If you’re like other pet owners, chances are you’ve been browsing for pet food at some point and become completely overwhelmed by your options. Having so many choices when it comes to choosing your dog’s food can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the variety means there’s a food out there for virtually every dog, and these days there are more and more specialized foods that cater to exactly what your dog needs in a food. On the other hand, your dog can’t talk to you and tell you what he needs or wants in his food, so it’s up to you to sort through your options and decide what’s best. That can be tricky, and for some pet parents, finding the right food turns into a never ending process of trial and error.
In this post, we’ll help you to at least cut your options in half. One of the first things to think about when looking for a dog food is whether you should go with a wet food or a dry food. Here, we’ve laid out some of the pros and cons of each type of food.
Most owners choose to feed their dogs dry food, and it is by far the more popular option between wet and dry food. The most obvious advantage of dry food is its convenience. Dry food is typically available in bulk, which makes it more economical than wet food, it doesn’t require refrigeration after opening, and it can be left out all day without the worry of it going bad. Certain dry foods are also designed to help clean your dog’s teeth by scraping at plaque and tartar build up, so if your dog is especially prone to dental issues, dry food might be a better choice. Additionally, if you use interactive feeding methods like food puzzles or food mats, dry food is definitely the easier option, and will be much easier for you to clean after mealtime is over.
There are some disadvantages to dry food that you should consider, though. One obvious one is that dry food is difficult to eat for dog with missing or no teeth, dogs with jaw problems, and even dogs with very small mouths. From a nutritional standpoint, dry foods are usually higher in carbohydrates, because some fat needs to be taken out to help kibble keep its shape. Fat is one of your dog’s main energy sources, so if your dog is extremely active, dry food might not be able to give him the energy he needs.
If it were up to most dogs, they would want to be fed wet food over dry food any day. Because its packaged in airtight cans, wet food typically does not use as many preservatives as dry food, so it’s closer to the real deal. This makes it more palatable and appealing to your dog. Most wet food also has less carbohydrates and more fat, making it great for active dogs who require more energy in their food. Does your dog have a few pounds to lose? Wet food might also be a good option in this case. Because of the extra moisture content, the same amount of nutrients take up a larger volume compared to dry food, so your dog will feel fuller faster. The extra moisture is also a helpful source of hydration for dogs who don’t drink much water or dogs who live in a hot, dry climate.
Wet food isn’t without its drawbacks, though. The most obvious drawback of feeding your dog wet food is that it's prone to going bad. Wet food can't be left out for more than an hour, and any food not eaten has be promptly refrigerated. If your dog is a slow eater or can’t make it through a can of food within a day or two, it might be best to stick to dry food. If you have a large dog, you’ll also have to feed your dog quite a bit of canned food to meet his nutritional requirements. And because wet food is usually more expensive, the cost of feeding your dog a wet food only diet can add up quickly!
A Third Option: Why Not Both?
After reading through the pros and cons of wet and dry food, you might still be lost. Is there a way that you could get the benefits of both a dry and wet food diet with none of the drawbacks of either? A mix of the two does almost exactly that! If you use canned food as a “topper”, meaning you mix it into your dog’s dry food, you’ll increase the palatability of your dog’s food while also enjoying much of the convenience and economic advantages of feeding dry food. Unless your dog has very specific health or dietary requirements, this is an excellent choice for most dogs. Most wet foods will provide instructions for mixture feeding, but be sure to talk to your vet to determine your dog’s individual energy needs in order to figure out how much of each type of food you should be feeding him.
Hopefully this post is able to help you decide which type of food is best for your dog. It might still be a tough choice on what flavor your dog will love, but at least you'll have an idea of whether dry or wet food is best for your dog!