Dry vs. Wet Dog Foods: Which Is The Right Choice? Part 2
Are you thinking about feeding your dog wet food? In the second part of her series, Sabine Contreras, Canine Care and Nutrition Consultant, takes a look at the types of wet food on the market and talks about the different formulas you have to choose from.
Available Types of Wet Foods
No matter if they are packaged in a can, pouch or tray, wet foods not only come in many different flavors and ingredient combinations, there are also several different types of formulas.
“Complete and balanced” vs. “For supplemental feeding only”
Products labeled as “complete and balanced”, either for a specific life stage (“growth” for puppies, adult “maintenance” foods), or those suitable for “all life stages” must meet the same standards of AAFCO nutrient profiles as dry foods and any other regulated food product. You can feed these foods exclusively or mix them with dry food if desired, without disrupting any nutritional balances.
If a food is labeled as “for supplemental feeding only”, it is not “complete” in terms of added vitamins and minerals and not suitable to be fed “stand-alone” for any extended period of time. Use it as an occasional “special” meal, or serve mixed with dry food, but do not replace more than about a quarter of the dry portion with a supplemental addition.
Oddly enough, the types of wet food labeled “for supplemental feeding only” can be one of the most valuable things you can add to your dog’s diet if you are feeding mostly dry food. Products that contain nothing but meat and enough water to facilitate the manufacturing process belong into this group. It can just be a single type of meat (such as tripe, chicken, salmon), or a combination (e.g. beef and liver). These are best suited to be added to the diet of animals who otherwise only eat dry food, since they provide the most important aspect: less processed animal protein.
The next tier are products labeled “95% meat”, and these can either be “complete” (necessary vitamins and minerals added), or “supplemental only”. Small amounts of fruits and vegetables, various vegetable-based gums or other processing aids and natural flavors make up the remaining five percent. Ninety-five percent meat complete diets are one of the best feeding choices among commercial foods, since they provide a species appropriate dietary composition. Both of these high-meat products are also excellent to be mixed with dry food, especially if they already contain a large amount of carbohydrates.
Last but not least we have standard formulas of wet foods that contain meats as well as grains, potatoes/sweet potatoes, pasta, fruit, vegetables and supplements. The meat content can vary quite a bit, so make sure it’s the first listed ingredient. Broth, stock or water is often named second, since it is needed for processing the food. This product type is generally labeled “complete and balanced” and can be fed exclusively. Of course you can still add this type of wet food to dry food as well.
As you now already know, canned food is much less concentrated than dry food, which also has the advantage that feeding a variety of different flavors and formulas is less likely to cause digestive upset.
With all these positive aspects, please don’t forget that the foods are still commercial products and the ingredient quality can vary drastically between manufacturers. Have a look at the articles “Label Information 101” and “Ingredients to avoid” at www.dogfoodproject.com and read the information about artificial vitamin K at www.dogfoodproject.com/menadione.
Miss Part 1 of this series? Read it here.
Sabine Contreras is a Canine Care and Nutrition Consultant based out of Los Angeles, California. She specializes in natural, preventive dog care as well as canine nutrition and offers personalized feeding plans for dogs of all sizes, breeds and ages, no matter if they are companions, performance, working or show dogs. She shares her home with a husband, Jack Russell Terrier and five cats.