Dog food options abound when you walk into a pet store and while there are fresh, frozen, and even freeze-dried options, the most common types of food you will find are either dry kibbles or canned, wet dog foods.
Some dog owners will mix both kinds of food for various reasons. It is helpful to know the benefits of both kinds of food individually as well as whether mixing them negates these benefits so that you can provide the best diet for your dog.
What is Dry Dog Food?
Dry dog food contains less than 11% water. The majority of dog food is dry and comes in bags that have a long shelf life. Dry kibble may contain pieces of dried meat, but they don't have a high water content like canned or pouched food will have. If you walk down the aisle of a pet store, the bags of dog food stacked on the shelves contain dry dog food.
Benefits of Dry Dog Food
Dry dog food is more cost-effective, lasts longer once it is opened, and is easier to feed and store than wet food. Dry food can also help to keep a dog's teeth clean by scraping off plaque as the food is chewed.
It is widely accessible, doesn't need special storage once it is opened like canned food requires, and comes in a variety of dry kibble shapes, textures, flavors, and sizes.
What is Wet Dog Food?
Wet dog food contains more than 11% water and is typically sold in a pouch or, more commonly, in tins. It can be a pâté or paste, ground meat, or meat chunks. Wet food usually comes in a gravy, sauce or broth format. Once it is opened, it must be consumed quickly or refrigerated in order to stay fresh for a few days.
Benefits of Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food is oftentimes more enticing or attractive to a dog when compared to dry food due to the scent and texture. It comes in many different flavors and sizes of meat chunks.
Dogs with no teeth, painful mouths, syringe feeding requirements, or those that are weaning off of milk will prefer wet dog food.
It doesn't usually require much chewing to be swallowed, making it great for dogs that are weak or lethargic, and it is more likely to be eaten by a picky eater. Some can even appear to look more like human food, making some owners feel more comfortable feeding their dogs.
Wet dog food is also great for dogs that have a hard time smelling due to an upper respiratory disease. It can be warmed up to make it more fragrant, thus further enticing a hungry dog.
Pros of Mixing Wet and Dry Dog Food
Many people like to mix both wet and dry dog food to give their dogs some variety in their meals and there are many benefits to this practice.
Feeding a mixture is more cost-effective than feeding an all canned food diet, but it still provides some enticement at mealtime for picky eaters. It also helps to increase the amount of moisture a dog consumes which can be beneficial for dogs with specific issues like kidney disease or bladder stones.
Mixing both dry and wet food also still provides crunchy kibble to promote dental health.
Cons of Mixing Wet and Dry Dog Food
Since wet food is more expensive than dry dog food, mixing the two adds an expense to mealtime in comparison with only feeding dry. It also requires refrigeration of the wet food after it is opened if not all of it is used in one meal. Plus, it can be smellier than dry food alone, creates more waste with the small cans and pouches that house the wet food, and may provide less dental benefits than a strictly dry food diet.
Finally, if a dog doesn't finish the mixture of dry and wet food within a few hours, the dry kibble will get soggy and the wet food will get crusty and could spoil so it cannot be saved and, consequently, may create more waste.
There is no 'best' option when it comes to wet and dry food. Cost, storage, ease of feeding, medical issues, physical restrictions, accessibility of food types, pickiness of the individual dog and more may play into your decision as to whether you feed only wet or dry food or a mixture of both.