The Benefits of Feeding Both Wet and Dry Dog Food

LAST UPDATED 21 February 2024

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc

Feeding a balanced diet to dogs is of paramount importance for their overall health and well-being. A well-balanced diet ensures that your dog receives the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals essential for their growth, development, and maintenance of bodily functions. Providing a mixed diet that offers both wet and dry food can help balance your dog's diet.

Both wet and dry dog foods offer unique benefits and considerations, catering to diverse dietary needs and preferences of our canine friends. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of wet and dry dog food, exploring their distinct characteristics, nutritional profiles, and the factors to consider when selecting the optimal diet for your beloved canine.

In this article, we'll discuss:

1. Understanding Wet Food

2. Our Top Wet Food Suggestions

3. Understanding Dry Food

4. Our Top Dry Food Suggestions

5. The Power of Mixed Feeding

6. Practical Considerations

7. FAQs

8. What about Raw Feeding?

Understanding Wet Dog Food


  • Helps to increase moisture intake, which is helpful for maintaining urinary health and overall vitality
  • More palatable than dry food, so it can be great for fussy eaters, or older dogs with reduced taste and smell sensation
  • Easier to chew than dry food, making it ideal for dogs with dental disease and jaw misalignment or deformities


  • Generally more expensive per serve than dry food
  • Can lead to weight gain due to it's higher palatability and therefore greater consumption

While it may leave your wallet a little lighter, wet food can be largely beneficial for your pooch.

Dogs often don't drink enough water. Supplementing wet food into their diet can provide them with some much needed hydration to not only prevent dehydration but also the development of many urinary conditions such as urinary crystals or bladder stones.

Urinary crystals form when minerals solidify in the urinary tract. There are many factors that affect the formation of crystals including acidity or alkalinity of the urine, temperature, diet, infections, and other disease processes. However, the chemical concentration of the urine is a major predisposing factor. If your pooch stays hydrated, this will lower the concentration of the urine and helps to 'flush out' their system, reducing the likelihood of crystal formation.

Certain breeds are susceptible to urinary related conditions, and so for these dogs, good hydration is particularly important.

Breeds susceptible to urinary related conditions include:

Older dogs tend to have trouble when it comes to meal times. As they age, dogs can often have a decreased appetite due to loss of taste and smell sensory receptors. However the stronger aroma of wet food compared to dry may increase their desire to eat.

Dental disease and jaw misalignment or deformities can cause difficulties in chewing kibble. Canned food is easier for older dogs to digest, their bodies are able to absorb essential nutrients and it provides comfortable bowel movements.

Wet food is definitely an asset to your dog's diet but be wary of excess weight gain if feeding solely tinned food. Using a light alternative like Hill's Perfect Weight wet food can help with calorie reduction.

Our Top Wet Food Suggestions

Shop Royal Canin Wet Food

Royal Canin's super premium, highly palatable wet food is complete, balanced and available in varieties for different breeds.

Shop Advance Puppy Wet Food

If you've got a growing puppy, Advance wet food is expertly balanced to support their growing nutritional needs. The large tins are also great value, and your pup will love the extra tasty recipe.

Shop Hills Wet Food

Hills Science Diet creates complete and balanced tinned food for dogs of all sizes. As one of our most trusted brands, Hills food is tasty, nutritious, and made with high quality ingredients.

Shop K9 Natural Wet Food

K9 Natural's grain free dog food is packed with the goodness of high quality meats and seafood, including venison and sustainably sourced New Zealand green lipped mussel.

Understanding Dry Dog Food


  • A more convenient and practical option than wet food - more easily stored, with longer shelf life once opened, and no need for refridgeration. Can also be left in the bowl longer than wet food for dogs who like to graze
  • Generally cheaper per serve than wet food
  • Beneficial for dental health - the mechanical action of crunching through kibble, particularly specific dental formulations, is helpful in removing plaque from the teeth


  • Less palatable than wet food
  • Does not improve hydration like wet food does

Many people find dry food to be more convenient and cost effective compared to wet food. The easier storage and transport of dry food reduces excess costs for manufacturers and distributors than wet food and these savings are generally passed on to the consumer. Many pet parents choose to only feed their pet dry kibble, which is perfectly fine provided they drink enough water to compensate for the lack of moisture in the dry food.

From a convenience perspective, dry kibble is definitely a winner. An open bag of food will last months and can be placed in a storage bin or be kept in the original bag at room temperature. In comparison, an opened tin of wet food only lasts a couple of days and must be refrigerated. Due to its moist formulation, wet food cannot be left in the bowl as long or bacteria will set up camp.

Perhaps the biggest advantage with dry food is it's effect on dental health, as dry kibble can help your pooch with their oral hygiene. The scraping of dry food against the teeth removes built up tartar and plaque to prevent nasty dog breath, gingivitis and dental disease. For pets particularly prone to dental conditions, there are special dental care kibbles such as as Hills Science Diet Oral Care and Advance Dental Dog Food.

Our Top Dry Food Suggestions

Hills Science Diet

Hills Science Diet creates balanced, premium formulas in different varieties for different breed sizes, health conditions, and life stages. Using high quality ingredients, Hills contains a clinically proven antioxidant complex to support a healthy immune system.

Royal Canin Dry Food

Royal Canin's range of breed-specific diets are specifically formulated to support the health and wellbeing of the indivdual dog.

Advance Adult Dental for Toy Breeds

If you've got a pint-sized pooch, Advance's Small Adult Dental Formula is perfect. Dental disease is a common issue for small breeds, and early adulthood is the perfect time to start preventative care.

Ivory Coat Grain-Free Ocean Fish

This dry food is very popular among owners of dogs with skin issues. It is Australian-made and grain free, and its high palatability means it is good for tempting fussy eaters.

The Power of Mixing

To equip your dog with a healthy, balanced diet, the ideal method is to provide both wet and dry food - and consider a rotation that alternates between different meat proteins and flavours. This mixed-style feeding program has a number of benefits:

  • Cost-effectiveness - feeding both wet and dry, compared to just wet food, will save you money in the long run due to the affordability of dry food 'per meal'
  • Increased moisture intake - wet food helps keep your dog hydrated due to its high moisture content
  • Variety for enhanced palatability - this is particularly helpful for fussy eaters who don't like to eat the same thing every day
  • Promotes dental health - dry food has a crunchy texture which helps remove tartar, and is therefore much better for your dog's teeth than wet food alone
  • Customisable nutrition tailored to individual needs - this is useful if your dog has multiple health conditions you'd like to address (for instance, dental disease and arthritis)

Examples of mixed feeding approaches:

Combining both wet and dry food can offer a balanced diet while providing variety and addressing different nutritional needs, but it might not always be clear how to mix feed without misbalancing the nutrients. Some examples of how to mix feed include:

• Mix wet and dry food together in one bowl, given for all meals. You may wish to look at the recommended daily feeding amount for one particular wet food and one particular dry food and then halve each.
• Feed wet food in the morning, and dry food in the evening (or vice versa). Again, you may wish to halve the recommended daily feeding amount of each diet to make up one complete meal.
• Give dry food for all meals, and give wet food as a 'special treat' every few days. You may wish to have a couple of different dry food bags on hand - perhaps utilising different meat proteins or pet food brands - and alternate between them, to provide your dog with some variety of flavours.

Practical Considerations

When feeding a mix of both wet and dry food, there are a number of considerations to take into account.

1. Budget considerations and cost-effectiveness

Striking the right balance between wet and dry food based on the dog's individual needs and the owner's budget is crucial. Dry dog food is generally more affordable and has the advantage of longer shelf life, making it a budget-friendly option. Some owners choose to incorporate wet food as a supplement or a treat, using it sparingly to enhance palatability without significantly increasing costs.

Proper storage and handling of wet food

Storing and handling wet dog food with care is crucial to maintain its quality and ensure the health and safety of your pet. Unlike dry food, wet dog food is more susceptible to bacterial growth and spoilage due to its higher moisture content. Proper storage involves refrigeration of opened cans or pouches, as the cold environment inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. It's essential to seal containers tightly and use them within the recommended timeframe to prevent contamination and maintain freshness. Additionally, practicing good hygiene while handling wet dog food, such as washing hands and utensils thoroughly, reduces the risk of cross-contamination.

Monitor food consumption to prevent spoiling

Monitoring your dog's food intake is essential to reduce spoilage and ensure the freshness and safety of the food in their bowl. Many dogs, especially those with specific dietary needs or health issues, may not consume their entire meal in one sitting. Leaving uneaten food in the bowl for extended periods can lead to bacterial growth and spoilage, posing a risk to the dog's health.


Is there much of a difference in quality between pet food brands?

When choosing your pet's food, it is important to consider the quality you're buying. Cheaper products will contain a higher portion of lower quality ingredients which contain little nutritional value. Cheap, supermarket diets are basically the fast food equivalent for your pet and you may notice issues such as a dull, lacklustre coat, and large, bulky, smelly stools.

Dogs fed on a diet with low nutritional value may also develop habits such as eating faeces or strange items such as rocks, soil or grass, as their diet isn't providing sufficient quantities of vital minerals and nutrients. Behavioural concerns like aggression or anxiety may even ensue, if their bodies are starved of proper nutrition for long periods.

Many budget products are not specific when listing their ingredients, often including an "and/or" between meat proteins and cereals. If an ingredient is written as beef and/or poultry and/or lamb, this means the manufacturer can use any combination of those ingredients. This is a common loophole used by cheaper brands as it gives the manufacturer greater flexibility with the formula of the food. Depending on supply and demand costs, the formula can change per batch. This can create issues for your dog - sudden changes to their diet can cause digestive upsets such as bloating, vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence and constipation. Plus, if your pet has a sensitivity to one particular protein, there is the potential for a reaction if the recipe changes. In contrast, premium foods are designed to be highly digestible (which means smaller, firmer stools) and do not change ingredients batch to batch like grocery type brands, which means less tummy upsets. They also tend to contain higher levels of added beneficial nutrients, such as omega fatty acids for joint and skin health, and are backed by testing to ensure they deliver the results they promise. Read more about how to judge a good pet food.

What about raw meat?

Supplementing raw meat into your dog's diet is fine, but only if it is very fresh. The reasoning behind feeding raw meat is usually to mirror your dog's natural diet, but remember that meat from the shops is not the same as freshly hunted meat. Meat from the butcher has been processed in an abbatoir, and often transported for days before being sold.

If you really want to feed raw meat, best to go for a freeze-dried option, such as K9 Natural or Ziwi.

Read more about the risks and benefits of raw feeding in pets.


Incorporating a combination of wet and dry dog food into your pet's diet offers a range of benefits - from enhanced palatability to dental health and hydration. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet is paramount for your dog's overall wellbeing, contributing to optimal growth, immune function, and longevity. This approach not only ensures a diverse and enjoyable dining experience for your dog but also allows owners to strike a balance between nutritional excellence and individual preferences, ultimately fostering a healthier and happier canine companion.

Further Reading

Raw Diets for Pets: A Complete Review of the Pros and Cons

What is the best dog food?

Hypoallergenic Dog Food: Which is the most effective?

Dental Care For Dogs: A Complete Guide

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