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The best wet dog food resembles its natural state in terms of ingredients and is better than dry food in kibble form. This article explains the benefits of serving the wet dog food in comparison to dry food based on age and health conditions.
Yes, wet food is good for dogs because it is easier for dogs to digest and keeps them hydrated due to its moisture content.
Both wet and dry dog food has their own pros and cons. Most importantly, you should feed your dog with a suitable combination of nutrients that fits its nutritional needs.
Wet dog food usually contains a higher amount of animal protein but has less fats and carbohydrates than dry food. When processing the wet food, the animal protein or meat ingredients are first grinded. Thereafter, gravy containing minerals, grains and vitamins are added. The mixture is then cooked, sterilized and canned.
In dry food processing, relatively similar ingredients are used but with the absence of gravy. The meat mixture is turned into a consistent dough through pulverization before it is ready to be cooked.
Kibbles are then formed by extruding the dough through specific shaped holes after being cooked. They are dried and sprayed with fats, vitamins, minerals, and oils and packaged immediately. Some dry dog food is added with live probiotics to improve immune and digestive health.
The most distinctive factor that differentiates wet with dry food is the content of moisture in it. Wet dog food contains more moisture, i.e. up to 78% while dry food has a maximum moisture of 10%.
The high moisture content in wet dog food makes it a good choice for dogs that dislike drinking water or have urinary or kidney disease that require proper hydration. When serving your dog wet food, you can mix in medications or supplements, especially for dogs who have issues taking them separately.
Even though the two types of food are processed differently, their nutritional values are relatively the same. Wet dog food is most suitable for fussy eaters, sick or senior dogs whose sense of smell or taste buds have deteriorated. Wet dog food will taste and smell better compared to dry dog food.
However, wet food may take up more storage space and is often more expensive than dry food. Wet dog food is usually sold in cans while dry food often comes in bags.
It also takes more time to prepare wet food because it should be served fresh and may spoil faster in comparison to dry dog food. In contrast, most dry food can be stored longer.
You should remember to brush your dog’s teeth everyday to avoid dental diseases if you choose to serve wet food. Kibble (dry food) is able to keep your dog’s teeth clean.
When buying wet dog food, you should select animal protein as the first ingredient. Dogs’ digestive system can digest fats and proteins better than carbohydrates and are slowest for fiber.
Take note of the source of the protein used by checking the label, for example, ‘venison’ or ‘beef’. Avoid those labelled as ‘meat’ in general as you would not know the type of animal used.
You can select wet food containing quality whole grains like brown rice and barley for your dog if it is not sensitive to grains. Whole grain diets are better than grain free diets as they consist of carbs that active dogs require.
The FDA has also reported on the potential link between grain free diets and canine dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a type of heart condition that decreases the heart’s ability to produce pressure to pump blood. Therefore, a diet that contains high amounts of lentils, peas, and other legume seeds as main ingredients should be avoided.
Vegetables provide your dog with minerals and vitamins to keep it healthy. The good vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots are also used as common thickeners in many wet dog foods.
The possibility of wet dog food to contain fillers such as rice or corn is low compared to dry food. Food with high content of fillers can cause bloating, gas or diarrhea in dogs
Moreover, fillers contribute to pet obesity because they are carbohydrates with a high glycemic index. They increase levels of blood sugar rapidly and produce hormonal signals that negatively affect metabolism and weight gain in the long run.
Avoid feeding your dog with food containing harmful chemical or artificial ingredients that adds colour, flavor or preservative. These additives can be harmful to your dog’s health.
To keep food interesting for your dog, you could mix the textures of the food such as
Bits and chunks are usually served in broth, gravy or jelly form and have the highest content of moisture in comparison to pate or minced dog food.
A general guideline is 3 oz per 3 pounds daily, given in small portions in 2 to 3 meals by taking your dog’s requirement for calories into consideration.
Food labels are always helpful in providing the recommended amount of wet dog food to serve to your dog. Nonetheless, you should also take your dog’s breed, size, activity level, temperament and environment to make necessary adjustments to its diet.
The frequency of feeding is also dependent on the age of your dog. Puppies require multiple feedings in a day while adult dogs should be fed one to two times daily.
If you are unsure, always consult the veterinarian before changing the diet of your dog.
Newly weaned puppies should be given wet food so that it is easier to swallow as compared to dry food. It is important to buy wet dog food that is labelled ‘for puppy’ or with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label ‘Growth and Reproduction’.
Wet dog food for puppies should have at least 22% protein and double the crude fat content of adult dog food. You could search for wet dog food for puppies with additional DHA because it can aid to support its developing heart, brain and eyes.
For a healthy adult dog, you can source wet dog food that has certification from AAFCO with the label ‘complete and balanced’. Such a diet will have a combination of protein, carbohydrate (include fiber), fat, vitamins, minerals and other safe ingredients.
The wet dog food should contain more than 10% protein, less than 50% carbohydrates, and 2 to 4.5% fiber.
Senior dogs typically need 20% lower calories than adult dogs. To ensure that they have sufficient nutrition, senior dogs’ diet should be high in protein and fat, but low in carbohydrate. Wet dog food can cater to these needs mentioned.
Senior dogs that have joint problems can be fed wet dog food that supports joint health. You can also add supplements for joint health into their diet. Supplements that contain glucosamine can help dogs with joint issues. You can read more about it in this Glucosamine for Dogs article.
You should avoid switching food for your dog abruptly as it can result in gastrointestinal upset, i.e. diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Transitional switching to a new diet by gradually increasing a small portion of the new food with the current food over 5 to 7 days is essential to allow your dog to adjust accordingly.
A diet transition that is good for dogs is presented below:
Since dogs generally like warm meals, you could heat the refrigerated wet food before serving.
For dogs with sensitive stomachs, wet food helps to prevent bloating and other stomach issues due to its higher digestibility (more moisture) compared to dry food.
An allergic reaction is usually due to the source of protein instead of the carbohydrate. The common proteins that dogs are allergic to are chicken, beef, lamb, pork, and rabbit.
It is best to consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog to be allergic to any of the proteins. Since wet dog food is sold in cans and has clear labelling, you can just refer to the ingredients list to identify the animal protein used in the wet dog food before purchasing.
If you want to try a fresh dog food diet for your dog to avoid any allergic reactions, you can check out Petcubes’ raw dog food, meal toppers or bone broth ranges to add more nutrition to your dog’s diet.
To understand more on the food to be served to dogs with food allergies, you can refer to the article What is Hypoallergenic Dog Food.
Wet dog food is better for dogs with weight management issues as it tends to make them feel full faster than dry food due to its moisture content.
If your dog is obese, it could cause serious health complications or reduce the lifespan of your dog. Thus, you should consider switching your dog’s diet to a lower carbohydrate and fat option like wet food. But before switching, do discuss with your veterinarian about the diet change.
For a more in depth analysis on weight loss, you can refer to the article Dog Losing Weight: What You Should Know.
Wet dog food can aid dogs in gaining more lean mass owing to the higher content of quality proteins.
To understand further on the topic of weight gain, you should read the article How to Help an Underweight Dog Gain Weight.
Wet dog food is sealed in a can, thus preservatives are not needed. If the can is unopened, the wet food can typically last up to 3 years. However, it is best to check the ‘best before’ date printed on the can.
If the canned food is opened, it can still be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Any unfinished wet food that has been served to your dog should be disposed of as it can be easily contaminated with bacteria. Spoiled wet food usually has a bad smell, does not seem similar to the condition at the time of opening and may even have worms.
Immediately dispose of wet food that remains in the bowl exceeding 4 hours, especially when it is a hot day or room temperature exceeds 50°F. Do ensure that your dog is unable to get into food that has been thrown out.
In summary, wet dog food is not necessarily better than dry food in comparison, but the key to choosing the best food for your dog is in the quality of food you choose. It is vital to consider your dog’s nutritional needs when you try to introduce wet food into its diet. You can even mix in some dry food for maximum benefits.
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