The Benefits of Wet Dog Food

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Find food that fits your pet’s needs

Find a dog food that fits your pet’s needs

Find a cat food that fits your pet’s needs

Over the last few decades, our understanding of what our pets need when it comes to food has greatly increased. Years ago, most people used to feed their dog tinned food and biscuits that, together, made up their entire diet. This was a bit hit-and-miss in terms of adequate nutrition, so most foods today, both wet and dry, are what we call complete and balanced. This means that they provide all the nutrients your dog needs, in the right amounts.

Because of this, pet parents now have a great flexibility about whether to feed their dogs wet, dry or a combination of the two. While feeding dry food, or kibble as it’s also called, tends to be more economical and convenient, wet dog food does have lots of benefits, too. From being a great source of necessary hydration to ease of chewing and palatability, there are plenty of reasons to choose dog wet food.

1. Hydration

Water is absolutely essential for all animals. While you should always make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available, wet food is also a great source of water to boost their hydration. This is especially important in warm or hot weather. Dogs with medical conditions, such as bladder and kidney issues, benefit hugely from extra water intake too, and wet foods can really help.

2. Variety

Complete wet and dry foods are equally healthy for dogs. However, wet foods can offer more variety. Wet foods may be solid, loaf-type tinned food, chunks in gravy, or delicious stews with ingredients like vegetables and meat. There are a wide range of flavours on top of this, providing lots of variety to keep your dog’s diet interesting.

3. Appealing smell

While lots of dogs relish eating kibble, wet foods tend to have a great smell that can help encourage those more fussy eaters to tuck into their food. Dogs that have been ill or are recovering from surgery may not feel much like eating and wet food can make all the difference for getting them back on their feet again.

4. Easier to chew

Some pet parents shy away from offering canned dog food to their pets. They're worried they aren't giving their dogs adequate nutrition, or that wet food isn’t good for their dog's teeth. This is somewhat of a misunderstanding; the RSPCA says that dry food may have a slight advantage over wet food because it has a mild cleaning effect on the teeth, but there is nothing to suggest that wet food is bad for your dog’s dental health. A good-quality wet food can offer your pet balanced nutrition to support and maintain their health throughout all stages of life. In fact, for older dogs with tooth or gum issues, wet food may be easier or more comfortable to eat than dry.

Jack Russell Terrier Puppy eating food out of a silver dog bowl.

5. Keeps well

Wet food in unopened pouches and cans can have a long shelf life and may be easier to store than large bags of kibble. If your dog doesn’t need a whole pouch or can in one meal, always remember to refrigerate what’s left. This will usually last up to three days in the fridge but always check it for signs of going off before feeding. Most animals prefer the food to be back at room temperature or even just slightly warmer than fridge temperature before eating it.

When to serve dry food

While balanced wet and dry food are equally nutritious, there can be reasons you may want to offer your dog a dry food. Dry food can be easier to portion, especially when you’re using a gram scale to weigh the food. Dry food can be purchased in larger bag sizes too, which can be more convenient for pet parents with large breed dogs. And if your dog is a grazer, dry food won’t spoil if not eaten and left out. Kibble is also easy to use in food puzzle toys to enrich your dog's life and satisfy them without overfeeding. 

Why not both?

As long as the food is complete and balanced, it’s up to you whether you feed your dog wet food, dry or a mix of both.  Some pet parents choose to feed dry kibble in the morning and offer their dog a meal of wet food at night (or vice versa), while some prefer to put the wet and dry together in the same bowl. This helps encourage some dogs to eat kibble if they won’t eat it on its own and gives your dog a variety of textures at every meal. Remember to treat a mixed bowl the same as wet food and make sure that anything that’s left is discarded, especially during warmer weather when the smell of wet food may attract flies. Finally, remember to always feed for your dog’s ideal weight. Mixing wet and dry can make it trickier to calculate feeding amounts, so always ask your vet if you’re unsure.


Contributor Bio

Jeanne Grunert

Jeanne Grunert


Jeanne Grunert is a freelance writer, blogger and novelist. She lives and works on a 17-acre farm in Virginia along with her German shepherd, Shadow, along with six cats.


Reviewed by Dr. Hein Meyer, DVM, PhD, Dipl-ECVIM-CA and Dr. Emma Milne BVSc FRCVS