Listen to any television, internet or magazine ad and they’ll all tell you the same thing-- that their product, be it wet or dry dog food, is nutritionally superior to all others. They may even go as far as to claim its the only one you need in your pantry.
In truth, it’s absolutely true that feeding a well-balanced diet of quality dog food is always recommended. However, not all pups require the same kind of nutritional benefits from their food.
Before you take these ads at their word and halt your search, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both dry kibble and wet dog food. Here’s a rundown of the benefits, and drawbacks of each.
Pros And Cons Of Dry Dog Food
- Convenience: Easily stored in an airtight bin or tightly closed sack, one bag of food can last for months so long as it’s kept away from moisture. Kibble can also be left out in the food bowl for hours or days without becoming spoiled or compromised, making it ideal for busy professionals.
- Economical: Because of its long-lasting ability, dry dog food can be bought in bulk, creating a cost-saving measure for the budget conscious or families with multiple dogs.
- Variety: Dry dog food comes in a variety of sizes, each designed to accommodate different breeds and weights. The individual kibble pieces are also great for training purposes and the crunch can be effective at helping keep teeth clear of plaque.
- High Carbohydrates: Carbs act as a binding agent for the proteins and fat in kibble, but can account for as much as 46-74% of the nutritional content.
- Less Flavor Appeal: Dogs who are losing their sense of smell may be quick to pass over dry kibble because its protein concentrations are lower and therefore put off less scent.
- Less Water: Dogs who occupy hot climates or are taking medications that make them dehydrated may eat more calories in an attempt to satiate their thirst.
Pros And Cons Of Wet Dog Food
- Hydrating: If your pooch is in danger of not taking in enough water, the high water content in wet food can quickly add an extra moisture boost to help them stay hydrated.
- Fewer Additives, More Choices: Generally speaking, manufacturers put less chemical additives inside canned food and can use proteins from a larger variety of animals.
- Soft on Teeth: Older dogs with failing teeth or breeds with small mouths find wet food much easier to eat.
- Less Dental Advantage: Without a hard, crunchy surface to scrub plaque, some dogs may experience increased dental issues on wet food alone.
- Quick to Spoil once opened: Though canned food has a very long shelf life, once opened it spoils very quickly. It also mustn’t sit in the food bowl for longer than an hour or two as wet food is likely to harbor bacteria.
- Expensive: Wet food can get pricey quickly, making it difficult for some pet owners to feed it to their pets consistently.
What About Semi-Moist Foods?
In the middle of the wet dog food and dry dog food spectrum is a third category: semi-moist dog food. This chewy variety retains its shape like dry food, but contains far less liquid than canned food. Its soft texture is great for elderly dogs and for picky eaters it’s second to none. Typically packaged in individual bags, these pre-portioned meals are both convenient and easy to store.
Be aware that some semi-most dog foods do contain artificial additives like preservatives, sweeteners and colors. Most professionals recommend relegating them to the occasional snack or treat incentive.
Decoding Your Dog Food Label
No matter how high-quality dog food you buy, there’s no substitute for reading the label. Make sure to look for things like:
- Quality protein as the first ingredient
- Whole grains like corn or barley
If you discover any of the following ingredients, proceed with caution:
- By products like corn gluten meal or soybean meal
- Artificial colors such as FD&C or Red #3
- Preservatives including BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin
- Sweeteners like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup
Assessing the pros and cons of both wet and dry dog food is a great start; however, it’s important to speak with your vet before making any sweeping changes. If you’re looking to reap the benefits of both, ask your trusted veteran professional about trying a mixture of wet dog food and kibble!