When it comes to the question of whether dry or rather wet food for the dog, dog owners often have different opinions. Read here about the advantages and disadvantages of the two types of feed and how to make the right decision.
Dog owners are always eagerly discussing whether wet food is healthier, more species-appropriate, and better than dry food, or vice versa. In fact, it is very difficult for the layperson to see at first glance which feeding technique or which brand is most suitable for the individual dog. In principle, the rule applies that the food is suitable as long as the quality is right, it is well tolerated by the dog and all the important nutrients are included. Feed that covers the daily requirement of minerals and nutrients is called “complete feed”. This can be wet or dry food.
Production & composition of wet and dry food
Wet food has a residual moisture content of 75 to 80 percent. On the other hand, water is removed from the dry food during the manufacturing process in order to make it more durable, among other things. Dry food only has a residual moisture content of around three to eleven, a maximum of 14 percent.
Advantages and disadvantages of dry dog food
Dry food has both advantages and disadvantages.
Benefits of Dry Dog Food
Dry food has the following advantages over wet food:
- Cost: Due to the higher energy content, dogs need less dry food than wet food to cover their daily mineral and nutrient requirements. Therefore, dry food is generally cheaper.
- Shelf life and long shelf life: Due to the manufacturing process, dry food has a longer shelf life. By the way, dry food should definitely be stored in a dry, cool place. Incorrect storage can lead to the formation of mold and feed mites.
- The solid structure of the dry food can encourage chewing and, depending on the consistency and size, can be used to prevent tartar build-up.
- Especially sensitive dogs that do not want to eat right away can be well supported with dry food. You can leave it in the bowl longer and allow the dog to divide its ration itself.
You can also take part of the daily ration of dry food with you as a treat on the go.
Dry food is particularly suitable for large, healthy dogs, as the small volume of food puts less strain on the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs that are prone to gastric torsion are often prescribed high-energy dry food that they only need a smaller amount of food.
Disadvantages of dry dog food
Dry food has the following disadvantages compared to wet food:
- Dogs also need to drink a lot, which can be a challenge for dogs who are lazy about drinking.
- In contrast to wet food, dry food is less attractive for some fussy dogs because it is often less tasty. But there is also dry food, which is given a tasty touch by the gentle drying process and higher fat content.
In contrast to wet food, natural or synthetic preservatives and antioxidants must be added to dry food. The shelf life of the sensitive fats would otherwise be at risk. In addition, an infestation with pests would be easier.
Advantages and disadvantages of wet dog food
Wet food has both advantages and disadvantages.
Benefits of wet food for dogs
Wet food has the following advantages over dry food:
- Due to the high moisture content, wet food is well suited for dogs that drink less.
- Wet food offers an advantage for senior dogs who are no longer able to chew as well.
- Picky dogs love the significantly higher protein content and the appetizing smell of meat in the wet food.
- Food mite allergy sufferers and dogs that tend to be constipated can be helped by switching to wet food.
Disadvantages of wet dog food
Wet food has the following disadvantages compared to dry food:
- Once in the bowl, it must be eaten quickly, otherwise, it will dry out or flies will settle on the food. It cannot stay in the bowl for long, especially in summer.
- In order to cover the dog’s daily energy requirements, the pet owner has to buy significantly more kilos of wet food than dry food. For small dogs, feeding with moist food is usually still affordable. Feeding larger animals exclusively with wet food can quickly become a burden on the wallet.
- With wet food, there is usually more packaging waste than with dry food, because you need more of it and the portions are packed in small bags or cans.
Digestibility of wet and dry food in dogs
An important seal of quality when it comes to feed is digestibility. Because of course a dog should get along well with its food and not develop any digestive problems as a result. You can check your dog’s defecation frequency. In general it can be said that dogs that are only fed wet food defecate more often, simply because of the higher water content of the food.
We hear again and again that wet food is definitely the worse choice, as it can lead to flatulence and soft faeces. This is increasingly due to the gelling agent used in the wet food, but cannot be generalized as such.
If a dog reacts to wet food with intestinal problems, you can try switching to dry food. Sometimes the amount of carbohydrates in dry food is also higher than in wet food, or the type of protein differs from the conventional product. As a result, dry food is better tolerated by some dogs, but this does not necessarily say anything about the quality of wet food. For dogs that tend to be constipated, on the other hand, wet food is the better choice.
Mix dry food and wet food?
In principle, it is also possible to combine dry and wet food if it is divided into different meals per day (e.g. wet food in the morning and dry food in the evening).
The disadvantage of mixed feeding that is separated at different times of the day is that digestive problems can occur. The utilization of wet food challenges the gastrointestinal tract differently than the utilization of dry food. This can lead to intolerance in particularly sensitive dogs. Combined feeding must therefore be tried out individually for each dog.
Ingredients of dry and wet food
The ingredients are particularly important for the quality of dog food, both in the case of moist and dry food.
Starch, carbohydrates, and grains
In order for dry food to have the desired consistency and shape, there must be a certain proportion of starch (components rich in carbohydrates). This is not necessary for the production of wet feed, which is why it usually contains lower proportions of starch-rich components.
There are several myths about starchy components, especially grains:
- The carbohydrates used are not fillers, but are used as a source of energy, and in some cases they are also necessary for technical reasons.
- Even if dogs (with a few exceptions) do not depend on the supply of carbohydrates, they can digest them very well. The prerequisite is that the starch contained is in a broken down form. This is the case with both dry and wet food.
- Cereals are often cited as triggers for allergies. Dogs can be allergic to grains, but proven more common allergens are various animal proteins.
- It is often wrongly assumed that grain-free food is carbohydrate-free. But that’s not true. Alternative starch-rich components such as potatoes or pseudocereals (e.g. quinoa or amaranth) are used.
Proteins & by-products
Meat and meat by-products (animal by-products) are the main sources of protein used in dog food. But high-quality plant proteins are also used. The by-products used include components from slaughter animals that are not processed as food but can be used as an ingredient in feed for carnivorous pets (e.g. lungs, tripe, omasum, liver, heart, meat trimmings).
Both fresh (mainly in wet food) and dried products such as meat flour are used in dog food. The latter are used, originally for production-related reasons, especially in dry food, although more and more fresh meat can be used here as well due to further development of the technology.
Due to the higher meat content, wet food often contains more protein than dry food. This initially appears to be an advantage for most dog owners, but it does not always have to be one. High amounts of protein can lead to digestive problems in sensitive dogs, partly depending on the protein quality. It can happen with individual dogs from time to time that they tolerate dry food better than wet food that is richer in protein. The amount and quality of protein usually determines the price of the feed. The more high-quality and easily digestible muscle meat that is used, the more expensive the feed is, as a rule.
There are different categories of feed additives. The European feed law regulates which can be used in animal feed.
Some manufacturers advertise that they do not use any additives in their feed. With a complete feed, this means that all the nutrients the dog needs are supplied in sufficient quantities via the individual components. This can be viewed critically, since it is difficult to cover the nutrient requirements solely through the natural contents of the components of the feed. It should be taken into account, for example, that natural fluctuations in nutrient levels can occur. So there is nothing to prevent at least individual trace elements (e.g. zinc, copper, iron or iodine) from being added to the feed. On the contrary, under certain circumstances, it ensures that the dog is constantly supplied with food that meets its needs.
Conclusion: wet food or dry food for dogs?
There is no general answer to the question of the optimal type of feeding. The answer will vary greatly depending on the animal and the personal attitude and life situation of the pet owner. When choosing the right food for your dog, the information and arguments given here can be considered. In the end, however, you should choose a food that your dog likes to eat and tolerates well, and that provides all the nutrients it needs.
Not only with commercial feeds, but also with BARF (raw meat feeding) or when feeding home cooking, there is very often a nutrient imbalance. Here you should not rely on recipes from the Internet or books, but seek individual advice from veterinarians who specialize in nutrition. Whatever your feeding preferences, it makes sense to have the daily feed ration checked by experts, depending on breed, age, possible illnesses and also to avoid nutrition-related illnesses.