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Dog food: wet or dry?

Updated on August 29, 2009

As you head towards the aisle of your favorite pet store the Shakespearean dog food dilemma may suddenly assault you: to buy or not to buy? The dilemma of course is between two well known contenders: crunchy kibble conveniently in a bag or soft and palatable canned food. Of course, if it were your dog to decide between the two, he would very likely make it easy for you by simply choosing both.

However, there may be instances where the question is not even worth pondering. These are the dogs that may categorically refuse one or the other, distinctively deciding for themselves. These dogs have a pretty name that depicts them very well, even if this is observed more in the feline world, they are distinctly called: finicky eaters.

If ultimately as an owner, you are the one to have to decide, you may want to consider several pros and cons. Canned food and dry food are quite different in format and they may contain quite different ingredients. Prices may as well vary greatly.

Having worked for a veterinary hospital, I would say a premium dry dog food is the best option among the two. By premium I mean a dog food that contains a meat source as the first ingredient. Meat byproducts do not count as these are pretty bad for dogs, containing 4D meat, that is, meat from the dead, dying, diseased or disabled. The label should say instead simply ''Turkey, or chicken or salmon''.

The reason why I consider dry food better is for the fact that I have seen too many dogs come in for dental cleanings. Often these dogs that were affected by periodontal disease were dogs that were fed most of their lives canned foods.

It is pretty obvious why canned foods do not help dogs with maintaining good oral hygiene. Canned dog foods lack the abrasive crunchiness that kibble foods exert on teeth. Indeed, canned food is often prescribed for dogs that have no teeth or dogs with oral pain. The canned food may quite easily be gulped down whole without any need to chew.

Dry food on the other hand, may help scrape tartar off of teeth keeping them in good shape, however it is important to point out that this is often not enough. More often than not, dogs will still need bones and dental toys to gnaw on, along with routine tooth brushing. Of course, for dogs that tend to gulp down their food without even chewing dry food may not do much.

Wet food is often prescribed for convalescent dogs because it is particularly palatable and aromatic. Indeed, I did get quite often phone calls from owners having trouble because their dog once brought back to health, no longer wanted to go back to dry kibble! Indeed, most of the time, ill dogs or dogs with dental problems will refuse dry food but readily accept canned food when it is offered.

The advantage of wet food other than being more palatable, is the fact that it provides moisture. This is good for dogs that are dehydrated or that do not drink enough. However, this also means that you are paying more for food with lots of water content.

On the other hand, wet dog food has often more protein and this explains why it is much more expensive than dry food. From a quality point of view wet food can be more nutritious and better digestible than a cheap bag of dry food, however, it lacks the dental scraping qualities as mentioned.

So what is the final verdict?A premium dry food may be a winner because of its convenience, affordability and benefits however, between the two options of wet and dry dog food there is a third option which in my opinion is ultimately the winning one. This is the food the dog was born to eat and the food the dog ultimately craves and thrives on. This is the all natural ''raw diet''.


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I have always fed my dogs a good healthy dry dog food with an occasional treat of canned. When I say occasional I mean on holidays and birthday. I never knew where the meat in meat by products came from. That can't be healthy.

    • filthyscoundral profile image


      9 years ago

      i recently had to put my dog on an organic diet found out corn is horrible for them. If corn is the first ingriedient in your dogs food you should switch to one with chicken or rice.


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