Wet dog food vs Dry dog food


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

With so much going on in our lives, we want things like our pet's food to be convenient. One of the easiest ways to feed our pets is to simply purchase a big bag of dry food, as it provides food for weeks to or even months to come. But could this be detrimental to your pet's health? Is wet food better than dry, or vice versa?

The Pros and Cons of Wet Food

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 struvite crystals or kidney stones.

Urinary crystals often form when magnesium bonds with ammonium waste in highly concentrated urine. 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.

Breeds susceptible to urinary related conditions include:

  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Irish, Scottish and Yorkshire Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dalmatians
  • Daschunds
  • Bichon Frise
  • Miniature Poodles
  • English Bulldogs
  • Cavalier King Charles
  • Newfoundlands
  • Irish Setters

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.

Shop Ivory Coat Wet Food

Ivory Coat's super premium, Australian made wet food is complete and balanced for dogs of all breeds. This tasty lamb and sardine variety is particularly tasty, making it easy to tempt fussy eaters.

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.

So what about dry food?

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.

Browse All Dry Food Here

Our Top Dry Food Suggestions

Instinctive Bite

Instinctive Bite is natural and Made in Australia from natural ingredients. Their range includes balanced diets for puppies, including large breed-specific diets, as well as adult varieties for large dogs and all breeds.

Open Farm Dry Food

Open Farm diets are made with top quality proteins & superfoods, and proudly produced with a focus on transparent sourcing, humane production animal welfare standards, ethically sourced ingredients, and sustainable fishing practices.

Advance Adult Dental for Toy Breeds

If you've got a pint-sized pooch, Advance's Toy Breed 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.

Quality matters

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 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. Read more about how to judge a good pet food.

Summary: What do we ultimately recommend?

The optimum diet for most pets will be a combination of wet and dry foods. That said, so long as your dog drinks enough water, a solely dry food diet is fine. A solely wet food diet is only acceptable if you have great dental care on board, such as 6 monthly scale and polish procedures at your vet, or daily tooth brushing. Read more about gold standard Dental Care for dogs.

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.

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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