Choosing the right dog food means more than just satiating your pet’s hunger. Dogs require a proper balance of nutrients to grow, develop, and remain active. Pet food manufacturers perform extensive research to determine the best formula for good canine health. These formulas are available for every stage of life, from puppies to geriatric dogs. Specialized dog foods are also available, such as hypoallergenic options for pets with certain food allergies.
While there are many things to consider when comparing dog food brands and varieties, one of the most important aspects relates to how the food is processed. Dog food is available in two primary forms: wet food and dry food. As a general consensus, one is not better than the other as formulas can vary widely from brand to brand. However, there are some distinct differences between the two. Learn more about wet and dry dog food, the differences between them, and how to choose the best dog food for your pet.
Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food, otherwise known as canned dog food, can be found in many varieties. Some canned foods are minced or pate, while others feature bits of meats and/or vegetables in gravy, broth, or jelly. Wet dog food may also contain other ingredients, such as rice, corn, soy, and wheat.
Canned pet food is typically more expensive than kibble. It also contains more calories, meaning pet owners must use caution to prevent overfeeding their pets. Dogs typically prefer the taste of wet food as it offers more flavor and has a meat-like consistency. Senior dogs with chronic dental problems can benefit from wet food when chewing dry kibble becomes difficult.
Processing wet dog food begins with grinding the protein sources, such as meat or fish. Grains are then added, along with gravy or other liquid containing essential vitamins and minerals. These ingredients are then combined and cooked until sterile. Wet food contains a much higher moisture content than dry food. According to the Pet Food Institute, dry food typically contains 10 to 12 percent moisture, while wet food contains 75 to 78 percent moisture.
Benefits of Wet Dog Food
Whether you have a fussy eater or simply want to give your pet the best nutrition possible, wet dog food is an excellent option. Here are some key benefits of wet food:
- Dogs enjoy the taste. Whether on its own or on top of dry kibble, wet food is more pleasing to canine taste buds.
- Helps hydrate. Some dogs may not drink enough water throughout the day. Wet food has a high moisture content, helping dogs stay hydrated.
- Chewing is made easy. Puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with small mouths or misaligned jaws may find it easier to chew wet food.
- Satisfies longer. Wet food tends to give dogs that “full” feeling longer than kibble. This can be useful in dogs that tend to have a never-ending appetite.
- More meat protein. Canned dog food often contains more meat protein than dry food. Due to its air-tight packaging, wet food contains no synthetic preservatives.
Dry Food for Dogs
Dry dog food is comprised of crunchy pieces of kibble varying in size and shape. It’s typically sold in larger portions compared to wet food, meaning cost savings and fewer trips to the store. It also takes longer to spoil and does not require refrigeration once opened. Eating dry kibble can also be beneficial to your dog’s teeth as the crunchy texture helps remove stuck-on plaque as your pet chews.
The process of making dry kibble is fairly complex. Most formulas involve baking, pelleting, and extruding, followed by various pressing and cooking methods. Raw materials in dry dog food typically include meat, grains, fat, and concentrated vitamins and minerals. Once assembled, these raw materials are ground down, blended with the right amount of wet ingredients, cooked, and sent through an extruder to create appropriately sized kibble. Finally, dry dog food is enrobed with a liquid or powder on the surface to enhance the flavor and make it more palatable to dogs.
While dry dog food tends to be more affordable and offers other conveniences, there are some downsides to consider. The extremely high temperatures used during processing result in a loss of nutritional value. Many vitamins and minerals are destroyed that are essential to your dog’s health and wellbeing. However, many dog food manufacturers spray their kibble with vitamins and minerals to help recover some of this loss of nutrition.
Benefits of Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food is an excellent choice for many pet owners and can offer countless benefits, including the following:
- Greater convenience. Dry dog food diets tend to be easier to manage. They can be pre-portioned and left out all day without fear of spoiling.
- More affordable. Compared to wet dog food, dry kibble is usually more affordable, allowing pet owners to get a larger volume of food for less money.
- Dental health benefits. Kibble requires dogs to chew their food, which can aid in the removal of plaque and tartar from the teeth.
- Food enrichment options. Dry dog food pieces can be put in food puzzles and slow feeders, helping to improve your pet’s quality of life.
- Packed full of protein. Many brands of dry dog food are packed full of carbs and protein, giving dogs more energy.
Both wet and dry dog foods can be great options for your pup. There are circumstances in which feeding one over the other may be optimal; however, mixing the two can be a nutritionally dense and flavorful option for most pets.