Owning and taking care of a dog is a big responsibility. There is a lot that goes into making sure our furry family members have everything they need. They provide us with hours of love and comfort, and it is our duty to provide them with the best care possible. A huge part of dog ownership is knowing what the best food is to feed your dog. There are many different options, and a popular choice is wet food. Because there are so many different choices on the market, it can be hard to know what the best wet dog food is.
Canines love wet dog food because it is full of flavor and tastes fresh. Dogs should always be fed a healthy diet with a mix of kibble and wet food, and owners want to make sure they are choosing the best food for their dogs. While all canines have different nutritional needs based on their individual situation, it can be helpful to learn about the different choices the research product reviews.
We are always on the lookout for the best nutritional choices for all dogs. Part of that is doing the research, and thankfully owners can look to us for help in making this big decision. In this article, we look at wet dog food, how it is made, the benefits it has for our fur babies, and the best choices.
At A Glance
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Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food contains many of the same ingredients as dry food or kibble, but it is handled and processed differently. In recent years, many new options for canine meals have hit the market. Wet is also often referred to as canned. Traditionally, wet dog food comes in a can. However, it can now come in pouches, loaves, and other options.
Wet dog food has a much higher moisture content than dry kibble. This makes it a good choice for pups with urinary or kidney issues or who are not getting enough moisture. Wet food tends to be higher in protein and has fewer carbohydrates than dry. It will usually contain a healthy balance of proteins, vegetables, grains, and other added ingredients and nutrients. Wet food usually comes in a pate or a chunky stew. Wet has more moisture content than any other variety and is usually about 75% water.
Canned food also tastes very good too. It smells much different than dry dog food and often is accompanied by gravies which dogs love. Canned food is very easy to chew, so it is often a choice for dogs who are suffering from dental or other issues that make chewing difficult. Wet dog food tends to make pups feel fuller and more satisfied as opposed to those that eat only kibble. This option is more expensive than kibble, and it is often used along with kibble to provide canines with complete nutrition.
Wet vs Fresh Food
Wet foods are cooked, processed, and packaged in a way that they have a very long shelf life and still retain fresh flavor and nutritional value. Fresh food options are made from human-grade ingredients and must be consumed by pets within a few days or weeks. Fresh food is not the same as wet, though they are both higher in moisture content and more flavorful than kibble. Because fresh food also has a wet consistency, these two food categories are sometimes pushed together. In this article, we are focusing on traditional wet and canned foods, not fresh food options.
It is advisable for owners who are looking for new dog food to look at a brand’s history and reputation. This information can help owners make informed decisions. A brand’s reputation and history are a snapshot of what they stand for and what the company’s reputation is like. Owners should look at companies to find out who they are and what they do. What sets this brand apart from all the rest? Do they do anything besides make products, or are they committed to helping animal safety, homeless pets, or another worthy cause? Reputable dog food companies collaborate with pet professionals like nutritionists and veterinarians to help create the tastiest, healthiest, well-balanced recipes possible.
Part of looking at a brand’s history is researching if they have experienced any recalls. Recalls can happen for many reasons. Sometimes, they happen due to safety or a product defect. Other times they are voluntary. It is important to look at individual recalls that companies have to learn more about them, what caused the recall, were any pets harmed, and what the company did about it. In this same avenue, owners should see if a company has rebranded, been bought out by another larger company, or been the subject of a lawsuit. None of this information is advertised on product labels, so owners must do a little bit of work to seek that information out. It is worth the extra effort to ensure that your fur baby gets the best nutrition owners can provide.
Ingredients To Look For
It is extremely important to always read the labels of dog food, regardless of kind, to see what is in them. Some food products are not intended for canines to eat exclusively long-term. They may be formulated only to be eaten for a certain amount of time or to be used for pups that are dealing with specific conditions. Some canned foods can be classified as supplemental, so owners will want to make sure that that is one of the first things they look for on the label.
Owners should familiarize themselves with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines for what should be in dog food. Those guidelines include:
- Arginine – 0.62 for puppies and 0.51 for adults
- Protein – 22% for puppies and 18% for adults
- Fat – 8% for puppies and 5% for adults
- Calcium – 1% for puppies and 0.6% for adults
- Phosphorus – 0.8% for puppies and 0.5% for adults
- Sodium – 0.3% for puppies and 0.06% for adults
- Lysine – 0.77% for puppies and 0.63% for adults
- Leucine 0.72 % for puppies and 0.59 for adults
- Chloride – 0.45 % puppy 0.095 for adults
- (*This is not a complete list)
Healthy dog foods should have a good blend of high-quality named proteins and other ingredients.
Protein is very important for canines and is one of the building blocks of their overall energy and health. Look for recipes that use named proteins and avoid any that use ingredients like things simply named “poultry meal” or “meat meal.” Protein provides energy and supports dogs throughout their development. They are unable to store extra protein in their bodies and must replenish this through nutrition. Whole meats or named meat meals should always be listed as the first ingredient.
Canines require 22 different amino acids, and their bodies cannot make half of those, so they must be sourced from their diet. These amino acids are found in animal proteins. Popular protein choices include whole meats like beef, chicken, fish, lamb, and duck. There are also options that offer other meats like venison and bison. Canines absolutely love the way meat tastes, so any meal made with high-quality animal proteins will be a big hit.
Dogs should have some healthy carbohydrates in their diets. Though carbohydrates are not something they absolutely need to survive, they do provide glucose and supply more energy. Carbohydrates add nutrients that are not found in meat. These come from healthy fruits and vegetables like peas, potatoes, lentils, grains, rice, and sweet potatoes. Wet foods often use a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are very important for canines because they stimulate healthy growth and development and support brain and eye health. Omega fatty acids are also important in skin and coat health. They strengthen joints and bones and are very beneficial to a dog’s overall health. These essential fatty acids can be found in fish, poultry, and meat.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are important to canine diets because they boost the immune system with antioxidants and provide fiber Apples, sweet potatoes, pineapple, cranberries, blueberries, carrots, celery, broccoli, green beans, peaches, and mango are all safe and healthy sources of fiber.
Vitamins & Minerals
Canines need a variety of vitamins and minerals in their diet to help support their overall health and development. Many of these are found in the ingredients used to create high-quality, well-balanced dog foods. They can be added in if needed. Some of the most important include:
- Vitamin A supports the immune system.
- Vitamin B12 strengthens the nervous system.
- Vitamin D regulates things like calcium and phosphorus.
- Vitamins C & E are antioxidants that assist whole body health.
- Vitamin K functions to metabolize calcium and helps prevent blood clots.
- Iron transports calcium throughout the body.
- Calcium and phosphorus are heavily involved in bone structure.
- Zinc promotes healing.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Glucosamine is a compound that supports joint health and serves as a natural anti-inflammatory. Glucosamine is very important for larger, more active dogs. It is also very beneficial for senior pups who may start to suffer from joint issues and arthritis. Glucosamine is added to foods through supplements and sources like meat meals, fish oils, eggs, and green-lipped mussels. There are some products that are formulated to have high levels of glucosamine. Owners should always talk to their veterinarian before switching their dog to any new diet. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are found in cartilage and support the health of cartilage, bones, and joints.
Canines need a large number of vitamins and nutrients to ensure their overall health. These are found in many of the ingredients used in their foods but can sometimes be added in to reach appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals.
Things To Consider
There are a few things to consider when picking canine nutrition products. Along with brand and recall history, owners will want to look for a few other pieces of information. Owners will want to consider their dog’s breed size and stage of life. There are many different formulas for different ages and stages. Not all dog foods are created equally, they are carefully crafted to support small or large breed health. Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. They need higher protein, fat, and a lot of calories to support their high energy and rapid growth. Older pups do not need as many calories and may have other issues like a sensitive stomach or weight concerns that they need to address. Some pups suffer from food allergies and will need a very selective diet.
Wet or canned is a tasty option, but it may not be right for every dog and owner. Some pups have very specific nutritional needs and can only eat specific or prescription foods. Grain-free may be the way to go for some, and other dogs may do better on kibble, raw, or fresh chow. Keep in mind that the information we present here is to inform owners about different products available to them on the market and is not intended to be a substitute for advice from a pet nutritionist or licensed veterinarian.
Avoid low-quality products that use meat or poultry by-products as their main protein. Look out for those that use a lot of filler ingredients and artificial additives. Wheat gluten is often added in lower quality products, and it can manipulate the protein content. It can be used to bind ingredients together to resemble chunks of meat. Wheat gluten is used as a binder but is not as good for dogs as real meat chunks. Look for recipes that use whole grains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other healthy binders instead. Canines should not have diets that contain high levels of sugar or artificial colors, preservatives, or flavor additives.
Please remember that we cannot list all brands and types of food. If we missed your favorite or you know of a lesser-known but great wet meal option, we want to hear about it. Let us know in the comments. We are presenting a list of some of the top products we have seen, but there are many options out there, and we know we did not get to them all.
Best Wet Dog Food
We review several kinds of dog food for different breeds, ages, and lifestyles. Dogs have different nutritional needs as they age. Puppies, adults, and seniors require different things from their nutrition. It is important to get the right nutrition to support dogs in whatever phase of life they are in. In no particular order, here are some of the very best wet dog food options available.
We reviewed several products and broke some down by age group, as well as dietary needs. We do have some top overall choices and will discuss those first.
JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh
- Human-grade fresh ingredients.
- Shelf stable for up to 2 years.
- All natural ingredients.
- No fillers, artificial additives, or added growth hormones.
- Natural, well-balanced protein and fat.
- Delicious taste.
- High in moisture.
JustFoodForDogs is a company that makes dog foods with fresh, human-grade ingredients. They offer many fresh meal products but do have a wet option that has a longer shelf life. Their PantryFresh line can be stored unopened for up to two years. They offer several flavors and even have a joint health-formulated product.
Meals are made with fresh and human-grade ingredients. Their chicken and white rice recipe is made with chicken thighs, long-grain white rice, spinach, and apples. There are no artificial ingredients, fillers, preservatives, or added growth hormones. Meals are shipped in innovative Tetra Pak packaging allowing this top-quality meal to stay fresh and tasty for a long time to come. This is a great option for owners who want to provide their dogs with the taste and nutritional boost of fresh meals but need the convenience of a wet product that has a long shelf life.
We love that this option is suitable for all ages. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs can enjoy this delicious flavor boost. Meals also come in a beef and recipe potato option, turkey, and whole wheat macaroni, as well as lamb and brown rice.
Open Farm Rustic Stews
- One protein recipe.
- High protein from 100 % fresh grass-fed beef.
- Ethically sourced ingredients.
- All natural, no artificial ingredients or additives.
- Non-GMO veggies.
Open Farm makes wholesome, ethical, and sustainable, very tasty dog meals from high-quality ingredients. They offer many lines, and one is their premium wet line of Rustic Stews. They have six different flavors. We looked at the beef recipe, which is made from 100 % grass-fed beef and nutritious non-GMO veggies, including carrots, green beans, pumpkin, and spinach.
This brand uses only ethically sourced natural ingredients. All ingredients are human-grade, meaning they preserve great taste and have top nutritional value. Packaging is reusable and recyclable.
We love that this brand uses single protein recipes and 100% traceable ingredients. The single protein makes for easy digestion and offers a great natural taste. This recipe is high in good proteins and uses no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Wellness Complete Stews
- High-quality animal proteins.
- 44% Protein, 22 % Fat, 25% carbs.
- Tender cuts of real meat in rich, savory gravy.
- No corn, wheat, or soy.
- Grain-inclusive and grain-free options.
- 5-star reviewed.
Wellness Complete is another top choice for high-quality canned meals. The Wellness Stew line comes in several flavors. These include chicken stew, turkey stew, lamb and beef stew, beef stew grain-free, chicken stew grain-free, venison and salmon stew, and turkey and duck grain free. These products receive 5-star reviews, including on Dog Food Advisor.
Wellness Stews are high in protein, based on the chicken stew, grain-free, about 44% protein, 22% fat, and 25% carbohydrates. This recipe has high protein and lower amounts of fats. Chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver are listed as the first ingredients and provide a boost of healthy protein.
We love that this wet option offers both grain-inclusive and grain-free options. Dogs love the taste and smell. Tender cuts of meat are slow-cooked in rich gravy to give this meal an exceptional taste and high nutritional value. It can be fed to adults and puppies.
Best For Puppies
Wellness Complete Health Just For Puppy
- Packed with protein.
- Puppy-specific formula.
- Limited ingredient recipe.
- Supports digestive health.
- Whole body nutrition.
- Grain-free and grain-inclusive options.
Wellness Complete Health Just For Puppy is a top choice for younger dogs. They offer several flavors. We looked at the puppy salmon and chicken recipe. The first few ingredients include chicken broth, chicken, chicken, liver, salmon, and ground barley.
This option has 9% protein, 7% fat, and 1% fiber. Natural sources of lean protein and high-quality fruits and vegetables provide healthy levels of fiber to aid in digestion and provide vitamins and minerals. This option is served in a pate and is packed full of flavor. The recipe supports whole-body health with lots of natural nutrients and minerals.
We love that this recipe can support the needs of both small and larger breed dogs. Grain-inclusive and grain-free options are available. Uses limited ingredients, so it can be a great option for those with digestive sensitivity.
Best For Adults
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream
- Grain-free formula.
- Good for all breeds and sizes.
- Strong proteins from salmon and fish.
- Real ingredients.
- Chicken free.
- Full of antioxidants from fresh fruit and veggies.
Taste of the Wild is a grain-free, canned meal that is a great formula for adult dog nutrition. This is a complete and balanced formula for all adult dogs. This is a grain-free recipe with prebiotic fibers that help digestion. This one is made with real ingredients. Real salmon provides quality protein and Omega fatty acids.
Taste of the Wild is protein rich and uses quality ingredients. This company is family-owned, and its products are made in the USA. Formulated for all breeds. Along with salmon, protein comes from whitefish, fish broth, and turkey broth. Grain and chicken free.
We love that this recipe uses a range of quality proteins. Other ingredients like sweet potatoes, blueberries, and raspberries provide fiber and antioxidants.
Nature’s Recipe Trays
- High protein from chicken and salmon.
- Flavorful and convenient.
- Multiple flavor variety.
- High-quality animal protein and Omega fatty acids.
- Perfect for fussy eaters.
Another great choice for adult dog wet food is Nature’s Recipe Trays are full of protein and flavor. These single-serve plastic containers are convenient, and dogs absolutely adore the rich flavors. This is an adult food and is not formulated to support the high calories puppies need.
With high protein and low fat, this recipe provides a lot of energy and important nutrients. The first ingredients are chicken, chicken broth, pumpkin, salmon, and brown rice. They offer several other flavors. This may not be the best choice for the larger breeds as these trays only have 2.75 ounces in them. They can be used as a meal topper for larger breeds and a complete meal for smaller breeds.
We love that there are so many flavors to choose from. This is a great option for dogs with picky tastes or stomach issues. Even the pickiest of dogs will go wild for these tasty trays. Nature’s recipe also makes full cans, so there are options for those bigger pups.
Best For Seniors
Hill's Science Diet Senior Adult 7+ Savory Stew
- Senior formula.
- For dogs aged 7 years and older.
- Antioxidants support a healthy brain, immune system, and socialization.
- High-quality protein.
- Grain inclusive.
- Easy to digest.
Hill’s Science Diet Senior Savory Stew 7+ is one of our top choices for senior dogs. This recipe is formulated specially to support dogs seven years and older. It features high-quality lean proteins and a delicious assortment of vegetables.
This is a lower protein option than some on our list because it is for a senior dog. Protein comes from chicken and pork liver, as well as pork plasma. This Is suitable for all breeds. This is a grain-inclusive formula that uses wholesome ingredients like chicken meal and barley to create a formula older dogs love. Antioxidants support brain and immune health. Vitamins C and E support healthy immune system function.
We love that this food uses high-quality protein and does not sacrifice taste. Senior dogs need good-tasting food, and it is great to have options to choose from to keep them satiated and happy.
Chicken Soup For The Soul Senior
- Good protein content.
- Full of flavor.
- Easy to digest.
- Simple recipe, full of calories.
- Healthy grains like oatmeal and brown rice.
Chicken Soup For The Soul Senior is an affordable, high-protein choice for senior dogs. This uses a classic wet recipe with no corn, wheat, or soy. The recipe has no added colors, fillers, or artificial ingredients. It includes things like oatmeal and brown rice as healthy grain choices.
This option has about 34% protein and 18% fat. Meals are easy to digest with healthy carbs and fiber. 395 calories per cup provide plenty of energy for senior dogs.
We love that this option is a classic, simple recipe that offers full flavor and calories. High-quality protein, great flavor and is easy to digest. This is a great middle-of-the-price-range option for senior pups.
Best For Weight Management
Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Adult
- High protein, weight management formula.
- Full taste, low calories.
- No gravies.
- Low in fat.
- High moisture content.
- For adult dogs.
Purina Pro Plan is a wonderful wet food choice, especially for dogs that need to be weight conscious. This one is low in calories and fat but still boasts 23 essential vitamins and minerals. Keep in mind the first ingredient in this one is water, then turkey liver.
This option does not contain gravy as gravy is high in fats. It still has a lot of flavors with a good amount of protein. It uses wheat gluten, which is intended for weight management and is shaped to make dogs feel full. This can be used as a stand-alone meal or as a dry kibble topper.
We love that this food offers taste and low calories. Purina Pro Plan also comes in dry options, so owners can build a full and balanced diet within the brand. Recipes like this can be a helpful tool in helping dogs manage weight.
Hill's Science Diet Perfect Weight
- Weight loss formula.
- Results start to show in about 10 weeks.
- High-quality protein and vegetables.
- Great taste, low in fat.
- All natural ingredients.
Hill’s Science Diet Weight Management is another good choice for pups who need to be on weight management diets. This is formulated specifically to help adult canines lose weight. A tasty blend of vegetables and chicken. This food claims to help dogs lose weight and see impacts in ten weeks.
Meals are made in the USA and use all-natural ingredients. Chicken broth, pork liver, and chicken meat provide easy-to-digest protein. Carrots, green peas, rice, and spinach are also on the ingredient list.
We love that this tasty choice is from a trusted brand and developed especially to support dogs who need to lose weight. Dogs love the taste and will not know this chow is intended for weight loss.
Best For Sensitive Stomach
NUTRO Hearty Stews
- All natural ingredients.
- Made in the USA.
- Responsibly sourced ingredients.
- Made with Non-GMO ingredients.
- Big meaty chunks in tasty gravy.
- Can be a complete meal or a topper.
Nutro Hearty Stews are great for canines with sensitive stomachs. This recipe has big chunks of meat and hearty gravy. No artificial ingredients or meat by-products. This is a grain-free recipe making it easier to digest. All ingredients are non-GMO.
There is no corn, wheat, or soy in this recipe. Nutro partners with farmers to get the freshest and most quality sourced ingredients. The product is made in the USA. The recipe has moderate protein, low fat, and fiber.
We love that the meat and gravy in this recipe appeal to even the pickiest of pups. It is easy to digest. Pups love the big meaty chunks and all-natural taste. It can be a stand-alone meal or used as a topper.
Redbarn Naturals Semi-Moist Rolled Food
- Comes in a roll that needs to be refrigerated.
- High protein.
- Single protein recipe.
- Made in the USA.
- Low-temperature cooking process.
- Natural, high-quality ingredients.
Redbarn Naturals Semi-Moist Rolled loaf is a tasty, highly nutritious option for wet meals. It contains over 40% fresh beef, lamb, or poultry. Recipes use a single protein and are easy to digest. Grain-free and grain-inclusive options are included.
The product is made in the USA and is suitable for all ages. Ingredients are cooked over a low temperature to retain as many vital minerals, vitamins, and nutrients as possible. No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, just a tasty meal for your pup.
We love that this nutrition option is so versatile. It can be sliced, cubed, shredded, or crumbled Can be a full meal, a topper, or used as a treat.
Pedigree Choice Cuts Canned Food
- Great overall affordable choice.
- Lean proteins.
- Packed with flavor.
- Balance of fat and fiber.
- High calorie.
- Great for larger breeds.
- High moisture content.
Pedigree makes several budget-friendly wet meal choices that do not slouch on quality and flavor. The Choice Cuts in gravy are a popular choice, These have high moisture content, so they are great for dogs that need that push for hydration. This comes in a pate or as a chunky stew with gravy.
Pedigree uses lean proteins and provides well-balanced protein, fat, and fiber. It is easy to digest and has real beef and chicken. This is a high-calorie choice with 523 calories per can. This one is hearty, affordable, and high quality.
We love that there are so many options that do not break the bank with Pedigree. They are a trusted brand and have plenty of options, so they can meet the needs of just about any dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is wet dog food better than dry?
Wet and dry both have their advantages. Wet is tastier than kibble and often has gravy. This is full of flavors dogs love. Canned can sometimes be high in fat and moisture, so it is not the only chow a dog should eat.
Are wet and fresh food the same thing?
Wet and fresh are different. Fresh is prepared with human-grade ingredients and is often delivered fresh to a dog’s door. Wet is made with fresh ingredients but is processed differently and formulated to have a very long shelf life. The Farmer’s Dog is a wonderful choice for fresh meals.
Does wet dog food cause diarrhea?
This meal choice sometimes causes diarrhea, but the meal itself is not usually the cause. This often happens when a dog switches diets rapidly. It can be tough on their stomach to switch rapidly, which can lead to some digestive and bowel disturbances.
Is wet food better than homemade?
Wet is an easier and more affordable option than homemade. It is also likely more nationally balanced. Home-cooked can have added ingredients that may not be healthy for a dog. Owners should ask their veterinarian before trying a home-cooked diet. It is a lot of work and not something every owner is up for.
There are far too many options to count when it comes to finding the best dog nutrition. Wet is an extremely popular option for many reasons, though this alone may not always provide complete nutrition. Wet recipes bring a punch of flavor and aromas to your dog’s plate. Dogs often like it due to its great flavor and tasty gravies. This food can have higher fat and higher moisture content, so it is important that owners always read their labels. The good news is that there is a wet option out there that is perfect for every dog, including fussy eaters and those with special nutritional needs.
Owners are responsible for making sure their dogs are taken care of throughout their lives, and a big part of that is providing proper nutrition. A canine’s diet is one of the main support systems from their very early puppy days until they reach their senior years. Nutrition will impact their overall health throughout their lives and is not an area owners should try to save money on. Always avoid low-quality products and those that use a lot of fillers and artificial additives. Hopefully, our list of the best wet dog foods will help you on your path to finding the best option for your perfect pup.