5 min read

Wet vs. Dry Dog Food: Which is Best for My Dog?

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Overview

Every pet parent wants to make sure that their best buddy is in optimal health. Exercise is essential, but the food you give to them is a crucial part of their all-around well being, too. A healthy diet means an energetic and happy dog.

But should you feed your dog wet or dry food? And is it okay to mix dry and wet dog food together? To help you make the right choice for your fur-family, we'll explore the pros and cons of each, plus what you need to consider before committing to one type of food.

brown and black smiling puppy on a leash lying down on the floor of a pet store at the entrance to the dog food aisle

Should I feed my dog dry or wet food?

The short answer: A mix of wet food and dry kibble is usually best — it tastes grrreat and helps keep your dog's teeth clean!

Really, the answer to this question depends on your dog's dietary needs, preferences, and other factors. Dr. Linda Simon MVB MRCVS, one of Wag!'s veterinary consultants, also has some advice on choosing the right dog food:



“Opt for the best quality diet you can afford. It should be minimally processed and rich in meat or fish, as well as grains, veggies, and fruits. The best foods will also contain supplements such as probiotics.”



Things to consider when choosing between wet and dry dog food

Still not sure how to choose the right type of food for your dog? Here are a few things to consider.

Your dog's age

Your dog's life stage will determine whether wet, dry, or a mix of both foods is best for them. For example, young puppies that are teething may prefer wet food to dry kibble.

Be sure to choose a food that's appropriate for your dog's age — check the packaging to ensure the food meets AAFCO's nutrient profiles for growth (puppies), maintenance (adults), or all life stages.

Your dog's weight

Does your woofer need to lose a little weight? If so, you might want to feed more kibble than wet food. Wet food tends to be higher in fat, which could contribute to weight gain.

Related: Best Dog Food for Weight Management

Your dog's size

Small breeds like Pomeranians have smaller teeth than big breeds, so they'll need a food that's formulated especially for them. Look for food brands that offer products made especially for small breeds — a few examples include Halo, Open Farm, and Merrick.

Your dog's activity level

High-energy breeds, working dogs, and canine athletes have special nutritional needs. Typically, they'll thrive with a diet that's rich in protein from high-quality meat sources. Be sure to look for added supplements and prebiotics to keep Fido fit as a fiddle!

Your dog's dental health

The state of your dog's teeth will also affect whether wet, dry, or a combination of the two foods is best for your dog. Senior dogs with tooth pain or dental disease will likely prefer wet food to dry. That said, dry food also helps remove plaque and tartar from your dog's teeth.

It may be a good idea to feed your pup a mix of mostly wet food with a small amount of kibble — the wet food can soften the dry food, making it easier to eat. If it's still not soft enough, consider sprinkling some water on the kibble before feeding.

Your dog's overall health history

A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your pup in tip-top shape. Consider your dog's current health status along with their medical history when choosing a food. For example, dogs with chronic illnesses like kidney disease may benefit from a prescription diet that includes both wet and dry options, like Farmina VetLife.

Allergies or sensitivities

If your doggo is allergic to pawpular protein sources or sensitive to certain ingredients, finding the right food can be a lot trickier. Luckily, you'll find a range of limited-ingredient wet and dry foods with novel protein sources on the market. Dogs with sensitivities also tend to be picky eaters, and wet food tends to be more palatable.

Your dog's eating habits

Does your dog finish all of their food in one sitting, or do they like to come back and nibble throughout the day? If this is the case, a good quality dry food may be the right choice. Dry kibble can stay fresh in the bowl all day, but wet dog food can't be left out longer than 2 hours at most.

Your budget

Budget is likely a concern for you since you're trying to choose between dry and wet food. Feeding a mix of both can get expensive fast — especially if you choose slow-cooked dog foods made with human-grade ingredients.

If a combo of wet and dry food is out of your budget, try adding a food topper to your pup's dry kibble instead. Food toppers are super tasty, packed with nutritious ingredients, and typically cheaper than most wet foods.

Availability of your dog's favorite food

Before you commit to a food, shop around at big-box pet stores or online retailers to ensure availability in your area. While low-quality food brands like Pedigree are available pretty much everywhere, high-quality foods tend to be harder to find.

Shelf life

Both wet and dry food tends to have a long shelf life — anywhere from 12 to 18 months on average. If you're purchasing wet food in large cans, you may need to refrigerate any remaining portions, which will reduce the shelf life significantly.

stainless steel dog food bowl filled with dry pieces of kibble with more dry food overflowing onto a wood table

Pros and cons of dry food

Thinking about an all-dry diet for your dog? Check out the pros and cons to make the best decision for your fur-family.

Pros of dry dog food

  • Super convenient to find and feed
  • Longer shelf life than wet food
  • Typically cheaper than wet food
  • Can be used in puzzle toys for mental stimulation
  • Easy to store
  • Helps clean your dog's teeth

Cons of dry dog food

  • Low in moisture content
  • Not as palatable as wet food
  • Less aromatic than wet food
  • May not entice picky eaters
  • More likely than wet food to contain fillers and low-quality ingredients
  • Typically contains more preservatives than wet food
  • Dry food cooked at high temps may have less nutritional value
  • Free-feeding dry food can lead to weight gain



Need a helping paw finding the right dry food? Check out Wag!'s guide to the best dry dog foods!



hand holding a stainless steel dog food bowl filled with wet dog food chunks

Pros and cons of wet food

Most pups go dog wild for wet food — but is it the right choice for your dog? Peep our pros and cons list to find out!

Pros of wet food

  • Tastier than dry food
  • Typically contains higher quality ingredients than dry food
  • High moisture content keeps your pup hydrated
  • Usually lower in carbs and fillers than dry food
  • More likely to appeal to picky eaters
  • Grrreat for teething puppies and dogs with dental problems

Cons of wet food

  • Typically more expensive than dry food
  • Feeding wet food exclusively can harm your dog's dental health
  • Leftover portions need to be refrigerated, which means a shorter shelf life



Switching your woofer to wet food? Check out the best vet-recommended wet dog foods!



an assortment of wet and dry dog food laid out in bowls, tins, and piles on a gray table

Pros and cons of feeding a mix of dry and wet food

Thinking about giving your dog a double dose of nutritious goodness with both wet and dry food? Here's a quick look at the pros and cons:

Pros of feeding both wet and dry dog food

  • Helps protect your dog's teeth
  • Maximum flavor and nutritional value
  • Adds texture and variety to your pup's meals, which can appeal to picky eaters

Cons of feeding both wet and dry food

  • More expensive than feeding one type of food exclusively
  • Can be difficult to know exactly how much of each food to feed


Quick tips for transitioning your dog to a new food

We've covered this topic in depth in our guide to how quickly dogs adapt to new food, but we'll recap some of the most impawant tips below!

  • Avoid switching 100% of your dog's food in a single meal — this can cause upset stomach and other digestive issues.
  • Over a period of 7 days, gradually mix more of the new food with the old food until your dog is fully adjusted.
  • Monitor your dog for signs of allergic reactions, stomach upset, and other problems.
  • After a few months on the new diet, assess your dog's skin and coat health to determine whether the new diet is working.



Got questions about your doggo's diet? Use Wag! Vet Chat to get answers from veterinary professionals in as little as 6 minutes!


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