The Best Wet Dog Food, According To Vets

What to look for in wet dog food 🐕

three wet dog foods
Chewy, Petco, The Farmer's Dog

If you’ve decided to feed your pet wet dog food, then you’ve probably realized there are a lot of different wet food brands and formulas you can give your dog.

So which wet dog food is the best for your dog’s health and nutrition needs?

According to several veterinarians, canned food is beneficial for many different reasons, and there are some brands that are better than others. According to the pros, here’s everything you need to know about wet dog food and which ones are best.

How to find the best wet dog food

The most crucial step to finding the best canned food is to ask your vet for their recommendation. They’re familiar with your dog’s medical history and unique nutritional needs, which means they can make a more tailored suggestion.

But in general, there are some other things you should look for when searching for healthy wet food for any pup.

For one, you’ll want a food that’s complete and balanced, which means it has all the nutrients your dog needs to thrive. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets standards for the amount of certain nutrients required to be in dog foods.

“You must ensure that the dog food is AAFCO approved,” Dr. Keston Smith, medical director at Bond Vet, told The Dodo. “You can look at the nutritional adequacy statement on the label of any dog food you are purchasing, and if the phrase ‘complete and balanced’ appears, then the food has met the AAFCO's nutritional profile regulations.”

For wet food, the percentages won’t be exactly the same as the AAFCO requirements because wet food has a higher moisture content, so you have to do some math to figure out how it compares to dry food.

To find the nutrient levels in wet food, divide the percentage of the nutrient (usually found on the label), such as crude fat, by the percentage of dry matter (the percent of moisture content subtracted from 100), and multiply that number by 100. That number should be in the range of the AAFCO guidelines. But if the food’s label says the diet is complete and balanced, it should be good to feed to your dog.

Make sure the food is made with real ingredients, such as lamb, beef and corn. The first ingredient in wet food will usually be water since it needs moisture, but the next ingredient after water should ideally be a source of protein.

Dr. Smith also recommends choosing food that’s not grain-free, adding, “Grain-free diets that are not prescription may be associated with heart disease if given over long periods of time.”

Benefits of wet dog food

Wet food can have lots of benefits for your pup.

  • Wet food is easier to chew than kibble, making it good for puppies’ soft teeth. It can also be good for senior dogs whose teeth and gums are often weaker than adult dogs’.
  • Wet food has a lot more water in it than dry food, which can help keep your pup hydrated.
  • There’s usually more protein in wet dog food, and it’s often made with fresher ingredients than dry food.
  • Lots of dogs like the taste of wet food, so it’s good for pups who are picky. “Wet food may be more filling due to water content, and it may be more aromatic, which may entice a pickier pet to eat,” Dr. Smith said.

Vet-recommended wet dog food

So which foods do the vets suggest you try out? Here are some of their favorites.

Best overall wet dog food: Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult

Dr. Stephanie Sheen, a veterinarian for digital pet health company Fuzzy, is a big fan of both Purina Pro Plan dry and wet dog food. It’s a great basic canned food that contains all the necessary nutrients to keep your pup energetic and feeling and looking great.

Best skin and coat wet dog food: Royal Canin Beauty Healthy Skin

Dr. Sheen and Dr. Miller both like Royal Canin brand foods like this canned food formulated for healthy skin and coat. There are a bunch of different Royal Canin food varieties you can try, and the brand even makes unique formulas for specific dog breeds, too.

Best sensitive stomach wet dog food: Hill’s Digestive Care

Dr. Whitney Miller, chief veterinarian at Petco, likes Hill’s dog food because its formulas are backed by decades of research. The digestive care formula is an excellent food for pups with sensitive stomachs and uses ingredients that activate the gut’s microbiome to settle upset tummies. Always schedule a visit with your vet if your dog is exhibiting persistent diarrhea or upset stomach symptoms to make sure something more serious than food allergies isn’t at play.

Best wet puppy food: Purina Pro Plan Development Puppy

If you’re looking to pick up a trusted wet puppy food, the Purina Pro Plan canned food is a great option. It’s best for puppies under 1 year of age and is packed with DHA for healthy brain and vision development, as well as the necessary nutrients to help him grow strong and healthy. If you have a large-breed puppy, check out The Dodo’s roundup of vet-recommended large-breed puppy foods.

Best wet dog food subscription service: The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food

“My favorite wet food to give dogs is The Farmer's Dog Fresh Dog Food,” Dr. Claudine Sievert, veterinary consultant at stayyy.com, told The Dodo. “The first five ingredients are turkey, chickpeas, carrot, broccoli and parsnip, all of which are essential to making sure your dog is healthy.” Plans start at $2 a day (with shipping included!) but cost will vary based on several factors, like your pup's age and weight. 

With this guide, you can make a more informed decision on which wet food option is the best for your pup. Just be sure to talk to your vet before choosing a new food since they can give a recommendation personalized for your pup's unique health needs.

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