Dry dog food sitting next to an open can of wet dog food.

Is Dry Food Or Wet Food Better For Dogs?

11 mins |

Balanced nutrition is essential for any dog, and choosing the right food from multiple dog food brands can take time and effort for new people. In addition to hundreds of dog food brands, dog owners also get confused between wet dog food and dry dog food. Is dry food or wet food better for dogs?

Generally, dogs can eat wet and dry dog food. However, wet dog food is better than dry dog food because dogs like to eat it due to its better aroma (palatability), a lower amount of undigestible carbohydrates, and better moisture content. Wet dog food also helps maintain hydration and prevention of kidney stones.

Both types of food have some benefits and limitations, so it’s not a debate of right or wrong but rather personal ease and dog requirements that ultimately determine which food, dry or wet, is better for the dog.

It’s essential to consult with your vet for more specific feeding recommendations that best fit your dog’s health. This article will cover the differences between wet dog food and dry dog food and their pros and cons.

What Is The Difference Between Dry And Wet Dog Food?

An overhead shot of different bowls of wet and dry dog food.
Lots of options for doggies here!

Dry dog food is called kibble, while wet dog food is called canned food. The primary difference between dry and wet dog food is water content. The amount of water in Dry dog feed is 3-10%, while in wet dog food, water contents range between 60-84% of the food. Due to this vast difference, wet dog food’s shelf life is lower than dry dog food.

Wet dog food contains fewer carbohydrates, while dry dog food contains more carbohydrates.

Another significant difference between wet and dry dog food is the difference in calories by eating the same amount of dog food. Dogs can obtain more calories by eating a smaller quantity of dry dog food (kibble) In contrast, dogs need to eat higher volume, usually twice or thrice, to reach the same calorie level.

Is Dry Food Or Wet Food Better For Dogs

Wet dog food (canned food) is better than dry dog food in certain aspects. Dogs are carnivores, which means they love to eat meat (protein). From a digestion and nutrition perspective, canned food is better for dogs than dry food.

Dogs love to eat canned food due to the aroma of meat in wet dog food. The quantity of complex carbohydrates is lower in canned or wet food compared to dry dog food, which makes digestion of food fast and easy.

Wet dog food helps maintain dogs’ hydration status because dogs do not drink water as they should. The presence of a higher amount of water in wet food helps maintain the water requirements of the dog. Dogs eating wet food are also less prone to kidney stones or other renal diseases.

When you are confused about what to choose, it’s better to consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will recommend the best dog food based on your dog’s needs.

How Do Manufacturers Make Wet Dog Food, Or How Do They Process Wet Dog Food?

How is wet dog food or canned food made? Wet or canned food processing starts with grinding protein sources or meat ingredients. In the second step, gravy (which contains grains, vitamins, and minerals) is added to the grinding mixture. After mixing gravy with ground protein content, the whole food is cooked and sterilized. After cooling, food is packed in airtight, sanitized containers for storage. The canning process reduces the need for preservatives and other additives.

How Do Manufacturers Make Dry Dog Food, Or How Do They process Dry Dog Food?

How is dry dog food processed? Making process of dry dog food starts with ingredient selection and calculation. Then the weighted ingredients are mixed to form a dough.

The ingredient mixture is pulverized to create a small uniform particle of dough that can be cooked. In the extrusion process, the pulverized dough is heated under pressure and passes through a hole to produce kibble.

Then the kibble is dried and cooled. Later, kibble coating is done with a spray of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. Now kibble is ready for packaging.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Wet/Canned Dog Food?

Canned food offers certain benefits that dry food doesn’t provide, such as the following.

Better Taste

Wet dog food tastes better due to the presence of different aromas and meaty flavors in canned food. Due to better taste, picky eaters like to eat wet food. The presence of aroma and flavor may entice older and sick dogs if their appetite has decreased.

Better Digestibility

Wet dog food is easier to digest than dry dog food. Wet dog food contains higher moisture which helps in digestion.

Dogs like to eat canned food because it contains higher protein and fat (both essential for dog health and nutrition). Fewer undigestible carbohydrates in wet dog food also help in better digestion and better nutrition.

Better Body Hydration

Wet food may be suitable for dogs suffering from kidney or urinary problems. The high moisture content in wet food will be suitable for dogs that do not drink enough water as they should.

Weight Management

Fewer carbohydrates in wet dog food reduce the potential for weight gain.

Wet dog food also suits those dogs who always seem to be begging for more food. Your dog’s weight will not increase from eating more food because higher content of water in wet food will help them feel fuller. This bulk portion of wet food will provide the same calories as eating a smaller amount of dry food or kibble.

Easier To Chew

Older dogs with dental problems or other oral abnormalities can easily chew wet food compared to dry food.

Constipation Reliever

Canned dog food is soft and contains more water which may soften the stool and relieve constipation.

What Are The Limitations Or Disadvantages Of Wet Dog Food?

Canned dog food has some limitations or disadvantages as compared to wet dog food, such as the following.

Shorter Shelf Life

Wet dog food has a shorter shelf life than dry dog food. Owing to its higher moisture content, wet dog food spoils fast when left open.

Difficult Storage

Wet dog food usually begins to spoil after its opening. Wet food needs to be refrigerated after opening the container/bag. Dogs should consume it within a few days after the first serving.

More Expensive

Wet dog food is more expensive than dry dog food brands.

Periodontal Problem

Dogs chew wet food less than they do while eating dry dog food. Wet food can trap between teeth, which can lead to tartar buildup and other dental problems.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Dry Dog Food?

Dry dog food (kibble) sometimes provides benefits wet food doesn’t. The advantages of dry dog food include the following.

Dental Health

While eating dry food, dogs chew food more than wet food, which helps to prevent teeth tartar buildup and other secondary oral bacterial periodontal diseases.

Gastrointestinal Health

Some veterinarians claim dry dog food contains more fiber than wet dog food and can aid in managing chronic diarrhea in dogs.

Longer Shelf Life

Dry dog food doesn’t spoil early, and it suits those dogs who are slow eaters. Slow-eating dogs can eat their dry food in portions without spoilage. You can store dry food for months until the product expiry date.

Less Expensive

Dry food is cheaper than wet dog food.

Convenience And Freshness

Dry dog food is much more convenient than wet dog food. It remains fresh and usable in the feeding bowl for hours after opening the dry feeding bag.

What Are The Limitations Or Disadvantages Of Dry Dog Food?

Feeding dry dog food has some limitations, such as the following.


Dry kibble is hard for the stomach to break and needs more water. The percentage of water in dry dog food is around 10%, which is not enough to hydrate the animal. Dogs eating dry dog food can suffer from dehydration and renal problems if they do not drink enough water as they should.

More Grains And Poor Digestion

Cereal and grains are higher in dry dog food than in wet dog food. It is difficult for dogs to digest a higher ratio of carbohydrates. That’s why the digestibility of dry dog food is lower than kibble.

Nutrient Loss In Dry Dog Food Making

High-heat cooking of dry dog food results in the loss of some nutrients while wet dog food requires less processing as compared to dry dog food. That’s why nutrient loss is lower in the processing of wet dog food.

Need Preservatives

Dry dog food requires preservatives and flavors, mainly in grain-mixed, processed dry dog food. Sometimes dogs develop dog food allergies due to these preservatives.

What Dry Food Do Veterinarians Recommend For Dogs?

Veterinarians recommend dog food after a complete examination and figuring out the body requirements of the dog. The most commonly recommended dry dog food by veterinarians includes Science Diet, Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, and more.

Here is the list of dry dog food options for dogs according to different stages of life.

  • Puppy dry dog food: Hill’s Science Diet adult chicken and barely recipe dry dog food
  • Adult dry dog food: Royal Canin dry dog food
  • Senior Dry dog food: Purina Pro Plan dry dog food

What Wet Food Do Veterinarians Recommend For Dogs?

Veterinarians recommend wet dog food brands such as Purina Pro Plan, Science Diet, and Royal Canin.

The most commonly recommended wet dog food according to different categories of age include:

  • Puppy wet dog food: Royal Canin puppy wet dog food
  • Adult wet dog food: Hill’s Science Diet adult canned food
  • Senior wet dog food” Purina Pro Plan canned dog food.

Should I Feed My Dog Mixed Wet And Dry Dog Food?

A bowl of wet dog food next to a bowl of dry dog food.
Should these be mixed together? Read on to find out!

Let’s start with mixing wet and dry dog food.

Mixing Wet And Dry Dog Food

Mixing dry and wet dog food is another option that can benefit your dog. Your dog will receive a variety of ingredients rather than from one source. However, you must provide proper daily food according to your dog’s feeding needs to avoid being overweight.

Tips For Mix Feeding Dogs Wet And Dry Food

  1. First, seek veterinarian advice for estimating the calories your dog needs and ensure you provide the right amount of dog food according to its age and health status.
  2. Read feeding guidelines carefully during mix feeding because the number of calories per gram varies in wet and dry dog food. It’s more complicated to add half dry food and half wet food.
  3. The mixed feeding change should be gradual because a sudden change in diet can cause diarrhea and stomach upset. For this purpose, follow the thumb rule of a diet transition period of 7 days feeding plan. Mix a tiny amount of new food on day one and then gradually replace the new food with the old one in seven days.
  4. Don’t mix dry dog food with wet dog food in one bowl when you feed your dog. You can’t serve this feed at different times because it will eventually spoil.

What Is The Ideal Diet For A Dog?

A diet that maintains the nutrient and health requirements is an ideal diet. The primary nutrient a dog requires after water is protein, and the dog’s stomach is built to digest protein. The diet should contain good quality protein (animal source/plant source).

Good protein sources for dogs include beef, chicken, and lamb. Other essential nutrients required by dogs include carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Final Thoughts: Is Dry Food Or Wet Food Better For Dogs?

Both dry and wet dry dog food has benefits as well as some limitations. Both dog foods provide nutrition to dogs. So, the content inside dog food and the body needs of a dog matter as compared to variety. That’s why you must consult your vet for more specific recommendations according to your dog’s nutrient requirements.

So, what kind of food are you leaning toward getting? Let us know your thoughts and why in the comments below!

Dr. Ali Hussan
Dr. Ali Hussan
DVM, University Of Veterinary And Animal Science, 2019 M.Phil. (Clinical Medicine And Surgery), University Of Agriculture Faisalabad, 2021 Dr. Ali is a well-known veterinarian, writer, and pet clinical medicine expert. Dr. Ali has spent more than seven years following his passion for pets. He has an extensive background in treating pets. He is passionate about the welfare of speechless creatures. He is a regular contributor to numerous veterinary-industry books and websites.