What is the Best Wet Dog Food? [2020]

Last Updated 31 JANUARY 2020

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc (Hons)

Wet food can offer a host of benefits to dogs, particularly when it comes to improving hydration levels which in turn can support good urinary health. Wet foods also provide a highly palatable food option for older dogs, fussy eaters and those who may be off their food due to illness or discomfort caused by dental disease or other oral health conditions.

Sounds good right? However, not all wet foods are created equal. There are a few things to consider when choosing the best wet food for your pooch.

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Skip to a Section:

  • 1. Factors to Consider: Quality
  • 2. Cost per Feed
  • 3. Specific benefits of your chosen food
  • 4. Comparison table
  • 5. Best value wet food
  • 6. Highest rated wet food
  • 7. Further reading
  • 1. Moisture content and quality

    Wet foods for dogs can have vastly different moisture contents, digestibility and ingredients so it can sometimes be like comparing apples to oranges. When it comes to comparing wet food for dogs, it definitely pays to do your research.

    Of course, wet foods have a higher moisture (water) content than dry foods and this is not a bad thing - more water in the food can help to increase hydration levels which in turn is beneficial for urinary tract and kidney health. The flip side of this however is that high moisture content (typically 70% and higher in wet foods) means that wet foods are less energy and nutrient dense than dry food options (which are comparitively about 6-10% moisture).

    High moisture content does mean that you need to feed a lot more by weight of most canned foods to meet your dog's nutritional needs, which makes them generally less economical, particularly for medium and large breeds.

    High quality, scientifically based canned dog food formulas have proven high levels of digestibility, which means the nutrients in your dog's food are easily digested and utilised. Lower quality foods can have reduced levels of digestibility which can result in tummy upsets, gas production and soft or runny stools.

    Although the ingredients listing alone doesn't provide sufficient information to determine the quality of a dog food, it can give you some hints as to its quality. Lower quality foods may use gelling agents such as guar gum or seaweed extracts to give their foods a more appealing texture; while gelling agents are generally considered to be safe they don't offer any nutritional benefits to your pet so many pet owners prefer to avoid them. Conversely, higher quality wet foods may contain added ingredients designed to support your dog's overall health and wellbeing such as green lipped mussel for joint function or fish oil for skin and coat health.

    The takeaway message: moisture content varies greatly between different canned foods so it can be difficult to compare them nutritionally at face value.

    Want to know more? Read more about ingredients in dog food and ingredients vs nutrients in pet foods.

    Cost per Feed

    As we touched on earlier, the high moisture content of canned foods can make them much less economical to feed, particularly for larger dogs. Calculating the cost per feed for wet foods is the best way to find the most economical option as moisture content, digestibility, nutrient density and feeding amount can vary signifcantly from product to product making a cost per kilogram comparison pointless.

    Although some brands might appear more economical due to larger can size or lower price, you may be suprised to find that some high end brands actually offer better value for money.

    The takeaway message: the high moisture content of wet foods makes them less economical than dry food.

    Want to know more? Read about calculating cost per feed.

    Specific benefits

    When you're looking for a wet food for a dog, consider their specific needs to help narrow down the search. For instance if you have an older dog, a senior or mature formula will offer increased digestibility and added benefits such as joint health support. If your dog is a little on the heavy side or prone to weight gain, you may be better served by choosing a weight control recipe which is lower in fat and higher in fibre to promote feelings of satiety.

    Wet dog food compared

    Product Name Pack Size Cost per Day 10kg dog* Cost per Day 25kg dog* First 5 Ingredients The Details

    Royal Canin Mini Adult Light

    12 x 195g $2.25 $7.52 Meat and animal derivatives, cereals, derivatives of vegetable origin, minerals Delivers high quality nutrition with reduced calories for small breed dogs with a tendency to gain weight.

    Ziwi Peak Wet Dog Food Venison

    12 x 390g $3.10 $10.36 Venison, Venison Broth, Venison Heart, Venison Lung, Venison Liver Natural, limited ingredient canned food made in New Zealand with a novel protein (Venison).

    K9 Natural Lamb Feast Canned

    12 x 370g / 24 x 170g $1.99 $6.67 Lamb, Lamb Blood, Lamb Tripe, Eggs, Lamb Liver Natural, grain free, high meat canned food, complete and balanced for all life stages.

    Black Hawk Grain Free Chicken Adult Canned

    12 x 400g / 9 x 100g $1.73 $5.78 Chicken, Lamb, Carrots, Peas, Potato Natural, grain free, Australian made canned food for adult dogs.

    Hill's Science Diet Chicken & Barley Entree

    12 x 370g $1.21 $4.05 Water, Chicken, Pork Liver, Whole Grain Corn, Cracked Pearled Barley Premium quality, highly digestible, complete and balanced canned food for adult dogs.

    My Dog Chicken Supreme

    6 x 100g / 12 x 100g $5.40 $13.49 Meats including chicken, lamb, beef, pork; gelling agents Australian made, highly palatable canned food with no added preservatives.

    Pro Plan Savor Adult Lamb & Vegetables Entree

    12 x 368g $1.20 $4.02 Water, Lamb, Liver, Wheat gluten, Poultry Premium quality, highly digestible canned food recipe suitable for adult dogs.

    Holistic Select Grain Free Chicken Pate

    12 x 369g $1.81 $6.04 Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Whitefish, Ground Dried Peas Natural, grain free, all life stages canned food with an appealing pate texture.

    Optimum Adult with Beef & Rice

    12 x 700g $2.12 $4.24 Meat (chicken, beef, lamb &/or pork); rice; egg; gelling agents; vegetable oil; vegetable fibre Australian made canned food for adult dogs featuring a large, 700g can size.

    *Cost per day calculated based on feeding 50% of daily energy needs using wet food in the most economical pack size. Prices correct as of 20 September 2018. Where DE contents for foods were not provided recommended feeding guide was used to calculate feeding amount.

    Best value wet foods for dogs

    The canned foods with the lowest cost per kilogram were not always the most cost effective feeding option, this is likely due to the fact that cheaper products could be less energy dense, less digestible and have higher water contents.

    The winners? Pro Plan Savor Lamb & Vegies Entree and Hill's Science Diet Chicken & Barley Entree.

    Highest rated wet foods for dogs

    Super premium science based and high meat, premium natural brands featured at the top of Pet Circle customer ratings for canned dog foods demonstrating that it pays to look at the ingredients listing and proof behind product claims when choosing a canned food for your dog.

    The winners? Royal Canin Adult Light Wet, Ziwi Peak Wet Dog Food Venison and K9 Natural Lamb Feast Canned.

    The bottom line

    Choosing the best wet food for your dog is not a simple process, but with a little research you can find an option that is not only cost effective but offers a whole host of benefits for your canine companion.

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    Our vets' top picks

    Dr Teagan

    Royal Canin Breed Specific Wet Food Varieties

    "I really like the Royal Canin range of breed specific wet foods for Poodles, Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. As smaller breeds which tend to be prone to urinary tract problems, it makes sense to offer wet food as part of the diet for these dogs and these diets offer premium, targeted nutrition that complements the range of breed specific dry foods really well. "

    Dr Carla

    Holistic Select Canine Wet Food Varieties

    "While I like different brands for different reasons, I have always been impressed with the Holistic Select line of wet food. Not only is it complete and balanced, but it is great for owners who want a natural option for wet food. They offer different protein sources such as fish, chicken, and beef - which is usually quite hard to find for wet food. This is perfect for healthy dogs who need a little variety in their diet. I recommend pairing with a premium, high quality dry food."

    Further Reading

    New puppy guide

    Premium pet food: Is it worth it?

    What is the Best Puppy Food?

    Boredom busters for dogs

    Risks and Benefits to Raw Feeding

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