What is it?
Wet food is commercially cooked and canned meat and produce.
Convenience, long shelf life.
As with dry food, the nutritional value of wet food depends on the quality of the ingredients, but generally speaking, wet food is more natural and healthier for dogs than dry food. It usually contains more animal protein and its moist consistency is closer to natural dog foods like meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. It’s also more palatable, easier to digest, and better for sick, thin, or picky dogs.
What to know
The risk of commercial wet food containing cheap, low-quality ingredients of uncertain origins and waste products from the human food industry is just as real as with dry food. But in recent years, the market for natural dog food has exploded, and if you carefully scrutinize labels and are able to pay a little more, you can feed your dog very well from the canned dog food section.
What to look for when you shop
- Animal protein first. In all food labeling, ingredients are listed by weight, so choose a food that lists animal proteins among the first one or two.
- A recognizable animal. Many pet food labels simply list “meat” or “meal,” which could be anything. Instead look for named sources: chicken, beef, fish, etc.
- Enough nutrients. Look for the words “complete and balanced,” meaning it complies with the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ standards for a complete nutritional profile for adults, growing puppies, and pregnant or lactating females.
- Whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, and grains are valuable additions.
What to avoid
- Animal by-products. Animal by-products can be a good quality or they can be sweepings from the factory floor. There’s no way for you to know, so avoid them altogether.
- Wheat gluten. Often used to bind together food parts to resemble chunks of meat.
- Artificial colors and preservatives. Fortunately not a big problem in wet food as it’s naturally preserved by the canning process.
Want to stay on top of the latest knowledge about dog food? Check out Whole Dog Journal, a monthly guide to dog care and training.