dogs eating a range of the best wet dog food

What is the Best Wet Dog Food?

Last Updated 6 March 2023

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 Light Weight Care

    12 x 85g $10.50 $17.80 Meat and animal derivatives, derivatives of vegetable origin, cereals, minerals Delivers high quality nutrition with reduced calories for dogs with a tendency to gain weight.

    Ziwi Peak Venison

    12 x 390g $3.80 $7.55 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

    12 x 370g / 24 x 170g $3.80 $6.05 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

    12 x 400g / 9 x 100g $1.76 $3.55 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 $2.30 $5.40 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 $6.60 $13.25 Meats including chicken, lamb, beef, pork; gelling agents Australian made, highly palatable canned food with no added preservatives.

    Pro Plan Savor Lamb & Vegetables Entree

    12 x 368g $2.85 $5.10 Water, Lamb, Liver, Wheat gluten, Poultry Premium quality, highly digestible canned food recipe suitable for adult dogs.

    Ivory Coat Lamb & Sardine Stew

    12 x 400g $3.90 $5.86 Lamb, Chicken, Pea Flour, Sweet Potato, Sardine Natural, grain free, canned food with an appealing stew texture.

    Optimum Adult with Beef & Rice

    12 x 700g $2.56 $6.00 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 30 March 2021. 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, Hill's Science Diet Chicken & Barley Entree and Black Hawk Grain Free Adult Chicken.

    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 Maxi Adult Pouches , Ziwi Peak Wet Dog Food Mackerel & Lamb and Hills Science Diet Adult Beef And Barley Entree 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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    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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