in bulk that lasts for weeks or even months at a time. You’ll likely have to re-stock up on wet food more often. Wet food is also messier, has a stronger smell, and will go bad if it’s not eaten right away. While unopened cans have long shelf lives, leftovers require refrigeration if you don’t use an entire can or package for one meal. And it takes a bit longer to open up and prepare, whereas kibble can simply be scooped right into your dog’s bowl in a matter of seconds.
Keep in mind that wet dog food doesn’t prevent tartar buildup the way dry food does, and the higher fat content isn’t the best choice for dogs who are sensitive to fatty food or breeds predisposed to pancreatitis. Even if you don’t think this will be an issue with your canine companion, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before adding a new element to your pet’s meals– especially since the right amount of wet food for your dog may be tricky to figure out at first, depending on their breed, size, age, and overall health.
Cesar Gourmet Wet Dog Food Variety Packs
Available in multiple flavors, these little containers of wet dog food come in the perfect serving sizes for smaller breeds.
Pros: Perhaps the biggest benefit to this wet dog food is its excellent flavor variety. There are 12 different flavors, all variety packs. Your dog is less likely to get bored of the same taste and refuse to eat their meals as a result. Indeed, due to the flavor variety, this food is an ideal choice that will have most picky eaters gobbling down their dinner. You have the option to buy this food in a pack of 12 or 24 packages, and each tray is ideally portioned for small dogs.
Cons: While this wet dog food comes perfect sized for small breeds, bigger dogs will almost certainly need more than one tray at a time; trays contain 3.5 ounces of food, which is too small to fill the stomachs of larger breeds. If you plan to feed your bigger dog this wet food alone, you’ll end up serving more than one tray per meal. Thus the cost of this food will add up quickly for everyday use.
Bottom Line: Even most picky eaters will love this flavorful, varied wet dog food. The serving sizes are perfect for smaller breeds, supplementing kibble with a small snack between meals or as the occasional treat for your furry friend.
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Wet Dog Food
This flavorful, protein-rich pack of wet dog food will keep your dog full, happy, and energetic.
Pros: This all-natural wet dog food is another great choice as both a standalone meal for your dog or to supplement a bowl of kibble; the 12.5-ounce cans are big enough to satisfy even large dog breeds, or you can mix a few spoonfuls in with dry food to make each can last longer. There are six different varieties to choose from.
Cons: Even though you get plenty of dog food for your money, it is more expensive than many similar bulk packs of wet dog foods.
Bottom Line: This all-natural dog food is suitable for grown dogs of all breeds and sizes. Not only is it made without preservatives, but it’s full of protein, vitamins, and minerals to help keep your pooch healthy. Each can is large enough to serve as an entire meal if desired.
Purina ONE SmartBlend Wet Dog Food
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money in the long run, and this low-price set of canned, natural wet dog food will help dog owners do just that.
Pros: You know you’re getting your money’s worth with this budget-friendly wet dog food. The bulk pack is already a bit lower priced than most, and you get larger-than-average cans to boot; at 13 ounces per can, you get an even better value. Not to mention this food is made with real meat rather than being all filler with chicken or meat flavorings. Unlike most other wet dog foods, you have the option between two consistencies: there’s the more solid ground-up style or the gravy style, which provides more moisture. The latter is a good choice for dogs who need to get extra hydration from their food. Two variety packs are available if you want to mix and match flavors.
Cons: There are only three different flavor varieties to choose from. Also keep in mind that while the gravy style is a great way to sneak an extra hydration boost into your pup’s food, it may be too watery for some dogs. Picky eaters might refuse to eat it as a result.
Bottom Line: Buying in bulk is a great money saver if you have the means to do it, and wet dog food is no exception. Not only is this 12-pack of real meat wet dog food a budget-friendly option, but the larger cans give you an even better bang for your buck.
Hill's Science Diet Wet Dog Food
Thanks to this dog food, your canine companion doesn't have to miss out on enjoying wet dog food even if he or she has a sensitive stomach.
Pros: While this food is great for just about any dog size or breed, it was made especially for dogs with sensitive stomachs so that they can enjoy tasty wet food without irritation. Even if your dog doesn’t have this issue, this food is still a worthwhile choice for helping to promote healthy digestive systems and skin. And each can is fully sized at 12.5 ounces, large enough to work as a standalone full meal if desired, though it’s also equally great for supplementing dry food as well.
Cons: This wet dog food isn’t available in many different flavors. There are only three total options (plus a variety pack if you want all three in one set). And even though this wet food is sold as a set of 12 cans per purchase, it’s still on the pricey side for a bulk pack.
Bottom Line: We want our furry friends to be as happy and healthy as possible, a tricky task if your pup has a sensitive stomach. Fortunately, this wet dog food is formulated specifically to be easily digested, even for dogs with this problem.
JustFoodForDogs PantryFresh Dog Food
Great for adult dogs and puppies alike, this high-end, preserve-free dog food is equally great as a regular part of your dog's diet or an occasional treat.
Pros: This almost human-like wet dog food is made with natural ingredients and contains no preservatives. It comes ready to serve, requiring a bit less preparation than most wet dog foods. Even though this wet dog food doesn’t come in a can, no refrigeration is required until the package has been opened, and each package has a two-year shelf life. If you plan to use this only as an occasional treat for your pup, you won’t have to worry about the food going bad. And as a bonus, in addition to all the other flavor choices, there are joint and skin support options that give your dog a little extra health boost.
Cons: Since this is a premium wet dog food option, it’s quite a bit more expensive than any other item on the list, especially since the serving sizes aren’t particularly big. Each package only works as a full meal for dogs up to 25 pounds. Larger breeds will require more than one packet if you plan on feeding your canine companion only wet food.
Bottom Line: If you want your dog to only have the best when it comes to food, this long-lasting, easy-to-serve, premium wet dog food is the perfect choice. It makes for a great full meal for smaller dog breeds and a nice snack or pairing with kibble for larger dogs.
Whether you want to add wet food to your dog’s daily meals or simply keep a few cans on hand as an occasional treat, your pup will appreciate the extra protein, fat, and taste it provides. And with so many different flavors to choose from, there’s certain to be at least one that your dog won’t be able to get enough of.